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by Bridget Reed Morawski February 21, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Arlington high school students walked out of class Wednesday at about noon, joining nationwide protesters responding to a recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Wakefield High School students made their way to the athletic stadium for a rally in favor of stricter gun control laws during a 30 minute class walkout. Administrators agreed to consider the walkout an excused absence, according to several Wakefield students.

Students spoke to the crowd with a public address system, calling themselves “moving targets” and shouting that gun violence won’t be resolved until everyone helps them “rise together and create that change.”

(Other Arlington students, including those at H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown High School, also staged walkouts today, as did students in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the region.)

Hannah Jones, a 17-year-old junior at Wakefield and an Arlington Young Democrats member, referenced tweets from an account called National School Walkout as her and her peers’ inspiration for the walkout.

Another student, 16-year-old sophomore Natasa Volk, only recently has become involved in politics.

“I think my mom wanted me to swivel in my own ideas and figure out what my values are,” said Volk. “But definitely this year I have engaged a lot more in political conversations, whether its with teachers or with my mother and other students.”

“I guess I started to care, which is kind of disappointing that I didn’t care as much.”

Volk and other students drew protest posters in their morning classes, with slogans like “317 Last Year — How Many This Year?” The walkout crowd was a few hundred teenagers and adults, a portion of the school’s 2016 enrollment rate of around 2,000 students.

Student protests are being staged as widespread as Chicago and Florida in response to the Parkland shooting, but Volk says that it wasn’t just the most recent shooting that inspired action, but that she learned last year that mass shootings happen much more frequently than one might see reported in the national media.

Some students were pessimistic about the protest, reportedly believing that it would just be an excuse for the apathetic to skip class. But, Jones believes, even those students will benefit from the walkout.

“Even if that’s their motive, being around this many people and to see this many people caring” about gun control legislation, said Jones. “I feel that if the news that they’re hearing hasn’t affected them, then this will get them to change their minds and get them to be a bit more directly involved.”

Reporters from ARLnow and WJLA (ABC 7) were not permitted to follow students to the rally at Wakefield High School.

Students, parents, and administrators alike took to Twitter in support of the march — including Virginia’s 2018 teacher of the year, Michelle Cottrell-Williams.

Further protests have been called for by student and adult activists nationwide, and a nationwide “March For Our Lives” protest has been scheduled for March 24.

Tweets from the Wakefield walkout, along with emails sent to H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown parents, after the jump.

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by Bridget Reed Morawski February 16, 2018 at 5:15 pm 0

The Yorktown High School student rushed to the hospital last Friday died Thursday night. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirmed the death.

Police remained at the high school on Friday after the student was found unresponsive in a bathroom at approximately 9 a.m. Initial reports indicated that the injuries were self-inflicted.

Outside the school, students have painted her name and a heart on a large stone, as a memorial.

The following is the letter sent to parents this morning from the school’s principal, Bridget Loft. The full name of the child has been redacted to protect her identity and give the family privacy.

Dear Yorktown Families:

It is with great sadness that I must inform you that one of our 12th grade students passed away last night. She was a valued member of our community who will be greatly missed by all of us. While we are not in a position to release any more details at this time, many students are learning about this through social media. To that end, we shared the news with the entire school this morning and also let students and staff know that counselors are available should they need to talk.

Our counselors and staff from the Department of Teaching and Learning are available to meet with students who need support in dealing with this news. We will also provide additional support for staff

All Yorktown counselors, staff from the Department of Teaching and Learning and the counseling teams from Washington-Lee High School and Wakefield High School have joined us to support our students. They will be available from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday and throughout the coming week to talk with students who may need some added support.

Understanding death, especially the death of a peer, can be a very difficult experience. For that reason, we hope that you will listen to your son or daughter and talk with them about their feelings and reactions to this tragedy. We are taking every step we can to be responsive to the needs of our students and their families. Please keep us informed if there are ways we can further support your child.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and friends during this difficult time. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to call the school office at 703-228-5400.

Sincerely,

Bridget Loft

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or text 703-940-0888.

by ARLnow.com February 13, 2018 at 6:35 pm 0

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A suspended Taylor Elementary gym teacher, accused of smoking pot in the school, has pleaded guilty to marijuana possession.

Luke Lloyd of Fairfax, Va. entered the plea Tuesday morning before Arlington General District Court Judge Frances O’Brien. He was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, with 20 days suspended. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and complete substance abuse treatment, we’re told.

Lloyd began serving the net ten day sentence on Friday. Most first-time marijuana offenders walk free, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said her office pushed for a stiffer sentence.

“It’s typical for a first time possession of marijuana case to result in a deferred disposition,” Stamos said. “My office, however, argued against such an outcome given the particular facts of this case. Those facts include what appears to have been a rather steady course of use, at times at the school, that we learned about from an anonymous tip to ACPD.”

A second Taylor P.E. teacher nabbed by police, Michael Diaddigo, was also facing possession of marijuana charges, which have since been dropped. Stamos, however, said charges against Diaddigo are expected to be filed soon in Arlington County Circuit Court, which typically handles more serious criminal cases. Stamos declined to elaborate on the charges, since the case is pending.

Lloyd and Diaddigo were both suspended without pay by Arlington Public Schools “pending the outcome of the legal case,” a spokesman said. So far, there is no word on Lloyd’s employment status following the plea. A third Taylor P.E. teacher who was accused of smoking marijuana at the school is currently on administrative leave.

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 9, 2018 at 11:05 am 0

Update at 4 p.m. — Arlington County Police released the following press release Friday afternoon.

At approximately 9:00 a.m. on February 9, police responded to Yorktown High School for the report of a CPR in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a student was located unresponsive in a restroom. Arlington County Fire Department medics transported the student to Virginia Hospital Center in critical condition. [Redacted]

This remains an active investigation however, there is no known threat to the school community. The Arlington County Police Department requests that anyone with information regarding this incident contact Detective R. Munizza at 703.228.4171 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, you are not alone. Help is available through the Crisis Link Hotline at 703-527-4077.

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) A letter has gone out to Yorktown High School families this morning after a student was found collapsed in a restroom at the end of first period.

A school nurse attended to the student while staff contacted emergency services. Passerby told ARLnow.com that a large number of emergency vehicles were parked outside the school but that the streets weren’t closed off.

Bridget Loft, Yorktown’s principal, wrote that a student has been transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. Initial reports from police suggested the medical condition could be life-threatening.

The student’s family has been notified, and additional counselors are available on-site for distressed students.

Loft noted in her letter that the school had been placed on a “modified secure” status. Police are investigating the incident and will be present at Yorktown throughout the day.

Here’s the full letter that was sent out this morning to families:

Dear Yorktown Families:

I wanted to let you know that a student was found at the end of first period collapsed in a restroom. Our school nurse responded and staff immediately called 911. The Arlington County Fire Department arrived to provide medical aid to the student who was eventually transported to the Virginia Hospital Center. While this was happening, the student’s family was notified, and the school was placed on modified secure the building status.

At this point, I don’t have any other details to share. Our main focus at this time is on the student and family. Once details that we can share are available, we will pass them along.

We will have additional counselors available in the office, should your student need to talk with someone. I want to ensure you that there is no risk to students and staff, but we also wanted to let you know that police will remain at the school throughout the day to investigate what happened.

I want to thank our students and staff for the way that they handled the incident this morning. If you have any questions, please feel free to call the school at 703-228-5400.

Sincerely,

Bridget Loft, Principal

File photo

by ARLnow.com February 7, 2018 at 7:45 am 0

`(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Very spotty frozen precipitation fell overnight in Arlington, leading to some slick spots but no serious issues.

Concerns about an icy commute, however, led Arlington Public Schools to delay the start of school.

More from APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late today. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time.

The school system’s decision, in turn, prompted Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation to also delay or cancel some of its programs.

From DPR:

Due to an Arlington Public School two-hour delayed opening, DPR will proceed as follows:

  • All congregate meal programs are cancelled.
  • All Early Childhood Programs (Preschool and Co-ops) are cancelled.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities scheduled to start prior to 11:59 a.m. are cancelled in all buildings.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities with scheduled start times of NOON or later will proceed as scheduled.
  • All evening Enjoy Arlington classes, sports league activities and nature center programs will proceed as scheduled.
  • All Community Centers (including the five joint use centers at Langston, TJ, Gunston, Carver and Drew will open on time as schedule.
  • APS Pools are open on time.

Arlington County government is expected to open on time.

Other delays and closures of note around the region this morning:

  • Federal government: Two hour delay
  • Fairfax County Public Schools: Closed
  • Loudoun County Public Schools: Closed
  • Prince William County Schools: Closed
  • Falls Church City Public Schools: Two Hour Delay
  • Alexandria City Public Schools: Open on time
  • Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools: Closed
  • D.C. Public Schools: Open on time

by Anna Merod February 6, 2018 at 3:50 pm 0

As plans for a new building for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program move forward, members of the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee (ASEAC) say the design is not inclusive enough for students with disabilities.

In emails sent to the Arlington School Board, ASEAC and other groups expressed concern about a separate entrance intended for disabled students in the Stratford Program.

“The current design still appears to envision Stratford students entering the school through a separate door on the ground level of the building’s northwestern corner, next to the Stratford offices, with the main entrance being at the center of the building one level up, next to the H-B Woodlawn offices,” said a Jan. 14 email from a coalition of individuals and groups, including the Arlington Inclusion Task Force.

“Designing a building that has a separate entrance for students with significant disabilities reinforces the idea that students with disabilities are inferior, second-class citizens to be kept out of sight and out of mind,” the email continued. “Separate entrances emphasize difference, encourage isolation, and erect barriers, rather than fostering connections and providing opportunities for engagement. Separate entrances are an affront to Arlington’s inclusive values.”

The School Board responded in another email that all three entrances to the building will be accessible to all students.

The new facility, which will replace and demolish the Wilson School property in Rosslyn, has an estimated cost of around $100 million and is expected to be complete in time for the 2019-2020 school year.

ASEAC also criticized what it said was a lack of communication with community members during the design process.

“Feedback from parents, the Inclusion Task Force, and this committee appears to have had little, if any, impact on the final design. Concerns were raised and provided in writing to the School Board and APS staff in October 2015, allowing reasonable opportunity for these concerns to be accommodated,” ASEAC members wrote.

Universal Design principles, as defined by the Disability Act of 2005, were not applied to the new building and should not fall on the responsibility of parents to uphold, ASEAC said. Members called for the school to consider making the best of inclusive spaces such as the cafeteria, library and other common spaces.

In a letter, School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen said Universal Design was included throughout the design process and feedback from parents, administrators and faculty were considered throughout as well.

“We wish to confirm that design and operation of the new school on the Wilson will comply with the principles of Universal Design and inclusion and that students in the Stratford, ESOL HILT, Asperger’s and H-B Woodlawn programs will not be segregated from one another,” the School Board responded.

The full response to ASEAC, after the jump.

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by Bridget Reed Morawski February 6, 2018 at 2:00 pm 0

Randolph Elementary School’s PTA is hosting an online charity auction to support classroom and extracurricular programs, auctioning off local business deals, unique experiences and gift certificates today through Feb. 15.

There are over 200 auction items up for grabs, with prizes ranging from a veterinary check-up to an Annapolis sailboat ride valued at $500. One lucky bidder could even win a homemade baby back rib dinner for four at Arlington Public Schools board member Reid Goldstein’s home, for a minimum bid of $75.

Or perhaps you’d rather just relax at home and let Randolph Elementary principal Dr. Donna Synder and assistant principal Ms. Rebecca Irwin Kennedy take over the bedtime story routine one evening for a minimum bid of $15.

Holly Jeffreys, the Randolph Elementary PTA auction chair, says that all auction proceeds will fund field trips, classroom supplies, field day, and literacy programs like the Summer Mailbox book program. She noted that Randolph is a Title I school, a designation indicating “high percentages of children from low-income families,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Approximately 73.6% of students at Randolph qualify for free or reduced price meals, according to an October 2017 Arlington Public Schools report.

The auction has taken place in previous years. New this year, according to organizers, the auction website will accept credit card payments — via PayPal — from auction winners, in addition to checks.

File photo via Arlington Public Schools

by Chris Teale January 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

Arlington County’s only nonprofit secondary school is set to expand and add three new grade levels for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Sycamore School will add 4,225 square feet of space at its current location at The Arlington Center (4600 Fairfax Drive, Suite 300) in Ballston, the school said in a press release. That extra space will include a math and science suite, black box theater, an engineering room and an additional electives room.

In addition, the school will expand to include students from fifth to 10th grade next school year. It opened in September 2017 with an inaugural class of students from sixth to eighth grade.

School officials said that despite the growth in grades, enrollment will be capped at 60 students for 2018-2019 “to maintain the very low teacher to student ratio.” The school plans to grow to be grades 5-12 school in the next three years.

“We hear overwhelmingly from prospective and current parents that fifth grade was immensely stressful for their children. Our educational priorities are skewed when too much importance is placed on test scores and grades versus teaching children how to think, how to learn and the value of a productive struggle,” said Dr. Karyn Ewart, TSS founder and head of school, in a statement. “We’re seeing more and more students who are overly perfectionistic and risk averse, which leads to higher instances of anxiety and depression.”

by ARLnow.com January 17, 2018 at 7:00 am 0

Arlington Public School will open on a two hour delay today due to snow and slick roads.

A coating of snow fell overnight and much of it stuck to untreated roads. A number of accidents have been reported while some buses, like Metro’s 16G line, are driving modified routes.

“Essential personnel and food service workers should report to work at their scheduled time,” APS said in an email. “All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time.”

Arlington County offices will open at their usual time, the county said.

by ARLnow.com January 9, 2018 at 8:25 am 0

Arlington Public Schools is opening on a two-hour delay due to icy conditions in many part of the county this morning.

Sleet and frozen rain caused few problems in Arlington during the day, but untreated sidewalks and other surfaces turned icy at night as the sun set and temperatures dropped to be below freezing.

APS made the decision to open on a two hour delay earlier this morning. From APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late today. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time.

A number of other Arlington County programs and events have been either delayed or canceled. Among them:

  • All congregate meal programs are cancelled.
  • All Early Childhood Programs (Preschool and Co-ops) will open on time.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities scheduled to start prior to 11:59 a.m. will be cancelled in all buildings.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities with scheduled start times of NOON or later will proceed as scheduled.
  • All evening Enjoy Arlington classes, sports league activities and nature center programs will proceed as scheduled.
  • All standalone Community Centers including: Madison, Lee, Fairlington, Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center, Lubber Run, Walter Reed, and Arlington Mill will open for regularly scheduled operating hours.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Langston, and Carver Community Centers will open at 10 a.m. Drew, and Gunston will open for their normal operating hours.
  • APS Pools are on a two hour delayed opening.

Many roads and sidewalks around Arlington and the D.C. area remain slick as temperatures climb back above freezing. Authorities are urging those who do have to drive to be extra cautious, while those who can delay their trips should.

A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for the region, as parts of the area are covered in a thick, frozen fog.

… DENSE FOG ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM EST THIS MORNING… * VISIBILITIES… ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES. * IMPACTS… GREATLY REDUCED VISIBILITIES MAKING TRAVEL DIFFICULT. TEMPERATURES BELOW FREEZING MAY CAUSE A GLAZE OF ICE ON ANY UNTREATED SURFACE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A DENSE FOG ADVISORY MEANS VISIBILITIES WILL FREQUENTLY BE REDUCED TO LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE. IF DRIVING, SLOW DOWN, USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS, AND LEAVE PLENTY OF DISTANCE AHEAD OF YOU. &&

In a semi-weather-related closure, the main ramp to Reagan National Airport from the GW Parkway is currently closed due to a water main break. Officials say anyone driving to the airport should use the second ramp, about a half mile down the parkway, or the entrance from Route 1 in Crystal City.

File photo

by ARLnow.com January 8, 2018 at 10:10 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will be closing two hours early due to the threat of freezing rain during the evening commute.

More from APS:

All APS schools and offices will close two hours early today. The Extended Day Program will stay open until 4 p.m. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.

APS made the announcement around 10 a.m., as county crews were gearing up to pretreat local roadways.

by ARLnow.com January 4, 2018 at 6:00 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools will open on a two hour delay Friday, the school system announced Thursday afternoon.

Dangerously low wind chills are expected overnight. Nearby, Montgomery County Public Schools has also announced a two hour delay Friday, while Fairfax County public schools will be closed.

More from APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.

File photo

by Chris Teale December 12, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

A top Nestle official will join Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe at Oakridge Elementary School on Friday to announce the company’s support for an anti-child hunger initiative.

Ahead of its move to Rosslyn, the company will announce its support for the No Kid Hungry campaign on Friday, December 15, a spokeswoman said.

Nestle’s USA CFO Steve Presley will announce the company’s support for the initiative alongside McAuliffe, who is described by the spokeswoman as a “longtime advocate of fighting childhood hunger.” The event is scheduled to take place from 8:20-9:40 a.m. at the school in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood near Crystal City.

McAuliffe is part of the No Kid Hungry initiative, alongside the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Education and several corporate partners.

The public-private initiative aims to end child hunger in America by ensuring children have access to healthy food where they live and where they learn.

“Oakridge Elementary has implemented a breakfast program in partnership with No Kid Hungry that aims to provide children with a healthy, nutritious start to their day,” the spokeswoman said.

An Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirmed the visit, and said McAuliffe will show the officials from Nestle “how the school serves breakfast.”

File photo

by Chris Teale December 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm 0

More than 100 students were out sick today (Thursday) at McKinley Elementary School after a stomach bug swept through campus.

An Arlington Public Schools spokesman said 135 of the school’s 800 students were out, after about 85 were absent yesterday (Wednesday).

The spokesman said that while it sounded like a “typical [stomach] bug that makes its way around this time of year,” he said he could not be sure that all the absences were related to it.

Multiple anonymous tipsters reported the spread of the illness through the school at 1030 N. McKinley Road in Madison Manor.

The School Health Bureau within the county’s Department of Health sent a letter to parents warning of an “increase in reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness,” and urging parents to make sure children wash their hands and stay home if they develop vomiting or diarrhea.

Parents throughout APS can expect to receive a letter soon about winter illnesses in the community, which the spokesman said is “typically sent each December to our families as a reminder.”

The School Health Bureau’s letter to McKinley parents is after the jump.

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by Chris Teale December 6, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools plans to add solar panels to five school buildings, including the soon-to-be-built Alice West Fleet Elementary School.

APS issued a Request for Proposals on December 1, calling for companies to bid to install solar panels at Kenmore and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools, Tuckahoe and Fleet Elementary Schools and Washington-Lee High School.

Fleet Elementary School will be built on the site of Thomas Jefferson, and is projected to be open in September 2019.

In the call for proposals, APS said it is seeking to be increasingly environmentally friendly in construction projects and its existing buildings, and hopes the panels will help it keep up with its schools’ energy demands.

“APS stresses energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in the design of all construction and maintenance projects,” it reads. “APS is aware of the energy and environmental advantages of solar power and has multiple buildings used as schools for all age groups and administrative offices which appear to have design characteristics which make them appropriate for the installation of [solar panels] which will produce electric power to meet, or contribute to meeting, the power needs of APS.”

The successful bidder would install the solar panels, and operate and maintain them under a lease agreement with APS for a minimum of 15 years. APS said the winning company would also be responsible for all installation and maintenance costs, but would pay rent of $1 a year for the panels.

Proposals are due on March 19, 2018. The RFP comes months after Kenmore was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.

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