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Cascades Blog: Sterling Rotary Helps Build a Diaper Bank

Every baby needs diapers. On average, a child needs 7,000 diapers from birth to age two, according to the Rotary Club of Sterling. Infants go through 10 to 12 diapers a day—and each diaper costs 23 to 26 cents, for a total expense of about $70 to $90 each month.

Irene Ellis, Hutchison Farm Elementary School principal retires after 31 Years in Loudoun County

Donna on Mrs. Ellis:

Mrs. Ellis has seen hundreds of children grow up before her eyes. I can only speak to my own experiences with her, and they have been many.
As a Hutchison Farm “pioneer”, our journey began 8 years ago when my daughter, now 14, began the first grade. We were excited to be opening a new school and Mrs. Ellis had an endless amount of energy that made our kids laugh and stand at attention at the same time. It was a challenging beginning, full of inevitable growing pains, wonderful times, and also an unfortunate series of tragic events for Hutchison Farm’s staff and families. Mrs. Ellis was always there, offering her unconventional wisdom, and most of all—watching out for every one of her students.
Along with her other responsibilities, Mrs. Ellis was charged with housing the special needs pre-school at Hutchison Farm those first few years. Among the little diapered cuties was my son, who, along with the others, faced early developmental challenges. I was a nervous wreck. I followed the bus to school each day, and 2 mornings a week volunteered in the office (mostly to spy on the pre-school).
One day my son spotted me in the office and started crying, wanting to go home. All I wanted to do was run to him. To my shock, Mrs. Ellis appeared from around the corner and took over. She was like a flash, running into the office and turning him around before he could get to me. She spoke to him like he was much older exclaiming in her southern accent, “you’ve got work to do, so get back there and do it!” Now, he was almost 3, but he couldn’t really talk yet and we weren’t sure he understood a word we said. But that day he looked at Irene Ellis and stopped crying, he turned around and grabbed the little rope that kept the tiny ones in a straight line as they walked, and he got to work. He’s 10 years old now and I haven’t felt the need to follow the bus since that day.
Irene Ellis, my family will miss you. We will miss seeing your black car parked at school from dawn til dusk. Your ability to brush off criticism and focus on our children when some would strive to please demanding parents is beyond excellent. We love how you know over 900 names and faces of those kids. And most of all, how you make our children feel special, and normal, and able to do whatever they set out to do. Your heart is bigger than South Riding.

Stefani on Mrs. Ellis:

My oldest son was beginning kindergarten. I was new to VA and to having a school aged child. There were two elementary schools in South Riding at the time and I was nervous. I had a neighbor say to me “Oh, sorry you’re at Hutchison Farm”. I was confused and asked her to explain. She said “Well, let’s put it this way; Little River is a cotillion and Hutchison Farm is a hoedown”. I decided the best way to get acclimated was to work at the school, so I signed up as a front office volunteer. I quickly grew to love Hutchison Farm. I loved the staff and the administration. The food may be lacking, but NY has nothing on the public schools in South Riding.

Mid year, I was asked to give a tour of the school to a couple who were to be moving into the South Riding area. It was going well, uneventful actually, until we began to approach the cafeteria. Saturday Night Fever was blasting from the doors. Between the cheers, laughter and music, you could tell the couple receiving the tour were less than impressed. When we walked in, Mrs. Ellis was disco dancing in a clown costume, wig and all. Let me tell you, she is NO John Travolta!!!

The couple looked a bit put off and asked who that was and what was going on. I explained, quite proudly; “That’s our principal, Mrs. Ellis. She bet the kids they couldn’t read a certain amount of books by mid year. Not only had they reached their goal, they exceeded it. They got to choose the reward and seeing Mrs. Ellis disco dance as a clown was it”!

It has been 7 years since my first child entered Hutchison Farm. Since then, there has been a lot of disco dancing, sometimes even on the roof of the school! I am so grateful my children got to attend Hutchison Farm with Mrs. Ellis as their principal. My kids will always remember her and so will I. This is one hoedown I am grateful to have been invited to!

ROUND HILL’S GRAND OPENING OF THE GATEWAY GALLERY & GIFT SHOP

MOVIE NIGHT AT PURCELLVILLE

Don’t Miss the Grand Opening Celebration at the New Sport&Health in Brambleton

A Monster Hit

Anyone who’s ever seen and enjoyed a horror film is bound to get a charge out of the Taking Flight Theatre Company’s production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” now on stage at the Waddell Theatre on the Sterling campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

The show is a good-natured send-up of the 1980s classic “Evil Dead” films that launched the careers of Sam Raimi (director of the Spider-Man movie franchise) and Bruce Campbell (currently appearing in the Burn Notice series on the USA network). And, yes, there is a cellar door—and a chainsaw—featured in the production.

It’s not necessary to know the films to enjoy the musical, though. The script and the song lyrics neatly take a jab at nearly every staple ingredient of any of the frightening films you grew up with. Familiarity with the original E.D. film and cast simply add an extra dimension of fun to the proceedings.

At an early point in the show, Cheryl (played with gusto and a powerful voice by Susannah Todd of Sterling) holds up a book she’s reading. The well-read Bruce Campbell fans in the audience may notice that the book is Campbell’s autobiography, “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor.” A series of references easily recognizable to many a “deadite” (as the film’s fans are known) can be found throughout the performance.

The play tells the story of five college students on vacation at a log cabin in the woods and what happens after they inadvertently bring an ancient evil force into the world. This is an R-rated production, despite all of the good-natured mocking occurring on the stage—mainly due to some strong language and simulated on-stage violence.

The cast includes an affable Jesse Baskin (of Springfield) well-suited to the role of Ash, a charming Katie Pond (also of Springfield) as Linda and an energetic Ra’Shawn Durell (of Manassas) in the role of Scotty. Glen Bartram, of Ashburn, provides a solid counterpoint—and some amazing singing—in the role of “good old reliable Jake.”

The production is a laugh-fest from beginning to end. Director Phillip Archey of Ashburn and producer Theresa Bender of Herndon have assembled a genial work that makes this a must-see show for the summer of 2010. You don’t have to be familiar with the E.D. movies—you don’t even have to like musicals—to have a great time.

The last two performances of “Evil Dead: The Musical” take place this weekend—on Friday, June 11, and Saturday, June 12, beginning at 8 p.m. The general admission tickets are priced at $18; seniors and students pay $12. Show and ticket information can be found online at http://tftheatre.org.

Beginning June 13, the Sterling production is history—and a series of information bits contained in the musical’s Wikipedia entry. I'm hoping that, one day, the show will be resurrected as an annual late fall fundraiser for a variety of good causes. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate Halloween.

The Mercer Team Did Us Proud (but not for the reason you think)!

You may have heard that Mercer Middle School's Odyssey of the Mind team placed 4th at the 2010 Odyssey of the Mind World Competition. They competed at Michigan State University, May 26th through the 29th in the category "Return to the Gift of Flight". Additionally, they placed first in the spontaneous problem competing against countries throughout the United States.

The biggest news however, is that the Mercer team received one of the biggest honors and the first award of the night; an OMER’s Award, named for the Odyssey of the Mind raccoon mascot, OMER. This award is given in recognition of outstanding sportsmanship or exemplary behavior. A team from Poland ran into a huge problem: their set/props did not arrive in Michigan for their performance. The Mercer kids worked hard to get the materials they needed and recruited other teams throughout the campus to provide tools and support. It was this, which made it possible for the team from Poland to perform on Saturday afternoon. Remember, Odyssey kids spend 6+ months getting their props ready for competition, the kids from Poland had a mere 36 hours to recreate theirs. The judges, and other teams throughout the campus, saw what the Mercer kids did to help these seven Polish students, and they received one of the biggest awards you can receive, one that truly shows what a community of students can do to help those in need.

Celebrate South Riding ~ Something to Celebrate About!

This year’s Celebrate South Riding was the best one yet! From fireworks to laser light shows, Grucci’s got nothing on Celebrate South Riding! The new location at the community center was fantastic. There was a lot more space so it never felt crowded although there were plenty of people. The bands were outstanding and the new location of the Beer Tent allowed the adults to watch their kids on the dance floor while enjoying a few “spirits”. Because it all took place on a field without blacktop, even the heat didn’t pose a problem. It was no longer necessary to lug a blanket because there was a ton of seating. Thank you so much to the volunteers. We know this event would never be possible without you and your hard work. We celebrate you!

A Trip to the Supermarket

Nothing can be easier than a trip to the Super Market to buy six items, unless it’s a wife authorized trip. It begins when she hands you a list of items which you give a cursory once over: two cans of black eyed peas, a watermelon, three ears of corn, three gallons of frozen yoghurt, a six pack of diet coke, a gallon of skim milk. Simple enough you think. You start out the door when she says, “Wait a minute, let me explain.”
“We want Hanover brand fat free black eyed peas. If they don’t have that get the Van Camp brand but only one can. If they have neither one, go to Giant but don’t get the watermelon there, they are better at Safeway. The watermelon: look at the ones they have split open to see how red they are. Don’t get a whole one if they look pale. And be sure and thump the whole ones and get one no longer than this—she holds out her hands—otherwise it won’t fit in the refrigerator. The corn: peel the shuck back and examine the kernels. Don’t, I repeat don’t get one that has too soft kernels. We want Breyers frozen yoghurt and only vanilla flavor and here I have two coupons for discounts at Shoppers but they never stock the right kind of black eyed peas so you’ll have to get those elsewhere—probably Food Lion. We want cans not bottles of coke. Check the date on the milk. Don’t get anything less than one week of time left. Okay?”
I leave the house with my head full of instructions and a strong sense of mission. I return two and a half hours and four supermarkets later clear headed and with some measure of pride at a mission accomplished. Finding the black eyed peas presented the biggest challenge. I had to work my way through S&W candied yams, Del Monte asparagus spears, Green Giant cut green beans, Le Seur early peas, succotash, extra tiny carrots, Sylvias collard greens, etc. I spent the better part of 30 minutes scouring a dizzying array of shelved canned goods. I was almost desperate enough to ask an attendant—when I found the Hanover black eyed peas in an obscure corner—fat free. I thumped watermelons until I bruised the cuticle on my right index finger. I peeled back the shucks on 13 ears of corn and punched holes in twice as many kernels. I rummaged through 17 gallons of skim milk to find the right expiration date. And I used the coupons for the Breyer’s frozen yoghurt.
I’m anxiously confident while my wife takes inventory. Everything seems in order. Then. “Where’s the jar of mayonnaise?”
“It wasn’t on the list.”
“I left you a message on your cell phone to get a jar of mayonnaise.”
Later, I check the cell phone for messages. “While you are out, would you please also get a jar of Hellman’s Lite Mayonnaise? Oh and thank you for going to the supermarket.”
Tagline: Joe Motheral lives with his wife Marjorie in River Creek. He makes frequent trips to the supermarket and his email address is: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

A Screaming Good Time

Anyone who’s ever seen and enjoyed a horror film is bound to get a charge out of the Taking Flight Theatre Company’s production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” now on stage at the Waddell Theatre on the Sterling campus of the Northern Virginia Community College.

The production, a good-natured send-up of the 1980s classic “Evil Dead” films, is a laugh-fest from beginning to end. Producer Theresa Bender of Herndon and Director Phillip Archey of Ashburn have assembled a genial work that makes this a must-see show for the summer of 2010. You don’t have to be familiar with the E.D. movies—you don’t even have to like musicals—to have a great time.

The R-rated production (for some strong language and simulated on-stage violence) takes the stage June 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12. The show begins at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 7 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets are $18 or $12 for students and seniors. An additional $2 at the door provides an upgrade to the “Splatter Zone” in the first two rows of the theater; get there early for access to this seating upgrade. Show and ticket information can be found online at http://tftheatre.org.

Look for a longer review in the Loudoun Times-Mirror on Wednesday, June 9. And feel free to comment here about your take on the show.

Cascades Runner Welcomes the North Face Endurance Challenge

Running in the woods: This weekend, more than 2,000 runners are expected to converge on Algonkian Regional Park for the fourth Washington DC North Face Endurance Challenge. The race takes place on Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6, across Algonkian Park, Great Falls Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail. The course supplies some very nice scenery, along with the challenge of constantly changing terrain. According to those in the know, the Great Falls sections include some “intense” elevation changes with climbs as high as 300 feet.

During the endurance weekend, Cascades resident Scott Cunningham will be in the thick of the action, leading Team “Financial Intelligence.” The team’s name comes from some of the members’ career choices—in the finance and intelligence communities. One team member, Don Cummings, has known Scott since the fourth grade. He’ll be flying in from Illinois to participate in the run. The team also includes Christian Downward of Potomac Falls and Jeff Greene of Arlington.

Scott prepared for the Loudoun-based DC Endurance Challenge with a wintry test in early May in the 10K event at the North Face Endurance Challenge Northeast Regional at Bear Mountain, New York.

“The morning started chilly, with temperatures in the high 30s,” Scott said. “Despite a stiff wind that had flags snapping straight, the sun broke through and by the 9 a.m. start time over 400 racers were ready to attack the trail.”

He explained that the Bear Mountain course included rocky climbs and several muddy stretches in the craggy foothills of the Catskills. Scott completed the course in just under an hour and says he is “well prepared” to lead his team over hill and dale along this week’s course beside the Potomac River.

The DC Endurance Challenge offers five events on Saturday, June 5—the Gore-Tex 50 Mile beginning at 5 a.m., a 50K beginning at 7 a.m., a marathon beginning at 9 a.m., a marathon relay beginning at 11 a.m. and a kids’ run beginning at 3 p.m.

The Kids Race is designed for children too young for the Endurance Challenge race distances. The supervised race, on a 1K course, will be led by North Face Global Athlete Team member Dean Karnazes. Young racers can sign up to participate at the Challenge’s Karno Kids’ booth on Saturday, June 5, from 11 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. Registration for the race is free for ages 12 and younger.

On Sunday, June 6, the events include a half-marathon beginning at 8 a.m., a 10K beginning at 9 a.m. and a 5K beginning at 9:15 a.m. All of the Sunday events are sold out, with only waiting list space available.

Scott, a self-described “regular guy in Cascades, not a specialist or running nut,” describes the trail race challenge as messy and filled with surprises.

“You never quite know what the next turn is going to bring,” he said.

“It’s very exciting to see what the trail is going to be like. It might be grassy open fields one minute and it might be a gully with a steep climb right after that. Or it might be something profoundly beautiful and you pause and catch your breath and then say ‘wait a minute, I have to focus here and get moving.’”

“It’s fun,” he added. “You can’t think about it without getting a smile on your face.”

The next nearby trail-running contests, the Running Rocks races, take place on July 11 in Leesburg. The event includes a cross-country eight-mile and four-mile run on a private farm overlooking the Potomac River. Running Rocks is presented by Potomac River Running, an eight-store enterprise helmed by CountrySiders Cathy and Ray Pugsley.

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