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Co-hosts John Hill and Rohan Ramesh usually debate politics on their radio talk show, “Take It to the Hill,” on WGMU, the student-run station at George Mason University. But Friday they’re joining forces to support people in need.

From 3 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6, the two sophomores will be drumming up donations during a radiothon for Our Daily Bread, the volunteer organization that strives to ease the plight of Fairfax County’s low-income residents.

“We can debate politics all day long, but there’s more to life than politics,” Hill said. “There’s family, friends and neighbors that we need to look out and care for. … That’s why we’re doing this. To reach out to our Fairfax neighbors in need, care for them, and then help them get back on their feet.”

City of Fairfax Mayor R. Scott Silverthorne, as well as GMU Student Body President Jordan Foster, Virginia House Delegates David Bulova (D-Dist. 37) and Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34), and representatives from ODB are among the special guests scheduled to appear on the show.

The live broadcast will be streamed online at Online and in-person donations will be accepted during the radiothon.

Most-needed food items include canned chicken or meat; canned fruit in its own juice; cereal; cooking oil; boxed dinner kits; boxed mashed potatoes; parmesan cheese; pizza kits; lunch snacks, such as crackers and pretzels; and grocery-store gift cards in amounts from $10 to $20.

Nonfood items include cleaning supplies; deodorant; diapers; feminine hygiene products; laundry detergent; toilet paper; toiletry items, such as soap, oral hygiene products and shampoo; and wipes.

To donate in person, deliver items to the WGMU studio, on the ground floor of the George W. Johnson Center, next to Jasmine’s Cafe. The GMU campus is at 4400 University Drive in Fairfax. For more, visit

Sisters launch in-home tutoring service

Christa Huntley of Alexandria and her sister, Elizabeth Colon of Fredericksburg, both new mothers of baby daughters, have opened the doors of Above Grade Level of Northern Virginia, an in-home tutoring service for kindergarteners through 12th-graders.

“As new moms, we’re thrilled to be actively involved in educational programs that can help kids and parents get the specialized care and attention they need to move them forward and improve on their academic careers,” said Huntley.

Above Grade Level of Northern Virginia serves most of Fairfax County. The program offers a free skills assessment and uses a customized approach with an in-home professional tutor, diagnostic evaluation, specialized teaching curriculum and a guarantee for results.

Professors at the University of California, Berkeley, created the skills assessment, which can be taken online at home. The assessment, available for those needing tutoring in math and English, shows where students might be missing critical skills.

Huntley received her master’s degree in forensic psychology from Marymount University and dual bachelor’s degrees in criminology and psychology from Florida State University. She delved into criminology and forensic research for the federal government.

Colon graduated from Penn State University with dual degrees in international politics and Spanish. She conducted employee training in the corporate world.

For more, visit

Herndon student tops in academic excellence

Rahul Rajan of Herndon was honored recently as one of the brightest middle school students in the world at a national awards ceremony sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth in Baltimore.

The center honored Rahul, a student at Rachel Carson Middle School, for his exceptional performance as a middle school student on college test taken as part of the 2012-2013 CTY Talent Search. CTY uses above-grade-level tests (such as the college SAT for middle school students) because they provide a clear picture of advanced students’ academic abilities.

This year more than 35,700 second-through-eighth-graders participated in the CTY Talent Search.

Of the 17,670 seventh- and eighth-graders who participated, only 1,075 from the United States and abroad scored high enough to be invited to the ceremony on the JHU campus. The honored students came from some 100 countries around the world.

“Under the skin, beneath the divisions and differences, human intelligence is a force that knows no geographical or linguistic or ideological distinctions,” said Elaine Hansen, CTY’s executive director.

Enrollment for this year’s CTY Talent Search is under way at

Student journalists win national awards

Publications produced by students of Fairfax County’s public high schools were recognized at the National Scholastic Press Association-Journalism Education Association convention, which took place last month in Boston.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s student newspaper, tjToday, was named the winner of a 2013 Newspaper Pacemaker award in the “Broadsheet 9-16 pages” category. tjToday is one of only 26 high school newspapers nationwide to win the award. Mallika Patkar serves as the editor, and Jennifer Seavey is the adviser.

These student publications were named Best of Show:

• Newspaper Special Edition: The South Lakes Sentinel, South Lakes High School, first place.

• Publication Website, Large School: tjToday, second place.

• Literary Magazine: Threshold, TJHSST, third place.

• Newspaper Broadsheet 13-16 Pages: tjToday, fourth place; The South Lakes Sentinel, 10th place.

• Yearbook Newspaper Broadsheet 13-16 Pages: The Clan, McLean High School, sixth place; Techniques, TJHSST, seventh place; and Above and Beyond, Robinson Secondary School, 10th place.

• Yearbook 325 or More Pages: Odyssey, Chantilly High School, ninth place.

• Yearbook 225-274 Pages: Freebird, South Lakes, 10th place.

Faculty advisers are Mary Kay Downes, Chantilly; Meghan Percival, McLean; Pat Hinman, Robinson; Phil Dignan and Suzanne Abdelzaraq, South Lakes; and Errin Harris and Emily Orser, TJHSST.

In the write-off competitions, nine FCPS students brought home awards:

• Excellent in Sports Writing: Maddy Witchey, McLean.

• Excellent in Newsmagazine – Layout: Na He Jeon, Langley High School.

• Excellent in Featuring Writing: Amirah Ahmad, Langley.

• Honorable Mention in Newswriting: Katherine Rohloff, Langley; and Erin Preaskorn, Oakton High School.

• Honorable Mention in First-Year Photo: Laura Coffey, Langley.

• Honorable Mention in Review Writing: Elena Ifarraguerri, McLean; Huyenan Nguyen, Oakton; and Kayla Cunningham, Westfield High School.

More than 2,000 participants took part in the write-off competitions.

Wanted: Visual art professionals

The nonprofit Student Art Enhancement Group, based in Oakton, is establishing a Visiting Artist Program in 2014. The goal is for student artists in 25 Fairfax County high schools to gain an in-depth understanding of careers in the arts through lectures, demonstrations and critiques with successful artists.

Schools select from SAEG’s list of artists with expertise in studio art, photography, design, graphics or animation. Stipends are available. Sign up at