FCPS board member tweets snow day, becomes overnight celebrity


McElveen set this as his new Twitter profile picture. It was one of the first of countless of memes created in his honor.

On December 9 at 5:18 PM, Fairfax County Public Schools At-Large board member Ryan McElveen tweeted that “#FCPS schools and admin centers will be closed Tuesday, Dec. 12. Storm timing will interfere with both commutes. Stay safe #Fairfax.”

Little did he suspect that with these few words, he would receive tumultuous praise as a hero and savior from FCPS students all over Twitter and Facebook. Within 24 hours, McElveen’s announcement garnered 491 favorites and was retweeted 972 times, and countless McElveen memes were posted on Twiter and Facebook.

One of the factors leading to McElveen’s rise to fame is that he was the first to tweet the news of a second snow day–34 minutes faster than the official FCPS Twitter (@fcpsnews).

“He’s announcing the snow days earlier than the FCPS website and actually communicating with the students,” said Oakton High School senior Evelyn Wang. “That’s rare for a school board member. Most students don’t even know who our school board members are.”

According to McElveen himself, it is difficult for FCPS to coordinate timely communications since it is such a large system, which is why he personally took the initiative to tweet out the news.

Some of McElveen’s witty replies. The humor with which McElveen handled the situation contributed to his boost in popularity.

“Because School Board members are among the first to hear about any cancellations of delays, I don’t think we need to wait for the official announcement to share the information–we should give students as big of a heads-up as possible,” McElveen said. “Social networks are great tools for sharing this kind of information, as long as users can be trusted to share the correct information.”

The other half of the driving force behind McElveen’s popularity lies in his sense of humor. McElveen responded to students’ tweets and retweeted any amusing commentary he stumbled upon. He even decided to set one of the student-made memes as his own Twitter profile picture.

“The amount of maturity and amusement with which Ryan handled it definitely helped,” said McLean High School junior Hal Clark, who merged a photo of his own face with McElveen’s and posted the result to Facebook.  “I think that the joy resulting from another snow day mixed with [McElveen’s] identity as the announcer caused the joke to start, and the mob mentality that results from social networking caused it to become so memetic. ”

Meanwhile, McElveen hopes that the memes will raise student interest in the school board, whose decisions directly impact their daily lives with or without their knowledge.

“It’s amusing, but I also see it as an opportunity to get students more interested and involved in the work of the School Board,” he said. “Hopefully, by becoming my followers on Twitter, students will see what we do and be able to have a stronger voice in our work.”

McElveen said that the chance of Wednesday being marked as another snow day is highly unlikely.

“We don’t want to use up all of the snow days when the winter has barely begun,” he said. “As a result of freezing temperatures over night, a delay is certainly possible, but right now the roads look pretty clear.”

Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure: McElveen will live on in the hearts and minds of FCPS students as a heroic bringer of good news.

“Long live Ryan McElveen, righteous and just ruler of the earthly realm!” said Hal Clark, speaking on behalf of the Internet.