Hundreds gathered on the lawn at Washington-Lee High School on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to remember John Malvar, who died in a skateboarding accident on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old had been holding on to a truck while skateboarding, but fell and hit his head. He died from injuries sustained during that fall, which included significant head trauma and cardiac arrest.
At the student organized vigil, tables were set up around the perimeter with candles and ribbons for attendees. Students cried, hugged and comforted each other, while others passed around water jugs for donations to cover the family’s expenses. Some also laid items — such as flowers and skateboards — at a makeshift memorial along the stage.
As attendees passed the flames from candle to candle at the vigil, members of the school’s choir sang “Lean on Me.” Speakers focused on John as a skateboarding enthusiast, member of the swim team and overall kind individual. Speaker after speaker noted Malvar’s positive attitude and frequent encouragement of others.
“In this time of sadness and grief, it is important to remember that John was always the kind of person who was smiling and looking for the best in life no matter the circumstances,” said student Daniel Sharp, Jr.
Malvar was in Rob Summers’ anthropology class this year, and clearly left his mark on his teacher.
“I used to call John, ‘Big John.’ It wasn’t because of his stature, it was because of his heart. You never heard John saying anything negative or bad about a person, about the day, about what we were trying to learn. John had the most unique attitude of positivity,” said Summers. “John had that ear to ear grin and those eyes that always looked at you and told you no matter what was going on, there was another way to look at it.”
Similar to nearly all the other speakers, student Nicolas Suarez choked up while at the podium. He spoke of the times spent skateboarding and swimming with his good friend, and the enormous impact Malvar had on his life.
“I’m sure we can all say he was truly one of a kind. I can genuinely say that John was one of the most honest and caring souls I’ve ever met,” said Suarez. “He taught me so much about perseverance, honesty and most importantly above all, integrity. I think it’s safe to say that John embodied all aspects of what integrity means. John was a good friend of mine. His footprints on my life will forever guide me in the right direction.”
An innovative summer camp could spark new career ambitions among high school-aged girls in Arlington who feel up for a challenge. Long term, it could also help the Arlington County Fire Department meet its goal of recruiting more female firefighters.
The Girls’ Fire Camp, a free overnight camp scheduled for July 12-14, is designed to give girls aged 13 to 16 a taste of the firefighter’s life. Participants will work out, run drills and learn skills — all under the close supervision of ACFD staff. The department’s recruiting officer, Capt. Brandon D. Jones, described the camp as a “fun-filled weekend” in which high school students will “learn how to stay in great shape” while performing basic firefighting and emergency medical tasks.
“The department hopes to make a long-term connection with the participants,” Jones said. “After they attend this camp, some may be inspired to continue their ambition to become a Firefighter/EMT in the future.”
Though Arlington was the first fire department in the country to hire a female professional firefighter, in 1974, it has struggled like other departments nationwide to recruit women for the traditionally male profession. Currently, females comprise about 9 percent of the 300-plus member Arlington department. Nationwide, only about 6 percent of firefighters are women.
As recruiters get more creative in their quest for diversity, fire camps for high school girls have proliferated. Since the Tucson Fire Department joined with the neighboring Northwest Fire/Rescue District to open its inaugural Camp Fury for girls in 2009, other jurisdictions have followed suit. The Ashland Fire Department in Massachusetts runs a Camp Bailout, the New Hampshire State Fire Academy runs a Camp Fully Involved and the Utica Fire Academy in New York offers the Phoenix Firecamp.
“The camp is a really great idea,” said Capt. Anne Marsh, an EMS supervisor and 15-year veteran of the Arlington department. “We want our department to represent the general population. So many people come into the fire department as part of a family legacy, and women have simply not had as many role models to follow.”
Campers will spend the two nights, with chaperones, at Marymount University. During the days, they will participate in activities that include physical training, a fire extinguisher class, hose drills and an aerial ladder demonstration. They will tour the Arlington fire stations and, treat of treats, dine with the on-duty crews.
“The idea is to put the possibility of becoming a firefighter on the front burner for them,” said Arlington firefighter/paramedic Jennifer Slade, a seven-year veteran of the department, “but we’re also trying to incorporate fun into it, so it’s not just learning.”
“Even if they don’t go into the field,” Slade added, “hopefully they will talk to their friends about how much fun they had.”
The camp is limited to 16 participants, who must fill out an application that includes an essay. Those interested can call 703-228-0098 or visit the camp’s web page for more information.
Photos via Arlington County. Michael Doyle is a journalist and Arlington resident. He is a member of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.
Man Struck by Car in Clarendon Runs Race — Michael Sizemore, 28, is making a remarkable recovery after being struck by a car in Clarendon and nearly dying this past fall. Sizemore, who suffered a fractured skull and two broken legs in the accident, among other injuries, ran a 5K race in Martinsville, Va., near his hometown of Collinsville, this past Saturday. Sizemore’s father, girlfriend, friends and other families were on hand to cheer him on. [Martinsville Bulletin, Facebook]
Residents Speak Out at Tax Rate Hearing — It was a much shorter affair than Tuesday’s nearly four hour public budget hearing, but a public hearing on Arlington County’s proposed tax rate drew a small crowd of activists Thursday night. Those advocating for more affordable housing and social services asked the County Board to raise taxes up to the legal maximum of 5 cents, while budget hawks asked for no tax increase or, at minimum, following the County Manager’s recommendation for a 3.2 cent tax increase. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Student ‘ART’ Contest — The county is challenging budding middle school and high school artists in Arlington to design a pedestrian safety-themed “wrap” for buses. The winning entry will be used to wrap one ART bus. The submission deadline is June 3. [Arlington County]
Girl Scout Cookie Sales Start Tonight — As a reminder, Girl Scout Cookie booth sales start at 3:00 today in Arlington. The first day of booth sales might be a bit soggy, as a wintry mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain is expected to start early this afternoon.
AP Scores Edge Up for APS Students — The average Advanced Placement exam score for Arlington Public Schools students edged up from 2.88 in 2011 to 2.89 last year. In 2010, however, the average for APS was 3.08. The national average is 2.83, on a 1 to 5 scale. [Sun Gazette]
DJO, Marymount Sign Baseball Agreement — Bishop O’Connell High School and Marymount University have finalized a joint use agreement for the high school’s new baseball field. “The future of Catholic education depends on strong partnerships between our high schools and universities,” said outgoing Bishop O’Connell President Kathleen Prebble. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Arlington Homes For <$500k –A real estate blog has found 15 “starter homes” under $500,000 on the market in Arlington. “All of the properties… come with at least one parking space,” writes Amy Rose Dobson of Curbed. “Most of them have just entered the market within the past week and will probably move fast.” [Curbed]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Police say last Thursday (December 13), a school administrator noticed two boys outside engaging in what appeared to be suspicious behavior. The administrator thought the boys might be smoking cigarettes. She then checked the boys’ schedules and noticed they were both late to class.
According to police, the administrator found that the boys had returned to the building shortly after the incident, and she pulled one boy out of class to confront him about his behavior outside. A search was performed on the boy’s backpack, in anticipation of finding cigarettes, and a butterfly knife was discovered. Upon searching the second boy’s locker, a similar butterfly knife was also found.
Both boys were charged with Possession of a Weapon in School and released to the custody of their parents. Both have also been suspended.
Nobody at the school was injured. Arlington Public Schools will not comment on the incident to protect the students’ privacy.
Elementary students at two local schools are getting their kicks in a soccer program for “at risk” kids, thanks to a partnership between the Arlington Soccer Association (ASA) and the Real Madrid Foundation.
The Real Madrid Social Sport Academy provides after school soccer for more than 150 Arlington Public Schools students. It kicked off last month, and currently runs at Carlin Springs Elementary School and Hoffman-Boston Elementary School.
“Most of these kids are in need of some positive mentoring,” said Bob Bigney with the Arlington Soccer Association. “They would not otherwise get the opportunity to play soccer.”
The participating schools helped ASA identify second through fifth graders who might benefit from such a program, and the students had to get permission from their parents. All of the participants get their own Real Madrid uniforms and meet after school twice each week for practice. The program not only focuses on participation in the sport, but also stresses academic performance.
“To go out to these schools and see these kids with their uniforms on, working with the coaches, it’s really rewarding,” said Bigney. “Some of the kids come from pretty tough home life situations. It’s giving them this opportunity to play soccer, to get some of the lessons that soccer teaches kids, like teamwork and cooperation. We’re very happy with the way that it’s going.”
Next Wednesday (October 31), some special guests from Madrid will be in town to meet the kids involved in the program at Carlin Springs Elementary. Among them is former Real Madrid star Emilio Butragueño.
Arlington is the first place in the United States to be a part of this Real Madrid Foundation program. Plans are in the works to start the academies at schools in other cities across the country, such as Boston and Houston.
ASA would like to expand the program in the spring to involve more local elementary schools, and hopefully add middle and high schools. However, the deal with Real Madrid only provides a certain amount of monetary assistance, so more funding is necessary for expansion. ASA is currently looking for additional sources of funding — such as sponsorship — to grow the program. Individuals or businesses interested in becoming a sponsor for the program can contact Bob Bigney at email@example.com.
County Offering Grants for Runoff Projects — Arlington County is seeking local residents, businesses and homeowners associations interested in reducing stormwater runoff and pollution from their property. Using $80,000 received from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, the county will offer cost-sharing grants to those who want to embark on runoff-reducing projects, like green roofs, rain gardens, conservation landscaping, infiltration trenches, cisterns, and pervious walkways and driveways. [Washington Post]
Arlington Teen Named ‘National Student Poet’ — Washington-Lee senior Luisa Banchoff, 17, has been named one of five 2012 National Student Poets, the “country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.” [Patch, Art & Writing Awards]
Library Recommends Books for Bullying — If your child is getting bullied, Arlington Public Library has some recommendations for books that can help him or her cope. [Arlington Public Library]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
In a recent study by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, only 24 percent of students said their parents were actively involved in helping them succeed in school.
With that in mind, APCYF has issued some advice for parents to help their kids “get off to a great start” as Arlington starts a new school year.
September is an exciting time for children, families and school staff. The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families (APCYF) wants to remind everyone that it’s a great time to think about what families can do to get off to a positive start and help make this a successful, asset-building school year for your children. Assets are simply the positive experiences, relationships and values that help young people make smart choices and grow up ready to be responsible, healthy, successful community members. Learn more at http://www.search-institute.
Mary Ann Moran, Assets Liaison and founding member of APCYF, advises parents and caregivers that a good start to the year begins at home with the basics. All children and teens need good rest and a healthy breakfast. “Although you can’t make kids eat or sleep, you can create an environment and set boundaries that encourage getting enough sleep and healthy eating,” said Moran.
- A healthy breakfast is vital. If you have a picky eater, get creative and offer choices. Any healthy food is good for breakfast – even pizza or PB&J.
- On average, elementary school children need 10-11 hours of sleep. Teens need 8-9 hours. Setting a regular bed time helps.
- No one can sleep with a cell phone under their pillow. Consider collecting all electronic devices at bedtime. Kids can retrieve them in the morning.
- Try to plan time to avoid “scrambling-to-get-ready” syndrome – it’s a bad way to start anyone’s day.
According to a survey of 1,651 students in Arlington, only 24% of 8th to 10th graders report having parents involved in school. Get involved with your child’s education now and stay involved all the way through 12th grade. One way to participate is to have real conversations about school. “Do you have homework?’’ is not a conversation starter. Instead, parents might say:
- Who did you eat lunch with?
- Why did you choose that particular book for your report?
- Tell me about your new teacher. (Instead of “Is your teacher nice?”)
- Tell me about the kids in your class.
- When I went into __ grade, I remember feeling _______.
If your child doesn’t want to talk when they get home from school or you first come home from work, try again later, said Moran.
Remind yourself that it’s your child who goes back to school, so their successes and their failures are their own. It’s hard, but let them learn from both. Children learn about being responsible and planning ahead by practice. At some point, they probably will forget their homework, let projects go to the last minute and leave books they need at school. But if they never experience consequences, there’s no motivation to learn to be responsible. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities to let children know you believe in them and their ability to deal with what happens, advised Moran.
Finally, let kids be kids. In our rush-around, stressed-out world, adults can help children have time to be silly, play and daydream, Moran said. It’s essential for them and it does wonders for us. For more information, visit http://
Flickr pool photo by Divaknevil
The County Board directed police to shift more resources to school zones for the first week of school, according to a county press release (below). Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, parking aides and crossing guards will direct traffic around schools starting on the first day of school (Tuesday, Sept. 4). Police will be monitoring 18 additional locations around the county during the first week of school, the county said.
In addition to traffic monitoring and enforcement, the county is conducting a public education campaign — with electronic signs being placed in strategic locations around the county to remind drivers and bicyclists about increased foot traffic on the first day of school.
In a press release, the county noted that between 1,000 and 1,500 additional students are expected to walk to school or catch a ride with parents this school year, in comparison to recent years. Over the summer, Arlington Public Schools implemented a controversial new busing policy that will restrict school bus service to students who live outside designated “walk zones.”
The county issued the following press release about its back-to-school pedestrian safety push.
Responding to the Arlington Public School Board’s 2012-2013 transportation decision, Arlington County government today announced new measures to raise driver awareness and help ensure the safety of students and parents walking to County schools.
“With the first day of school upon us, between 1,000 and 1,500 more kids this year will be walking or riding with a parent to school than in recent years. It’s important for each of us to take special care when we see schoolchildren walking in the mornings and afternoons, and to be patient with parents driving their kids to school,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes.
“Arlington County Police, at the direction of the Board, will be out to make sure that things go smoothly — putting more crossing guards at intersections, closely monitoring driving behavior near schools, and taking steps to raise driver awareness,” Hynes said.
Police Officers, Sheriffs Deputies, Crossing Guards and Public Service Aides will be directing traffic in and around school zones across the County starting Tuesday, September 4, the first day of school, to assist with an expected increase in traffic. Community members and commuters are reminded to stay alert and to yield to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings and in school zones.
ACPD’s Special Operations Section’s Motor Unit will coordinate additional crossings and monitor major roads and highways near schools as needed. Additional police coverage will be at 18 locations across the County the first week of school, and evaluated for safety. Highway message boards will be placed at key intersections, reminding motorists that a new school year has begun.
The start of the school year coincides with the Virginia Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week (September 9th through 15th). Special emphasis will be placed during the week on public awareness and enforcement of traffic laws governing how to share the road.
Drivers are reminded to:
- Obey speed limits, which may change during school zone times
- Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school
- Do not pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers
Walking students and all pedestrians are reminded to:
- Cross the street at marked crosswalks and wait for the signal
- Look before you cross and follow the direction provided by School Crossing Guards
- Always walk on designated sidewalks or paths and never in the road when a sidewalk is present
Bicyclists are reminded to:
- Follow the rules that apply to motor vehicles when riding on the road
- Obey all traffic signs and traffic signals
- Yield to pedestrians
Arlington nonprofit Our Task will host an “intergenerational” conference to discuss environmental and global development issues on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy St.).
Our Task Executive Director Jerry Barney said the conference is aimed at local high school and college students who want to share ideas and discuss what the world will look like in 2100, and what should be done to deal with ongoing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, population increases and a host of other issues.
“It comes from a growing unease and a growing sense of fear among thoughtful young people that the planet they’re going to inherit is not at all the planet they hope to inherit,” Barney said.
The all-day conference is open to participants of all ages, but for the past six years has attracted mainly local students. They are organized in focus groups and presented with an issue “from the 10,000-foot level,” said Our Task Chair Angeline Cione. They then develop and present solutions.
Photo courtesy Jerry Barney
Undocumented W-L Valedictorian “Still Kind of Scared” — This year’s Washington-Lee High School valedictorian, 17-year-old Nataly Montano, is one of the young people impacted by President Obama’s recent policy decision to pull back on the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Montano, a 4.3 GPA student, says she is “still kind of scared sometimes because things could happen to get me deported.” [Sun Gazette]
New Washington Blvd Trail to Impact Trees — A new trail extension planned for Washington Boulevard between Columbia Pike and Route 50 will result in the removal of “about 350 trees.” The plan has, on some level, pitted bicycle advocates against tree huggers, according to a blog post. [Commuter Page Blog]
‘Tapping Party’ Tonight in Shirlington — Capital City Brewing Company in Shirlington Village is hosting a “tapping party” tonight (Tuesday) for one of its newest beers, a Rye IPA. “Medium to full bodied, the Rye IPA (6.5% ABV) is an American style IPA made with the addition of Rye malt that lends a spice to the flavor profile and then dry hopped with American style hops,” according to a press release. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and will include a question and answer session with the brewmasters, a free appetizer buffet and a trivia contest. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
Arlington public school teachers will have restrictions put on their use of Facebook and Twitter. The Arlington School Board adopted a new policy at its meeting on Tuesday, June 19, setting guidelines for social media use between students and teachers.
The School Board said it recognizes the importance of social media as means for parents, students and teachers to collaborate through evolving forms of communication. However, board members noted the need for clear and reasonable boundaries for interactions between students and adults.
The policy is designed to protect students from misconduct and abuse, and to protect adults from misunderstandings and false accusations. In addition to preventing inappropriate sexual contact from occurring between students and teachers, the policy is also intended to curb harassment and bullying.
Arlington Public Schools will allow students and employees to interact via social media while in online groups, but all content must relate to classroom instruction or school-sponsored extracurricular activities. Adults will not be permitted to engage in one-on-one electronic communication with students, with an added caveat for instances of an emergency.
“One-on-one emergency contact is permissible, provided that the employee would then contact their supervisor, so that the parent could be notified as soon as possible about the reason for the exception being made, or the emergency,” said Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos.
APS has defined social media as any online media that allows users to collaborate and engage in multi-directional conversations, to create personal profiles and to view the personal profiles of other users. This may include APS-approved media tools such as BlackBoard or Google. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online forums and other social media tools generally available to the public are also included in the definition.
The policy is designed to provide guidelines for transparency, privacy protection and responsible use of social media. Some of those guidelines are as follows:
- Information about the use of any social media should be included in the classroom syllabus or extracurricular information, and department supervisors and school administration should be aware of what social media tools are being used. The classroom syllabus should include a clear statement of the purpose and outcomes for the use of any networking tool.
- Teachers/staff must ensure that the social media tools they are using have been submitted to the school administration for approval each school year. This may be an ongoing process throughout the school year, to be reevaluated annually.
- Employees should establish clear rules and expectations and a code of conduct for all network participants. Just as in the classroom setting, online rules should be established to foster an atmosphere of respect, trust, and clear professional boundaries.
- Parents should be informed of the social media tools being used, how their children are being contacted online, and the expectations for appropriate behavior.
- Employees should be aware that they will be identified as working for and representing the school in what they do and say online.
- Communications with students should be professional and appropriate within the context of the teacher/student relationship.
- Employees should not discuss students or coworkers publicly.
- Teachers should treat social media as an extension of the classroom, and should weigh every posting for how it affects their effectiveness as teachers.
- Employees may not use commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary, or libelous. Caution must be exercised with regards to exaggeration, inappropriate language, legal conclusions, and derogatory remarks or characterizations.
- All laws pertaining to copyright and intellectual property must be obeyed.
- Remember that all online communications are stored and can be monitored.
- Inappropriate communications with students in any electronic or other format may be grounds for termination and loss of the educator’s license.
- Teachers/employees have the obligation to keep all student information private.
- Users must pay close attention to the site’s security settings and allow only approved participants access to the site.
APS said it will regularly monitor social media used by schools and departments. Staff found not adhering to the new policy will be subject to disciplinary actions. Before Tuesday, there was no formal social media policy in place at APS.