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    Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Hoppity hop
    The world is full of absurdly cute animals. Obviously the cutest is the otter, but bunnies aren’t that far behind. If you can’t be an otter, then being a bunny is a good second option.

    Most of the bunnies we see around here are eastern cottontails. These are the adorable creatures that make your children yell “Stop the car … there’s a bunny.” They are extremely prevalent in this area, and they better be, because (don’t read this part to your kids) only 20 percent die of natural causes. The rest become part of the circle of life. These furry friends make up half the diet of those other cute animals, foxes and more than four-fifths of what bobcats survive on.

    Next week, Wednesday, April 1, the Heritage Farm Museum, in Claude Moore Park, will be hosting a Bunny Bonanza for bunnies that aren’t on any animal’s menu. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., you and your kids can play with live bunnies, do bunny crafts and learn from bunny exhibits. You’ll also get a chance to meet the most famous bunny of all – the Easter Bunny. And I dare any fox to try to take that guy on.

    You’ll also find out how you can volunteer and help animals (including bunnies) right here in Loudoun. This is an especially great event if you have a pet bunny or are thinking of making a bunny a family friend. There are four dozen varieties of pet bunnies, weighing anywhere from two to 20 pounds.

    The Bunny Bonanza is free with paid admission to the Heritage Farm Museum, which is a bargain at $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for kids 2-12 and free for children under age 2. So hop along and go check out the bunnies.

    Can’t wait until April to see the Easter Bunny? I understand, you’ve got a list of candy you want and it’s important to get that request in early. On Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to noon, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church will be holding their annual Community Easter Egg Hunt – complete with Easter Bunny.

    Just show up to the Briar Patch Park at the corner of Frederick Drive and Sterling Boulevard, and be ready for some Easter fun. Finding eggs not your thing? Don’t worry, there’s crafts, face-painting and games. Go home with some eggs, some candy and some great memories. To learn more, visit http://www.stmtts.org.

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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: March Madness in Eastern Loudoun
    There are definite signs of spring in the air. The ducks have returned to their favorite body of water at Dulles Town Center. March Madness is taking over River Bend Middle School. And the AARP is offering free tax help at the Loudoun County Public Library at Cascades.

    On the court: Our very own Raven Nation, based at River Bend Middle School, is inviting the community to attend and cheer at the school’s March Madness student and staff basketball game on Thursday, March 19. Two school teams—Team Fritz and Team Frenck—led by the school’s assistant principals, Eric Fritz and Dave Frenck, will take the court at Potomac Falls High School at 7 p.m. The teams, made up of student and staff players, are playing to raise money for an LED sign for the school’s front entrance. Admission is $5; doors open at 6:30 p.m. Raffle drawings will take place at half-time. Prizes include four one-day Hopper passes to Walt Disney World in Orlando (value $536), Washington Wizards t-shirts and more. Raffle tickets are $2. The festivities offer a free-throw contest and a performance by the RBM band and choir. Tickets are available in the school’s front office. For information, call 571-434-3220.

    Care packages: The Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation hosts a fundraiser March 21 at Velocity 5 in Sterling from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. From noon to 11 p.m. that day, 18% of the restaurant’s sales will go to the foundation, for use in sending care packages to members of the military serving overseas. A raffle and silent auction also will take place. On March 22, the organization hosts its spring care-packaging event at Potomac Falls High School from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Volunteers are welcome. Information is available online at djgmf.org.

    Clean-up crew: The Cascades Spring Trash Bash and Food Drive takes place March 22 from 12:30 until 5 p.m. This family-friendly event starts at the Potomac Baptist Church parking lot at 20747 Lowes Island Boulevard. Registration, refreshments, giveaways and a briefing take place from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Volunteers will head out to clean-up sites in the area and return any time before 5 p.m. Information is available at sempertech.com/CTB.

    Tax breaks: AARP volunteers provide assistance in filing taxes electronically at the Cascades branch of the Loudoun County Public Library through Wednesday, April 15. The tax sessions take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. For information, call 703-444-3228.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.
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    STERLING BOULEVARD: Magical thinking
    If you’ve ever spoken to a child, you know their mind is a fascinating place. It’s full of connections that only make sense to them, reasons that only they understand and solutions to problems never even imagined. However, as they grow older, kids often seem to lose that magical thinking – that ability to add color where there was only black-and-white answers.

    The sad thing is that the innovators in our world, the ones that changes things and make them better, are those who retain that innate ability to see possibilities where no one else can. So the question is “how do we make sure our kids exercise their ‘magical thinking’ muscle?”

    One school in our area is working to make sure their kids get a magical thinking work out by actively supporting Odyssey of the Mind. Rolling Ridge Elementary sent five (yep, five) teams to the regional Odyssey of the Mind tournament this weekend. These are the first teams to represent our neighborhood at this worldwide competition in five years. Ranging in ages from kindergarten to fifth grade, these kids went head-to-head with children from other schools in Loudoun County creating creative – and magical – solutions to problems. Thirty kids worked on problems from learning about weather to building a structure using the world’s lightest wood to hold up some heavy objects.

    In addition to attacking a long-term problem, the kids also competed in spontaneous thinking. Each team of up to seven children have to respond to a verbal, hands-on or a mixture of the two problems and get scored on not what is the “right” answer, but what is the most creative, most out there and most magical.

    Many of the kids have already said their coming back, along with many of the volunteers, parents and coaches, who have already re-committed to next year. In the spirit of full disclosure, one of those coaches was yoIf you’ve ever spoken to a child, you know their mind is a fascinating place. It’s full of connections that only make sense to them, reasons that only they understand and solutions to problems never even imagined. However, as they grow older, kids often seem to lose that magical thinking – that ability to add color where there was only black-and-white answers.

    The sad thing is that the innovators in our world, the ones that changes things and make them better, are those who retain that innate ability to see possibilities where no one else can. So the question is “how do we make sure our kids exercise their ‘magical thinking’ muscle?”

    One school in our area is working to make sure their kids get a magical thinking work out by actively supporting Odyssey of the Mind. Rolling Ridge Elementary sent five (yep, five) teams to the regional Odyssey of the Mind tournament this weekend. These are the first teams to represent our neighborhood at this worldwide competition in five years. Ranging in ages from kindergarten to fifth grade, these kids went head-to-head with children from other schools in Loudoun County creating creative – and magical – solutions to problems. Thirty kids worked on problems from learning about weather to building a structure using the world’s lightest wood to hold up some heavy objects.

    In addition to attacking a long-term problem, the kids also competed in spontaneous thinking. Each team of up to seven children have to respond to a verbal, hands-on or a mixture of the two problems and get scored on not what is the “right” answer, but what is the most creative, most out there and most magical.

    Many of the kids have already said their coming back, along with many of the volunteers, parents and coaches, who have already re-committed to next year. In the spirit of full disclosure, one of those coaches was your friendly neighborhood columnist and I’m all in for next year.

    While only one of our area schools participated in the program this year, this is a huge step in bringing this popular program (the most popular extracurricular activity in Loudoun County) back to Sterling. Want to find out how you can bring Odyssey of the Mind to your school and your kid? Let me know at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll put you in touch with the right people and help you along.ur friendly neighborhood columnist and I’m all in for next year.

    While only one of our area schools participated in the program this year, this is a huge step in bringing this popular program (the most popular extracurricular activity in Loudoun County) back to Sterling. Want to find out how you can bring Odyssey of the Mind to your school and your kid? Let me know at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll put you in touch with the right people and help you along.

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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING:  Springing into action in Sterling
    STERLING BOULEVARD: More than just cookies
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Top Honors for Loudoun Photographers
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Glass slippers
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: All Things Seussical
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Frozen: The running water blues
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Matters of the Heart
    STERLING BOULEVARD:  Love is in the air
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: The Music Man at River Bend
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Hearts aflame at the Cascades Library
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