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Students walking to Van Metre Hall

It’s not too late to enroll for the fall semester!

The Arlington-based Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University has extended the fall application deadline for domestic applicants to July 15.

The Schar School offers flexible part-time or full-time options for graduate certificate and master’s degree programs designed to teach applicable, real-world knowledge for in-demand careers. Learn more at the upcoming open house. Don’t miss our upcoming virtual open house for a chance to your future program director, chat with our admissions team, and get your questions answered, as well as learn about the new online options available for nearly all of our graduate programs.

Prospective master’s and graduate certificate students who attend this event will be provided with an application fee waiver for the Fall 2022 graduate application.

Master’s and Certificate Virtual Open House
June 8 at 6 p.m. Eastern
This will be the final open house until fall semester

This virtual event is the perfect opportunity to:

  • Explore the school’s top-ranked master’s degree and graduate certificate programs
  • Meet Schar School Dean Mark Rozell, program directors, alumni and admissions team
  • Find out how the program works around a full-time job
  • Learn about your program of interest in depth, including the curriculum, admissions requirements, and career opportunities
  • Ask admissions team members specific questions about the application process

Master’s Degree Programs
Part-time, full-time, and online options available

  • Biodefense, MS
  • International Commerce and Policy, MA
  • International Security, MA
  • Organization Development and Knowledge Management, MS
  • Political Science, MA
  • Public Administration, MPA
  • Public Policy, MPP

To learn more about graduate programs at the Schar School, register for the virtual open house or fill out our inquiry form.

American flags lined up in front of McLean’s Old Firehouse (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Memorial Day weekend is almost here. Before you start planning how to spend the holiday or head to bed for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit the past week of news in Fairfax County.

Here are the 10 most-read stories on FFXnow this week:

  1. Bidding adieu to Reston Town Center, Clyde’s prepares to unveil next course
  2. Reston dive bar, Local VA, shutters at Lake Anne Plaza
  3. Ahead of 2023 opening, Wegmans begins hiring for Reston location
  4. After Texas mass shooting, Fairfax County School Board member proposes new security measure
  5. Buoyed by community effort, man rescued at Reston’s North Shore pool
  6. JUST IN: FCPS bus workers charged with abuse after kid suffers head injury
  7. NEW: Tysons Biergarten returns, opening at Scotts Run this week
  8. EXCLUSIVE: Immersive indoor golfing experience is coming to Reston Town Center
  9. Filipino fried chicken chain Jollibee to open this year in Chantilly
  10. Lidl reveals grand opening date for its new McLean grocery

Ideas for potential stories can be sent to news@ffxnow.com or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the county are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great weekend Fairfax County!

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Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean is known for its creeks and streams (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

With summer on the horizon, visitors are expected to flock to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean, but the Fairfax County Park Authority is warning now: leave the coolers, alcohol, and swimming suits at home.

The park authority and Fairfax County Police Department will step up enforcement of the nature preserve’s rules starting this weekend (May 28-29), a move that has become routine in recent summers.

“The Fairfax County Park Authority will be working collaboratively with the Fairfax County Police Department to ensure only permitted activities take place in this natural area, that people can recreate safely, and that the rules as they apply to alcohol and use of the preserve are observed,” the FCPA said in an announcement on Wednesday (May 25).

Visitors might be ejected from the park and prohibited from returning in the future if they violate the following policies:

No coolers are allowed. No alcohol or glass bottles are permitted in Scott’s Run. Bags will be checked at parking lot trailheads. Enforcement will be stepped up at the waterfall area. The beauty of the falls masks its peril. This area is subject to dangerous currents, and submerged rocks can combine with those currents to make entering the water a deadly decision. Rain upstream can raise water levels astonishingly quickly.

No swimming, wading or boating allowed at Scott’s Run. Crowds in the water threaten the many invertebrates and the remarkable and rare plant species that call the preserve home. Parking is limited to 50 cars in the designated parking areas. No parking is permitted in adjacent neighborhoods or along the roadway leading to the park. Dogs must be on a leash while in the park.

Located at 7400 Georgetown Pike, Scott’s Run Nature Preserve encompasses 385 acres between Georgetown Pike and the Potomac River.

With its scenery and relative seclusion from traffic and other signs of development, the park draws approximately 600 visitors per day annually, but those numbers climb to about 1,000 people a day during the peak season, which is typically summer until early fall, according to FCPA spokesperson Judith Pedersen.

Scott’s Run — the river that bisects the park and feeds into the Potomac — gives the park “one of the rarest biological ecosystems in the mid-Atlantic,” the FCPA said in a 2017 blog post.

The park authority said a perception persists of the preserve as a “safe swimming hole,” despite people getting trapped in the past by high waters and the dangers swimming poses to the environment. The agency also bans alcohol and glass bottles to discourage revelers and littering.

“The park draws people because it is remote and beautiful, but some visitors take advantage of that to drink alcohol illegally and to leave the site trashed,” the FCPA said in the blog post. “Trash is a blight that ruins the next visitor’s park experience and that eventually floats downstream in the Potomac River into the Chesapeake Bay, causing pollution and impacting wildlife.”

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The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Tysons Corner Center’s Summerfest is back.

The annual line-up of free events at the mall’s Plaza ushers in Memorial Day weekend tomorrow (Friday) with a 7 p.m. screening of the Disney film “Encanto,” the first of five planned outdoor movies.

Scheduled for the last Friday of every month through September, the family movie nights will include complimentary popcorn and soft drinks as long as supplies last.

  • June 24: Karate Kid
  • July 29: Cruella
  • Aug. 19: Honey I Shrunk the Kids
  • Sept. 30: Raya and the Last Dragon

The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) will next come to furry life with Paws on the Plaza, a pet-centered festival that will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 4.

The event will feature a dog park and splash pad, a beer garden, free pet caricatures, a DJ, a photo booth, giveaways, and vendors.

Later this summer, the Plaza will travel back through time with a retro summer concert series. Each show will last from 7 to 9 p.m. and showcase a performer representing a different decade, per a press release:

  • June 25: So Fetch (2000s)
  • July 16: JParis Live (1990s)
  • Aug. 13: The Legwarmers (1980s)

For the younger crowd, the band Rocknoceros kicked off a series of kids’ concerts on May 11. The concerts will continue from 11 a.m. to noon on the second Wednesday of every month through September.

Tysons Corner Center has also partnered with the events company DC Fray for happy hour bingo, pingpong, and bean-bag-tossing tournaments at 6-8 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Other recurring activities include “Tysons Fit Club” workouts on Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. and live acoustic or DJ music in the evenings on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

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A patriotic person-shaped sign spotted in Pimmit Hills (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. While there will be plenty of activities to keep Fairfax County occupied, the holiday also means closures and schedule changes on Monday (May 30) for many public facilities.

Public schools

  • All Fairfax County Public Schools and offices will be closed for the holiday, with classes resuming on Tuesday (May 31).

Fairfax County offices and facilities

Fairfax County parks

  • All county rec centers will be open as usual until 6 p.m., except for the George Washington Rec Center.
  • Colvin Run Mill and the Sully Historic Site will be closed.
  • The E.C. Lawrence, Hidden Oaks, Hidden Pond and Huntley Meadows nature centers will be open from noon to 5 p.m.
  • Riverbend Park’s visitor center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Frying Pan Farm Park’s farm and indoor arena will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the visitor center will be closed.
  • Green Spring Gardens will open its horticultural center between noon and 4:30 p.m., but the historic house will be closed.

Public transit

County trash and recycling

  • The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services doesn’t list any impacts to trash and recycling collections for county customers, but those who get service from a private company are advised to contact them directly.
  • DPWES administrative offices will close.
  • The recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be open.

Town of Herndon

  • Town offices and the Herndon Community Center will be closed on Monday.
  • Recycling typically collected on Mondays will be picked up on Tuesday instead.
  • The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Town of Vienna

  • Town offices will be closed.
  • The Vienna Community Center will have more limited hours, operating from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday (May 29) and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday.
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A map shows areas across Virginia and the D.C. region under a tornado watch (via NWS Baltimore-Washington/Twitter)

(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) Tornado and storm warnings briefly usurped earlier weather alerts for Fairfax County as the National Weather Service noted potential dangers and hazards across the region.

“Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles,” NWS said in a Severe Thunderstorm Warning alert. “Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.”

An NWS Baltimore-Washington news feed noted just before noon that a Tornado Warning was in effect for parts of Reston and Great Falls until 12:15 p.m. today (Friday). A watch means tornadoes are possible, whereas warnings mean that they are spotted or indicated by radar.

Fairfax County and surrounding areas were also subject to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 12:30 p.m. today.

Previously, the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch around 6:20 a.m. today that’s in effect until 2 p.m. for Fairfax County and the D.C. region.

Tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail are possible, the NWS said in the earlier alert.

The NWS Baltimore-Washington said on Twitter that scattered gusts could possibly reach 70 mph.

The NWS also issued a Flood Watch at 4:33 a.m. for the county and surrounding areas from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. today. A NWS meteorologist warned that flash flooding is possible due to excessive rainfall.

“Multiple rounds of thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall may lead to scattered instances of flash flooding,” the NWS said.

Due to the storm risks, the county is under a Hazardous Weather Outlook, per the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management:

Multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms are likely starting this morning and continuing through this evening. Localized rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected, though locations that experience multiple rounds of thunderstorms could exceed 3 inches.

If you’re driving, don’t pass through flooded roads. Turn around, don’t drown. Also, keep children away from creeks and streams that may rise rapidly.

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Morning Notes

A path in the Mount Vernon area (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

First Case of Monkeypox Hits Northern Virginia — “A Northern Virginia woman likely has monkeypox, the Virginia Dept. of Health announced today.” [ARLnow]

Man Settles Lawsuit with FCPD — “An unarmed Black man who was shocked with a stun gun wielded by a white Fairfax County police officer in June 2020 has reached a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit, WTOP has learned.” [WTOP]

Closing Arguments Begin in Celebrity Case — After six weeks of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial causing some commotion at the county courthouse, it’s set to come to a close soon. Both sides rested their case on Thursday afternoon, and closing arguments are set to begin today. [WJLA]

Virginia Chamber Orchestra Performing at Botanical Gardens — The VCO is holding weekend concerts at the Korean Bell Garden at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Wolf Trap. The next performance is this Sunday (May 29) from 3-4 p.m. [VCO]

Local Teacher Helps Ukraine — “A teacher from Fairfax County, Virginia, is back from a trip to Poland, where she helped feed refugees who were fleeing Ukraine. Meredith Hedrick, who teaches English as a second language at Annandale High School, took a 10-day trip to participate in humanitarian relief efforts at the busiest border crossing between Poland and Ukraine, which includes vehicle, foot and train traffic.” [WTOP]

Vienna to be Featured on WETA — Vienna will be featured in an episode of “If You Lived Here” on WETA, spotlighting the town. The show is expected to air early next year. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

FCPD Frees Turtle Stuck Under Tire — Fairfax County police tweeted a photo of an animal protection officer holding what appears to be a “smiling” snapping turtle that was rescued from under a car tire and freed. [FCPD/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Rain throughout the day. High of 70 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:26 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County Public Schools currently separates middle school students into “boy” and “girl” groups for sex-education classes (via Samuel Regan-Asante/Unsplash)

Middle school sex education classes in Fairfax County will remain separated by gender going into the next school year.

A majority of the Fairfax County School Board agreed on Tuesday (May 24) to postpone a vote on whether to introduce gender-combined Family Life Education (FLE) classes for students in grades 4-8 and 10th grade, along with other proposed changes intended to make the curriculum more inclusive.

The recommendations came from the FLE Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC), which advises Fairfax County Public Schools staff on instructional materials and goals. FCPS Chief Academic Officer Sloan Presidio said this year’s report contained the most recommended changes he has seen in 10 years with the school system.

At the work session, several board members said they feel more time is needed to study the recommendations and conduct community outreach. FLECAC’s reports are typically open for a 30-day review period around the end of each school year.

“This is for many people an uncomfortable conversation, an uncomfortable topic, and just out of sheer respect for that, I understand the need to have further conversation and engage our families and speak to them as to why this recommendation was made,” Board Chair and Sully District Representative Stella Pekarsky said.

According to the FLECAC report, FCPS currently separates boys and girls in fourth through eighth grade for lessons on puberty, reproductive systems and processes, sexually transmitted infections, and abstinence. 10th grade students are separated for a lesson on self-examinations for breast and testicular cancer.

The committee proposes making those classes co-ed to better include LGBTQ, intersex, and other gender-diverse students, while giving all students the “opportunity to learn about individuals who are different from themselves” and normalizing conversations “that will be important to healthy relationships.”

“Dividing students into boys and girls classes sends a message that bodies different than their own should not be talked about and are mysterious,” the report says. “When students are separated by boys and girls, it affirms a rigid binary based on anatomy.”

Many school divisions across Virginia already combine genders for all or most sex-education classes, including Arlington, Alexandria City, and Virginia Beach City, according to FLECAC, which says in its report that there’s no “available research to support the practice of gender-segregated instruction.”

Karl Frisch and Laura Jane Cohen, who represent the Providence and Springfield districts, respectively, voted against extending the community review period, which FCPS staff said would delay implementation of any changes until the 2023-2024 school year.

“This change would align our program with best practices,” Frisch said.

However, other board members said more time for community feedback is needed to hear from a variety of perspectives, including from students, on FLECAC’s proposals, which also include adding gender to a 10th grade lesson about human sexuality.

FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand told the board that “very few” students opt out of the FLE program, and it’s important that the community understands the rationale for the proposed changes.

“What we want is for families to continue to access this curriculum and not opt out of information that I think is critical for young people,” Brabrand said.

FCPS Pride, an advocacy group for LGBTQ staff and families, said in a statement that it was surprised by the school board’s decision to postpone a vote on the FLE changes. The group says it supports gender-combined classes so students don’t have to “out” themselves or choose a gender, and research suggests more inclusive classes lead to healthier behaviors.

“We are confident that the school board will adopt gender-inclusive FLE classes,” FCPS Pride said. “They are best practices, common around the state and nation, and backed up by a substantial amount of academic and practical research. FCPS is a world-class school system precisely because we learn about and follow research-backed best practices.”

Photo via Samuel Regan-Asante/Unsplash

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At this time next month, McLean diners will be able to grab a hamburger and sit down to a platter of lamb kabobs all in one location.

The D.C.-based chain Z-Burger and Persian restaurant Maman Joon are on track to open at 1408 Chain Bridge Road in early June, Z-Burger owner Peter Tabibian told FFXnow on Monday (May 23).

“We are really excited to open our McLean location,” said Tabibian, who founded both concepts. “We think we got a really, really good site — very visible off the street, easy in, easy out, plenty of parking. We’re going to have really good food, like we’re going to give out gourmet food at fast-food prices.”

Since starting in Tenleytown in 2008, Z-Burger has grown to six locations, all in D.C. The chain once had an Arlington franchise, but that was converted into an All About Burger after a legal dispute between Tabibian and his original business partners.

This will be the first expansion for Maman Joon, which opened in Tenleytown last summer, and it will be Tabibian’s first attempt at co-locating the brands.

For the venture, he has teamed up with Crust Pizzeria Napoletana owner Kevin Ejtemai, a longtime McLean resident with three children attending Churchill Road Elementary School.

Tabibian says they paired Z-Burger with Maman Joon, because the 4,000-square-foot space is large for just one restaurant, and it already had two kitchens. McLean also has a vibrant Persian community, as evidenced by the popularity of businesses like Amoo’s and newcomers like the recently opened Parsa Bakery.

The restaurants will have separate kitchens but share indoor and outdoor seating. Food from Maman Joon will be served with formal plates and silverware, while Z-Burger will operate more like a fast-food or food court eatery, but customers can order from both at the same time.

In addition to custom burgers, the Z-Burger menu consists of chicken and vegetarian sandwiches, hot dogs, cheesesteak, fries and onion rings, and 75 flavors of milkshake.

Maman Joon offers kabobs, wraps, sandwiches, soups, and salads. One highlight is the tofu ghormeh sabzi, an herbed stew that typically comes with beans and lamb or beef. Tabibian says he hasn’t encountered any other restaurants with a vegetarian version of the dish.

“We think that our kabob shop is going to be really busy at night, and the Z-Burger is going to be busy in the day time, with the students,” Tabibian said. “We’ve always done a lot of stuff with the community over the years. We always do fundraisers. We always make it a fun place that people want to hang out at.”

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Kids play soccer on a synthetic turf (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

Fairfax County is exploring how private partnerships could bring more sports facilities to the area, but the five-year journey has now been slightly prolonged by an additional step.

The Board of Supervisors passed a measure on Tuesday (May 24) directing Fairfax County Park Authority and Neighborhood and Community Services staff to address racial and social equity issues when evaluating potential projects with input from Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce and her team.

The additional review follows a consultant report released in August 2020 that identified possible Park Authority sites where private businesses could create sports facilities, such as a complex for 16 “rectangular fields” illustrated as soccer fields, another area for 10 baseball fields, an indoor track facility, a natatorium, and more.

The consultants’ report came through the Sports Tourism Task Force that the county created in 2017. One of the group’s several subcommittees involved Alpine-X representatives seeking to build the Fairfax Peak indoor winter slope facility at a landfill in Lorton.

On Tuesday, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who chaired the task force, asked the board to direct the county executive to call for developers to submit public-private partnership proposals as identified in the report.

“Sports tourism facilities are rapidly developing around the East Coast and throughout Virginia,” he said during the meeting. “Vying to meet the demand of this incredibly recession-proof industry, we need to take advantage of our desirable location and extensive sports community by developing the identified sports tourism facilities.”

However, Chairman Jeff McKay modified that motion, clashing with Herrity on how to move forward. McKay said that some areas of the county largely lack these sports sites.

“We have teams, youth leagues throughout this county, that can’t find space today,” McKay said. “Before we…move forward with advancing larger complexes that might be out of reach for some of them, let’s make sure we understand where…inadequacies exist.”

McKay requested that the county create an equity impact assessment on the sports tourism report by the end of 2022.

The board approved consideration of that alternative 9-1, with Herrity dissenting. With Herrity’s original motion dislodged, the board approved the amended board matter 9-0 for a final vote in which Herrity abstained.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

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