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For the third consecutive year, the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard took home the top prize in an annual competition sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

But this year’s win is one for the history books.

After placing first in 2010 and 2011, the honor guard tried something new: It sent an all-female team. Never in the 21-year history of the competition has any agency fielded a women-only team.

"We did not set out to have a certain number of men or women for this competition," said Lt. William Friedman, commander of the honor guard. "But when it looked like the team was shaping up to be mostly female, we decided as a group to go all the way in that direction."

The honor guard has 36 members, eight of whom are female. Joining the team is voluntary, but the process is competitive. The team is known for its strict composure, precise military bearing and meticulous attention to detail. Members formally train for two hours every month and drill before every event.

"We’ve had so much fun at practices," said Pvt. First Class Amy Lewis, a nine-year veteran of the honor guard. "Marching has been easier, too. Since we’re all the same height, our strides match step for step."

The May 5 event — a competition and wreath-laying ceremony — took place on the grounds of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Zukosky named Nurse of the Year

The Virginia Department of Health has named its Public Health Nurse of the Year: Gail Zukosky of Springfield, whose passion is working with children with intellectual disabilities.

Zukosky is employed by the Fairfax County Health Department, and serves Fairfax County Public Schools.

She spends much of her time working at the Key Center in Springfield. The center, co-located with Key Middle School, educates children with emotional, cognitive and physical challenges.

Her leadership led to the creation of the “Peer to Peer” program, which partners Key Middle School students with children at Key Center. She trains students to understand the behaviors and developmental abilities of the center’s children, which creates the opportunity for lasting relationships.

“Gail Zukosky is an exceptional professional who not only serves the community with enthusiasm and passion,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley. “But [she] also applies those same qualities to mentoring and educating future nurses, while advocating for school health.”

Zukosky also was recognized for her work as care coordinator and case manager for students at Key Center, for coordinating the school’s dental screening and oral care program, and for establishing a dental care network for students.

Young country singers vie for local honor

Seven area youth were named finalists in the “Capital Country Challenge A Battle of the Voices” to raise money to support Wesley Housing Development Corp.'s mission to end homelessness. The event featured 13 country vocal performers vying to be named the Challenge winner and recipient of a $1,000 cash prize.

Fairfax-area finalists, ranging in age from 10 to 19, were Kyla Carney of Falls Church; Sara Freix of Centreville; Bryan LaPan of Lorton; Rachel Nelson of Burke; Hannah Reimer of Reston; Naya Sarraj of Fairfax; and Kayley Snyder of Annandale.

Chosen from singers who auditioned online, the finalists sang before the Challenge judges at a live competition May 5 at Great Country Farms in Bluemont.

“This competition is a great opportunity to educate youth about the problem of homelessness and the need for affordable housing,” said Shelley Murphy, president and CEO of Wesley Housing of Alexandria.

New reads from local writers

Jocelyn Golden of Vienna, a bulimia expert, has published her second book, “50 Strategies to Sustain Recovery from Bulimia,” a guide for those who struggle with eating disorders. Her earlier book was titled “Learning to Be Me: My Twenty-Three Year Battle with Bulimia.”

Bulimia is an illness affecting more than 10 million people in the U.S. each year. In “50 Strategies,” Golden shares practical steps to help those in recovery build positive, fulfilling relationships with themselves and the world around them.

Topics include learning self-love and rebuilding self-esteem, choosing recovery and building motivation, taking control of and embracing life, taking action steps, creating a new relationship with food and developing a sense of purpose in life.

Golden is an author, motivational speaker and qualified Heal Your Life teleconference and workshop leader. For more, visit

Diane Light, a psychotherapist and life coach with offices in Herndon, recently published her first book, “This Way Out: The Power to Change,” an exploration of psychology and spirituality that offers a new model for personal growth.

Light challenges many of Freud's notions, explaining how Personality Integration Theory and Therapy — a program she’s practiced for more than 30 years — empowers patients to acquire self-knowledge, embrace adult behaviors and integrate the parts of the self that remain fragmented or unconscious.

People have for too long accepted the concept of mental illness, Light said, putting the power for healing in the hands of authorities. She suggests many issues can be attributed to a lack of maturity rather than to mental illness.

According to Kirkus Reviews, “this title is a well-substantiated, fascinating breakthrough in therapy and transformation.” For more, visit

Ann Yost, a romance novelist in Herndon, has published “For Better for Hearse,” a mystery set in small town America.

Three sisters — Daisy, Caroline and Junie Budd — open a wedding boutique called Happily Ever After in an old mortuary, only to find that folks in their Mayville, Mich., home can't make the transition.

Daisy teams up with Nick Bowman, heir apparent to Bowman’s Biscuits, the town's only industry, to find out why Happily Ever After is attracting more corpses than brides.

Yost is a former journalist who grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich. Her earlier novels include “About a Baby” and “That Voodoo that You Do,” winner of the 2011 Phoenix Desert Rose Golden Quill Contest, recipient of a 2011 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and finalist in the 2011 Write Touch Reader's Award. For more, visit