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Brian Heintz, who teachs social studies, has been named the 2012 Virginia History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Heintz teaches Advanced Placement U.S. History, as well as Virginia and U.S. History. He has taught at West Springfield High School for five years, and taught at Westfield High School for four years before that.

As the Virginia winner, Heintz receives a cash award of $1,000; West Springfield receives an archive of primary historical materials in his honor.

Heintz is praised for encouraging students to think outside-of-the-box and outside-of-the-textbook.

“Brian created a warm, fun atmosphere where learning American history was an obvious pleasure for his students,” said Cynthia Szwajkowski, a former social studies department chair at West Springfield. “He recreated board games to include only American history questions as a review strategy. He incorporated the menu at the colonial tavern where George Washington and crew celebrated the signing of the Constitution.

“Each Friday, he wore a T-shirt with a historical theme or witticism, giving the kids the sense that it was cool to be a history ‘nerd,’” Szwajkowski added.

Heintz’s research on the one-room Laurel Grove School, founded by former slaves in Franconia in the 1880s, and his development of lesson plans weaving the school’s history into the broader study of the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras were supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Heintz was one of 17 nominees for the award. He is the second West Springfield teacher to be honored as the Commonwealth's top history teacher. James Percoco won the award in 2010.

Three area students listed among Who’s Who

Three Virginia Tech students who call Fairfax County home will be listed in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges for 2012.”

Amar Mukhtar of Chantilly is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Matt Russiello of Vienna is a junior in the College of Engineering. Natalie Surprise of Vienna is a senior in the Pamplin College of Business.

“Who's Who Among Students,” founded more than 70 years ago, is one of the most prestigious awards bestowed by the academic community. The students’ accomplishments will be included in the Who’s Who biographical publication.

Princeton honors Reston man for athletic prowess

Princeton University's Class of 2012 gathered Monday in a Class Day ceremony honoring its members’ leadership and accomplishments.

Jon Christensen, a psychology major from Reston, was awarded The William Winston Roper Trophy, which goes to “a male senior of high scholastic rank and outstanding qualities of sportsmanship and general proficiency in athletics."

Christensen was an integral part of the men's swimming and diving team's four straight Ivy League championships. An eight-time Ivy League individual champion, he earned both the high point swimmer and career high point swimmer honors at the 2012 Ivy League Championships.

Fairfax High senior receives Virginia Tech award

Kody Sherlund, a graduating senior, has been selected as the 2012 Pamplin Leader from Fairfax High School.

The award, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement and commitment to leadership and service, provides $1,000 toward the first year of tuition at Virginia Tech.

Sherlund received early admission to the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and to the Virginia Tech "University Honors" program. He is an honor graduate, an Eagle Scout, a multi-sport varsity athlete and a band section leader.

Two study in Japan, courtesy of Mazda

Maya Gentry, a junior at South Lakes High School, is the recipient of the Mazda Nationwide Community Scholarship. The award goes to a U.S. high school student who wants to study in Japan for the summer.

Nicholas Hougland, a freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, is the recipient of the Mazda Employee Japan Summer Study Scholarship. That award goes to a high school student who is the dependent of a Mazda full-time employee.

Both scholarships are sponsored by Youth For Understanding USA, a nonprofit international educational organization with programs in 64 countries. The nonprofit was founded in 1951.

Gentry and Hougland plan to study in Japan this summer with the nonprofit’s Americans Overseas Program, which encourages improving foreign relations through first-hand experience.

Chemistry champ preps for Olympiad

National chemistry champion Kalki Seksaria has qualified to compete for one of four spots on the U.S. team, which is bound for the 44th annual International Chemistry Olympiad.

A sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Seksaria was one of 20 students nationwide invited to a two-week intensive study camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.

The competition began with an exam taken by 12,000 high school students. Seksaria’s performance on the exam qualified him to take the National Chemistry Olympiad test. Out of more than 1,000 of the nation’s brightest chemistry students who took that test, he advanced to the top 20.

During the camp, which runs from Tuesday to June 20, Seksaria will receive college-level training, with an emphasis on organic chemistry. At the camp’s conclusion, four students will be chosen to represent the U.S. at the International Chemistry Olympiad, where they will compete with peers from more than 70 nations for gold, silver and bronze medals.

“The students who compete in the IChO are the brightest minds in chemistry,” said Bassam Shakhashiri, American Chemical Society president. “These young people are the ones who will make the discoveries that shape our future by curing disease, addressing climate change, feeding our rapidly expanding population and much more.”

High school students receive hospital scholarships

Reston Hospital Center has awarded scholarships to eight Fairfax County high school seniors in recognition of their excellence in education and passion for pursuing a career in healthcare.

Recipients of the Reston Hospital Center Medical Staff scholarships are Louisa Aboagye and Emma Miller-Cvilikas, Herndon High School; Michelle Geary, James Madison High School; Dana Rosenberg, Langley High School; Tom Braudaway and Katherine Murphy, Oakton High School; and Syreya Kamineni and Sonya Wali, South Lakes High School.

Each year, the medical staff at Reston Hospital Center offers $12,000 in academic scholarships to 10 local high schools. To date, the staff has awarded more than $200,000 to students in Northern Virginia.