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McLean High School physics/astronomy teacher Jeff Brocketti on “Wheel of Fortune” (courtesy Eric McCandless/Wheel of Fortune®/© 2022 Califon Productions, Inc. ARR)

McLean High School teacher Jeffrey Brocketti can’t wait to tell everyone what he discussed with host Pat Sajak during a “Wheel of Fortune” commercial break.

He will soon be allowed to share that story and more after his episode — the 10th of the game show’s 40th season — airs at 7 p.m. Monday (Sept. 26) on ABC.

When it comes to solving the hangman-style word puzzles, though, even Brocketti may draw a blank when he turns on the TV next week — a common phenomenon, based on conversations with fellow contestants.

“They don’t remember all the puzzles from their show, which sounds ridiculous,” Brocketti told FFXnow. “You’d think this would just be burned into your brain, but it’s not. So, I’m kind of looking forward to seeing the episode, just seeing how it went and does it match my memory of it.”

Brocketti, who has taught physics and astronomy at McLean High for over a decade, describes the experience of filming a show he watched as a child as “surreal.”

He applied to become a contestant “on a whim” in April 2021 at the suggestion of his wife and one of his kids. Initially, he dismissed the idea, but while “sitting around” a few weeks later, he decided it couldn’t hurt, especially since the pandemic had pushed the entire tryout process online.

After submitting the form and a 30-second video pitch, Brocketti admits he forgot about the whole enterprise until this past January, when an unexpected email appeared in his inbox: he’d been selected to participate in a virtual audition.

“The first thing I did was check the email address to make sure it wasn’t some sort of phishing email,” he said. “I thought it was a scam, and once I figured out it was legit, then I realized, oh, this might actually happen.”

Told in February that he made the cut, Brocketti set his DVR to record “Wheel” and watched each night with his family, pretending to compete against the contestants on screen with a pen as a mock buzzer.

He fell out of the routine around mid-April, though, so a backlog of over 70 episodes had accumulated by the time he was told that his episode would film at the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California on July 28.

“I watched over three months’ worth of episodes in two weeks,” Brocketti recalled with a laugh. “So, that was my preparation. Just watch the show and play against the people on TV and try and get better at it.”

In some ways, competing in person was easier than at home, Brocketti says. Unlike on TV, contestants can always see the boards displaying each puzzle and the used letters, and after going through two dress rehearsals, his nervousness evaporated once the real game started.

However, the “flood of information that you have in your brain” made it hard to focus and fully digest the experience, he added.

Brocketti isn’t the first person to represent Fairfax County on “Wheel,” following in the footsteps of a former Chantilly Little League coach who won nearly $123,000. He encourages anyone interested in competing on the show to give it a shot.

“Just try it out, and see what happens,” he said.

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Morning Notes

Why did the geese cross the park trail? (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Person Hospitalized After Vienna Shooting — “Officers are in the 8400 blk of Wesleyan St in Vienna for a shooting. Prelim info, a man shot a roommate inside the home. Victim taken to hospital w/non-life-threatening inj. Suspect is in custody.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Report: Police Declare Personnel Emergency — “Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and senior staff declared a personnel emergency Thursday, according to a police source, which means mandatory overtime for police officers as FCPD grapples with an ongoing police officer shortage.” [ABC7]

Affordable Housing Projects Get State Funds — Virginia has awarded more than $27 million in state loans for affordable and special needs housing projects, including two in Fairfax County, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced last week. The county’s recipients were the Autumn Willow project near Centreville and the One University project by George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. [Patch]

Argument Leads to Stabbing in Centreville — A 32-year-old woman from Falls Church stabbed another woman in the 5700 block of Ottawa Road last Tuesday (July 26) after they got into a dispute, Fairfax County police say. The woman was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The victim received treatment for injuries not considered life threatening. [FCPD]

Herndon Education Company Plans Reston Move — “Stride Inc. will start the school year in drastically smaller space in a new building. The Herndon educational-technology company is slashing its local office space by more than 80% — moving out of approximately 129,000 feet of office space in Herndon and into 22,000 square feet in a new office it will officially open this fall in Reston’s Plaza America.” [Washington Business Journal]

Instagram Account Shows Maintenance Issues at McLean HS — “The bio for the account @mclean.rot on Instagram reads, ‘The best single word to define this school is ‘gross.” With 71 posts, the anonymous student owner of @mclean.rot has been posting an unvarnished look at McLean High School since February, detailing for all a need for serious maintenance.” [Fairfax County Times]

Chantilly Park Gets Grant to Monitor Water — “Fairfax Water recently awarded Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Friends a Water Supply and Protection Grant in the amount of $1,437 in support of ECLP’s water quality monitoring program…This grant will provide funding for on-site water quality monitoring to address potential pollution threats from nearby construction projects.” [FCPA]

Kings Park Neighborhood Gets Spotlight — “Aside from the people and neighborhood celebrations, the amenities and surrounding businesses have also compelled residents to stay in the area. Charlotte Hannagan, a resident since 2014 and Kings Park Civic Association vice president of social outreach, noted that there’s so much within walking distance of the neighborhood.” [The Washington Post]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:11 am and sunset at 8:22 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Relaxing in Penny Lane Park at the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Police and Fire Training Exercise Today — “#FCFRD is conducting a joint training exercise with Fairfax County Police Department at Fairfax County Government Government Center on Wednesday, June 22, between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. There will be a large fire and police presence in the area during this time. #FCPD Helicopter Fairfax 1 will land/take off during the exercise.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Rep. Beyer Wins Democratic Primary — Rep. Don Beyer’s bid for reelection remains alive after he won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District yesterday (Tuesday). Per the Office of Elections, Fairfax County’s turnout reached an estimated 2.5%, as of 3:30 p.m., not including early and absentee voters. [WTOP, Twitter]

Health Aide Under Investigation for Stealing Student Meds — Fairfax County police are investigating a health aide who allegedly took student medications and replaced them with allergy medicine while employed at Greenbriar East Elementary School. The Fairfax County Health Department worker has been placed on administrative leave and could be terminated. [FOX5]

New FCPS Cell Phone Policy Approved — “The policy taking effect in the 2022-2023 school year says students in kindergarten through eighth grade must silence cell phones and put them away for the entire school day. Students in grades nine to 12 must only silence and put away cell phones during classes.” [Patch]

Reduced Charges Possible for Former Freedom Hill ES Workers — “A former teacher and teacher’s aide in Fairfax County, Virginia, accused of abusing non-verbal disabled children entered plea agreements on [June 13] that would result in reduced charges and no jail time.” [NBC4]

Alexandria Man Charged in Springfield Shooting — A 24-year-old Alexandria man got into an argument with the acquaintance in the 2600 block of Redcoat Drive on Sunday (June 19) night around 11 p.m. inside an apartment before police say he shot the person in the upper body and fled. Fairfax County police told FFXnow the victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers located the suspect, who they identified of Antwan Pratt, and arrested him nearby, charging him with aggravated malicious wounding and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Kingstowne House Fire Started by Rags — Two people were displaced on Friday (June 17) by a house fire in the 7800 block of Kincardine Court that caused approximately $90,000 in damages. Investigators determined the blaze started in a first-floor laundry/utility room due to “the improper disposal of rags used for staining wood.” [FCFRD]

Retired Police Dog Dies — “We’re saddened to announce the passing of retired K9 Comak on Saturday. Comak served the Fairfax County community as a patrol dog from 2010 until he retired in 2019. Upon completion of his service, Comak was a beloved member of his handler’s family.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Shared-Use Path Proposed in Centreville — “The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a virtual design public hearing Monday, June 27 on plans to build a shared-use path along Compton Road (Route 658) to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety, accessibility and connectivity to the Cub Run Trail system…The project also includes widening the Compton Road bridge over Cub Run to accommodate the new shared-use path.” [VDOT]

McLean HS Runner Wins State Title — “By finishing first in the girls 1,600-meter race in 4:54.92, McLean High School distance runner Thais Rolly was the lone local winner from schools in the Sun Gazette’s coverage area at the recent Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls and boys outdoor state championship meets.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Inside Capital One Hall in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Depp-Heard Defamation Trial Starts Today — “Three years after actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, for defamation over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse, the case is going to trial on Monday in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia.” [The Washington Post]

Reston Man Indicted for Animal Cruelty — “Sheheryar Kamran, a 20-year-old resident of Reston, Virginia, was indicted on three federal charges related to animal cruelty for allegedly creating and posting videos on social media showing him abusing and killing hamsters. Kamran pleaded ‘not guilty’ in a federal court in Alexandria on February 24, 2022. He is currently awaiting trial set for May 16, 2022.” [FOX5]

TJ Admissions Lawsuit Could go to Supreme Court — The Coalition for TJ, a community group opposed to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s new admissions policy, has filed an emergency application to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to vacate a stay of a judge’s order striking down the changes. Chief Justice John Roberts gave the Fairfax County School Board until Wednesday (April 13) to respond. [Associated Press/WTOP]

Portion of I-66 West to Close Overnight — All westbound lanes will close at Route 28 between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. today (Monday) through Friday, requiring a detour. Crews will install bridge beams for the new Route 28 South bridge as part of the sweeping project to add express lanes on I-66. [VDOT]

Chantilly School Introduces “Walking Club” — The introduction of recess at Rocky Run Middle School this year inspired a teacher to supervise a ‘walking club’ for students and teachers who spend the break taking a stroll outside. The activity is part of a countywide pilot in anticipation of Fairfax County Public Schools requiring recess for middle schools this fall, a policy set to be approved Thursday (April 14). [WTOP]

Tysons Dim Sum Restaurant Enters D.C. — “After opening two grand dim sum parlors in the suburbs, restaurateur Chris Zhu is ready to expand to DC. The China Garden (Rockville) and Han Palace (Tysons) owner will open a 70-seat branch of her Cantonese restaurant in Woodley Park on Sunday, April 10.” [Washingtonian]

McLean HS Lands New Football Coach — “Prior to accepting the job as the new McLean High School head football coach, Joe Cockerham held a variety of positions on different high school and college staffs. Cockerham, 34, believes those experiences will help him build a consistent winner of the Highlanders at McLean.” [Sun Gazette]

Hybla Valley Walmart Shoplifting Leads to Assault — Police responding to a shoplifting complaint at 7910 Richmond Highway reportedly found a 35-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman concealing merchandise. The woman ran, and the man assaulted officers. The man was arrested and taken to the hospital for injuries not considered life threatening. [FCPD]

McLean Symphony Marks 50th Anniversary — The McLean Symphony held a concert at Capital One Hall on Saturday (April 9) to celebrate 50 years of existence, all of them led by conductor Dingwall Fleary. The concert featured two premieres of original compositions, including one by a local student, and the attendance of Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears.

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:39 am and sunset at 7:43 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Construction cranes above the Tysons skyline (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Suspect in Attacks on Unhoused People Previously Jailed in Fairfax County — “Gerald Brevard III, 30, had been in and out of jail in D.C., Virginia and Maryland on varying charges including assaulting a police officer and shoplifting, court records show. Most recently he served several months in Fairfax County jail after he was arrested on an abduction charge that was reduced to misdemeanor assault in a plea agreement.” [The Washington Post]

Man Arrested for Herndon Sexual Assault — “Andy Josue Calix Mejia, 23, of Sterling was arrested for sexually assaulting a juvenile last year in the Town of Herndon, according police…The incident happened March 25, 2021, in the 500 block of Florida Avenue.” [Patch]

Part of Springfield Town Center for Sale — Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust disclosed in an earnings release Monday (March 14) that it is selling a hotel development parcel at Springfield Town Center for $2.5 million. Roughly 3 million square feet of new development are planned at the 78-acre mall campus, which will host the D.C. area’s first LEGO Discovery Center next year. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Kid Designs App to Improve Virtual Learning — “Kingsley Thach, a third-grader at Willow Springs Elementary off Braddock Road in western Fairfax, said the app, inspired by the pandemic and launched in January, helps to bridge the communication gap between students, teachers and parents.” [Inside NoVA]

Scottish Police Tour FCPD Facilities — “Police officials from Scotland visited the Fairfax County Police Department last week to tour the department’s facilities and learn the latest policing techniques and strategies from the largest jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.” [Patch]

Annandale Karaoke Bar Plans Opening — “Glam Karaoke could have a soft opening as early as this Friday, reports manager Chris Cho. It’s located in the former Kmart auto shop on 6369 John Marr Drive in what’s now called the East Gate Shopping Center.” [Annandale Today]

Vienna Prepares to Replace Invasive Trees — “The view will soon change along the Nutley Street median. Work is expected to begin next week to replace invasive Callery pear trees with native species. To learn more about the project, click here.” [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

McLean High School Runners Win State Titles — “In his final attempt to win the boys 1,000-meter race at the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 indoor track and field state championships, the McLean High School senior closed the deal. Running with a sore right hip, [Xavier] Jemison won in a personal-best time of 2:26.45 seconds, with that his race strategy working as planned.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain overnight. High of 66 and low of 45. Sunrise at 7:20 a.m. and sunset at 7:18 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Train near Tysons Corner Center food court (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Google to Buy Reston Company for Billions — “Reston, Virginia-based cybersecurity company Mandiant will be acquired by Google for $5.4 billion. Mandiant, founded in 2004, has about 2,300 employees, including more than 600 consultants and more than 300 intelligence analysts responding to thousands of security breaches a year.” [WTOP]

Court Hears School Masking Lawsuit — Attorneys for parents of immunocompromised children and Virginia made arguments on Monday (March 7) for and against letting schools mandate masks in some situations to accomodate students with disabilities. The Fairfax County School Board filed a brief in support of the parents, calling the state’s optional mask law unconstitutional. [Inside NoVA]

Historic District Approved for Hollin Hills — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday (Tuesday) to designate Hollin Hills near Hybla Valley as a Historic Overlay District. The move requires property owners and developers to get the Architectural Review Board’s approval for some projects, including demolitions and home additions. [Fairfax County Government]

Local Ukrainian Americans Fear for Families — “Three Ukrainian Americans contacted by Annandale Today are stressed out, barely able to sleep, and worried about their relatives back home, as the brutal invasion by Russia continues.” [Annandale Today]

Saslaw Leads Negotiations on Possible NFL Stadium — “Virginia would kick in no more than $350 million in state tax revenue to build a potential home for the Washington Commanders under a new plan…Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who had first estimated that the state would forfeit about $1 billion for a stadium, said Tuesday that he had insisted on the cap in recent negotiations with the team.” [The Washington Post]

Cars Preferred Over Metro Despite Worsening Traffic — “The latest numbers from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments indicate traffic in our area is about 95% of what it was pre-pandemic, while Metrorail numbers show as of last week riders were only taking about 29% of the number of trips they took pre-pandemic on an average weekday in 2019.” [ABC7]

McLean High Alumnus Takes Center Stage — “A graduate of McLean High School is coming home to Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia. Alex Stone stars in the national tour of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Friday through Sunday.” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Rain is expected, mainly before 2 p.m. The high today is near 41 and low around 35. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. The sun rose at 6:27 a.m. and will set at 6:10 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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