Arlington, VA

Arlington Public Schools will not offer high school students beginner’s level Japanese and German classes this fall, and some parents and students are speaking out about it.

Much of the loudest advocacy has been geared toward supporting up the Japanese classes. Public comments after a world languages presentation at last week’s School Board meeting (May 3) focused on the ways that the Japanese classes have made an impact on students.

“It’s not just a language, it’s not just something people take because they want to get the advanced diploma,” said one student, Juliana Logan. “It’s not an easy language, we take it because we care and we want to learn more about it.”

Another student, Liam Mason, started a Change.org petition that, as of May 4 (Friday), had garnered more than 1,800 signatures over the past week. The petition isn’t clear as to how many of the signers are Arlington residents.

Mason spoke of his strong desire to learn the language, calling the news of the phase out “devastating.”

The demand for Japanese and German courses has shrunk in recent years, according to Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.

In 2015-2016, 65 students signed up for German and 54 signed up for Japanese. By the next school year, 2016-2017, those numbers dropped to 42 and 37 students respectively.

Though the numbers rose by two students per language in 2017-2018, Bellavia said that the numbers for 2018-2019 German and Japanese enrollment were low. There were 33 requests for German, or six less than in 2017-2018, and 41 requests for Japanese.

Bellavia added in an email to ARLnow that the school system “often [has] attrition from level one to level two… that means that there are even smaller levels at the advanced language level.”

“Therefore, we have decided to use our resources for courses that have a greater level of interest throughout APS,” he said.

Supporters have noted that the reason for the relatively low requests, compared to much more popular languages like Spanish or French (with a respective 2,326 and 673 enrolled students in the last school year), is due to school counselors advising students to switch to Chinese and the lack of a Japanese and German option at the middle school level.

Mason described how many students tend to stick with their middle school language as they advance grade levels, and that German and Japanese are thus dealt an unfair hand during enrollment.

“Counselors have told children to disenroll and it’s not offered in middle school, [yet] numbers are increasing by a surprising margin,” said Mason. His comments continued, stating that he believed that the anticipated larger class sizes would add more students to the program.

According to Bellavia, the advice from counselors came after it was determined that there would be insufficient enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year:

APS counselors do not advocate for one world language course over another. Students were given the same opportunity to select Japanese and German as they were all world languages within APS.  Each year, students select those courses they are interested in taking. Once all of the course requests are approved, school staff review the requests and then determine the number of sections needed for each course.  Each year, there may be some courses for which there is not enough student interest to run the course. Once it was determined there was not enough interest to run Japanese and German for the 2018-19 school year with the current model, counselors advised students that another option would need to be selected.

We are in the process of determining other potential options for offering these languages to those students who are interested.

A committee, Save Japanese in Arlington Public Schools, has been formed by the parents and students, seeking a one year deferment of the decision to allow for community input.

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Today was another hot day, but this weekend is looking a bit rainy.

Alter your Derby Day attire accordingly, and remember to be responsible with your celebration during the races and at any Cinco de Mayo festivities you find yourself at.

Before you break out the fascinators and make yourself a mint julep, let’s take a look back at ARLnow’s most read stories over the past week.

  1. Following Sudden Death of Patrick Henry Elementary Principal, Temporary Replacement Named
  2. Country Clubs, County Strike Deal to End Tax Standoff
  3. ACPD Investigating Fatal Pedestrian Crash on Columbia Pike
  4. APS Eyes Seven Elementary Schools as Future “Option” Program Sites
  5. Reaction: Parents Frustrated, Miss Work over APS Tech Failure

If you missed our earlier coverage of the School Board meeting, here it is. The meeting was held at the new Syphax Education Center, after officials had done some good, old fashioned ribbon cutting.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans, how much you love or loathe gondola talk, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

Photo courtesy of Frank Bellavia, Arlington Public Schools

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Each week, we highlight select deals and events around Arlington, with help from Tim’s Arlington Directory. Some require a coupon or have more instructions, so click the link for details and any additional requirements. Want each day’s full list sent to your inbox each day? Just email @ [email protected] with “Subscribe” in the subject.

This Week’s Deal of the Week:

Bar Bao (3100 Clarendon Blvd) has a brand new BOTTOMLESS Brunch deal every Saturday and Sunday that you do not want to miss out on. They are now offering $35 all you can eat small plates & 25 cents mimosas! The menu includes Peanut Butter & Nutella French Toast, Smoked Salmon Benedict, Fried Chicken & Waffle, Chorizo and Egg Hash, and many many more mouthwatering plates.

Saturday, May 5:

Events

Food & Drink

​Sunday, May 6:

Events:

Food & Drink:

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Despite this afternoon’s heat, dozens of protesters crowded the sidewalk in front of Rosslyn’s Social Security Administration office to rally against its potential closure.

The office, those speaking at the megaphone argued, is a vital component of serving the area’s Social Security benefit recipients.

“If you close this office, you’re cutting a social security benefit,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “It’s just like cutting somebody’s social security check — you’re cutting the ability for them to access the services that they need.”

The activists’ argue that many people who receive benefits are either aging or disabled and need an easily accessible, local office. That portion of the population needs to be able to consult a human being face-to-face in order to maximize their benefits.

Using an internet portal, they say, was inefficient for some benefit recipients because they tend to not include sufficient or accurate information on forms, have difficulty using a computer, or don’t have the ability to access the internet.

County Board member Christian Dorsey made an appearance, arguing that there’s plenty of room for the Social Security Administration to maintain an Arlington presence.

“This pains me to say as a public official, but office space is not that expensive in Arlington right now,” said Dorsey, pledging to use county resources to find the SSA a more amenable lease. “There are plenty of opportunities for the SSA to stay.”

The Social Security Administration has an office in Alexandria, but anyone looking to get there from Arlington would have to take a trip down the Blue Line to the Van Dorn Metro station and then hop on a bus. The SSA’s website doesn’t even list that office as being nearby if users enter a Rosslyn zip code to find a location.

“To lose the ability to connect people to an office thats within a short walk of heavy rail and to put them in an office more than a mile away from the closest Metro station speaks of poor planning and speaks of insensitivity,” said Dorsey. “We want to reverse that.”

Dorsey himself only learned of the closure a few weeks ago from an Arlingtonian who works with AFGE.

“You would expect, in a world where there’s a governmental asset, that you’d at least get a heads-up when there’s a rethinking of delivering that service — but that’s not the world we live in,” Dorsey said.

About 90 people come to the office every day to use the office, according to Dorsey.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has also written a letter to the SSA’s internal watchdog requesting an investigation into the agency’s decision to close the office.

A full video of the rally has been made available by Social Security Works, an organization in favor of expanding the program.

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(Updated at 8:05 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department is asking for tips from the public to identify a man they say has repeatedly exposed himself in the Radnor-Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood, near Courthouse and Clarendon.

The suspect is reported to have approached several victims while exposing himself.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic male in his 20s or 30s, standing at 5’8″ to 5’10” tall with a medium build. The suspect, during several incidents, reportedly wore “dark clothing with a hat or hood pulled tight around his face.”

Police have linked five separate indecent exposure incidents on four different days to the same suspect “based on witness interviews and evidence collected.”

The incidents, according to police, occurred at the follow dates, times and locations:

  • January 26, 2018, 10:35 p.m., N. Rolfe Street at 16th Street N.
  • February 9, 2018, 9:48 p.m., 1800 block of 16th Street N.
  • February 13, 2018, 11:00 p.m., 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard
  • March 3, 2018, 11:58 p.m., 16th Street N. at N. Rhodes Street
  • March 3, 2018, 11:35 p.m., 1900 block of Clarendon Boulevard

The incidents all occurred within approximately a mile of one another, more or less along Clarendon Boulevard. Other indecent exposure incidents have been reported nearby in recent weeks, but were not included in the ACPD press release. However, a police spokesperson tells ARLnow that detectives’ preliminary investigation leads them to believe these two most recent incidents will also end up being included in the same case based on the location and suspect description.

More from the press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is sharing these crime prevention tips to help keep you safe as you travel in the area. Remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Whenever possible, walk with another person and stay in well-lit, high traffic areas. Limit your use of devices that may distract you or impede your vision or hearing. If you see something suspicious or are the victim of a crime, contact the Emergency Communications Center as soon as possible by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding these incidents, please contact Detective J. Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Arlington’s Black Heritage Museum, once only a virtual museum, opened a physical, though temporary, location today (May 1).

A bit sparse, the museum’s exhibits and decor are still in the works; at least one exhibit room still needs to be filled. Though it opened in 1996, the museum has only had an online presence.

It’s a relatively bare-bones space, nestled on the top floor above the Sun Trust bank at 3108 Columbia Pike. It’s intended to be temporary until a suitable, permanent home for the collection can be located.

“It is what it is,” said Portia Clark, the museum’s volunteer office manager and the Nauck Civic Association’s president.

“For now, we just need a presence, so we don’t have a preference,” Clark added.

While additional exhibits are lined up, those currently available provide a glimpse into what Clark calls the rich history of the three predominantly African American communities in Arlington — Nauck, Hall’s Hill and Johnson’s Hill (now Arlington View).

In one area of the musuem, a visitor can learn about the life of prominent African-American Arlingtonian John Robinson; in another, the history of how black Arlingtonians never could truly say that they were born in the county since black families had to go to Washington to give birth, according to Clark.

“There are so many stories to be told,” she said. “There’s a number of stories that we’re still collecting to tell.”

Volunteer staff are still planning fundraising events, and Clark said that the museum hoped to raise much-needed funds at a Founders Day event, as well as at a possible art show and a book signing later in the summer.

The Black Heritage Museum is currently open on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., on Thursdays from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., but different exhibit viewing times can be arranged by calling ahead and making a request.

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Arvaye Robinson, the mother of two elementary school girls she had hoped to enroll in the Arlington Public Schools extended day program, stood in front of the Syphax Education Center this morning during the system’s technical problems that ultimately suspended sign-up indefinitely.

“I’m so disappointed,” Robinson said, exasperated, with her phone in her hand waiting to hear from a school staffer. “I wanted some confirmation.”

After setting an alarm for exactly 7:59 a.m. so she could hop online and enroll her children, Robinson realized that the site was down and that she would have to drive to the center to enroll her children in person. She was told that she would receive a call about placement, but she didn’t feel confident about that.

“They have the means to take payment, but no concrete confirmation,” said Robinson.

A father who overheard ARLnow interviewing Robinson cut into the conversation, calling the situation absurd and saying that it had thrown his work schedule out the window for the second year in a row.

Indeed, this is the second consecutive year that extended day registration has flopped. There are varying reports of exactly how many parents waited in line to secure a spot for their children, but one parent told ARLnow she saw at least 100 people in the Syphax Education Center’s lobby this morning.

The extended day program allows parents “who can’t juggle everything” to leave children in their school’s care before and after classes, according to the program’ director, Bobby Kaplow.

According to Kaplow, after last year’s technical failure with the same vendor, APS spent the year troubleshooting with the contractor, trying to find a solution.

“All year we worked with him, we told him what we needed, we told him what the problem was, can he see it on his end,” Kaplow said, adding that he had demanded that the contractor fly in from Michigan to be on-site for the enrollment rollout today in case any issues cropped up.

“I talked to him 20 minutes before it started today, and said, ‘Are we good?'” Kaplow said. The contractor told the director that there wouldn’t be any problems.

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An organic Korean-Vietnamese food truck is opening up a brick-and-mortar location in Arlington Ridge.

Kovi Kitchen will be opening a location at 2921 S. Glebe Road, near the Arlington-Alexandria border. The restaurant teased the news on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend, but did not announce an estimated grand opening weekend.

The food truck, which has parked in Rosslyn for the lunch rush, serves $3 tacos, rice bowls and bahn mi.

The restaurant will be run by Vi Nguyen, who, according to the truck’s website, has at least 29 years of hospitality industry experience.

A voice mail left at the food truck’s listed number was not immediately returned.

Photo via Kovi Kitchen

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Arlington County police are gearing up for a new traffic safety enforcement push.

As part of this year’s 2018 Spring Pedestrian & Bicyclist Safety Awareness Program, police officers will be out enforcing traffic laws in Virginia Square and along Columbia Pike this week.

Tomorrow (May 1), officers will be enforcing traffic laws at Fairfax Drive and N. Kenmore Street from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. On Thursday (May 3), officers will conduct the same enforcement at Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street from 1-2:30 p.m.

Anyone spotted violating traffic laws in those areas — motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — will be ticketed.

The bike safety campaign aims “to change pedestrian, driver and bicyclist behavior while reducing the number of traffic related crashes and injuries.”

The same campaign in 2016 targeted the Crystal City and Clarendon neighborhoods, and a similar campaign in the fall also took place on Columbia Pike.

More from the press release:

Each year, pedestrians and bicyclists account for a quarter of the traffic fatalities in the region, nearly 90 deaths per year. The Arlington County Police Department participates in numerous enforcement campaigns throughout the year in support of its commitment to improving transportation safety in the County. These campaigns combine public education and high-visibility enforcement to ensure that all travelers share the road safely.

Updated Columbia Pike enforcement timeline at 9:04 a.m. on May 2 due to updated press release sent from the ACPD that morning.

File photo

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It might be another weekend to use a ride hailing app — Metro’s weekend service alerts indicate that construction and repairs abound.

We’re also looking at a chance of rain this Saturday, but odds are it won’t be the possibly record-breaking rainstorm that Hawaiians dealt with last week.

Before you do start your weekend, let’s take a look back at ARLnow’s most read stories over the past week.

  1. AWLA: In Arlington Canine Parks, No Hogs, Just Dogs
  2. Five Retailers Announce Plans to Open in Ballston Quarter
  3. Updated: Police Release Description of Attempted Sexual Assault Suspect
  4. Parents Push Back on Proposed Attendance Changes at Nottingham Elementary
  5. Watchful Mannequin Spooks Residents Near Ballston

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans, how you plan to share your Amazon Fire stick with possible exes or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

Photo via Flickr/Erinn Shirley

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Each week, we highlight select deals and events around Arlington, with help from Tim’s Arlington Directory. Some require a coupon or have more instructions, so be sure to click the link for details and any additional requirements.

Saturday, April 28:
Brunch:

Events

Food & Drink

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