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Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A man was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) after reportedly pointing an object that observers initially thought might be a gun at Cunningham Park Elementary School students.

Vienna police were dispatched to the school around 12:51 p.m. in response to a report of a suspicious person described “as an older white male with no shirt, who possibly had a long gun and was pointing it at students,” the Town of Vienna Police Department said in a news release today (Wednesday).

The person who called in the report said they didn’t know whether the object was a toy gun, according to police.

“Upon arrival, officers talked to different sources who confirmed that no firearm was present and that the suspect picked up a metal object and pointed it at students,” VPD said. “He was last seen heading toward Cedar Lane.”

According to police, a man who fit the given description was later spotted bathing in the water fountain at the Vienna Town Green.

Apparently intoxicated, the man was arrested and identified as William Holland of no fixed address, police said. He has been charged with being drunk in public and brandishing within 1,000 feet of a school.

Police conducted a search of the man but didn’t find any weapons, the department says.

VPD says officers learned through a fingerprint search that the man was facing an indecent exposure charge in Alexandria. The city’s police department had a warrant out for him under the name “Mike Astor.”

According to VPD spokesperson Juan Vasquez, the man gave his name as William Holland to the officer who arrested him, but when his fingerprints were collected at the Fairfax County jail, the database matched them to the other name.

The Alexandria City Police Department didn’t immediately return FFXnow’s request for comment.

The man is currently being held on no bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. He has been barred from all Fairfax County Public Schools.

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When Cunningham Park Elementary School Principal Katherine Le asked if she would paint a mural for the school, Ellen Singletary responded as any job interviewee would: she said yes.

Singletary landed the job, becoming the art teacher for the Vienna school of roughly 400 students, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it took more than two years for that proposed mural to materialize.

With about 70 volunteer hours and $1,200 worth of paint and other supplies, Singletary transformed the long, winding sidewalk that connects the school’s main building to its playground into a rainbow-hued journey through rain clouds, mermaids, dragons and most daunting of all, a replication of the mini-roundabout at Park and Locust streets.

“It looks very good. It’s amazing,” kindergarten student Connor Pollak said on Wednesday (March 30), when students, staff and parents gathered after school to celebrate the project with an “Art Walk.”

The idea for the sidewalk mural preceded Singletary’s hiring at Cunningham Park, originating in a first-grade classroom as part of a project-based learning exercise that all grades were required to develop in 2018.

Inspired by the sidewalk’s resemblance to the layout for the board game “Candy Land,” the students drew designs that could be painted on different squares or sections of the pavement. Some proposals were straightforward, such as tic-tac-toe or hopscotch, while others went a little more wild.

Estefany, who, like her classmates, is now in fourth grade, recalls that she “wanted all of it to be about candy.”

Singletary was gearing up to put the students’ designs together when COVID-19 arrived, and Fairfax County Public Schools shuttered all buildings in March 2020, putting the project on hold.

Erica Lee, president of Cunningham Park’s Parent Teacher Association, suggested reviving the mural this past August as students prepared to return to classrooms after more than a year of virtual learning.

At first, Singletary wasn’t so sure it was the right time. She knew the project would be time-consuming, and since this was her first-ever attempt at a sidewalk mural, she worried it wouldn’t last through the weather and getting trampled by dozens of feet daily.

Le encouraged her to dive in anyway, noting that the mural could be repainted if it wears down.

“It was really nice to have the freedom and this environment to work within where I could experiment,” Singletary said. “…That’s the same thing I hope to do for my students. When you’re creating art, if you’re not making mistakes and failing here or there, then you’re not really going through the artistic process.” Read More

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