Fairfax County Public Schools Named “Achievement District”

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is one of 388 school districts in the U.S. to be named an Advanced Placement (AP) Achievement District by the College Board.  The list recognizes school districts that make AP courses available to a broader pool of students as well as maintain or increase the percentage of students who earn a score of 3 or higher on AP tests.

To be named an AP Achievement District, school districts must:

  • Increase participation in or access to AP courses by at least four percent (for large school systems).
  • Show a steady or increasing percentage of exams taken by minority students, including African American, Hispanic, and Native American students.
  • Maintain or improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of exams scoring a 3 or higher in 2010 to those in 2008, or if a school already has 70 percent of AP students scoring a 3 or higher.

From 2008 to 2010, FCPS increased the number of students participating in AP from 14,220 in 2008 to 15,270 in 2010 while improving the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher, the score typically needed to earn college credit, from 72 percent in 2008 to 74 percent in 2010.

Projected enrollment for Fairfax County Public Schools for the current school year is 175,296.  It is the largest school district in the state and the 11th largest in the U.S.



Northern Virginia leads the economic way for DC area

The Washington, D.C. area has emerged from the recent recession with Northern Virginia leading the way, a George Mason University economist recently told local Realtors.

George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller said the economic recovery has been underway for about 17 months and is stronger than analysts expected.

He pointed to bright spots for the No. Virginia economy:

1) Employment: Fuller said the manufacturing segment has led the economy out of the downturn with increased hiring for 17 months in a row. Gross domestic product is higher now than when the recession started in November 2007.

2) Housing Shortage: He also predicted a future housing shortage for the region.
According to Fuller, the area likely will absorb about 700,000 more people in  coming decades and needs to build about 35,000 housing units per year to keep up  with demand.

While some apartment developers may err on the side of overbuilding, Fuller said  more condominiums and smaller townhouses and single-family house are  being  built. The number of larger single-family developments is declining

But don’t uncork the champagne just yet.  He also said consumer confidence remains low, despite the good economic news.

Metro station stop goes underground at Dulles

While the Tysons landscape is dotted with cranes and trusses for the first phase of the Metrorail to Dulles, it is a station stop in phase two that made headlines this week.

The board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority voted 9-4 in favor of an underground station stop at Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VA.

It will be closer than the above ground option.  By about 600 feet.  Supporters say underground will be more convenient, especially for travelers with lots of luggage.

And the price tag for going underground? $330 million more than an above ground station.

The airport stop is scheduled for the second phase of the Metrorail project. Phase two will run from Wiehle Avenue in Reston to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun. The project is expected to cost $3.5 billion, including the underground stop, and open in late 2016.  However, the additional time needed to build an underground stop may push the opening to mid-2017.

Phase one, now under construction, will connect to the East Falls Church station and include four stations in Tysons Corner. It is scheduled to open in 2013.

Fairfax County officials have endorsed the less-expensive aboveground option.

McLean’s Spring Hill Rec Center gets indoor, outdoor facelift

Last summer it was the interior. Now, if you’ve passed by the growing mounds of dirt surrounding McLean’s Spring Hill Recreation Center, there’s no doubt it’s time for the exterior.

Changes started last August when the center closed for renovations to the air conditioning system, locker rooms, classrooms and fitness room.  Those were completed in October.  The center, managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority, includes a heated indoor 25-yard by 25-meter pool with ramp and two one-meter diving boards, a poolside spa, beach and wading areas.

This is the first renovation to the center since it opened in 1988.

Parking will double when 250 new spaces are completed in June. A new entrance, replacing the one on Art Nauman Lane, will take a little longer since it will include a new traffic light on Lewinsville Rd. in front of Spring Hill Elementary and the Rec Center.

Finally two new artificial turf fields for soccer will be built near the corner of Lewinsville Rd. and Spring Hill Rd. Those are in addition to the two turf fields that opened at the center in 2008.

For now it’s a bit of mess. (Wear your work boots when you visit Spring Hill Rec.) But soon its transition will benefit all in the McLean, Tysons Corner and Fairfax County communities.

Homes for sale in Mclean

Summer season at Wolf Trap a fun, eclectic line-up

If you like Broadway shows, but can’t afford the tickets. Want a night at the symphony but can’t seem to make the time. Or are ready to revisit those rock and roll songs from your youth, make a date with Wolf Trap this summer.

The summer concert season at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center kicks off Memorial Day weekend with an eclectic mix of comedy, concerts and symphonies.

Where else can you see The Monkees (yes, those Monkees) on a Sunday night
and enjoy the Mormon Tabernacle Choir the following Wednesday? Huey Lewis and the News will slip in right after the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet but before “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Located between the Dulles Toll Road and Leesburg Pike/Rte. 7 in Vienna, Wolf Trap’s Filene Center will host more than 90 performances from late May through mid-September.

The amphitheater nestled in the National Park for the Performing Arts, seats 7,028 including more than 3,000 lawn seats.

This year’s line-up includes perennial favorites Garrison Keillor (of Prairie Home Companion fame), Bill Cosby, The Beach Boys and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Broadway visits Wolf Trap with performances of “Sweeney Todd,” “Mama Mia” and Fiddler.

Take a step back in time with concerts by The Go-Go’s, Peter Frampton, The Temptations, The Four Tops and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Symphony lovers will enjoy performances by the National Symphony Orchestra with “Tcheers to Tchaikovsky,” and “Three Broadway Divas.”

Tickets are now on sale for many shows. (Too many to list here) For a full list of the summer concert series and ticket availability, see wolftrap.org.

Make plans for a great night (or two) under the stars or, as Wolf Trap says, “Where the arts come out to play.”


Time to get in shape, FIT3 debuts in Tysons Corner

If you are looking forward to Tysons Corner becoming a walk-able neighborhood, it may be time to get in shape. FIT3, billing itself as “America’s largest fitness, health and wellness superstore” opened its doors in October at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Spring Hill Rd., home to a former Circuit City.

The 20,000 square foot store is the first in what the owners hope will become a nationwide chain.

FIT3 is part sports specialty retailer and part fitness center. It sells top brand fitness equipment and accessories as well as specialty products for yoga, boxing and mixed martial arts. And why not get in a workout while you are shopping? Tucked between the racks of workout gear is a yoga studio (free classes daily), simulated running track and martial arts/boxing ring.

They also sell vitamins, nutrition supplements and athletic footwear, featuring computerized, personalized sizing. It is a one-a-kind, one-stop-shop for fitness, exercise and nutrition that is big, bright and new. And while we can’t control the traffic on Leesburg Pike, we can tell you the parking at FIT3 is spacious and free.