Community News at a Glance - Great Falls, Herndon, McLean, Vienna, Mount Vernon

Community News at a Glance - Great Falls, Herndon, McLean, Vienna, Mount Vernon

Sandy Friedenthal of Great Falls receives Certificate of Appreciation 

The Great Falls Citizens Association awarded Sandy Friedenthal a Certificate of Appreciation on May 21. GFCA president John Halacy and environment committee cochair Winnie Frost presented the framed certificate. Friedenthal has long been picking up trash along Springvale Road and making a difference for the environment. To nominate community-improvement candidates, contact a GFCA board member.

HERNDON - Nargiza Muzhapaer, a student at Pinnacle Academy in Chantilly, poses with her mom, Zohra Musabay, and dad, Muzaffar Mirzat, at the Scripps Spelling Bee. 

Two Local Students Compete in Scripps Spelling Bee 2024

One made history as the first Uyghur American to participate in the event.

By Mercia Hobson

The Connection

The Fairfax County Council of PTAs sponsored two county spellers to the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee, Chantilly Pinnacle Academy student Nargiza Muzhapaer and Fairfax County Public School student Ankita Balaji of Rachel Carson Middle School.

Nargiza reached the semifinals at the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee held two weeks ago at Gaylord National Resort. She was the first Uyghur American to participate.

Nargiza said she was extremely nervous about the national spelling bee, “From the first round to my last, the waiting and anticipation beforehand was unbearable." Nargiza said the spellers' camaraderie, "who all shared the same rollercoaster of emotions," calmed her and boosted her microphone confidence. "I knew that it wasn't just me going through this; we were all in it together."

Nargiza prepared for the spelling bee by studying word patterns and origins, using spelling software, and having her mother quiz her. She's preparing for next year, but wants "to have fun with the process."

Nargiza's mother, Zohra Musabay, was "absolutely overjoyed" when her daughter reached the national spelling bee semi-finals. "This milestone is not only a testament to her hard work and dedication ... it fills our hearts with immense pride to see her represent our community on such a significant platform." Musabay praised supporters and hoped her daughter's success would inspire other young Uyghur Americans.

Ankita Balaji of Rachel Carson, MS, is the 2024 Fairfax County Spelling Bee Champion, and she competed in the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee, following in the footsteps of her older sister, Ashita.  Carson Middle School Principal Gordon Stokes said, “We are incredibly proud of Ankita. Her accomplishment is proof that hard work can pay off with a wonderful experience. She did an excellent job of representing herself, her family, and the RCMS community." Before Anika got to the national spelling bee, she  explained she wanted  to  “take it all in.” 

“I will look at where I am and look at how far I’ve come and just feel really happy,” she said.

Ankita was eliminated in Round 4, finishing in 60th place (tied).




McLean Community Players is currently rehearsing their summer high-energy musical “Heathers: The Musical,” based on the 1989 cult classic film of the same name. It is set to premiere on July 19 at The Alden Theater at the McLean Center. It is a pop-rock musical with high-energy songs and contemporary lyrics that touch on mature conversations about teen bullying in schools. Tickets are available at


Saying Goodbye to a Bit of Childhood Joy, Whimsy and Nostalgia

The community will be saying goodbye to a bit of childhood joy, whimsy, and nostalgia. Late Tuesday afternoon, June 11, Town of Vienna community members gathered to say goodbye to the beloved Meadow Lane Park merry-go-round at 400 Courthouse Rd. SW, Vienna. A staple of the community, the aging and deteriorating merry-go-round offered residents one last spin. A new and improved merry-go-round may be on the horizon, according to @TownofViennaVA.


Vienna & Oakton  

Community News at a Glance

The 2024 Cappies Awards Winners Are …

Two Fairfax County public schools in Vienna, Oakton High School and James Madison High School secured Cappie awards Monday night, June 10, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This is the “Tony Awards” for high school students, a black-tie-optional event with awards and performances celebrating high school theater. 

From Madison High School is Fortune Picker for the Featured Actor in a Female Role in a Play Award for her role in "Deadwood Dick, or A Game of Gold."

Oakton High School's Colt Craddock won Featured Actor in a Male Role in a Play for his role in "The Doctor in Wonderland." 

The Cappies is a year-long international learning program for theater and journalism students. Students attend and discuss each other's shows, write reviews for publication, and, at the end of the season, they are the critics who decide which of their fellow student performers and technicians should be honored with awards.

This year’s gala included a procession of all the nominees, special opening and closing numbers by the Cappies Gala Singers, dancers, and orchestra, an opening with spotlight performers, 42 awards for acting, tech, and critics, and excerpts from the top six plays and musicals.

Red Apple Channel 21 (Verizon FIOS and Cox in Fairfax County, VA) will broadcast the gala several times starting Monday, June 17. You can also view the Channel 21 live stream at:

See list of all the winners on page 16.


Mount Vernon

 Community News at a Glance

Team Storck Volunteers at Food Pantry.

On June 7, Fairfax County Supervisor Dan Stork (D) and his team stocked shelves and unboxed items, assisted clients, and had fun at United Community's food bank for their spring volunteer day. Do you want to volunteer, too? Visit for volunteer opportunities.