A Big Day for Project Patriot


“I’m so proud of the student body at Park View for showing up this year. I’m really proud of the adults in the community for showing up this year. As much fun as this is, I hope we continue to do this kind of stuff.”


Actress Hilarie Burton, a 2000 Park View High School graduate, spoke these words on Thursday, August 29th, before a packed Flag Foyer at the school.


“This kind of stuff” included a $10,000 donation from the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to purchase cleats for the Patriot football team and a $15,165 donation to Project Patriot from the sale of “High School Forever” T-shirts that Burton arranged as a limited-time offer.


Burton (“Total Request Live,” “One Tree Hill,” “White Collar” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) announced the formation of the non-profit Project Patriot during a pep rally on August 31st, 2018, after Park View was forced to abandon its varsity football season because of a lack of participation. This year, 74 players are in the football program and they have the best footwear around (Burton announced that Nike extended a 40 percent discount to Park View, extending the gift from the NFLPA).    


“Do you see what happens when we remove the economic roadblocks and the adults in the room showed up? The kids in the room showed up,” said Burton.


She added the money raised would benefit more than the football team. “We want to make sure Project Patriot is open to all extra-curricular clubs.” Applications for grants will be given out to students. “We want to hear what you guys need.”


Principal Kirk Dolson reflected on how far his school, and Project Patriot, had advanced during the past year. “School can teach you a lot about content, but sometimes we forget to teach you about the soft skills. Part of those soft skills is collaboration and meeting people, getting to know people… When we fail, we actually learn and we improve; then we can succeed. Today is about our collective community joining together as one to support you, the students of Park View High School, and this school.”


The NFLPA gift came about after attorney Ibrahim Moiz saw a tweet from Burton promoting Project Patriot. “I knew collaboration was what was needed,” he said.


The NFLPA is one of Moiz’s clients. “The football program was an area that I knew we needed some type of private-public or public-public partnership.” Moiz gave the NFLPA some background about Park View. “Within 24 hours they got back to me and confirmed that they would pay for the cleats for the players.”


“This would not happen without a collective effort from everyone here,” NFLPA Business Development Manager Cary Grossart told the audience.


Clinton Portis, the Redskins’ second-leading all-time rusher, presented the cleats on behalf of the NFLPA. He told the students in attendance – including the football team, band and cheerleaders – that the relationships they form through high school activities will pay dividends later in life. “At some point you’re going to intertwine and run into each other again. Enjoy this moment… I still have the same best friends that I played football with in high school.”   


Park View graduate Tony Canonico, the director of operations at Play to Win, LLC, detailed the contributions his organization made to Park View: donating three months of playing time in a seven-on-seven football league and a week of training camp this summer at Evergreen Sportsplex. He also stressed the role extra-curricular activities play in high school life and the need for the community to support clubs and athletics. “It’s bringing everybody together and letting these kids know that everybody supports them; whether it’s football, other sports, band, color guard…. We’re proud to be from Sterling Park and proud of these kids and what they’re doing.”


Nikki Sicilian, director of communications and public relations for Buffalo Wing Factory, announced that her business, which has been in the Sterling area since the 1990s (and where Burton once worked) will be helping Project Patriot. The restaurant will hold a spirit night on September 11th, Patriot Day, with a portion of the sales going to Project Patriot. On September 14th, it will hold a “fuel drive:” members of the community can drop off sports drinks and nutrition bars to be given out in the weight room and after football practice.


School Board Vice Chair Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Chief of Staff Nyah Hamlett, Director of High School Education Nereida Gonzalez-Sales and Director of Athletics Derek Farrey attended the Project Patriot event.