Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Leave a Comment
Print this Article

A seven-member Odyssey of the Mind team from Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls won the most prestigious award of the 2012 World Finals competition: the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award.

The prize was awarded to only six of the 815 teams in the competition, which brought more than 5,000 students in elementary school through college to Iowa State University this past weekend.

The Forestville team includes third-graders, Sarina Bell and Daniel Silvestri; fourth-graders, Aditya Khera, Caroline Keys and Sydney Pham; and fifth-graders, Gwyn Murphy and Lawrence Kang. Jeffrey LeLoup, a third-grade advanced academics program teacher at Forestville, serves as the adviser.

The Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award represents the essence of Odyssey of the Mind, an international program that offers creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. The competition comprises a complex long-term problem for which teams create a solution in advance, and an on-the-spot spontaneous problem.

Forestville was the only team to win the award through its success with the spontaneous problem.

The Ranatra Fusca — named for an insect that lives underwater and serves as the inspiration for a particularly creative, but unsuccessful, solution to a problem — acknowledges and encourages creative thinking and risk-taking.

Four other Fairfax County Public Schools teams earned a top 10 finish in their divisions: Stratford Landing Elementary School, Sandburg Middle School, Kilmer Middle School and Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences.

Greenbriar students prevail at chess championship

Two teams — one from Greenbriar West Elementary School and the other from Churchill Road Elementary School — took top honors in the 2012 National Elementary Chess Championship, sponsored by the United States Chess Federation.

The event took place May 11 through 13 in Nashville, Tenn. About 1,500 chess players participated in the competition.

Greenbriar West won first place in the K-5 Team category to claim the championship. Team members Pranav Karthik, Vivian Cao-Dao, Ryan Xu and Revanth Vejju combined their scores to prevail over 24 other teams from across the country.

Paul Swaney coaches the Greenbriar West team. Anand Dommalapatti is the Chess Club coordinator.

USCF Executive Director Bill Hall presented the National championship trophy and plaques to the four players and their coach. The team also received $2,000 in scholarships.

Churchill Road finished first in the K-6 Blitz category and fourth in the K-6 Championship category. Team members are Sean Senft, Maxwell Ward, Akhil Goel and Arman Parastaran.

In the K-6 Under 1000 category, Matthew Lu, a student at Canterbury Woods Elementary School, finished fourth in individual competition. Greenbriar West’s Alvin Cao took ninth place in the K-6 championships section.

“It was a great honor to work with these motivated students over the school year,” Swaney said. “Words cannot express how proud I am of this amazing accomplishment.”

Sheriff's deputy inducted to Torch Run Hall of Fame

John Chrisinger, a Fairfax County deputy sheriff, has been inducted to the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run Hall of Fame in recognition of his 27 years of service to the growth and development of the international Torch Run program.

The eight-day torch relay raises awareness about, and funds for, Special Olympics.

Since 1985, Chrisinger has been the face of Special Olympics within the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office and the community it serves.

"John has devoted countless hours to promote and foster the participation of our staff to support the Torch Run," said Sheriff Stan Barry. "He works tirelessly to make each year a fundraising success."

In addition to raising money, securing long-term sponsors and recruiting volunteers, Chrisinger is involved in operational planning and execution for the Torch Run. In 2009, Chrisinger represented the State of Virginia in the World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.

National Register lists Vienna landmark

The Freeman Store and Museum on Church Street Northest in Vienna has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the National Park Service.

The store and museum, first listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in September, is the only structure in Vienna to have these two highly sought-after designations.

Historic Vienna Inc. has been working for more than a year to have the historic structure recognized on both the state and national registers.

“The Freeman Store’s landmark status is a testament to the foresight and vision of Vienna’s past leaders, who took the necessary steps to preserve the structure,” said Anne Stuntz, president of Historic Vienna Inc. “The designation most certainly could not have been achieved without the dedication and support of our current Town Council.”

Built in 1859 as Lydecker Store, The Freeman Store and Museum operated as a general store until the late 1920s. It then served as the home of Leon Freeman, first president of Vienna’s Volunteer Fire Department, until 1955. The building also operated as a post office and served both the Federal and Confederate armies during the Civil War.

Freeman’s daughter Dorothy sold the building to the town in 1969; it was restored in 1976 as a U.S. Bicentennial project.

A ceremony later this year will formally mark this latest achievement.

Open for businessFine art merges with business Friday, when Bob Cramer, owner of Creative Framing on West Maple Avenue in Vienna, partners with local artist and photographer Jim Sweeney, owner of JES Photography.

Sweeney has documented the natural world, from beaches to high mountain elevations, in color and black-and-white for more than 25 years. Signed prints are available for immediate purchase, and fine custom framing is available onsite. Inventory will change as pieces are sold; special orders also are accepted.


Golfsmith, the nation’s largest specialty golf retailer, opened a new store in Fairfax, at Lee Highway and U.S. 50, this past weekend.

The experiential store offers golfers the chance to try out equipment inside one of four indoor, high-tech hitting simulators, or on an indoor putting green.

“We are a golfer’s paradise, offering a huge product selection with the best equipment from brands like Titleist, PING, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno and MacGregor,” said Golfsmith CEO Marty Hanaka. “We encourage customers to ‘try before they buy,’ right in the store.”

For more information, visit