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Friends of the McLean Community Center honored longtime community organizer Robert Ames Alden with “A Roast and Toast to Bob Alden” July 30 in the theater that bears his name.

The celebration culminated in the unveiling of an oil portrait by artist Bradley Stevens, which will hang in the center’s lobby.

Bob Ryan, WJLA ABC-7 meteorologist and a McLean resident, served as master of ceremonies. Professional colleagues, friends and family members, including Alden’s wife of 54 years, Diane, shared memories and “roasted” Alden, while he and his dog, Ginger, were seated on a special throne.

Alden, a Washington Post editor for 45 years, was instrumental in establishing the community center and a “village green” in McLean.

The Capitol Steps performed “Lirty Dies” in Alden’s honor, and Stevens, Chad Quinn, MCC Governing Board vice-chair, and Sandra Bremer, Friends of MCC president, unveiled Alden’s portrait. The evening concluded with a reception, where Quinn presented a toast to Alden.

Burke man honored for conservation work

John Peterson, an elected director and the vice chairman of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, was inducted into the National Association of Conservation Districts Southeast Region Conservation Hall of Fame at a July 30 luncheon in Destin, Fla.

The Hall of Fame honors distinguished conservationists whose careers have resulted in the wise use of the nation’s natural resources. A Burke resident for 34 years, Peterson was nominated for his vision as a conservation leader at the state, regional and national levels.

He was nominated by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, where he serves on the board. He also is Virginia’s representative to the NACD Board of Directors.

Peterson started working with conservation districts in 1953 as a high school junior, and has been involved with the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts since. In 1994, after a successful career at the top of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s federal Senior Executive Service, Peterson founded KEMPS Consultants Inc., with expertise in natural resources public policy, water resources and erosion and sediment control.

At his retirement, he was an assistant chief of the Soil Conservation Service (now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service). After retiring from the USDA, Peterson served as executive director of the National Watershed Coalition, and has been on his local NVSWCD Board since 2006.

Groups celebrate MPA’s 50 years of service

McLean Project for the Arts has been honored this year by Fairfax County Public Schools, the State Senate and House of Delegates and Fairfax County for presenting visual arts programs to the McLean community for 50 years.

MPA has been named an official community partner with the school system, in recognition of its work providing free arts education to students for half a century. Through its ArtReach program, MPA has offered professional visual arts education to 36 schools, including 17 at-risk schools, and has reached about 3,000 students per year.

That partnership is a natural extension of the partnership MPA established with the county and the McLean Community Center in 1988, when the arts group moved into the second floor of the center and established its permanent home.

State Sens. Janet Howell and Barbara Favola and Dels. Barbara Comstock, Bob Brink, Jim Scott and Mark Keam introduced commending resolutions in the Senate and House in February, honoring MPA’s service to the community.

Dranesville Supervisor John Foust presented MPA with a resolution from the Board of Supervisors at Painting in the Park in June, commending the arts organization for fostering an understanding and appreciation of contemporary art.

Virginia Tech selects freshmen for Pamplins

Michael McCaffrey, Ariana Mollers, Kody Sherlund and Connor Sullivan, all recent high school graduates, have received 2012 Pamplin Leader Awards from Virginia Tech.

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. The award is presented annually to a top student from each public high school in Virginia.

McCaffrey, the recipient from Centreville High School, was accepted into the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech with a four-year ROTC Scholarship. He also received the Virginia Tech Emerging Leader Award and Scholarship and the Centreville High School Academic Excellence Award for Economics and Personal Finance. He was a member of Centreville’s cross-country team.

Mollers, the recipient from Chantilly High School, received early admission to Virginia Tech. She served Chantilly as president of the National Honor Society, editor of the school newspaper, member of the advisory board of the Writing Center and graduate of the Fairfax County Youth Leadership program. Her writing was published in the NVWP Young Writers program anthology.

Sherlund, the recipient from Fairfax High School, received early admission to the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and to the Virginia Tech University Honors program. At Fairfax, he was an honor graduate, an Eagle Scout, a multi-sport varsity athlete and a band section leader.

Sullivan, the recipient from Oakton High School, graduated with honors and received early admission to the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and to the University Honors program. He is a National AP Scholar and a Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholar and VASTS Ambassador. Sullivan also was awarded the Oakton Mathematics Department Award and the Varsity Football Scholar Athlete award.

Centreville girl wins Kohl’s scholarship

Gabrielle Levy, 9, of Centreville is one of 10 national Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program winners who will receive a total of $10,000 for post-secondary education, to recognize their outstanding volunteer efforts.

Kohl’s also will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization of Gabrielle’s choice.

When Gabrielle wanted to give back but couldn’t find volunteer activities for young children, she decided to create “Caring Kids Cards.” The nonprofit sends cards and care packages around the world to firefighters, police officers, senior citizens, hospital patients, military personnel, veterans and children who have lost their parents. To date, “Caring Kids Cards” has sent more than 10,000 cards and care packages.

Gabrielle inspires others to volunteer through her public speaking, published online articles and “Caring Kids Cards” Facebook page. She sits on the Adopt a Soldier Advisory Board.

“Through extraordinary acts of generosity and initiative, Gabrielle Levy has not only made her community a better place to live, but acts as an example to others of how the efforts of one can make a difference to so many,” said Julie Gardner, Kohl’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

In 2012, Kohl’s celebrates its 12th year of rewarding young volunteers. The retailer has recognized more than 17,000 children, including the 2012 winners, with nearly $3.5 million in scholarships and prizes.