(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) The standardized test scores for elementary school students in the Nauck neighborhood are slipping well below the county-wide average, and some parents are fed up with the disparity.
Over the past 10 years, the graded program at Drew Model Elementary School has performed at an average of 23 percent below the county’s average in the 3rd-through-5th grade Standards of Learning exams, according to data from Arlington Public Schools’ Department of Planning and Education.
The numbers get worse the older the students get. Third-graders in the graded program — as opposed to Drew’s Montessori program, which takes children from around the county and performs on par with other elementary programs — pass the reading SOL 23.9 percent less frequently than APS average and the math 17.9 percent less frequently. For fifth-graders, that drops to 30.4 percent worse in reading and 23.2 percent worse in math.
The numbers were highlighted during last Thursday’s meeting of the Arlington School Board when Terron Sims, former County Board candidate and co-chair of APS’ Superintendent’s Committee on Eliminating the Achievement Gap, spoke out decrying Drew’s struggles.
“Since the children of the Nauck community have been allowed to attend their neighborhood school, the school has failed them,” Sims said. “For years, Drew parents and administrators bickered over whose program was better, who should occupy Drew. But now, after 10 years of failing our kids, the fighting has stopped, for all those concerned now understand that a drastic change must occur at Drew if we are to save the children from a mediocre education, and thus save them from a mediocre life.”
A group of parents and community members, led by Sims, have formed the Coalition for a New Drew to try to reverse the school’s fortunes. In a press release, the coalition alleges that APS had been releasing Drew’s Montessori SOL statistics over the past few years, but not the results for the students from the graded program as some members have requested.
The statistics cited above were compiled by the Coalition. APS officials confirm the data is pulled from its report from Planning and Education’s presentation to the Arlington Montessori Action Committee.
“The data compiled by the coalition shows there is a stark difference between the educational readiness for most Arlington students and a disproportionate number of SOL-tested Drew Graded students,” Nauck Civic Association Community Affairs Committee chair Portia Clark said in the release. “We know the students at Drew have the desire to learn and we just want them all to succeed.”
Another chart released by the Coalition shows that less than 50 percent of fourth and fifth graders in the Drew graded program are passing any SOL test. The combination of the Montessori and graded programs still makes Drew the worst-performing school in the tests.
The push for change comes at a time when the school is already in administrative flux. Drew’s principal, Jacqueline Smith, resigned earlier this month after being arrested for driving under the influence. Smith has been replaced by interim Theresa Bratt, who had retired from APS last year.
“A new Drew is overdue, and the time is right to fix this instructional problem,” Cathleen Drew, a former Drew PTA president, said in the press release. “As APS looks for ways to solve its capacity problems, it should put instruction first and prioritize solutions that promote both academic and space solutions.”
Photo (top) via Google Maps. Chart (bottom) via Coalition for a New Drew.
The victims of the house fire that claimed two lives in Nauck on March 15 have been identified as Yvonne Barrie and Bobbie Nelson Goins.
Barrie, who was 73 when she died, had lived in the house for two years before the fire, according to her neighbor Roxie Johnson. Johnson said Barrie’s son had built the house and died three years ago, after which Barrie moved into the house.
The next day, March 16, would have been Barrie’s 74th birthday, Johnson said.
Goins, who was 77, had escaped from the fire before going back into the house to try to save Barrie, according to witnesses. He did not live at the house and Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani could not release details of their relationship.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Marchegiani said, and there is no timetable for when the Fire Marshal will release the findings.
Photo via @Sooo_Sick
Nauck residents have started circulating a petition to the Arlington County Board protesting a potential gun store in their neighborhood.
The Nauck Civic Association sent out an email this week saying it heard from “reliable sources” that a gun shop was in lease negotiations with the owners of the Shirlington Heights Condominiums (2249 S. Shirlington Road).
“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” the email states. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”
The petition has 246 signatures as of 4:00 p.m. today with a stated goal of 1,000. The discussion on the petition page has only three comments, one of which suggests a coffee shop in the space, one, from Cara Schatz saying: “A gun shop is not needed, not welcome, and not in line with the priorities of our neighborhood. The residents of 22204 would prefer to see a business that can thrive and provide benefits to those of us who live here. Guns don’t build communities — guns tear them apart.”
One commenter showed that not all local residents are on board with the opposition to the gun store.
“I’m a resident, homeowner, taxpayer, business owner, churchgoer, philanthropist, and community member in South Arlington,” writes Sean Steele, who said his business has been open since 2005. “I’m also a gun owner. And a hunter. And a concealed carry permit holder. All here in the neighborhood. The last time I checked guns were legal here in Arlington, and in Virginia. And, indeed, in the entire country.”
“Until and unless we get past the indefensible, knee-jerk, non-fact-based assertions… we’ll never improve our collective lot,” he continued. “This is a shameful, hysterical petition. It’s sad to see it gain such unthinking support from otherwise intelligent South Arlingtonians.”
Photo via Nauck Civic Association
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) The man who died on Saturday in the house fire in Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood had already left the burning house before going back in to rescue the female victim.
According to the Arlington County Fire Department and witnesses on the 1900 block of S. Langley Street, the man — who, along with the female victim, has not been identified — was one of several people to have escaped the house before going back inside.
“It was so sad because you could hear people yell, ‘she’s still in there,'” Cheryl Johnson, who lives across the street, told ARLnow.com. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw him go in there. You have to really love someone to do something like that.”
It took 12-15 minutes for firefighters to knock the fire down, Deputy Fire Marshal Brian McGraw said on Saturday, but the house was completely engulfed in flames by that time. ACFD estimates the fire did $550,000 worth of damage to the home. Seven occupants were displaced by the fire and are receiving housing and assistance from the Red Cross.
Witnesses heard multiple “loud booms,” which a neighbor said was from the victims’ oxygen tanks. ACFD spokeswoman Sarah Marchegiani told ARLnow.com yesterday that several factors contributed to the speed of the blaze.
“The fire spread rapidly because of the wind,” Marchegiani said. “Wind gusts were sustained at 19 miles-per-hour and reached up to 28 miles-per-hour. The vinyl siding was also a factor. There’s nothing wrong with that siding, but it caused more rapid fire spread.”
The two bodies were discovered in an upstairs bedroom, ACFD said in a press release sent out just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Firefighters attempted an initial rescue but were forced to retreat when the flames spread rapidly to the second floor and attic. One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation during the rescue.
Roxie Johnson, Cheryl’s mother, said she “thought the water was a little slow getting on the house,” but said there was a fire truck outside the house when the fire was barely showing on the front porch.
“The house went up like a piece of paper,” Roxie Johnson said. “I don’t know how many minutes it took to go up, but in no time it went all over the house.”
Cheryl Johnson said the fire had spread so quickly, and the wind was blowing so hard, that firefighters were spraying down the house next door in attempts to prevent it from catching on fire.
“You could feel the heat from our front steps,” she said. “I didn’t think anything could burn that fast.”
Marchegiani said the Fire Marshal’s investigation is ongoing and no conclusions are expected in the next week. An autopsy is being performed on the victims today. Eighty firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire, and ACFD and the Arlington County Police Department are being assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The “epic treehouse” featured on ARLnow.com in January is now for sale.
The treehouse — described by its 36-year-old owner as a “mancave in a tree” — is for sale along with two surrounding structures: a renovated 3 bedroom/2.5 bath house originally built in 1904, and a detached 1 bedroom/1 bath “guest/in law cottage.”
Owner Andrew Knight said he has invested much of his money into repurposing a church and rectory in Lewiston, Maine into an events venue and, “after crunching the numbers,” he realized he had to sell his house.
“I need the liquidity in my Arlington house,” he said. “I was planning on staying here potentially permanently. It was a very sad moment when I crunched the numbers and realized I just couldn’t do it. I was hoping to get a variety of sources of commercial financing for the building I just purchased, but they all decided it was too risky. So I had to do it with cash.”
The 199-square-foot treehouse — which was built on a 150-year-old oak tree at a cost of about $20,000 — is described as “magnificent” in the real estate listing. The 0.16 acre property, at 1747 S. Glebe Road in Nauck, also includes a number of hidden features.
“The stylish pub in the basement provides perfect space for entertaining or for a quiet retreat,” the listing says. Knight describes it as a “medieval pub” in his basement. There is also a “spacious workshop.”
Knight said he envisions himself returning to northern Virginia and is particularly regretful he didn’t have a summer with the treehouse to grill and relax outside.
“I’m hoping that the right family will find this property,” Knight said. “I imagine it will be a family with kids. The kids love the treehouse, the parents love the guest house they can put their in-laws in, the dad loves the pub in the basement.”
Hat tip to @dpan
Arlington Population Still Growing — A University of Virginia estimate suggests Arlington’s population was 227,146 as of July 1, 2013. That’s a 9.4 percent increase over the county’s 207,627 population figure from the 2010 census. [Washington Post]
Moran to Speak at Health Care Forum — Rep. Jim Moran (D) will speak at a forum on the Affordable Care Act on Saturday morning at the Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church in Nauck. The event is open to the public. [Sun Gazette]
Spy Books and Movies at the Library — Arlington Public Library has compiled a list of books and movies about spies, the CIA and the Cold War. “Come in from the Cold with a good book!” the library quipped on its blog. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
It took a half-dozen workers and one month for Andrew Knight to build what one neighbor appropriately called an “epic treehouse” in his Nauck backyard.
Knight lives just off of S. Glebe Road, and when he bought his house a year ago, he identified the 150-year-old oak tree in his backyard as “perfect for a treehouse.” Some $20,000 later, he has what he terms “a mancave in a tree.”
The inspiration? When the 36-year-old was 6, his parents promised him a treehouse, yet never built it.
“That’s what happens when your parents promise a tree house and don’t deliver,” he said while giving ARLnow.com a tour of the treehouse this week. “When I bought the house a year ago it absolutely was a big part of the decision.”
The platform — built with tree safety in mind by professional tree house constructors, Knight said — is 199 square feet and the house itself is 90 square feet. If the platform were 200 square feet it would have required a building permit, Knight said. The deck is furnished with white wicker chairs and a gas grill, and the inside has a futon, coffee table, small dining set and a lamp, all from IKEA.
Knight, who went to M.I.T. graduate school for nuclear engineering, claims to have held 24 “distinct” jobs so far, including professional blackjack player, high school physics teacher, patent attorney and inventor. He also says he holds 17 patents.
Knight moved to his Arlington house from Sterling and describes his relationship status as “single and looking.”
When the weather warms, Knight plans to host barbecues on the tree house patio and even sleep on the futon. He tried hooking up a space heater via an extension cord to sleep up there recently, but found it was just too cold.
In a sign posted on the fence bordering his property, Knight wrote, “We plan for the treehouse to be beautiful and to make our community more attractive and more interesting. We are happy to give tours to our neighbors after completion.”
Asked whether the treehouse will be an asset or a hinderance in his dating life, Knight was optimistic.
“Who knows?” he said. “Maybe there’s an interesting woman out there who can appreciate it.”
Church Ceiling Collapses in Nauck — On Sunday, just a few days before Christmas, part of the ceiling of the 1920s-era Lomax AME Zion church in Nauck collapsed. The collapse happened during Sunday services, forcing the choir to run for their lives, but miraculously no one was hurt. [NBC Washington, WUSA9]
Arlington Theater Makes ‘Best of 2013′ List — The AMC Courthouse movie theater, renovated in 2012, has made the Washington Post Going Out Guide’s “Best of 2013″ list for “best reason to go to the movies.” The theater’s plush recliners are said to be “more comfortable than anything in your living room.” [Washington Post]
Voting By Mail in Virginia? — Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45) has introduced legislation that would direct the Virginia State Board of Elections to study the feasibility of allowing voting by mail. Voting by mail is currently allowed in Oregon and Washington state. Such a system could help boost turnout in non-presidential year elections. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
Arlington’s Feuding Bike Donation Charities — “Arlington, surprisingly, is home to not one but two nonprofits that donate bicycles to the underprivileged in Africa and elsewhere,” writes Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark. “Our 26-square-mile county, however, may not be big enough for both – the two groups do not ride alongside each other smoothly.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Pike Apartment Ad from the ’60s — The Columbia Pike apartment complex now known as the Wellington is seen in a 1960s-era advertisement uncovered by Ghosts of DC. The then-new “Executive Apartments” were “designed to meet the requirements of successful executives who can command the finest in luxury air-conditioned apartment living,” the ad says. Rent for a one bedroom was $135 per month. [Ghosts of DC]
Library Reminds Feds to Return Books — Furloughed federal employees might not have access to their government email accounts, and thus might miss reminder emails from the library about overdue items. Arlington Public Library is reminding feds that they can keep track of their account through the library website. [Arlington Public Library]
New Nauck Civic Association Website — The Nauck Civic Association recently unveiled a new website, which includes a history of the neighborhood. Also known as Green Valley, the neighborhood was settled by a freed slave in 1844. [Nauck Civic Association]
The incident took place this evening (Friday) on the 2400 block of S. Oxford Street.
So far, police are not confirming any details about the incident; it’s unclear if anyone was injured. Police are on the lookout for a vehicle connected to the incident.
Update on 10/7/13 — Police have not responded to multiple calls from ARLnow.com, but the department released the following about the incident today (Monday).
SHOOTING, 10/04/13, 2400 block of S. Oxford Street. At 9:15 pm on October 4, a 32 year-old male victim sustained a single gunshot wound to his abdomen outside of his residence. He was transported to Fairfax Hospital with non life threatening injuries. The two suspects were described as black males in their 20’s. They fled the scene in an unknown make and model vehicle that was driven by a third subject. The investigation is ongoing.
SmartTrip Card for Students — Arlington Transit is rolling out a new SmarTrip card specifically for middle and high school students. The card will entitle students to discounted, $0.75 ART bus rides. The card can be purchased for $3.00 starting on Sept. 3 at Arlington Commuter Stores. [Arlington Transit]
Nauck Profiled by Post — The Washington Post’s Real Estate section has profiled Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood, also known as Green Valley. Properties currently on the market in Nauck range from a $109,000 efficiency condo to a $1.2 million six-bedroom house. [Washington Post]
Arlington to Hold 9/11 Commemoration — Arlington County will hold a public event to remember the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The event will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, on the plaza in front of the county office building in Courthouse (2100 Clarendon Blvd). [Arlington County]
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 59 “Our Town” grant awards totaling more than $4.7 million, and an Arlington project is among the recipients.
Arlington Economic Development-Arlington Public Art has been granted $75,000 to develop a public art project in the planned Nauck Town Square, which is intended to be the anchor for the Nauck Village Center. The County Board must give final approval for the grant as a formality, and that’s expected in September.
“The residents of the Nauck Community are truly thankful to the National Endowment of the Arts for their grant to assist us in planning a Town Square where all can enjoy its benefits and especially learn the history of Arlington County’s oldest African American community dating back to 1844,” said Nauck Civic Association President Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr.
The NEA received 254 applications from across the country for this year’s Our Town grants. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000.
“It’s very competitive. We’re very excited to be one of 59 chosen from across the country,” said Public Art Administrator Angela Adams.
The Lucky Seven store, which closed after a fire last year, previously occupied the site but was torn down earlier this year. The county had purchased the property at 2406 S. Shirlington Road in 2010 for $1.4 million.
The square eventually will take up the entire block between 24th Road South and South Shirlington Road. The county website says, “It will serve as a gathering place for residents to host a variety of community events and an area to showcase the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage with its collection of public art.”
Arlington Public Art has commissioned landscape architect and artist Walter Hood to devise the plaza’s final design. Hood will engage Nauck residents and community leaders in the design process to create a plaza that tells the story of the Nauck community and its heritage. Adams credits Hood’s involvement as one of the reasons the NEA considered Arlington for the grant.
“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” said Adams. “The Nauck community has waited a long time for this.”
Community meetings to discuss the design of the project are expected to start this fall and go into next year. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.
“The County is looking forward to engaging Nauck residents and community leaders in the process of designing the plaza and art elements,” said Helen Duong with the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) A two alarm fire destroyed a house and sent two children to the hospital this morning.
The fire was reported at a home on the 2000 block of S. Lincoln Street, in the Nauck neighborhood, around 7:45 a.m. Two children who were inside the home were transported to Children’s Hospital for possible smoke inhalation. The fire was extinguished around 8:15 a.m.
Firefighters from Arlington and Alexandria responded to the blaze. The family that owns the home is being assisted by the Red Cross.
Fire photos courtesy @CAPT258 and Daniel Fitch
The former Lucky Seven store in Nauck, closed since a fire last summer, was recently torn down and will eventually become part of a park.
Before the fire, in 2010, the property (2406 S. Shirlington Road) was purchased by Arlington County for $1.4 million, according to property records. The purchase followed a public process in 2006 to design a “Nauck Town Square,” a central public gathering place for the community that complements the developing Nauck Village Center commercial district on Shirlington Road.
The “town square” would incorporate the existing green space on the block, the Lucky Seven property and a still-privately-owned property at 2400 S. Shirlington Road. The county is now in discussions with the owner of that property about a possible acquisition, according to Chikwe Njoku, the county’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program Coordinator.
The current design for the Nauck Town Square includes “a public plaza with outdoor seating, landscaped areas with a water feature, decorative lighting, public art, and displays featuring the history of the community,” according to the county website. It will also feature either an open-air pavilion or an enclosed public multipurpose facility, for hosting entertainment and community events.
“Once completed, this Square will encompass the entire block and host a variety of community events both formal and informal,” the county said. “Additionally, it will provide an outdoor location for public art, Nauck interpretative historical elements, and outdoor entertainment.”
Njoku said it’s impossible to know exactly when the project will move forward, since it depends on the purchase of private property. He also said that the plans for the town square are likely to be “slightly different” than those conceived in 2006.
“There is no official timeline for this project yet since we are still in discussions with the owners on the acquisition of the final parcel,” Njoku said. “However, we are planning to engage the community this Fall and revisit the design that was developed as part of the Nauck Town Square Charrette. We will have a better idea of the project timeline by the time we start that process.”
Javon Martin Trial Underway — The trial for Javon Martin, one of the men accused of killing Arlington resident Carl Diener in 2009, began on Monday. Attorneys for the Commonwealth spent much of Tuesday (January 29) presenting evidence against Martin. The other man accused of the crime, Martin’s cousin Roger Clark III, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last year and is awaiting sentencing. [Washington Post]
Man Arrested for Attempted Rental Car Theft — Police arrested a man who caused a scene at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday morning. He was spotted running around the grounds of DCA and along the George Washington Parkway after allegedly trying to steal a rental car. Airport Police found 28-year-old Robert Cooper of Washington, DC in Crystal City a short time later and arrested him. Cooper has been charged with Attempted Grand Larceny.
Green Valley Pharmacy Receives Historic Designation — The Green Valley Pharmacy in the Nauck neighborhood has been approved by the County Board for designation as the 33rd Arlington Historic District. It is the first historically African American commercial building to be honored as an Arlington Historic District. The designation was granted not for the site’s architectural significance, but for the historical and cultural significance, as well as recognition for Dr. Leonard Muse’s lifetime of contributions to his community. [Arlington County]
New Recruits Sought for Civic Leadership Program — Arlington County is looking new recruits for its Neighborhood College program, which is a free, eight-session course to encourage civic engagement and help residents build leadership skills. Participants will learn how to become neighborhood advocates and how to bring about change for issues affecting the community. The sessions will be held each Thursday evening from April 4 to May 23. Applications for the 2013 Civic Leadership Development Program are due March 4, 2013. [Arlington County]