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Sterling Blog: Silence
I had plans for this column this week. It was going to be about things to do in our community, places to go and a celebration of our vibrancy.

However, as I write this on Monday morning, I simply can’t.

On Sunday, a brutal, heartless and violent murder took place in Sterling. To avert our eyes or to try to continue without saying how it affects all of us would add to the heartlessness of the crime. Nabra Hassanen, just 17, may not be from our neighborhood, but she came to Sterling expecting safety and to simply be able to go home after eating at a restaurant.

Instead, her body was found beaten and dumped in a pond.

We are better than this. We expect better than this from the people who live here, who share in our community, who drive our roads, who visit our places of worship, and who call Sterling home. No matter what your religious or political beliefs, you simply can’t look at the face of Nabra Hussanen and think anything but horror, disgust and overwhelming grief.

Her loss not only touches those at Adams Center, her young sisters, her devastated parents, and her friends. It touches all of us. More than that it demands action. This horrific crime demands that our sometimes silence in the face of those who would divide the world, our country, and our community into us and them can’t continue. We must speak up and make everyone an “us.” We simply can’t be silent and let differences overwhelm what we know is true.

We know that a 17-year-old should be able to walk with her friends, safely find herself home, and sleep soundly to be awakened by her parents. We know that none of those with Nabra last night should be plagued with the questions of what could they have done, how could they have stopped the assailant, could they have saved their friend. We know that no amount of condolence messages from public officials will ever lessen the pain of her parents, who lost not only a daughter but all the dreams and hopes they had for her in one brutal night.

And we know, as part of this community, silence is no longer an option.

I encourage you to join me in helping her family pay funeral costs by donating at launchgood.com/nabra.
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Cascades Blog: Falcons Landing presents $75,000 in scholarships
The Falcons Landing retirement community acknowledged the promise and hard work of 15 Loudoun County Public High School seniors last week by awarding each of them with a $5,000 college scholarship.

The students, selected by a Falcons Landing committee from a field of 130 applicants, represent each public school in the county.

The eastern Loudoun-based scholarship recipients are Rebka Ephrem of Dominion High School, Christian Tessman of Potomac Falls High School and Vy Thuy Tran of Park View High School.

In addition, scholarships were awarded to An Vinh Cao of Rock Ridge High School, Anna Deutsch of Broad Run High School, Sandra Flores of Loudoun Valley High School, Reagan Harrison of Riverside High School, Christian Nhu Huynh of Stone Bridge High School, Ali Malik of John Champe High School, Azza Mohamed of Heritage High School, Kush Patel of Tuscarora High School, Amani Jewel Rascoe of Briar Woods High School, Chloe Celeste Scheyder of Freedom High School, Erin Stitt of Woodgrove High School and Leslie Telleria of Loudoun County High School.

The Falcons Landing scholarship program was launched in 2009 by the Falcons Landing board of directors and the Air Force Retired Officers Community (AFROC) with $1,000 scholarships. The scholarship award amount has grown through the years, due to the generous donations of Falcons Landing residents.

To be eligible for consideration, students must attend a Loudoun County public high school, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better and plan to attend a two- to four-year college after graduating from high school. The selected students are actively involved in the community, have contributed impressive amounts of volunteer hours and have received high honors for their academic achievements.

The scholarships were presented at the Scholarship Awards Dinner held each year at Falcons Landing. The attendees included the awardees and their families; local political figures such as Suzanne Volpe of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Erin Rayner, director of community outreach for Congresswoman Barbara Comstock; AFROC board of directors member Ed Rodriguez; Falcons Landing Residents’ Council President HT Johnson and representatives from the Falcons Landing Scholarship Committee.
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Sterling Blog: Congrats to the Thunder Cats!
This past weekend, our own Lower Loudoun Girls Softball League’s 10U Thundercats won the Loudoun Softball Alliance Championship, going against the Herndon S.W.A.T. After a pitching battle for the first few innings, the Thunder Cats were able to show their stuff and pull out a win 8-5.

If you’ve been watching the NCAA Softball Championships, you know that softball has nothing soft about it. At the college level, those pitches come over the plate at more than 70 mph -- which may not sound like it's hard to hit – but given the difference in distance between mound and plate, that softball is giving the batter the same amount of time as a 101 mph fast ball in baseball. In fact, Olympic star pitcher, Jennie Finch, struck out Albert Pujols in 2004 along with two other MLB players.

Softball may be a spring sport, but around this area—it’s a full-year thing. LLGSL has summer teams, travel teams, along with fall and spring teams. And fall registration for all ages is just around the corner. “Fall Ball” is a great time to introduce your daughter to softball as it tends to be lower key with no season-end playoffs. Practices are usually at Claude Moore and Sully, so you won’t have far to drive.

If you have a daughter 4 and up, look into softball. Admittedly, I’m speaking from experience. I have had an LLGSL player living in my house for six years now. Softball has encouraged teamwork, competitive drive and physical fitness. Any time your kid chooses practice over her phone, you know you’ve got a pretty good thing going.

To learn more about LLGSL – and to keep an eye out for Fall Ball registration – you can visit http://www.LLGSL.org or find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LLGSL/. Also, the league is always looking for coaches, so if you want a great way to spend time with your daughter, consider coaching.

In the meantime, if you see a young athlete wearing an LLGSL Thunder Cats shirt, be sure to tell them congrats on a great game and a great season!

Summer reading

As a reminder the Loudoun Library Summer Reading program started on June 10—and it’s not just for kids. Participate in challenges and you and your child could win a Kindle of their very own! Just stop by the new Sterling Library and pick up a challenge card and then hit the books. Learn more at the library or by visiting https://library.loudoun.gov/2017-summer-reading-program.
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Cascades Blog: Eastern Loudoun’s helping hands
Cascades Blog: Titans earn international awards
Sterling Blog: You say it’s your birthday
Sterling Blog: Let the music play
Cascades Blog: Poker run helps local veterans
Sterling Blog: Summer is coming
Cascades Blog: PFHS Student Earns Win at Intel Science Fair
Sterling Blog: Envision change
Cascades Blog: Sterling Ruritans honor outstanding students
Cascades Blog: Eastern Loudoun’s award-winning educators, students
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