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Youth from three area churches — Emmanuel Lutheran, Fairfax Presbyterian and Vienna Presbyterian — drew attention along Chain Bridge Road in Vienna this past weekend as they raised the roofs on their makeshift village, known as “Fast Shacks.”

The project’s purpose was to give roughly 50 middle and high school students a sense of what it’s like to be homeless in Fairfax County.

Fast Shacks is the brain child of Andrew Buck, Emmanuel’s director of youth ministries; Thea Lamberson, Vienna Presbyterian’s high school ministry coordinator; and Nancy Stevens, Fairfax Presbyterian’s youth director.

The 18 teams, each with an adult mentor, had four hours to construct their shelters out of found materials — typically, plastic tarps, cardboard boxes, wood pallets, bamboo poles, newspapers and twine. The teams then slept in the shacks Saturday night. Students were kept well hydrated, but ate no solid food during the 24-hour event.

Each team was allowed $5 to spend on materials. Everything else was foraged in the weeks leading up to the event.

“The materials were thrown out, recycled, donated — all trash,” Buck said. “The kids had a great time, even though some were really hungry and cold.”

Trophies made from recycled items rewarded such efforts as most resourceful, most creative and sturdiest.

Student’s cancer study makes cut at science fair

Rishabh Mazmudar of Fairfax is one of 90 regional finalists in the second Google Science Fair, the online services company has announced.

This year’s competition saw thousands of entries from students ages 13 to 18 in more than 100 countries. Topics ranged from improving recycling using LEGO robots, to treating cancer with a substance created by bees, to tackling meth abuse.

Mazmudar, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, is a finalist in the 15- to 16-year-old age group. His project, “Utilizing Metallofullerene Nanotechnology for Breast and Prostate Cancer Therapy,” focuses on targeting metastasizing breast and prostate cancer cells without killing healthy cells through the aid of nanotechnology.

Mazmudar’s project can viewed at http://google.com/sciencefair.

Area principals to retire

“No more teachers, no more books” applies not only to students when the academic year ends in June. It also can be sung by three Fairfax County Public Schools principals who are retiring this year.

Longtime Edison High School Principal Greg Croghan has announced his plans to retire after nine years at the high school and 20 years in Fairfax County. He retires officially Aug. 1.

Two Vienna principals also are retiring: Joann Goodwin at Westbriar Elementary School and Anita Blain at Wolftrap Elementary School.

Military salutesDepartment of the Air Force civilian Vincent Johnson has been named Air Force District of Washington Category I Civilian of the Year. Johnson is a contract specialist assigned to the Air Force District of Washington at Joint Base Andrews, Washington, D.C. He has served in federal service for two years.

Johnson, son of Vincent Johnson Jr. and Deborah Ann Johnson of Springfield, graduated in 2005 from West Springfield High School, and earned a master's degree in 2012 from Webster University in St. Louis.

Christian Nott, a senior at Paul VI Catholic High School, has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Nott, son of Steven and Charlotte Nott of Burke, is on the honor roll and participates in the National Honor Society, National Latin Honor Society and PVI Varsity Ice Hockey.

Air Force Airman 1st Class Justin Mynatt and Air Force Airmen Joseph Darby and Todd Drechsler graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Mynatt, son of Susan Wroton and Don Mynatt, both of Fairfax, is a 2006 graduate of Chantilly High School. He earned an associate degree in 2009 from Northern Virginia Community College, Fairfax.

Darby, son of William Darby of Burke, is a 2006 graduate of Fairfax Baptist Temple Academy.

Drechsler, son of Pam and Bob Drechsler of Centreville, is a 2011 graduate of Westfield High School.

Army Pvt. Erik Melgarejo has graduated from the Basic Field Artillery Cannon Crewmember Advanced Individual Training course 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 Secondary School.

Army Spec. Ryan Wheelbarger has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. Wheelbarger, son of Doug Wheelbarger of Fairfax and Lorraine Conlon of South Riding, is a 2006 graduate of Centreville High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in 2010 from Virginia Tech.

Army Reserve Pvt. Vichet Inhar has graduated from One Station Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Waynesville, Mo. Inhar, son of Riab Inhar of Chantilly, is a 2010 graduate of Chantilly High School.