News of the achievements of local students and members of the Armed Forces:

* Alexander Yang, a senior at BASIS Independent McLean, has been selected as a Commended Student in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Yang was among 34,000 students selected nationally out of 1.6 million students who were part of the 2019 National Merit Scholarship competition.

* Khalila Karefa-Kargbo, the daughter of Karefa Kargbo and Emerica Karefa-Kargbo of McLean, was named homecoming queen at Randolph-Macon Academy.

She participated in homecoming events the weekend of Oct. 12-12.

* More than 200 Girl Scouts and their families on Oct. 28 participated in dedication ceremonies for Virginia’s first “Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden” in Oakton, an effort to engage students in service projects to support men and women of the Armed Forces.

The project was organized by the non-profit organization iWitnesses>iRemember, which works to memorialize the approximately six million women who participated in the war effort on the domestic front during World War II. Among those on hand for the event was 99-year-old Elinor Otto, a real-life Rosie the Riveter who began working in an aircraft factory during the war and continued to work in the industry until just four years ago.

“When Ms. Otto tells today’s teens about going to work in an aircraft factory in the middle of the war, we all better appreciate what the Rosies did and are inspired to do more ourselves,” said Madeleine LeBeau, founder and president of the non-profit organization.

The memorial garden was planted on land contributed by the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation’s Capital at Camp Crowell in Oakton. For information, see the Web site at

* Students from five Fairfax County public schools earned recognition at the 2018 Northern Virginia Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), a competition to design, build, and race model solar-electric cars.

Among students in the Sun Gazette coverage area, a team of Ram Reddy and Ramya Reddy of Longfellow Middle School and Pranav Bhimaraju of Kilmer Middle  School took home third place in the middle-school division.

Their effort also won honors in a number of specialty categories.

The Northern Virginia JSS is a student-led event designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math for students in grades 5-8.

Faaiz Memon, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, in cooperation with Young Scholars Circle, TJ STEMbassadors, Technology Student Association, and DC Electric Vehicle Association, served as the host of the competition.

Memon and fellow Thomas Jefferson students Duke Tran and Rishi Tadepalli were judges for the special-awards categories. Memon also conducted workshops prior to the competition to interested competitors.

* Student-journalists representing eight publications from six Fairfax County public schools have been named Crown Award finalists by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) for work produced during the 2017-18 academic year.

All eight of the nominated publications will receive either a Silver or Gold Crown award at Columbia University next spring.

In the Sun Gazette coverage area, finalists in the yearbook category include George C. Marshall High School’s Columbian (Dan Reinish, adviser); McLean High School’s The Clan (Meghan Percival, adviser); and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology’s Techniques (Erinn Harris, adviser).

Thomas Jefferson’s Teknos (Shane Torbert, adviser) is a nominee in the hybrid magazine category. McLean High School’s The Highlander (Lindsay Benedict, adviser) is a nominee in the hybrid news category.

* Flint Hill Elementary School is one of 59 schools across the commonwealth designated as “Purple Star” schools by the state government.

The schools were honored for their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families. The designation is part of a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

To qualify for a Purple Star, schools must have a trained staff member designated as a primary point of contact for military families and local military communities. Schools also must demonstrate their commitment to providing resources and programming on issues important to military families, such as transitions and academic planning.

The schools selected for the designation are “leading by example and working to create supportive learning environments,” Gov. Northam said in a statement.

Flint Hill was among 14 Fairfax County schools to receive the honor.

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