Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

pennymugDespite last weekend’s rainy weather, the mood was warm and welcoming at Woodburn Elementary School for the Fine and Communicative Arts as the principal, Bridget Chapin, was joined by hundreds of students, parents, and neighbors for the dedication of the Sarah Lahr Outdoor Classroom at the school.

Mrs. Lahr, who celebrated her 94th birthday the same weekend, was the donor and guiding force behind the creation of the outdoor space, which was installed as part of the school’s recent renovation.


It was too wet and rainy for the students to plant the hundreds of crocus and daffodils bulbs on Saturday, but one could see the bulbs carefully laid out where they will be planted on a warmer day this fall. The outdoor classroom occupies a large open space behind the school, and can be observed clearly from the cafeteria. Several young trees and shrubs already are in place, along with outdoor furniture and a curved walkway that winds through to a flagstone gathering spot in the center. Mrs. Lahr is a longtime neighbor of the school, which is located on Gallows Road in the historic Holmes Run Acres neighborhood. She established the Sarah Lahr Educational Foundation to support a number of favorite educational initiatives, and Woodburn is the lucky recipient of her friendship and support. Happy Birthday, and thank you, Sarah Lahr!

Also last Saturday, the new synthetic turf field at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts was opened officially with a ribbon cutting in pouring rain. Board Chairman Sharon Bulova and I were joined by Kip Germain of the Annandale Boys and Girls Clubs, Frank Vajda, Mason District representative to the Park Authority Board, John Dargle, director of the Park Authority, Wilfredo Campos of the Culmore Soccer Association, and others to celebrate the new field, which was opened to play on Labor Day weekend. In an executive decision, speeches were cancelled, the ribbon was cut, photos taken, and everyone hurried back to shelter – except for the young people who continued to play soccer on the all-weather field! The Bailey’s field was constructed collaboratively between the Park Authority, which planned and designed the project; the school system, which constructed it; and the community, which provided additional support. Field use outside of school hours will be scheduled by Community and Recreation Services.

Wet grounds couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of 200 or so volunteers and supporters who came out to Mason District Park to greet Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, gubernatorial candidate State Senator Creigh Deeds, and candidate for lieutenant governor, Jody Wagner, on the stage of the Newton Edwards Amphitheatre. In a last minute switch, the audience jostled together under the stage roof, out of the rain, while the candidates spoke. A couple of McDonnell “trackers” recorded and filmed the entire rally, and probably were disappointed that so many people turned out to hear such positive and encouraging messages on a dreary day.

Fairfax County voters may vote absentee in-person at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Voting hours are Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The last day to vote absentee in-person is Saturday, October 31. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, and registered voters should go to their regular polling place from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov