Samantha Rios is a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, and her incredible voice has earned her onto the Spanish-language version of NBC’s “The Voice” reality show.
Samantha appeared on La Voz Kids in March and earned all three judges’ approval for her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Tomorrow, she is flying to Miami for the next round of performances, according to her chorus teacher, Raifel Faison.
Faison has taught chorus at the school just off Route 50 near Arlington’s western border since 2003, and he said Rios is one of the most talents students he’s ever had. Since she came into his class as a sixth-grader, she has only improved.
“She’s always had the power, always had a powerful voice,” he told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “She’s never been shy or lacked confidence in her voice, but her tone has grown tremendously since sixth grade, her musicianship has grown. She’s learned so much about her voice, how to control it, and her vocal technique is definitely improving.”
Rios did tell the three judges that she was from Washington, D.C., in her blind audition, but her family calls Arlington home. Faison said Rios isn’t just a talented signer, she’s a well-rounded person.
“She’s a very sweet, loving, intelligent caring young lady,” he said. “She’s very supportive of her classmates, a hard worker. Whatever positive adjective you can think of would probably describe her.”
Rios is on Team “Daddy Yankee” the stage name of one of the trio of judges, one of 10 team members. According to her bio on La Voz Kids’ website, she’s already sung for the president multiple times and is a member of a D.C. gospel choir.
La Voz Kids airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. on Telemundo.
Photo via La Voz Kids
A pair of Yorktown High School students, and flying projectile enthusiasts, are hosting a two-day, free dodgeball tournament next weekend.
The tournament starts at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 25 and runs all day, both days, at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road). Adults, teenagers and children are welcome, and will be split into divisions based on age. There are divisions for 11 and younger, 14 and under, 17 and under and 18 and over.
The tournament is the brainchild of Yorktown students Patrick Wallace and Hayden Kickbush. While the tournament is free, Wallace and Kickbush are asking for attendees to donate what they can to fund the tournament and raise money for physical education equipment for D.C. area schools in need. They have set up an online fundraising page, and have already raised $1,325 of a stated $9,000 goal.
The boys got the idea for the tournament from a trip to Hawaii, where one of them saw a community dodgeball tournament and was inspired, according to the tournament’s website.
“We experienced a heartwarming community and a tournament based on good morals and having a good time,” the website reads. “We were so moved by the experience that we wanted to replicate the same thing here in the Arlington area. Arlington Dodgeball aims to have a very community friendly tournament while also giving back to the community.”
According to Wallace’s father, Marc, the boys have received nonprofit approval by the IRS, so all donations are tax-deductible. The tournament itself will cost about $7,000 to run, Wallace said. If there is money left over, the boys will determine which school in the area will receive the donated equipment.
Photo via Arlington Dodgeball
A sixth-grader was attacked by two seventh-graders outside Kenmore Middle School last Thursday after school hours, and the incident has raised concerns among parents about how the school handles cases of bullying and violence.
According to Kenmore Principal John Word, a seventh-grader said the sixth-grade victim had called him “a racial slur” over the summer, and the seventh-grader and his friend waited until about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday to retaliate.
In the field between Kenmore and Carlin Springs Elementary School along S. Carlin Springs Road, the two seventh-graders hit the younger boy in the face at least twice, while a crowd of other students watched, school officials confirmed. The victim reportedly received bruises on his face but didn’t need to receive medical treatment.
An administrator quickly broke up the fight, the school said, but police were called and filed a report. The boy’s mother, who will not be named to protect the identity of the minor, said she did not receive any communication from the school until she went herself the following day.
The incident sparked concern among parents of Kenmore students, to the point where the school held a community meeting yesterday afternoon to address the attack.
“This was not random, it was targeted and wrong,” Word told a group of more than a dozen parents in the school’s library yesterday. “After interviewing those culprits, the victims and some witnesses, I was convinced that this incident should result in the most severe consequence I could administer.”
The seventh-graders initially were given two-day suspensions, Word said, but he decided to increase their punishments after the school completed its investigation. Word could not reveal the seventh-graders’ final punishment due to student confidentiality laws, but according to the APS Handbook, the most severe punishment allowed for incidents like “physical altercations, fighting and bullying” is “a maximum of ten (10) consecutive days out-of-school suspension, request for disciplinary hearing for additional suspension time and/or a recommendation for expulsion.”
While Word said he waited to reach out to the community until he had all the facts, that explanation did not ease the concerns of the parents at yesterday’s meeting.
“I’m concerned about my children’s safety at this school,” said a parent, who requested her name not be used due to potential “repercussions upon our children.” “There was no message given to our kids… The bylaws show that you have 48 hours to respond. Now we have all these kids hearing these things [about the attack], and they wonder why no one has talked to them about it in school.”
When the victim’s mother began to introduce herself at the meeting, she couldn’t finish her sentence before she began crying. She clutched a tissue for the majority of the hourlong gathering, while listening to the meeting’s translation by a Spanish interpreter sitting next to her.
The assault — which is how the school classified the incident — took place exactly one week after a separate altercation at Gunston Middle School. ARLnow.com received a tip about a seventh-grader at Gunston who, his parents say, was “sucker-punched” in the hallway during school hours. The victim had received “verbal bullying” during class and “a substitute teacher did not intervene on his behalf,” the parent wrote. (more…)
Despite voters approving $4.5 million in design costs for the school in a 2012 referendum, the Board is looking at diverting that investment to prepare for middle school overcrowding in the coming years, which is projected to be more serious than the capacity issues in elementary schools.
School Board Chair Abby Raphael, in a letter sent to parents and community members who have inquired about the issue, says its updated projections call for elementary schools in Arlington to be 3 percent over capacity in FY 2019, while middle schools are projected to be 16 percent over capacity in the same time period.
Raphael also referenced the objections from Glencarlyn residents from 2012 as a reason to re-evaluate building the school in the neighborhood, saying “the community raised significant concerns about the traffic and transportation issues” surrounding a new, 600-seat school in the area.
APS is revisiting the plan in advance of their next Capital Improvements Program for FY 2015-2024, which will be adopted in June. Raphael wrote that no decisions have been reached on what schools to build, if any, or if the School Board elects to construct additions onto existing schools.
Civic activist Monique O’Grady is trying to organize a campaign against the apparent backpedal. O’Grady said she’s disappointed that APS is considering abandoning its plans.
“The numbers still show that south Arlington will face more than an elementary school’s worth of overcrowding, so I believe the plan should move forward,” she wrote in an email. “I believe middle school should be addressed, but it shouldn’t come at a cost of 770 South Arlington elementary students being in trailers and with yet-to-be-mentioned programs being moved.”
O’Grady said the school should still be built while APS comes up with creative, cost-effective solutions to address anticipated middle school overcrowding.
“I worry that increased development in South Arlington, especially of apartment buildings and condos, will result in more students than currently projected and that South Arlington schools will become even more crowded than anticipated,” she said. “This is not a time to pull back from researched, planned and approved permanent elementary capacity in South Arlington. I think it is important for the South Arlington community to stand up and ask the school board not to turn South Arlington into a trailer park.”
APS acknowledges it does not have the finances to build capacity to accommodate 100 percent of the projected growth. No matter what comes out of the CIP, trailers will still be used as classrooms. The elementary school in Glencarlyn was originally slated to open in 2017.
Entitled “Building a Stronger Nation: Reforming Out Broken Immigration System,” the Moran-organized forum attracted several dozen attendees to Kenmore Middle School’s auditorium. The congressman and the panelists told the audience that immigration reform would energize the economy, bring in additional tax revenue, and enable immigrants to live a more productive and fulfilling life.
In his opening remarks, Moran said bipartisan immigration legislation that’s currently being crafted in the Senate has a better shot at becoming law than any other recent attempt at immigration reform.
“The possibility for reform today may be better than it’s ever been,” he said. “Now is the best time in recent memory for enacting comprehensive immigration reform. But the enactment of reforms is by no means guaranteed… in a Congress that can’t seem to agree on anything of consequence.”
Moran said immigration reform is particularly important in Northern Virginia, where 27 percent of the population is foreign-born. (Of that foreign-born population, 38 percent of come from Latin America, 36 percent from Asia, 16 percent from Africa and 10 from Europe, according to statistics cited by Moran.)
Panelists made moral and economic arguments for immigration reform.
Patrick Oakford, who researches immigration issues for the liberal Center for American Progress, said that legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States could boost the economy by $832 billion over 10 years while raising the wages paid to immigrants.
Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada said immigration reform would help cash-strapped local governments. It would also help police departments, he said, by facilitating better cooperation with an immigrant community that’s currently fearful of law enforcement.
“The future of our nation is brighter by providing a path for citizenship,” Tejada said. “We really need to get behind and support our leaders in Congress.”
Other panelists tried to shoot down some of the arguments against immigration reform.
Kristian Ramos of the New Policy Institute, pro-immigration think tank, said immigration reform won’t open the floodgates to Mexican immigrants. He said that Mexico’s growing economy has helped to significantly reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States by providing more jobs and opportunities in Mexico. He also pointed out that that crime is down near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Two months after holding a raucous forum on gun violence, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is planning a public forum on another hot-button topic.
On Tuesday, May 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road), Moran will host a forum entitled “Building a Stronger Nation: Reforming Our Broken Immigration System.”
Just as the gun violence forum featured panelists that largely shared Moran’s gun control views, the immigration forum will feature panelists who favor liberal immigration policies: County Board Chair Walter Tejada, plus representatives from the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Law Center and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“The panel discussion will outline systemic problems in our current immigration system and layout the comprehensive reform plans that are currently under consideration in Congress,” said a press release for the event.
“There are an estimated 10 – 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, the majority having settled here more than a decade ago,” the press release said. “Reforming the broken immigration system to resolve the status for these individuals has the potential to boost the entire U.S. economy, adding over $800 billion to the national GDP over the next decade and creating over 100,000 more jobs per year.”
(Updated at 10:15 p.m.) Arlington County police are investigating a serious pedestrian accident on Carlin Springs Road, in front of Kenmore Middle School.
Around 7:00 p.m., a man in his 30s was struck by a car on Carlin Springs Road just south of Route 50, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The man suffered “severe head trauma” and was transported in critical condition to Inova Fairfax Hospital.
The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene, Sternbeck said. The driver was eventually transported to a local hospital for minor injuries caused by broken glass.
Carlin Springs Road was closed to traffic between Route 50 and 2nd Street while police investigated the accident. The ramp from eastbound Route 50 to Carlin Springs Road was also closed.
Firefighters were called to the scene to wash down a pool of blood where the man came to rest on the roadway.
Thirteen new Arlington County police officers were sworn in this afternoon at Kenmore Middle School.
The recruits — eight male, five female — pledged an oath and were given their badges. The ceremony followed the recruits’ graduation from a regional police academy. They will now undergo nearly half a year of field training before becoming full officers.
The ceremony included a speech from Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott. The swearing in was conducted by Arlington Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson. Loved ones of the new officers helped to pin the badges on their uniforms while other friends and family members in the audience applauded.
After the swearing in, the event continued with a ceremony for 12 police department members who have received promotions.
Also recognized was Officer Ronald Grannis, who received the Departmental Purple Star after being seriously injured in a crash with an impaired driver on July 20, 2011. Grannis “spent over a month in the hospital and has battled through over ten surgeries while continuing to fight to return to full duty,” according to police.
To address school capacity issues, Arlington Public Schools is planning to build a number of new schools, including a new 600-seat “choice” elementary school on the site of the existing Kenmore Middle School/Carlin Springs Elementary School campus.
The Citizens’ Association says the new school, slated to be built by 2017, would bring the total number of students attending schools in the Glencarlyn neighborhood to 2,600, including at Kenmore, Carlin Springs and nearby Campbell Elementary School. That, the association says, presents major traffic, parking and open space issues that will degrade the quality of life for residents.
The association is asking for the County Board’s help after not getting a satisfactory response from the School Board.
“We have tried to raise our concerns with the School Board, but our community was not consulted during the planning process, despite our requests that it do so, nor has it been responsive to our questions and concerns,” Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association President Peter Olivere wrote in a letter to the County Board (after the jump). “We need your help.”
Olivere told reporters that Glencarlyn residents do not want to be portrayed as having a “Not-In-My-Backyard” attitude.
“Please, we very much do not want to be categorized as NIMBY; we only want a process which fully addresses the community concerns before a final decision is made, which is the ‘Arlington Way,'” he wrote.
As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools is facing a significant capacity crunch. The school system is expected to reach capacity at the elementary school level by next fall. The new choice school in Glencarlyn is one of five proposed new capacity-generating construction projects throughout the county.
The full letter from the Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association, after the jump.
Mixed Reaction to Electronic Textbooks — Electronic textbooks are getting mixed reviews from Arlington Public Schools students. Some say they appreciate the accessibility and update-ability of the electronic books, but others say the books can be glitch-y and are not easy to search. [Sun Gazette]
Topping Out for New Ballston Hotel — A “topping out ceremony” was held on Friday for the new Residence Inn hotel within the Founders Square development in Ballston. The ceremony was held to celebrate the last of the building’s 11 floors being built. The hotel is expected to open mid-2013. [CityBiz Real Estate]
Kenmore Students Donate Bags for Dog Dirt — This morning the 6th grade science classes at Kenmore Middle School are being recognized for their donation of about 10,000 used plastic bags to the group Arlington Dogs. The bags will be reused for pet waste disposal at Arlington County’s eight dog parks. By reducing the amount of pet waste in the park, the bag donation should also improve the water quality of Arlington’s streams.
Dogma May Close N. Arlington Store — Dogma Bakery’s store in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center is in financial jeopardy, according to owner Sheila Raebel. The gourmet dog bakery and boutique has reportedly been losing money for the past two years, and last year’s opening of a Petco store across the street likely hasn’t helped matters. Dogma’s Shirlington location, however, is expected to become profitable at some point this year. [Examiner.com]
Arlington Parking Meter Slogan, Explained — In case you were wondering, the slogan on Arlington County’s parking meters — “All May Park. All Must Pay” — originated in 1994. The phrase was coined to succinctly describe a policy change: the county stopped allowing those with disabled placards to park for free, due to rampant abuse of the system by the non-disabled. [Washington Post]
Jackie Carter was in court on Friday for an arraignment on an assault charge. Prosecutors say they dropped the original disorderly conduct charge against her after determining that assault, also a Class 1 misdemeanor, was the “more appropriate charge.”
As we reported in January, Carter was charged with disorderly conduct following an incident on April 30, 2011, in which she booed a Bowen McCauley Dance Company performance at Kenmore Middle School.
The performance, which featured live music by a Kenmore Middle School band, included a dance number that Carter said she found to be “racist and offensive to African-Americans and African American women especially.”
“The skit involved a white child and her black mamee singing and dancing together to the song ‘Lil Rabbit where’s Ya Mamee,’” Carter wrote in a lengthy blog post. “The Mamee scene was a celebration of the many black women, enslaved and used as wet-nurses and the many other unspeakable crimes committed against their enslaved minds, souls and bodies.”
Carter said that during her protest she got into a physical confrontation with Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes and four other Bowen-McCauley staff members. The charge against her, however, accuses Carter of assaulting Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who was running for state Senate at the time of the incident.
Prosecutors were not able to release any additional details about the alleged assault. Carter’s trial date is set for June 29.
Residents of Glencarlyn already have two schools in their neighborhood — Carlin Springs Elementary and Kenmore Middle School — but they say a proposal to add a third school to the existing campus, part of the plan to address the capacity crisis at Arlington Public Schools, goes too far.
In a letter sent to the Arlington School Board yesterday, the Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association asks the board to consider alternative sites for the proposed 600 students capacity magnet elementary school. The association cites concerns about “traffic, safety, parking and loss of [an] important recreational area” as reasons why the school shouldn’t be built or, at the very least, should be built in a way that minimizes negative impacts.
Along with the letter to the school board, Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association president Peter Olivere sent a letter to the editors of ARLnow.com, the Arlington Mercury and the Sun Gazette.
The Glencarlyn community is very concerned about the process and potential adverse consequences of the Arlington Public School’s (APS) Capacity Planning Process. The process appears to be driven by the APS’s desire to identify specific construction projects prior to placing a bond referendum before the public in November 2012. At the beginning of the Capacity Planning Process, the School Board committed to including the effect on Neighborhood Resources as a criteria for site selection. To date, the process has effectively excluded the affected neighborhoods from participation. The result is that APS has failed to incorporate the impact on neighborhoods in any meaningful way.
The School Board needs to recognize that the construction of new schools will have a significantly larger community impact than the replacement or expansion of an existing building. Given APS’s experience with late and costly modifications to approved capital improvement plans and past criticism of its ability to address legitimate concerns raised by affected communities, Glencarlyn believes the not including neighborhood input prior to deciding locations will undermine public support and confidence in APS’s ability to address future capacity needs.
Glencarlyn is requesting the School Board to refrain from selecting new school sites until additional alternatives have been considered and outreach efforts with the affected communities have resulted in plans to mitigate major concerns. For the Glencarlyn community the major concerns are traffic, safety, parking and loss of important recreational area. We believe there is adequate precedent for the Board to proceed with a bond referendum without tying it to site specific capital improvements.
The Arlington Montessori Action Committee (AMAC), a six year old group of parents and educators, has launched a campaign to convince Arlington Public Schools to build a brand new school devoted to Montessori education.
As part of its ongoing capacity planning process, APS has been narrowing down its options for keeping up with rising enrollment at schools countywide. The options for adding capacity include building new schools and making additions to existing schools.
Montessori advocates have seized upon an APS proposal to build a new PreK-8 countywide magnet school between Carlin Springs Elementary and Kenmore Middle School. AMAC says the school would be ideal for a central Montessori “choice” program, hosting between 600 and 750 Montessori students either from PreK-5 or PreK-8. Currently, there are almost 600 PreK-8 students in 31 Montessori classrooms at schools across Arlington, with hundreds more on waiting lists, according to AMAC.
By drawing Montessori students away from already-crowded schools, the new Montessori choice school could efficiently help mitigate the school system’s looming capacity crisis, AMAC says. The group created a PowerPoint presentation to make their case.
In addition to helping relieve the capacity crunch, advocates say Montessori programs have educational benefits. AMAC cites the county-wide Montessori program at Drew Model Elementary as proof that a Montessori education can “[close] the achievement gap for minority students.”
(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Fairfax and Arlington County police are investigating an attempted armed robbery that took place within the past hour on the 3100 block of S. Manchester Street, on the Fairfax/Arlington border.
A man reportedly attempted to rob a small store while displaying some sort of a weapon, initially said to be a gun but possibly a pipe.
The search for the suspect has now been called off. Earlier, Fairfax County police were using a police dog and a helicopter to try to track the suspect. Arlington police, meanwhile, searched the area around nearby Kenmore Middle School and Carlin Springs Elementary School.
During the search the schools locked all external doors and were not allowing anybody to go outside, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Jackie Carter was charged with disorderly conduct following an incident on April 30, 2011, in which she booed a Bowen McCauley Dance Company performance at Kenmore Middle School. The incident was detailed by the Afro newspaper last week, and then picked up by the Washington City Paper on Friday.
The performance, which featured live music by a Kenmore Middle School band, included a dance number that Carter said she found to be “racist and offensive to African-Americans and African American women especially.”
“The skit involved a white child and her black mamee singing and dancing together to the song ‘Lil Rabbit where’s Ya Mamee,'” Carter wrote in a lengthy blog post. “The Mamee scene was a celebration of the many black women, enslaved and used as wet-nurses and the many other unspeakable crimes committed against their enslaved minds, souls and bodies.”
Carter says she booed a performance of the scene on April 29, 2011, but left peacefully after police showed up. Carter, whose daughter was attending Kenmore, then expressed her disapproval to numerous Arlington Public School officials, who listened but apparently declined to take any definitive action.
As Afro reported, Kenmore’s principal later defended the performance, writing a note to parents explaining: “The word ‘mammy’ used in the song is a colloquial affectionate term for mother or grandmother and was used historically and still today in some areas by both African and White Americans, especially in the south.”
On April 30, Carter again showed up to Kenmore to protest the performance. Carter says she handed out letters of protest to members of the audience before the show. During the scene, she started booing. That’s when she says she was assaulted by several people associated with the dance company, including current Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes, who’s also an honorary Bowen McCauley board member.
“Mary Hynes and 4 additional Bowen-McCauley staff members began hitting me and pulling my arms in many different directions,” Carter alleged. “I yelled out ‘get off of me’ … a man, representing Bowen McCauley put me in a head lock and squeezed my neck.”
“I attempted to return to my seat when another man also Bowen-McCauley staff member began pushing me in my chest and blocking my forward movements,” she continued. “I was able to get around him, I return to my set and continued booing the ‘Mamee’ scene.”
Carter says she left the theater after the scene, but was then confronted by police. She was ultimately detained and charged with disorderly conduct, a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
“We had to arrest Ms. Carter at the school on 4/30/11 because she caused quite a disturbance,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal told ARLnow.com in May 2011. The incident did not make the department’s weekly crime report at the time.
“It didn’t make the Crime Report because it was just a disorderly conduct charge released on summons,” Nosal explained.
According to court records, the next hearing in Carter’s case is scheduled to be held in Arlington County General District Court on April 23.
Update at 5:45 p.m. — Hynes declined to comment, citing the pending criminal charge against Carter.