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Fairfax High School students hold stuffed toy drive

Holiday spirit is already in full force at Fairfax High School, where students are holding a stuffed toy drive to help local children.

County residents are asked to donate new or gently used stuffed animals to the drive, which continues through Nov. 15.

The toys will be donated to local fire and police departments to comfort children who have gone through traumatic situations such as a house fire or car accident. The stuffed animals will be kept on hand in police and fire department vehicles for emergencies.

The drive is sponsored by Fairfax High School’s DECA club, which supports students interested in marketing and entrepreneurship.

Donations can be dropped off at the front offices of Fairfax High School, Lanier Middle School or Daniels Run Elementary School.

Annandale Marching Band takes first place

The Annandale High School marching band, the Marching Atoms, won first place at the USBands Mid-Atlantic States Championships last Saturday.

As well as taking first place against the other schools in its size category, the band also took home the awards for best music and best visual in its group.

The Marching Atoms were one of 40 bands across all size groups in the competition, which took place at the Naval Academy’s football stadium in Annapolis, Md. It was the Atoms’ first time competing in an event of that magnitude.

Marching bands from across the mid-Atlantic came to compete, including bands from two other Fairfax County public schools, West Potomac High School and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Thomas Jefferson’s band took second place in its group and also won best visual and best percussion. West Potomac’s band took second in their group.

Groveton Elementary School counselor receives statewide award

Hillary Press, a counselor at Groveton Elementary School in Alexandria, has been named the Virginia Counselors Association’s 2013 Counselor of the Year.

Press was recognized for her dedication to her school community and for serving students. She started a program to help sixth-grade students at Groveton in their transition to middle school, and organized staff members and parents to assist with the initiative.

Earlier this year, Groveton students also were able to attend the Fairfax County school system’s peer mediation conference thanks to Press, who received a grant from the Virginia Counselors Association to give her students that opportunity.

Her passion for her profession also comes out through her work mentoring new counselors and serving on the county’s counselor leadership group.

This award continues what has been a banner year for Press, who in August was named Fairfax County’s Outstanding Elementary Counselor for the previous school year. She will be honored at an awards reception on Friday in Hot Springs.