New business promotes artists with autism

An array of Zenaviv’s products featuring artwork created by people with autism

Brightly colored paintings decorate the home of Harish and Sandhya Bikmal, an Ashburn couple with two teenage sons.

Their older son, Saket, 17, is a rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. Himal, 15, who will attend Briar Woods High School in the fall, was diagnosed with profound autism when he was 2.

As Himal’s parents came to terms with his diagnosis, they worried about his future.

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The Washington Post, June 18, 2017

Historical marker for Ashburn School

Less than nine months after vandals defaced the Ashburn Colored School by spray-painting it with racist graffiti, a Virginia historical marker has been installed near the front entrance of the gleaming white building.

The marker came about through the efforts of a group of seventh-grade students at Farmwell Station Middle School who selected it as a project for their social studies class in the fall. They cleared hurdles at local and state levels to obtain grant funding for the marker and win approval from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which installed the marker Monday.

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The Washington Post, June 11, 2017

Records document a century of segregation

Carolyn Nicholson and her grandson, Adonis Taylor, 10, of Ashburn, look at some of the records displayed at the open house.

An open house at the Loudoun County Courthouse on Feb. 11 highlighted the century of segregation in Virginia that followed the Civil War and the abolishing of slavery.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office displayed records that document the separate and unequal treatment of African Americans in the county during that time. Documents reveal how segregation pervaded all areas of life, including the education, public services and land transactions.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2017

H.S. performance of Ghost the Musical draws notice

A special guest was watching Jan. 27 as students from Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn gave a spirited performance of “Ghost the Musical.”

Jim Hoare, an executive with Theatrical Rights Worldwide, traveled from New York to view the students’ interpretation of a version of the Broadway musical that was adapted for use by high school theater groups. He wanted to observe several innovations the students made in set design and stagecraft, to see whether other schools could also use them.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 5, 2017

WW II Army doctor’s daughter publishes his letters

Author Laura Cantor Zelman autographs a copy of her book at Ashby Ponds.

Milton Cantor hoped to write a book someday based on the letters he sent home to his wife while he was serving as a U.S. Army doctor during World War II. The correspondence describes his wartime experiences in Britain, France, Germany and Czechoslovakia, as well as at several Army bases in the United States.

He never did get around to writing that book. After the war, he devoted himself to his medical practice and his family, which grew to include four daughters. He continued to practice medicine until his death at age 74.

This year, Cantor’s oldest daughter, Laura Cantor Zelman, fulfilled her father’s dream by writing and publishing “In My Father’s Words: The World War II Letters of an Army Doctor,” which draws from more than 500 letters he wrote to his wife, Rose, between 1941 and 1945.

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The Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2016

Day of Thanks celebrates diversity

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Members of Loudoun’s Sikh community served a vegetarian dinner at the Day of Thanks.

About 250 Loudoun County residents from an array of local religious groups — Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Unitarian Universalist — came together Nov. 20 for an evening of food, fellowship, prayer and entertainment. Organized by Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES, the eighth annual Day of Thanks was held at Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn.

“Thanks” was the theme, but the event was also a celebration of Loudoun’s cultural diversity. Many of the organizers and guests emphasized the importance of people from different faith groups coming together to gain understanding and build relationships.

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Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2016

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The Day of Thanks celebration ended with a candle-lighting ceremony.

Q & A with Principal of Madison’s Trust

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David Stewart, Principal of Madison’s Trust

Madison’s Trust Elementary in Brambleton will become Loudoun’s newest school when students return to classes Aug. 29.

The school’s name refers to a notable incident during the War of 1812, when the British burned the White House, and important government documents were temporarily hidden in Loudoun County. The word “trust” refers to the faith President James Madison placed in Loudoun residents to keep the records safe, county public schools spokesman Wayde Byard said.

David Stewart is the school’s principal. Stewart, 43, comes to Madison’s Trust from Guilford Elementary School in Sterling, where he was principal for 10 years. Before that, he taught fourth and fifth grades in Spotsylvania and Loudoun counties, and he was assistant principal at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn.

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Beaverdam Reservoir is open — for now

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Beaverdam Reservoir

Last Sunday morning, dozens of water enthusiasts arrived at a cramped parking lot, traveling solo or in small groups. They unloaded brightly colored kayaks, paddle boards and canoes from their vehicles and pushed off from a small incline into a shimmering, 600-acre body of water.

A fisherman cast his line from the shore nearby, while another dropped his line from a boat a few hundred yards away. A great blue heron flew back and forth, close to the surface, scanning for food and occasionally landing on the shore to take in the scene.

The tranquility at Beaverdam Reservoir was striking, in part because it is such a short distance from the traffic and bustle of Ashburn. Because the reservoir supplies drinking water for thousands of Loudoun residents, the scene was undisturbed by the sounds of gas-powered watercraft, which are prohibited to protect the water quality.

The park is open daily from dawn to dusk — but not for long…

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Washington Post, 7/10/16

 

LINK keeps fighting hunger

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LINK’s mobile food pantry in Sterling

Jim Butts says he has witnessed countless changes in the 44 years he has been volunteering for LINK, a nonprofit organization that delivers emergency food to families in Sterling, Herndon and Ashburn. One thing has not changed, however: Despite the prosperity that has come to the region, there are always people who don’t know where they will find their next meal.

Butts and other longtime volunteers have helped keep the faith-based group running for decades without any paid staff members. Hundreds of other volunteers — including businesses, church youth groups, Scouts and intellectually disabled students — join them every month to help combat hunger in Northern Virginia.

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Washington Post, May 15, 2016

Vision for Ashburn Station

One of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Loudoun County is a triangle of undeveloped land along the south side of the Dulles Greenway, bounded roughly by the Greenway, Old Ryan Road and the Loudoun County Parkway. The nondescript parcel — formerly not-very-good farmland — is desirable solely because of its location next to the future site of Ashburn Station, the western terminus of Metro’s Silver Line.

Last month, representatives of the property’s owner — the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation — gave regional business leaders a glimpse of their vision for a possible trail- and transit-based urban community on the site.

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Washington Post, May 1, 2016