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Julia Martinez, 11, of Fairfax was a guest at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif., on March 5 and 6 for the taping of Kids Week, a segment of the popular TV game show, “Jeopardy!”

Youth and academic excellence are celebrated when 15 of the nation’s brightest 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds compete during Kids Week, scheduled to air July 30 through Aug. 3. This year’s whiz kids were selected from the nearly 9,000 vying for a spot in the competition.

The winner of each game receives a minimum guarantee of $15,000. Contestants who place second receive $2,000; third-place winners earn $1,000. All, of course, get to meet the show’s host, Alex Trebek.

“Jeopardy!,” the winner of 29 Emmy awards, was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most awards won by a TV game show. The series is the No. 1-rated quiz show in syndication with 25 million viewers each week.

Five WATCH Awards go to Fairfax theaters

The 12th annual Washington Area Theatre Community Honors, recognizing artistic and technical excellence in community theater, took place March 11 at The Birchmere in Alexandria. Elden Street Players of Herndon collected the most awards of any Fairfax County theater company.

Thirty-two community theaters staging 127 musicals and plays participated in the WATCH adjudication process, including seven from Fairfax: The Alliance Theatre, Aldersgate Church Community Theater, Elden Street Players, McLean Community Players, Providence Players, Reston Community Players and Vienna Theatre Company.

Fairfax theater groups received the following awards:

ŸOutstanding Set Painting for a Musical: Cathy Reider and James Villarrubia for “Ain't Misbehavin’,” Elden Street Players;

ŸOutstanding Sound Design in a Play: Ben Allen for “A Mid-Summer Night's Dream,” Elden Street Players;

ŸOutstanding Hair Design in a Play: Beth Harrison and George Smith for “Auntie Mame,” Providence Players of Fairfax;

ŸOutstanding Featured Actress in a Musical: Jade Jones for “Ain't Misbehavin,’” Elden Street Players;

ŸOutstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: Christopher Prince for “Ain't Misbehavin,’” Elden Street Players.

For the full list of WATCH winners, visit www.washingtontheatre.org.

Burke dancers named national champions

The Senior Dance Company from Buffa’s Dance Studio in Burke was crowned Grand National Champions when the group competed Feb. 25 at the Contest of Champions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

The top award includes a $3,000 prize and an invitation to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Buffa company captured first-place awards in the Lyrical, Modern, Jazz and Pom categories. Emma Bradley, a junior at West Springfield High School, was awarded first place for Senior Solo, and Emma Presing, an eighth-grader at Alexandria Country Day School, captured first place in the Junior Solo category.

Melissa Hargett, Lindsay Snider, Laura Steen and Tom Alexander coach the senior dance company.

Longfellow heads to national science bowl

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Congressman Frank Wolf have announced Longfellow Middle School was the winner of the Virginia Middle School Science Bowl on March 3.

Longfellow competed against 22 teams from across the state in one of the regional competitions of the 22nd annual U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl. Longfellow now is eligible to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C., at the end of April.

The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete on a range of science disciplines, including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, astronomy and math.

“Congratulations to the students at the Longfellow Middle School — some of America’s future leaders in the science, technology, engineering and math fields,” Chu said. “Through the National Science Bowl, we’re challenging today’s students and ensuring that America stays competitive in a rapidly advancing world.”

The Department of Energy created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in those fields. More than 200,000 students have participated in the bowl, the nation’s largest science competition.

Annandale churches to merge

Two Annandale churches — Annandale United Methodist Church on Columbia Pike and Immanuel United Methodist Church on Heritage Drive —will become one congregation July 1.

Leaders from both congregations have worked for nearly a year to bring this merger to fruition. The merger proposal was approved separately at conferences conducted by each church’s congregation in February, under the leadership of Alexandria District Superintendent the Rev. Kenneth Jackson.

The Revs. Clarence Brown, Eduardo Carrillo and Cynthia Johnson-Oliver will lead worship services and provide pastoral care for the newly merged congregation.

For information about upcoming changes, call the Annandale church office at 703-256-8330, or email AUMC Council Chair Richard Robinson at rsrobins53@hotmail.com.

Military salutesAir Force Senior Airman Darek Baczewski, a 2005 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, won first place in two categories in the Pacific Air Forces Media Contest.

Baczewski is a radio and TV broadcaster assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base in Korea. He finished first for TV Spot Production and TV News Report. The senior airman has served in the military for three years.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Legra has returned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., after being deployed to Iraq serving in support of Operation New Dawn. Operation New Dawn officially came to an end Dec. 15.

Legra, the command sergeant major with the 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Fort Lee, has served 27 years in the military. He is an Alexandria resident.

Air Force Airmen Gabriel Reed and Thomas Junyszek graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Both earned distinction as honor graduates.

Reed, son of Lynn Reed of Burke, is a 2009 graduate of Robinson Secondary School. Junyszek is a 2007 graduate of Lake Braddock High School.

Army Pvt. Erik Melgarejo has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla. Melgarejo, son of Hernan Melgarejo of Chantilly and Miriam Nunez of Woodbridge, is a 2010 graduate of South County High School.