The book bus was launched this summer with the goal of providing enhanced reading opportunities for students at Abingdon, where nearly 53 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. Once a week for five weeks, the bus would make stops in the community around Arlington, giving students the chance to check out books right in their neighborhood.
The bus was staffed by Abingdon teachers and the school’s principal, all of whom volunteered their time. Inside the bus were about 2,000 books donated by local businesses, nonprofit organization, a local author, and several publishers. Much of the equipment used to check out books — including barcode scanners — were also donated.
“It was almost completely subsidized, which is fabulous,” said Abingdon principal Joanne Uyeda.
Over the course of four weeks, about 200 students checked out more than 700 books, according to Abingdon literary coach Erin Watson. For the bus’ fifth week , students returned their checked-out books, picked out a free donated book to keep, and entered to win one of four Barnes & Noble Nooks. The Nooks will be given out during a school reading assembly during the first week of school.
Uyeda said the ultimate goal of the book bus is to help close the “achievement gap” between Abingdon students and students in more well-to-do neighborhoods. By bringing elementary-reading-level books to the neighborhoods, and by making the book bus stops into a fun event, Uyeda said the bus was able to encourage more Abingdon students to read over the summer.
“You can trace about 80 percent of the achievement gap to summer reading loss, because middle class kids gain a month over the summer and disenfranchised kids lose three months,” Uyeda said. “By the time they leave elementary school they’re roughly two years behind, and they don’t make that up in middle school.”
Julie Bato, a parent of an Abingdon student and a teacher at Long Branch Elementary, said the book bus brings the community together and allows students to see their teachers during the summer.
“It’s great,” she said. “I love seeing all the neighborhood kids come out. The appreciation the staff has for these kids, some of whom might not get to the library over the summer… I just think that’s priceless. They’re the reason the kids want to come. They want to see their teachers, they want to see their principal.”
One young student was so grateful to the book bus volunteers that he brought them pudding cups and spoons on the last week.
Teachers and administrators both said they hope to bring the book bus back next summer.
“We want to keep doing it every summer, if we can,” said Susanna Smith, a reading teacher at Abingdon. “It’s a lot of fun seeing the students smile when they see their teachers during the summer.”
Today we debut a new periodic feature called Ask Me (Almost) Anything. Intended to be a local, community-oriented derivation of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything discussion threads, Ask Me (Almost) Anything allows readers to discuss important and interesting topics with local community, government and business leaders. See below for discussion guidelines.
Founded by four local families, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is an award-winning, community-based nonprofit that has been working to develop and preserve affordable housing in Arlington County since 1989.
APAH currently provides affordable housing to 1,000 Arlington households earning between $20,000 and $64,000 per year. Since Arlington doesn’t have a public housing agency, nonprofits like APAH are an integral component of the county’s drive for more affordable housing.
In addition to developing and owning affordable housing for the long-term, APAH provides a number of services to residents of its communities.
“APAH’s mission is to enhance the Arlington community by developing, preserving and owning quality affordable housing,” the organization said in a statement. “Through resident services APAH is changing lives by helping individuals and families in crisis to access services and providing programs to improve workplace skills, health and well-being and build community.”
Among the projects APAH is currently working on, this month the organization expects to complete a major renovation of the 111-unit Buchanan Gardens Apartments (pictured, below) at 926 S. Buchanan Street, just off Columbia Pike. APAH is also set to begin construction on the 122-unit Arlington Mill Residences (pictured, above) at 901 S. Dinwidde Street — also off Columbia Pike — by the end of the month.
Nina Janopaul has been President and CEO of APAH since 2007. She was previously a principal at Capital Strategies Consulting, Inc. and the National Director of Development for Hostelling International USA. Janopaul graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University and has been an Arlington resident since 1983.
Nina Janopaul will be taking your questions about APAH and affordable housing in general in the comments section through 5:30 p.m. today (Monday). Please note that she may not be able to answer every question asked. Also please note that in addition to our normal comment policy, we ask that questions and comments be of a civil tone. We welcome tough questions and critical comments, but anything of a mean-spirited nature will be removed.
The Arlington County Fire Department had to use hydraulic rescue tools to extricate occupants of a vehicle involved in a two-car crash in the Penrose neighborhood this morning.
The crash happened around 11:15 a.m. at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Wayne Street. A Ford SUV collided with a Chevrolet sedan belonging to Maid Bright, a Sterling-based home cleaning service.
Initial reports suggest three people were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Firefighters used heavy tools to cut the roof off the Chevrolet in order to extricate the occupants inside.
Second Street South is currently closed but is expected to reopen shortly, as crews are in the process of clearing the wrecked cars and broken glass.
What do cops, consultants, hockey coaches, radio personalities and current and former Washington Capitals players have in common? They’re all expected to help raise money and awareness for blood donation at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 North Glebe Road) next month.
Under the slogan of “Give Blood, Play Hockey,” Inova Blood Donor Services is holding its fourth annual Charity Hockey Classic fundraiser at the ice rink in Ballston on Sept. 9. Tickets for the event are available online.
More information about the fundraiser, from a press release:
Inova Blood Donor Services is asking the local community to “give blood, play hockey” as they host their fourth annual fundraising event, the Charity Hockey Classic, which will — for the first time — feature members of the Washington Capitals Alumni facing off against three local teams, including two-time defending champion Virginia Coaching Cardinals on Sunday, September 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Admission to see the Capitals Alumni compete in this round-robin tournament against the Booz Allen Minutemen, Northern Virginia Law Enforcers and Coaching Cardinals is $10 per person and FREE for kids. All fans are encouraged to wear their hockey jerseys.
“The fourth Charity Hockey Classic promises to be another spirited day of competition and charitable giving by the local hockey community,” said Charity Hockey Classic Chairman Adam Bartholomew. “We are thrilled and grateful to welcome the Washington Capitals Alumni program for the first time and appreciate the support of our two returning squads along with the Northern Virginia Law Enforcers for their support of our mission to provide a safe and adequate blood supply to the entire DC metro area.”
The Capitals alumni team, which will also include some front office staffers, is in the process of assembling with a final team roster anticipated later this month. Current Washington Capitals teammates Matt Hendricks and Jeff Schultz have offered their support in the past serving as honorary captains.
The Cardinals, a ‘flock’ of youth hockey coaches from across Northern Virginia, blanked the Booz Allen Minutemen (Booz Allen Hamilton’s corporate hockey team) in last year’s contest by a score of 5-0, and look to defend their title, securing a three-peat in 2012. The Cardinals roster consists of coaches from local youth hockey programs including the Ashburn Xtreme, Reston Raiders, NoVA Ice Dogs, and Washington Little Caps. The Booz Allen Minutemen features employees from across the region while local officers and patrolmen will comprise the hard-charging Northern Virginia Law Enforcers. Each squad will face one another in a 15-minute mini-game.
The beneficiary of the Charity Hockey Classic is Inova Blood Donor Services, a service line to the not-for-profit Inova Health System that collects, tests and provides blood and blood products each day to 15 hospitals and medical centers throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. In 2011, the event raised over $65,000 – up from $40,000 in 2010 (an increase of over 60%) and pushing the three-year total to just over $146,000 The goal for 2012 has been set to raise $90,000, which is needed to refurbish one of Inova’s older bloodmobiles.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex (home of the Washington Capitals) will host the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its location atop Ballston Common Mall. Other attractions and game entertainment include a silent auction, local celebrity appearances by radio personalities, Mike O’Meara, Oscar Santana, Buzz Burbank and Robb Spewak from The Mike O’Meara Show, Capital’s mascot Slapshot and spirit team, the Red Rockers. And be sure to catch the intermission games with mini-mites youth hockey and the popular chuck-a-duck promotion.
Inova Blood Donor Services, a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Sterling, VA, also maintains its strong ties to the hockey community as the Official Blood Collection Agency of the Washington Capitals in addition to partnerships with the Washington Nationals and George Mason University.
The D.C. area belly dance studio Sahara Dance is putting on a show at Artisphere on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Entitled “Carnival,” the show is billed as “Mardi Gras meets Middle Eastern moulid,” and will feature dance performances; variety talents; live music; games, prizes and raffles; beer, wine and festival food; henna tattoos; and tarot card and palm readings.
More than 100 bellydancers from around the D.C. area will participate in the performances. The event will also feature a special performance by Mohamed El Sayed, a noted Egyptian dancer and musician.
Tickets to the event are $20.
Photo courtesy Sahara Dance
County Fair Ends — The Arlington County Fair ended Sunday night. The weekend’s highlights included free concerts, cloggers, choruses, the racing piglets, the Harlem Wizards basketball show, a lacrosse speed and skills contest, and a really big pumpkin.
Arlington Senior Wins Spelling Bee — Arlington resident Michael Petrina, 67, has won the annual AARP spelling bee. The bee, which is open to adults 50+, was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming this year. [Washington Post]
Office Vacancies Could Mean Higher Taxes — Office vacancies are on the rise in Arlington, and that’s raising questions about the county’s tax revenues. If the trend continues, taxes may need to be raised in Arlington County and the tax burden may increasingly fall on homeowners. [Sun Gazette]
Photo courtesy John Annand