Fairfax County Public Schools is moving forward with a name change for W.T. Woodson High School.
The Fairfax County School Board voted 10-0 with two members absent on Thursday (Oct. 12) to drop former FCPS superintendent Wilber Tucker Woodson as the namesake of the 61-year-old school at 9525 Main Street outside Fairfax City.
The decision came after a month of public outreach in settings both formal — as in a public hearing on Oct. 10 — and informal, according to Braddock District School Board Representative Megan McLaughlin, who brought the issue to the full board last month.
“As a two-generation Woodson family, resident, homeowner, I continue to hold incredible pride for the school and to be a part of this community,” McLaughlin said. “But I also hope that, in our community conversations with each other and having spoken with leaders of our athletic boosters, with our [parent teacher student organization] leaders, with our student leaders, there has been quite an understanding that…as a board and a body, we know how important it is to have names on a building that can inspire all students, our staff and our community.”
As superintendent from 1929 to 1961, Woodson oversaw FCPS during a pivotal period of growth, but the recent discovery of a letter where he denounced integration gave momentum to calls for a name change, including from members of the Black Student Union, McLaughlin previously told FFXnow.
Opposition to renaming the school slightly outweighed support in an online survey that received 1,415 responses from Sept. 15 to noon on Oct. 12, according to a presentation that Superintendent Michelle Reid gave to the school board at Thursday’s meeting.
The balance was tipped mostly by self-identified alumni, some of them old enough to recall “positive interactions” with Woodson as he stayed present in the community after his retirement, McLaughlin said. Concerns included the potential cost and the “very strong connection” some felt to the existing name.
However, a majority of parents or caregivers and “other” respondents — a category that encompassed students, staff and miscellaneous community members — said they are “very likely” to support a name change, which was also favored by all but one of the handful of individuals who testified at the Oct. 10 public hearing.
In a statement read by at-large member Abrar Omeish since she had to leave before the renaming vote came up, the school board’s student representative Rida Karim, a junior at Woodson, said her discussions with fellow students indicated most of them support a change as “a crucial step towards fostering a more inclusive environment.”
“The potential of renaming W.T. Woodson represents a significant step towards justice and unity,” Karim said in the statement. “It serves as a reminder that our present should not be constrained or defined by the past, and a new school name would embody the strength of our community, our compassion and a belief in our commitment to providing for each student, irrespective of their background.”
After last week’s vote, FCPS has shifted into a second phase of community engagement to determine the school’s new name.
The school board proposed Carter G. Woodson, a Virginia native known as the “father of Black history.” More than 450 survey respondents said they would support that, but 369 people suggested alternatives, led by nine submissions of Little River High School in reference to the school’s location near Little River Turnpike.
An online form for feedback and questions on the renaming is now open through Nov. 1. FCPS will hold a community meeting at Woodson High School on Monday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 24. The school board is set to vote on the new name on Nov. 9.
Shoppers at the Route 29-adjacent Costco might notice some major changes soon.
The wholesale company is seeking a special exception from Fairfax County to increase the size of its existing retail warehouse at 4725 West Ox Road by around 8,500 square feet and enhance some of the store’s departments.
The new addition would be located to the eastern side of the building.
“The additional space proposed for the existing warehouse building would be utilized for upgrading and expanding the delicatessen and rotisserie area, increasing the size of the refrigerated meat storage space, constructing a new produce cooler, and expanding sales aisles,” the application said. “There will be slight increase in [floor area ratio].”
The application says Costco’s Fairfax area location is a popular one, with around 5,000 customers per day. The expansion is estimated to bring in another approximately 300 customers.
The company also anticipates hiring another 16 employees if the addition is approved, bringing its total workforce for that location to approximately 286 people.
The expansion is expected to result in dozens more vehicle trips to the already heavily frequented site, according to the application:
- 26 AM peak hour trips (14 in/12 out)
- 37 PM peak hour trips (18 in/19 out)
- 63 Saturday peak hour trips (31 in/32 out)
- 417 weekday average daily trips (7,453 Weekday average trips total)
- 753 Saturday average daily trips (8,218 Saturday trips total)
“The proposed expansion of the retail warehouse building will provide a significant improvement to the operation of the facility for Costco’s members,” the application said. “The proposed amendment conforms to the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance and the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan. Therefore, for the reasons set forth herein, the Applicant respectfully requests approval of this Special Exception Amendment application.”
The county accepted the application for review on Sept. 6, but no hearings have been scheduled yet.
The proposal comes after Costco got the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval in March to expand the gas station at its West Ox location from 16 to 30 fuel pumps.
Image via Google Maps
Woodson High School may soon drop “W.T.” from the beginning of its name.
The Fairfax County School Board launched a formal process last week to consider renaming the school just outside Fairfax City, adding it to a growing list of local institutions and landmarks whose monikers have been reevaluated in recent years.
Crediting students with advocating for change, the school board has suggested adopting scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson — the “Father of Black History” — as the school’s namesake in place of Wilbur Tucker Woodson, whose long tenure as Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent included opposition to desegregation.
“I truly believe it will be and can be a remarkable moment for our county, for a solemn reckoning of our county and our Commonwealth’s segregationist past and a reconciliation and a healing,” said Braddock District School Board Representative Megan McLaughlin, who introduced the proposal at a work session on Sept. 12.
The proposal was co-sponsored by six other school board members, including all three at-large members and three other members — Karl Frisch (Providence), Ricardy Anderson (Mason) and Laura Jane Cohen (Springfield) — who also represent portions of the Woodson area.
Now serving over 2,400 students, Woodson was the largest school in Fairfax County and Virginia when it originally opened its doors in fall 1962 — just over a year after W.T. Woodson retired in June 1961, according to FCPS.
Appointed superintendent from 1929 to 1961, Woodson oversaw FCPS as it evolved from a smattering of small schoolhouses into one of the state’s largest districts, growth fueled by the county’s population boom following World War II.
When he died in 1983, a Washington Post obituary described Woodson as “a gradualist” who believed Black and white students should be integrated over time, starting with first graders, rather than all at once.
However, in a 1959 letter to a school board member, Woodson called desegregating schools “most unfair” because it would force “social adjustments to which so many parents strongly object.” In addition to fearing “social mixing,” he warned integration would reduce political and financial support for public schools.
According to McLaughlin, concerns about Woodson High School’s name have cropped up in the past, but it wasn’t given the same priority as schools with clear nods to the Confederacy, like J.E.B. Stuart (now Justice High School), Robert E. Lee (renamed after Rep. John Lewis) and Mosby Woods (now Mosaic Elementary School).
That changed when an FCPS staff member found the 1959 letter while researching the system’s history with segregation, confirming that Woodson’s resistance to integration reflected his personal beliefs, not just adherence to state policy.
“The school board may consider a change in the name of an existing school or facility to ensure an inclusive, respectful learning environment,” McLaughlin told FFXnow. “It’s not inclusive when you have the name of an individual on a building that we now have a document that shows that he believed in the merits of segregation.”
Noting that several of her family members have attended Woodson, including her husband, brothers and children, McLaughlin stressed her desire to approach the renaming process with “humility,” even as she hopes the community will support Carter G. Woodson as an alternate name. Read More
Updated at 3:24 pm: The man was take into custody without incident.
Earlier: Local police are investigating as a man barricaded himself in a home on Piney Grove Drive in Merrifield this afternoon.
The man reportedly exposed himself in front of children and retreated into his home, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
FCPD’s crisis negotiators and co-responders are on the scene. Residents are encouraged to avoid the area as the investigation continues.
Officers are in the 9000 blk of Piney Grove Dr in Merrifield for a man barricaded inside a home. Earlier today the man exposed himself in front of children & retreated into his home. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/NeycTz0SQW
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) September 7, 2023
As the upcoming school year approaches, many families face the difficult task of purchasing a lengthy list of school supplies when money for housing, food and other life necessities is already stretched thin.
One local organization is working to alleviate this stress for thousands of Fairfax County families.
Fairfax-based nonprofit Britepaths is seeking community donations for its Back to School Drive, which can be made through its website until Aug. 31. Checks, made out to Britepaths, can also be mailed to 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22030 with “BTS23” as the memo line.
The funds will provide new backpacks and school supplies to 2,500 Fairfax County Public Schools students in need, according to a press release. A donation of $25 will provide supplies and a backpack for one student.
“It is incredible to think about the fact that Fairfax County is one of the five wealthiest counties in the country, and yet one in 14 children in our community lives in poverty,” Britepaths’ Executive Director Lisa Whetzel said. “…Community members who sponsor students in our Back to School campaign are doing so much more than providing supplies and backpacks. They’re helping young people whose lives can be stressful start off the school year with confidence, dignity and the tools they need to succeed.”
Recipients of these supplies include elementary schools — Daniels Run, Eagle View, Providence, Willow Springs, Bailey’s Upper and Glen Forest — as well as high schools like Fairfax, Fairfax Adult, Justice, and Lewis.
Organizations may also choose to sponsor or cosponsor all students at a specific partner school. This year, local car dealership Jim McKay Chevrolet chose to sponsor Willow Springs students.
“Our personal connections to Willow Springs Elementary School and knowledge of the work that Britepaths does made it an easy decision to become a sponsor for Britepaths’ Back to School program,” Jim McKay Chevrolet President Kathy McKay said. “We hope the community will join us in supporting this effort to ensure that students are ready to learn at the start of the school year.”
Britepaths has been supporting Fairfax County and Northern Virginia residents in need since 1984. It aims to “stabilize families with supplemental food and financial assistance” and “build resilience through financial education and workforce development coaching and IT training,” the press release says.
In 2023, the nonprofit assisted 11,000 individuals in over 7,000 households using community funding and volunteer support.
For more information, Britepaths can be reached by phone at 703-273-8829 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-owners and brothers-in-law Nhan Nguyen and Chi Phan moved into the shopping center after selling their original restaurant Pho Bytes (11211 Lee Hwy), which was just a few miles away. The duo sought a fresh start after experiencing complications with their previous third partner and the restaurant’s setup.
“The kitchen [at Pho Bytes] was run down so bad, and we couldn’t afford to renovate the kitchen, so we sold that, and we build a new one here,” Phan said.
After a difficult, long renovation process, Pho Towda finally welcomed customers for a soft opening from July 10 to July 13.
Nguyen, who also owns a cybersecurity company, says Pho Towda staff were “overwhelmed” by the customers that arrived after a friend advertised the soft opening in Northern Virginia Foodies, a Facebook group with over 100,000 members.
“We didn’t expect to have that many people show up for two, three days,” Nguyen said. “…We [sold] out all the food on the first day, and we had to close an hour early, and then the second day, the same thing.”
Unprepared for so many customers, the restaurant descended into chaos. Customers complained about long wait times, as young, inexperienced servers struggled to handle the rush, and the kitchen, led by Phan, became backed up with constant orders, Nguyen says.
After three days, the pair knew they had to regroup and adjust their strategy, so they shut down and delayed their grand opening to Monday, July 17. They worked to implement the feedback they received from friends, family and customers — namely, improving wait times.
“We had to look at how to improve our process,” Nguyen said. “…We did a taste test, and we [re-trained] all the servers to make sure that they knew all the food inside and out.”
Since reopening, Nguyen says operations have been “a lot smoother,” though they had to forgo some beloved practices, such as offering hand-cut noodles, to shorten wait times.
Pho Towda cooks “authentic Vietnamese food” with a modern American “twist,” specializing in banh mi and pho, according to Nguyen. Its name comes from the signature dish, pho tho da, a noodle soup served in a hot stone bowl.
“A lot of customer request hot soup…so I kept thinking and come up with the hot stone bowl,” Phan, the head chef and innovator behind Pho Towda’s menu, said. “It takes at least 10, 15 minutes to heat the stone bowl and make it hot, and it keeps the soup hot for longer.” Read More
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) The long-fought activism of one local resident has culminated in the Fairfax County Police Department changing its approach to publicly identifying where crimes occur.
Arlington-based blogger Dave Statter announced on Wednesday, July 12 that Police Chief Kevin Davis has committed to having FCPD public information officers and social media channels use community names, rather than postal addresses, in public safety announcements, clearing up decades of confusion.
A crash in the Fort Belvoir area, for instance, will no longer be described as happening in Alexandria, when the city’s limits are almost 10 miles away.
(1) NEW: My battle of 40 years is over. 2 weeks ago @ChiefKDavis committed to having @FairfaxCountyPD stop using phrases like "Alexandria/Falls Church section of Fairfax County". Instead, they'll use community names within the county. As you can see it has already begun. (more) pic.twitter.com/wCy4tTeTHP
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) July 12, 2023
Known for his coverage of fire, EMS and police issues on Twitter and his blog, Statter argues that relying on postal addresses when informing the public of crime and safety incidents leads news outlets to share “imprecise” reports that associate murders or robberies in the wrong jurisdiction.
He says this issue is most relevant in Falls Church and Alexandria, two independent cities that share often unclear boundaries with Fairfax County.
The frequent conflation of the two cities with Fairfax County stems from the U.S. Postal Service providing a large swath of Fairfax County residents with Falls Church and Alexandria addresses, Statter claims. These addresses are provided to news outlets by PIOs when pinpointing the location of a crime, giving “people the impression that more crime was occurring in Alexandria [and Falls Church] than what was actually occurring,” Statter told FFXnow.
“The postal service created these artificial boundaries that don’t align with the real political boundaries that are on the map,” Statter said. “And you will often find a national story that says something that occurred in a town somewhere, but it really didn’t occur in that town — it was outside that town in a different jurisdiction. So it’s a problem that people have ignored for many years. I’m trying not to let them ignore it.”
The “general confusion” around city and county limits has also left many residents scratching their heads over where they really live and generated constant citizen inquiries to local governing bodies, Falls Church Communication Director Susan Finarelli says.
“People try to pay taxes to the city of Falls Church when, in fact, they live in Fairfax County,” Finarelli said. “…It is something that City of Falls Church government employees deal with all the time. I even copy and paste a statement of, ‘Oh, thank you so much for your email. Your address is actually in the Fairfax County part of Falls Church. Here’s how you can contact Fairfax County for that service.'”
To remedy this issue, which he says is not only endemic to Northern Virginia but the entire country, Statter has spent 41 long years advocating for PIOs and news outlets to instead use community and neighborhood names, such as Bailey’s Crossroads or Mount Vernon. Read More
Taco Bamba Taqueria’s latest location will welcome Fairfax residents through its doors this fall.
While there is no “firm date” for an opening just yet, Taco Bamba fans can expect the storefront at Fair Lakes Promenade (12239 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive) to open “before the end of the year,” award-winning chef and owner Victor Albisu told FFXnow in a statement.
With preparation for the new restaurant still in early stages, Taco Bamba has yet to release concrete details about the new location’s offerings, but Albisu says guests “can expect killer mezcal-based cocktails and a list of tacos that draws inspiration from the diverse surrounding community.”
Located next to Nothing Bundt Cakes, this Taco Bamba will be the seventh in the Fairfax County area and the second near Fairfax City, with another storefront located just five miles away in University Mall (10653 Braddock Road).
“We think there is an opportunity to bring our unique style of taqueria to this neighborhood, and we’re really excited about the space,” Albisu said.
Since then, Albisu has grown Taco Bamba into a wildly popular Mexican chain with 12 locations across the D.C. region and Tennessee. It plans to open five new storefronts by the end of 2023 and into 2024.
“Every new opening is exciting because we challenge ourselves to come up with unique food and cocktail menus,” Albisu wrote.
Rain is pouring down on Fairfax County, raising the risk of flooding.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for the central portion of the county, including Oakton, Annandale, Merrifield and Fairfax City.
In effect until 6:30 p.m., the warning anticipates up to 3 inches of rain in the affected areas. As of 3:25 p.m., between half-an-inch and 1.5 inches had already fallen.
“Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads,” the NWS said. “Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Basement flooding can occur quickly and create a life-threatening situation. If you are in a basement, or a residence below street level, move to a higher floor immediately.”
The full flood warning is below:
* Flash Flood Warning for…
Western Arlington County in northern Virginia…
Central Fairfax County in northern Virginia…
The Northwestern City of Alexandria in northern Virginia…
The City of Fairfax in northern Virginia…
The City of Falls Church in northern Virginia…
* Until 630 PM EDT.
* At 325 PM EDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the warned area. Between 0.5 and 1.5 inches of rain have fallen. Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are possible in the warned area. Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly.
HAZARD…Flash flooding caused by thunderstorms.
IMPACT…Flash flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other poor drainage and low-lying areas.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. — According to Fairfax Alerts, high water has closed Prosperity Avenue at Morningside Drive in the Mantua area.
As of 4:20 p.m., 926 Dominion Energy customers had lost electricity, according to the utility’s outage map.
The largest outages are in Springfield north of the Mixing Bowl, where 547 people are without power and the estimated time of restoration is 5-10 p.m. Another 147 customers have been affected by outages in Lincolnia, where power is expected to return between 7 p.m. and midnight.
Updated at 4:55 p.m. — Woodburn Road at Spicewood Drive has also closed as a result of high water, per Fairfax Alerts. The closure is located just south of Accotink Creek.
Updated at 6:25 p.m. — A Flood Warning has now been issued, extending to 9 p.m. The NWS says 1-4 inches of rain have fallen so far in the central Fairfax area, along with Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church.
“Flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations is imminent or occurring,” the NWS said. “Streams continue to rise due to excess runoff from earlier rainfall.”
A Flash Flood Warning has been issued for Fairfax, Falls Church and Arlington until 6:30pm.
⚠️ Do not cross flooded roads
👀 Watch for areas of high water
💡 Lights on with wipers
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) July 5, 2023
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) July 5, 2023
Fairfax County has officially welcomed two new Flagship Carwash locations.
The regional car washing and detailing company recently added shops in Fairfax City and Annandale. Another location opened in Woodbridge, bringing the number of locations in Virginia to 23.
The Fairfax and Woodbridge locations are now open. A grand opening weekend event is set for the Annandale location at 7333 Little River Turnpike today through Sunday (June 16-18).
Free car washes, prize raffles and giveaways will be offered. Annandale residents will also get 50% off of the first month of unlimited membership through June 30.
Previously a Soaps & Suds Carwash, the Annandale location was renovated to “bring equipment and technology up to Flagship standards,” according to the company.
The Fairfax location is located at 10874 Fairfax Blvd. It’s open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“We’re thrilled to open our doors to three more communities in Virginia, meeting a long-time, growing demand for an efficient and high-quality car washes,” Flagship Carwash Vice President and General Manager Dave Dittman said. “We understand the toll the DMV’s climate takes on our cars so we’re proud to offer the flexibility and convenience of our subscription programs with so many locations to choose from around your home or work.”
The company was founded in 1986. Flagship Carwash owns and operates more than 30 full-service and express car wash locations, including in Vienna and Herndon.