Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares was in Manassas today, Thursday, May 25, 2023, to discuss a new plan to give child ID kids to middle school students.
The kits are part of the National Child ID Program and contain places to hold identifiable information about a child, including a photo, DNA, and fingerprints if a child goes missing. The children will be instructed to take the kids home to their parents.
“This is like fire insurance. You will only give this to the authorities if the unthinkable happens,” said Miyares, during a press conference at Grace E. Metz Middle School in Manassas.
Miyares is on a statewide tour of middle schools to announce the program’s rollout. Middle school students are the most vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation, said Miyares.
More than 2,300 children are considered missing each day in the U.S. The majority of them are in their mid-teens.
At the press conference, former Washington Redskins player Charles Mann, and Dallas Cowboy player Randy White, flanked Miayres. “People used to say I was great in playing defense with the Redskins and the [San Fransisco] 49ers. They said it always seemed like I was prepared when I was playing. We want to prepare for the god-awful event someone goes missing,” said Mann.
Mann encouraged parents to hide the child’s ID kids in their safe or bible. Miyares assured residents that information collected on the card remains in people’s homes and is not sent to a federal database for tracking purposes.
The region’s top law enforcement officers were on hand for the event, including Manassas Police Chief Douglass Keen, Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham, and Prince William County Sheriff Glen Hill, whose department regularly distributes the child ID kits at events throughout the region.
Prince William police investigate missing person cases, and it’s important information about the missing stays in front of the public.
“Our children are one of the most precious commodities that we have when they go missing, and you see those images out there in public, and if you see these kids, you got to get these kids reunited…we have predators in our community that are going to prey on that child. So the only thing I can urge folks to do is to continue to be vigilant, particularly with our kids and this toolkit right here,” said Newsham told PLN.
“It’s really a no-brainer. If you have children at home, you don’t ever want to have a circumstance where you’re calling the police and saying, ‘My child has gone missing.’ But if you do, God forbid, you’ll be able to help law enforcement reunite you with your child,” he added.
Parents can order the kit online.
Miyares’ appearance in Manassas comes during the same week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Virginia’s Attorney General is on a list of people banned from traveling to the country. Miyares, whose mother fled communist Cuba for the U.S., revealed the distinction.
“I view that as a badge of honor. Suppose you know anything about my background. I despise autocracy and dictatorships, both left and right. And the idea that Putin somehow views me and puts me on an enemy’s list, I believe in the individual’s dignity. I believe in both freedom and freedom of speech and the freedom to criticize your government. None of that happens in Russia,” Miyares told PLN.
Miyares was one of more than 900 people from the U.S. banned by Russia from traveling to the former Soviet Union.
The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) has announced that nine students whose families are served by the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) have been awarded $1,000 scholarships by the VMDAEC’s Education Scholarship Foundation.
The association awarded 67 scholarships based on financial need, academic achievement, and personal statements; of the 15 co-ops comprising the VMDAEC, NOVEC tied for the most scholarship recipients. Rappahannock Electric Cooperative students also earned nine.
The NOVEC high school seniors receiving scholarships are:
• Venessa Agyei of Osbourn Park High School in Manassas (Prince William County)
• Alexis Francis of Patriot High School in Nokesville (Prince William County)
• Priyanka Patel of Freedom High School in Woodbridge (Prince William County)
• Joshua Tamakloe of Osbourn Park High School in Manassas (Prince William County)
• Tanzeela Virk of Osbourn Park High School in Manassas (Prince William County)
• Luke Wallace of Battlefield High School in Haymarket (Prince William County)
All scholarship winners plan to attend a two-or-four-year school in the fall. Students may use the scholarships for tuition, student fees, room, and board, or textbooks.
NOVEC students were invited to apply for VMDAEC scholarships between January and April. In addition, NOVEC also directly funds 15 scholarships, each worth $1,500. NOVEC will announce the names of those scholarship recipients later this year.
NOVEC is a non-profit electric utility corporation that supplies and distributes electricity and energy-related services to more than 175,000 metered customers in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Clarke counties, the Town of Clifton, and the City of Manassas Park.
The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperative, based in Glen Allen, Virginia, represents NOVEC and 14 other co-ops that distribute electricity to consumers in the three states.
Located two miles from downtown Nashville, Tennessee, Belmont University announced the following students who achieved the Dean’s List for the Spring 2023 semester.
Eligibility is based on a minimum course load of 12 hours (excluding audit and pass/fail courses this semester) and a quality grade point average of 3.5 with no grade below a C (including audit, pass/fail courses, and zero-credit courses).
Elizabeth Buettner of Manassas (20112)
Joseph Bensen of Gainesville (20155)
Evan Hawthorne of Bristow (20136)
Kylie Howard of Bristow (20136)
Sage McAndrew of Manassas (20110)
Belmont University in Nashville comprises nearly 9,000 students from every state and 33 countries. Nationally ranked and consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report for innovation in higher education, the university offers more than 115 areas of undergraduate study, 41 master’s programs, and five doctoral degrees.
U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Alex Romano, 22, of Dumfries, Virginia, was recently named a 2023 Knight-Hennessy Scholar. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program provides full funding for students to pursue a graduate degree at Stanford University.
Romano is one of 85 scholars selected for the program’s sixth cohort of students. More than 7,000 candidates competed for one of the 85 scholarships awarded. He intends to pursue a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford School of Engineering.
Romano is an aerospace engineering major who is scheduled to commission later this month as a surface warfare officer. As a midshipman, he conducted independent research on the Distance Simulation Method, which aims to create a variable method to conduct long-range testing of laser wireless power transfer systems on Earth in a vacuum environment.
Romano has been invited to present his research to multiple boards and conferences, including the DoD Space Experiment Review Board, where his project ranked higher than several multimillion-dollar projects from professional military laboratories. His project has been offered two launches to space by NASA and the U.S. Space Force and will be tested on the International Space Station.
Outside the classroom, Romano is a Navy Men’s Lightweight Crew team member and served as the 2nd Battalion Public Affairs Officer. In 2022, Romano had the opportunity to travel to Japan and interact with Admiral Hideki Yuasa of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, as well as students and leaders from the Japanese Self-Defense Academy and other Japanese universities.
Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy today is a four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally and physically to be professional officers in the naval service. More than 4,400 men and women representing every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries comprise the student body, known as the Brigade of Midshipmen.
U.S. News and World Reports have recognized the Naval Academy as a top five undergraduate engineering school and a top-25 best liberal arts college. Midshipmen learn from military and civilian instructors and participate in intercollegiate varsity sports and extracurricular activities. They also study subjects such as leadership, ethics, small arms, drill, seamanship and navigation, tactics, naval engineering and weapons, cyber security, and military law.
Upon graduation, midshipmen earn a Bachelor of Science degree in a choice of 25 different subject majors and go on to serve at least five years of service as commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.
For more information on the Knight-Hennessy Scholars, click here.
For more information about the Naval Academy, please visit usna.edu.
— Press release
Daniel Mendoza, a 17-year-old Osbourn High School senior and resident of the East End Mobile Home Park, has received a $1,000 scholarship from the Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association (VMMHA).
The award was presented by CFH Executive Director George Davies, whose Dumfries, Va.-based nonprofit took ownership of East End in 2018 and continues to upgrade and add events and programs at the Centreville Road park.
The scholarship provides Daniel with $500 each fall and spring semester to attend Northern Virginia Community College, where he plans to pursue nursing.
In addition to the VMMHA award, Daniel was also awarded a $1000 Jennie Dean CTE Vocational Scholarship from the Rotary Club of Manassas.
A resident of East End Mobile Home Park for the past nine years, Daniel will be the first person in his family to attend college. He was introduced to nursing as a career as part of the Nursing Assistant Program at Osbourn High School.
“I decided after I installed myself into the program at Osbourn that I really enjoyed the course, and I wanted to further my scope of practice by becoming a registered nurse,” he said.
In 2018, CFH and its partners stepped in to purchase the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, stopping its pending condemnation due to ongoing water and sewer issues. In the years since CFH was purchased, progress and improvements have continued, and the community is thriving.
Ongoing physical upgrades include roadwork and paving, lighting, a new resource center with a playground and outdoor learning center, and a new storage facility. CFH continues to expand educational, social, and recreational programs for East End residents.
Based in Dumfries, Va., CFH has worked for more than four decades to help individuals and families along a path of self-sufficiency, providing assistance to individuals and families all along the continuum of housing needs. More about CFH can be found at cfhva.org.
The Prince William County School Board examined a snapshot of the third quarter of the school year, which ended March 31, 2023.
At a meeting on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, the board’s elected members and School Superintendent, Dr. LaTanya McDade, discussed the division’s chronic absenteeism problem and its standards-based grading policy that allows students to retake tests in hopes of scoring higher grades.
Twenty percent of students missed five or more school days during the third quarter of the school year, making them “chronically” absent. The Virginia State Board of Education defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10% or more of classes, said Prince William County Public Schools Director of Research Dr. Michael Neal.
The percentage of student absences in the third quarter fell nine points when compared to the second quarter, which included the Christmastime holidays. However, the third quarter numbers are one point higher than the school year’s first quarter.
The county’s school students have the most chronic absentee rates, especially 12th-grade students, as more than 30% have ditched school in the second and third quarters. Neal said a “moderate association” exists between attendance rates and good grades. “We can’t teach kids if they don’t come to school,” he told the school board.
McDade said chronic truancy is an issue at government school systems across the state and U.S.
While students aren’t coming to school, many middle and high school students who do come to class are failing two or more courses. Nearly 10 percent of middle school students fail at least one study, while 7 percent fail two or more.
In high school, the number of children failing two or more courses jumped to nearly 20%.
Attendance at Prince William County Public Schools fell one point to 94 percent between quarter one and quarter three, according to a report released at the county school board meeting on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
For middle school students, grades in critical subjects like math, science, and reading all fell in the third quarter. The percentage of children scoring As in reading is down five points to 36%, four points to 29%, and history down six points to 41%.
The high school numbers are down, too, with the percentage of students getting As in math dropping from 29% to 24% and science down two points to 29%. The As percentage in history and language arts is flat at 31% and 34%, respectively.
For elementary school students in grades three to five, the As percentage for math and writing is a flat 37% and 46%, respectively. The As percentage for reading fell seven points to 34%.
“Why did it drop,” asked School Board Chairman At-large Dr. Babur Lateef. “This is something you might want to dig deeper into.”
“It’s hard to say why a student’s grade might drop. Anything we say here tonight is speculation. It might be that a lot of the work in quarter one is review work, so grades might be higher [when compared to the third quarter],” said McDade.
McDade said teachers and administrators are trying to work with parents and students to convince them to attend school and to help them improve grades by holding family information nights at schools and offering “high dosage” tutoring and after-school remediation.
“We’re doing everything humanly passable within our locus of control to make sure the parents know the impact of their student not coming to school,” said McDade. “We’ve exhausted all of the possibilities.”
The state board of education factors student attendance as a factor in school accreditation, Neal said.
Gainesville District School Board member Jennifer Wall criticized the division’s standards-based grading system, implemented before the pandemic, which allows students to retake tests for a higher grade.
“We’re getting a lot of gaming the system,” said Wall. “Students are smart and lazy and not quite getting the work done. 30% of high school students have Ds and Fs in math. With the liberal remediation and grade remediation policies, and we’re still getting these grades?”
I get the philosophy we have in place, but I don’t think it’s working for the teenage brain.”
Occoquan School Board member Lillie Jessie countered Wall and defended standards-based grading, saying the practice is based on research, not “philosophy.” Jessie, whose husband is running to replace her on the school board after she said she wouldn’t seek a fourth term, didn’t cite the data and asked school division staff to provide a presentation on standards-based grading later.
McDade said she has a task force reviewing the division’s grading system. Wall praised her, saying, “I don’t see [the grading system] moving in the right direction.”
The government school division, the second largest in Virginia with more than 90,000 students and 12,000 employees, has provided quarterly updates to the school board on improving learning loss following government-mandated school building closures related to the pandemic.
Editor’s note: Meeting reporter Lynn Forkell Greene documented this event. Click here and learn more about becoming a meeting reporter and covering our local news.
Prince William County Public Schools honored its top teachers and principals of 2023.
Hundreds gathered on Wednesday, May 10, for the annual Outstanding Educators awards ceremony at the Hylton Performing Arts Center outside Manassas. The evening began with a reception and then a ceremony honoring teachers and principals in primary and secondary education.
“I want to recognize the commitment, dedication, and excellence of all [Prince William County Public Schools] teachers because they bring the magic to the classroom every single day,” said Superintendent Dr. LaTanya McDade.
“Teaching is a noble profession, it’s the work of the heart, and we deeply appreciate each and every one of our teachers, especially here in Prince William County,” she added.
A total of 38 educators were honored. A total of 28 have been re-certified, attaining the highest teaching certification in the U.S. Part of the scoring process was how the honorees mentored other teachers, a vital part of the success of novice educators.
“For each one of our honorees this evening, education is much more than a job; it’s a calling. Those here tonight truly represent the best of what’s happening in our schools,” said Prince William School Board Chairman At-large Dr. Babur Lateef. “I know that I’m impressed with your commitment, dedication, and your perseverance to ensure our student’s needs are met and their futures are bright.”
Students from Freedom High School provided a musical performance, while students from Woodbridge Senior High School in Lake Ridge performed a dance number.
Katie Knight of Apple Federal Credit Union congratulated the teachers. “Done is good. Done well is better, but done is good,” said Knight, quoting a former teacher.
The credit union provided teachers with $1.5 million in interest-free loans in 2022.
Morgan McCole, of Occoquan Elementary School, won novice teacher of the year.
Emily Sayer of Unity Braxton Middle School (formerly Stonewall Jackson Middle School) won secondary teacher of the year.
Laura Kerbaugh, Pattie Elementary School near Dumfries, won primary school teacher of the year.
Charlotte Frame, Patriot High School, won high school teacher of the year.
Kathryn Forgas, of Coles Elementary School near Dale City, won primary education of the year.
Lisamarie Kane of Osbourn Park High School won secondary education principal of the year.
Prince William County Public Schools is Virginia’s second-largest school division, with nearly 13,000 employees and over 90,000 students.
A 12-year-old is charged after someone called in a bomb threat to Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City on May 5.
Bomb Threat Investigation *CHARGED – On May 12, officers concluded the investigation into the bomb threat that was reported to have occurred at the Holy Family Catholic Church & School located at 14160 Ferndale Rd in Woodbridge (22193) on May 5. The investigation revealed a female student, later identified as the accused, wrote the threatening message on the stall door. While investigating the incident, officers received information identifying the accused as a 12-year-old female juvenile and sought a petition. After consultation with Juvenile Court Services, the case resulted in an informal action and will be handled through the juvenile diversion process.
Bomb Threat Investigation [Previously Released] – On May 5 at 12:46PM, officers responded to the Holy Family Catholic Church & School located at 14160 Ferndale Rd in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a bomb threat. The investigation revealed at approx. 11:20AM, a note threating a bomb was scribed on a stall inside a female bathroom on the school side of the complex. A limited number of personnel were on site and self-evacuated as a precaution. The school was checked by police and K-9 teams. No device was located. Officers are following up on leads into the identity of possible suspects. The investigation continues.
More Prince William County police blotter for Monday, May 15, 2023:
Prince William County Police #PWCDailyReport for Monday, May 15, 2023 | https://t.co/3I437fgpt7 pic.twitter.com/4ZktMMPFsU
— Prince William County Police Department (@PWCPolice) May 15, 2023
By Sarah Roderick-Fitch
(The Center Square) – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced a grant program to improve student safety by beefing up security infrastructures in schools of higher needs.
The Stronger Connections program is a $16.4 million competitive grant program aimed at improving school security to curb assaults on schools, which may be vulnerable to attacks.
The grants will offer funding to purchase advanced security equipment and systems – including threat detection technology and improve communications in the event of emergency crises. Additionally, grants can be used to analyze data for threat assessments.
The Virginia Secretary of Education, Aimee Rogstad Guidera, emphasized implementing a multi-pronged approach to “hardening” softer targets, such as schools, through the use of technology in analyzing potential threats.
“Schools have diverse needs, and the Stronger Connections grant program supports a wide array of strategies and tactics, from ‘hardening the target’ through the installation of updated security and surveillance systems to comprehensive planning to develop division-wide approaches for assessing threats and improving learning climates,” said Rogstad Guidera.
The funds may also be used to fund resource officers in schools without officers currently assigned – creating a visible, physical presence aiding a safer learning environment.
Youngkin highlighted the need for students and teachers to feel safe in an effort to prosper in the classroom.
“We know students learn best when they feel safe in their classrooms, and when teachers are able to focus on the academic needs and wellbeing of their students,” he said.
The governor applauded Virginia’s leadership in promoting school safety but underscored the need to strive to provide safer environments conducive to learning.
“While Virginia has long been a leader in school safety with regular threat assessments and security audits and annual state grants for school security equipment, the events of the school year now coming to a close remind us that we need to do more to protect our students and the educators to work every day to prepare them for success,” Youngkin said.
The program will prioritize schools with a higher rate of low-income students, schools in rural areas, and schools with higher student-to-staff ratios of counselors, psychologists, and social workers and at higher risk of chronic absenteeism and violence.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons hopes the program will promote a better atmosphere for learning, allowing teachers and students to focus on the mission – education.
“I believe,” Coons said, “that the Stronger Connections grant program will make a real difference in the lives of our teachers and students by supporting improvements that will help them to focus their attention and teaching and learning.”
Applications for the Stronger Connection program will be available to schools beginning June 1, with an Aug. 1 deadline. The Virginia Department of Education plans to announce the awards in the fall.