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UPDATE: Wakefield Falls Just Short in Basketball State Championship

Update at 5:55 p.m. — Despite leading for much of the game, Wakefield ended up falling just short to Varina, 64-60.

Earlier: The Wakefield High School boys basketball team is currently fighting for a state championship.

If the Warriors prevail over the Varina Blue Devils, it would be the team’s first championship in 57 years, according to the Sun Gazette.

The game, which started at 4 p.m., is being played at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. At halftime, Wakefield was winning 31-23.

En route the Richmond, the team’s buses received a police escort. For fans who could not make the trip to Richmond, the game is being streamed live online (for a fee) and is being shown at the Crystal City Sports Pub (523 23rd Street S.)

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The Right Note: What is Your County Up To?

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The County this week announced the opening of its online portal for permit applications and payments. It is too early to know how the system will work or if it will make the permitting process any better for applicants, but the county should be applauded for moving past the paper only option.

Arlington Economic Development is holding an event next week to teach businesses how to do work for Arlington County.

More transparency is always good news. This type of event opens up the county procurement process to more businesses which should encourage competition and discourage cronyism. In theory, this is good news for the taxpayer. One has to ask though, is it really so hard to figure out how to work with the county that it necessitates a training session?

Arlington officials have been at odds with the county’s two country clubs over how to tax the properties. According to the Sun Gazette, the courses combined are taxed at a rate equal to the next 11 country clubs in Northern Virginia combined.

Unfortunately, the county was either unwilling or unable to find a way forward on how to lower the tax on the open space, so the General Assembly has entered the fray. A bill with overwhelming majorities in both chambers is on its way to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk to dramatically scale back the allowable tax rate. It remains to be seen whether an intense lobbying effort, similar to last year’s decision on the towing ordinance, will impact our new governor.

Also on taxes, the county manager’s proposed budget may not include a property tax rate increase, but it does include an increase in other taxes and fees. Going up are utility taxes, parking meter rates, parking tickets, certain building permit fees, among others.

If you read through the proposed cuts to the budget, many come from not filling currently vacant staff positions. However, one cut would be to end the printing of the Citizen Newsletter. At $82,088 per year, it won’t make or break the budget, but it probably was past time to stop sending that information through the mail.

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Progressive Voice: Our Students Need This

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations of ARLnow.com

By Graham Weinschenk

On March 23, 2017, three young women from Wakefield High School attended the Arlington School Board meeting.

They spoke articulately about their experiences with school psychologists that Arlington Public Schools provides to assist them: one referred to her school psychologist’s office as a “place of refuge”; another spoke of how important the counselor was to her friend who she later lost to suicide; the third emphasized the impact the psychologist had on de-stigmatizing mental health concerns.

Last year, APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy proposed postponing the addition of more school psychologists and social workers (despite a three-year plan to increase the number of these specialists) because of budget concerns, prompting these students to speak out. Due in part to the efforts of these young women, the superintendent found the savings elsewhere.

This year, the addition of more school psychologists and social workers is on the chopping block again. This would be an incredibly huge mistake.

For each of these students, there are many more with similar experiences. According to the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 70% of high school students described being stressed “often or very often.”

Nearly 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied in the past year, and 1 in 4 believe that bullying is a problem in their school. Of those bullied in high school, 14% identified sexual orientation or identity as a cause, and 22% identified race as a cause. About 53% identified “appearance” as a cause. Students could check as many causes as applied to their personal situation. Furthermore, 1 in 6 high school students inflicted acts of self-harm on themselves, 1 in 5 considered suicide, and 1 in 20 actually attempted suicide.

Stress can compound over the years and often leads to long-term anxiety. School psychologists and social workers have the ability to counter this, to help us cope with our issues. By providing a safe and accessible place for students to voice their concerns, school psychologists and social workers have the power not only to counter bullying and excessive stress, but also to recommend ways for healing and growing.

If a student is in a crisis, a school psychologist or social worker is an essential “first responder” who can help save the day be coordinating profession psychological care outside of the school or providing care themselves.

The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one psychologist for every 500 to 700 students. The planned expansion for FY 2019 would have moved the ratio of psychologists and social workers to students from 1:1,650 to 1:775. While this translates into a significant improvement in the availability of services for students, the superintendent’s requested delay would unfortunately leave many students underserved and at risk for at least another year.

Ultimately, it is the School Board’s budget and the School Board’s decision. In tough budget times, school psychologists and social workers might be considered a luxury. In reality, they are a crucial part of a frontline team of teachers, administrators, and parents that can help students when help is needed.

Funding for school psychologists and social workers also should be driven by the values in the Whole Child Initiative – namely, to ensure that every student is “healthy, safe, supported, engaged, and academically challenged.” To do otherwise hurts students.

It hurts the three young women from Wakefield High School who relied on their school psychologists to survive. It hurts the student members of the LGBTQ community struggling to come to terms with their identity. It hurts students who are victims of racism and xenophobia, and it hurts students whose parents cannot afford to have them seen by a psychologist or other mental health professional outside of school.

Yes, understaffing this program would save money in the short-term. But full staffing is a price worth paying for the long-term benefits to the whole child for the school years and beyond.

Graham Weinschenk graduated from Yorktown High School in 2017. He served as Vice Chair of the APS Student Advisory Board for the 2016-17 school year. Graham currently attends the College of William & Mary. He serves on the Democratic National Committee Youth Council and as the Secretary of the Virginia Young Democrats.

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Peter’s Take: Instruction at APS — A Teacher or Technology?

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

With the release of the APS Superintendent’s FY 2019 proposed $636.7M budget, it’s prudent to examine more closely APS’ model for delivering instruction since educating students should be APS’ primary function.

Has the educational mantra, “From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side”, gone too far in our APS classrooms today?

Today’s APS classrooms

Currently, every student in grades 2-12 possesses their own APS-issued iPad or MacBook Air purchased with our tax dollars. With these devices in every hand, has the internet become the new de facto teacher and content expert? Are our teachers’ roles being transformed into:

  • Facilitators of accessing online content?
  • Administrators of online assessments?
  • Managers of student work production?

In this new digital-learning age, will our teachers hold center stage, or defer to a student–issued device? Will our students be guinea pigs in untested teaching initiatives? Who is ultimately accountable for each student’s achievement and well-being? Has continuous internet access for every student become too big a crutch in our classrooms, leaving behind students who want and need a live person as their primary educational resource?

In sum, is APS on a trajectory to use technology to enhance our teachers’ instructional delivery, or to replace it?

Are we getting what we pay for?

77.7% of the Superintendent’s proposed FY 2019 budget (at p. 5) is attributed to salaries and benefits costs.

At $80,082, APS ranks second highest in Average Teacher Salaries according to the 2018 Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) Guide (at pp. 5-15).

The Superintendent’s latest budget document should be reorganized in the transparent way necessary to enable the community to understand the full costs of technology use at every grade level.

Community concerns

In my own review of the many concerns about these issues expressed on social media by APS parents, I was particularly struck by comments like these:

“My child’s high school science class last year was entirely taught on the computers. It was not a distance learning class–the teacher was sitting in the classroom the whole time as the students watched video lectures. When students asked questions, the teacher referred them back to their computers. It was the most alienating experience and my child struggled to get interested in the subject. I think we have gone too far at APS.”

“I just heard a mom today compare her kid’s APS high school class to online courses with their APS lap top – YIKES.”

Conclusion

Our community needs to discuss these broader unanswered questions, not simply the current needlessly-narrow discussion regarding APS’ so-called “Acceptable Use Policy” relating to student-issued devices. We should be discussing all the broader educational and financial issues regarding how APS is using technology to deliver instruction at every grade level.

Our community needs to examine relevant data, discuss and decide if we want and can afford too many students having a distance/virtual learning experience though their devices, while sitting in our costly APS buildings, and being supervised by the second-highest paid teachers in the region.

As we continue to add 4,646 more students to APS by 2027, the scenario of paying top dollar for salaries, state-of-the art technology, and buildings with space for every student isn’t fiscally sustainable.

Something has to give.

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Arlington No. 3 on New ‘Best Cities for Millennials’ List

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) In news that should be music to the county officials’ ears as they court Amazon, Arlington County is among the top 3 best places in the U.S. for millennials, according to new rankings compiled by Niche.com.

Arlington is third behind San Francisco (#2) and Cambridge, Mass. (#1). The Boston area is also among Amazon’s top 20 potential HQ2 destinations.

The county bested Amazon’s home city, Seattle (#4), along with D.C. (#5) and Berkeley, Calif. (#6), according to the rankings, which take into account things like the percentage of residents ages 25-34; access to coffee shops, restaurants and bars; diversity; walkability; higher education rate; and cost of living.

Niche also just announced that Arlington is its No. 5 “best city to live in America,” after Ann Arbor, Mich. (#1), Naperville, Ill. (#2), Berkeley (#3) and Plano, Texas (#4).

Those rankings “explore 15,000+ cities, towns, and neighborhoods nationwide based on cost of living, public schools, safety, jobs, local amenities, and more,” according to Niche.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Photos: Rosslyn Nando’s Opens Monday

South African spicy chicken restaurant Nando’s is opening its newest location at Rosslyn’s Central Place on Monday (March 12), the company announced today.

A press release noted that players with a Washington sports team will make an appearance for a grand opening charity event to benefit “local underserved youth,” but a Nando’s representative declined to be more specific. A Ballston Nando’s opening in 2016 featured several Washington Capitals players flipping chickens.

The location is the newest of the chain’s now 41 U.S. restaurants. Decorations inside the new location include a portrait by South African artist Nqabutho Phakathi, colorful lighting and an undulating ceiling.

Beginning Monday, the restaurant at 1800 N. Lynn Street, with an entrance on N. Moore Street, will operate from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on weekdays, from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Sundays.

Photos courtesy of Nando’s

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Ideas2Executables: Turning Inspiration into Reality

When Ashlee Trempus was studying to be an American Sign Language interpreter, she found herself frustrated with the lack of access to deaf individuals with whom to practice.

She turned this frustration into inspiration and set out on a path to build a platform to address this problem. But not being a developer, she knew right away she would need a partner who could help turn her idea into reality.

Which is exactly what Arlington-based Ideas2Excecutables does. Walking Trempus through the software development process, Ben Simon used her vision and direction to help her realize her goal of creating a virtual language immersion program to connect those learning sign language with deaf “Ambassadors.” Now SignOn is an award-winning web-based application that is connecting the hearing and deaf communities.

“We have been helping entrepreneurs like Ashlee, as well as larger organizations, take their software ideas from the back of a napkin to reality for over 10 years,” says Simon who runs the company with his wife, Shira. “We’ve written software powering a wide variety of ideas, including designing custom features for a leading tech blog, medical imaging software and visitation software for correctional facilities. That one was really interesting.”

Clients come to the Simons with questions, lots of questions, which is how they like it, particularly with local clients. “We love sitting down with customers to work through their concept in real time,” he says. “Rather than go back and forth over email, we can be much more productive over a cup of tea and a bagel.”

“Being able to meet face-to-face increases the success of your project,” he said. “Regardless of what you want to build in the software development space, communication is king, and nothing beats in person meetings to get the specific nuances of your idea exactly right.”

If you’ve been pondering any of the following, send an email or give them a call today ([email protected] ; (703) 688-3084):

  • I have an idea for software, where should I start?
  • Should I use pre-built software or build custom?
  • How do I protect my idea and keep it from getting stolen?
  • I have an idea to help my business run smoother, is that something you can help with?
  • I’m considering outsourcing my project overseas?  What do I need to consider?

Ideas2Executables offers free consultations.

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Healthy Paws: Boy Dog Bumps — The Mysterious Bulbus Glandis

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Have ever experienced this scenario?

You have a wonderful new male puppy and one day he rolls over for a belly rub and you notice these two round swollen bumps at the base of his penis. Your puppy seems super happy and not at all bothered by the bumps, but you become really worried that something is wrong. Are those his testicles? Does he have an infection? Are they tumors?

Your happy puppy — now bored and confused that you keep staring at his belly — bounds off and grabs one of his favorite chew toys, seemingly unphased by this new problem.

You then pick up the phone to call your vet and when they start asking you to describe these mysterious new bumps, you go back to look at your puppy and the bumps are completely gone. “I can’t find them anymore,” you say, “but I swear they were there by his penis and REALLY big.” Luckily, your vet tells you not to worry, because these bumps are a normal part of your boy dog’s anatomy — called the bulbus glandis.

The bulbus glandis is generally not noticeable, but will often swell and become very apparent when male (neutered and intact) dogs become excited — like when they are happy to see you and roll over for a belly rub.

So why do dogs have a bulbus glandis? Contrary to the what the name implies, the bulbus glandis is not a gland at all, but actually functions during mating to complete the “coital tie,” which keeps the male and female dogs somewhat locked together until mating is complete.

Luckily, when the bulbus glandis swells it does not cause any discomfort to your pup and does not require any medical intervention. However, if you notice any unusual areas of swelling on your dog, it is never wrong to seek the advice of you veterinarian.

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Bicyclist Injured, Driver Cited After ‘Dooring’

A bicyclist was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries on Tuesday (March 6) after being struck by an open car door.

The incident occurred near the relatively busy Virginia Square intersection of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Pollard Street at about 6:40 p.m. The bicyclist was riding in the bike lane when they were “doored,” according to an Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman.

Police were dispatched to the scene, and the driver was cited with opening a door into traffic. The fairly uncommon citation has only been issued one other time in the past twelve months by ACPD.

A Virginia law passed in 2016 requiring “drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic.” The citation is punishable by a fine of no more than $50.

It’s possible that dooring may eventually be a thing of the past thanks to new technology. Recently developed car tech aims to improve bicyclist safety through an anti-dooring mechanism that would identify incoming bicyclists and lock the doors.

Photos via Google Maps

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Comedians T.J. Miller, David Alan Grier Coming to Drafthouse

The Arlington Cinema Drafthouse’s marquee may be gone with the wind, at least temporarily, but that likely will not diminish the boldfaced comedy names coming to the theater over the next couple of weeks.

Next week, on Friday and Saturday (March 16-17), T.J. Miller will perform. The Silicon Valley and Deadpool star, who has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons, will bring his brand of “absurdist observational stand-up” to the Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike).

The following Friday and Saturday (March 23-24), actor and comedian David Alan Grier, of In Living Color fame, will perform.

Tickets for each range from $25-35.

The Drafthouse is in the midst of a weekly comedy lineup that includes comedian Josh Blue, slated to perform this weekend, and Carlos Mencia, who will perform March 29-31.

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Morning Notes

Dem Support for Country Club Bill Slips — A procedural vote in the Virginia House of Delegates to send the Arlington country club bill to the governor’s desk passed, but without a veto-proof margin. Some Democratic lawmakers who supported the bill the first time around voted no instead. If signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the legislation would greatly lower the property taxes of Army Navy Country Club and Washington Golf and Country Club. [InsideNova]

Four Courts Four Miler Closures — The annual Four Courts Four Miler race will close roads parts of Wilson Blvd and Route 110 in Courthouse and Rosslyn this coming Saturday morning. [Arlington County]

Food Trucks Grumble About Festival Fees — “To participate in May’s Taste of Arlington festival… food trucks must pay a flat fee of between $400 and $500. Festival attendees purchase tickets worth $5 each that can be redeemed at food trucks for a few bites. When the gates close, event organizers reimburse the food truck between 25 and 75 cents per ticket… Would you sign this contract?” [Washington City Paper]

‘Women of Vision’ Awards — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Arlington Women of Vision Awards. The nomination deadline is April 20. [Arlington County]

How to Do Business With Arlington — Arlington is hosting an event next week that will show small businesses “the nuances of successfully doing business with Arlington County.” Per the event website: “Experts will be speaking on topics such as obtaining opportunities to work with the County and understanding the procurement process.” [Arlington Economic Development]

Nearby: Alexandria Tops Tourism List — Alexandria is No. 1 on Money magazine’s “The 20 Best Places to Go in 2018” list, topping Anaheim, Calif., the home of Disneyland, among other destinations. Harper’s Ferry, W. Va. was ranked No. 2. [Washington Post]

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