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.


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.


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.

by Chris Teale November 21, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

Patrick Henry Elementary School principal Annie Turner kissed a pig Tuesday to mark the end of a successful Read-A-Thon at the school.

Turner had promised the students at the school at 701 S. Highland Street that if 300 or more of them turned in reading logs and had read for 500 minutes or more, she would kiss the pig at their final assembly before Thanksgiving.

And the students far exceeded that goal. Patrick Henry parent Christine Brittle, who coordinated the Read-A-Thon, said 360 students turned in reading logs and they exceeded their goal of 500 minutes reading each.

The school’s PTA sponsors the annual Read-A-Thon, which kicked off just over a month ago. Students are challenged to read at least 500 minutes, about 40 minutes a day, and earn prizes for fundraising.

The students read for 263,211 minutes altogether, the equivalent of about 4,388 hours or 182 days.

“I set a really ambitious goal, because we had a really awesome prize and I thought you all could do it,” Brittle told the students.

And so Turner puckered up with Roscoe, a pig that lives in nearby Penrose, to whoops and cheers from the more-than 400 students who assembled in the school’s gymnasium.

The Read-A-Thon also raised more than $22,000 for the school, to be spent on field trips among other things.

“I am so proud of you all for reading so much,” Turner told the students after her encounter with Roscoe. “I hope you continue to read all year and the rest of your lives.”


by Chris Teale November 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm 0

More than 300 Arlington Public Schools teachers have been trained to help students with dyslexia by using an approach that combines various senses and teaches sounds before making them into words.

The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham approach trains teachers to have students learn language by listening, speaking, reading and writing. So, for example, a dyslexic student is taught to see the letter A, say it and write it in the air at the same time.

Students are also taught to read and write various sounds in isolation before making them into words, and learn the history of the English language to understand its rules and patterns.

An APS spokesman said training is part of a concerted effort for teachers to support dyslexic students and help them get their reading and writing abilities up to a good standard.

“A few years ago, APS began training teachers to be able to support students with Dyslexia in their classroom,” the spokesman said. “The decision was based on research through the International Dyslexia Association on the best instructional practices for students with dyslexia. APS continues to have a focus on literacy for all of our students and making sure our teachers have the training, tools and resources to meet the needs of all of their learners.”

APS teachers are given awareness training on dyslexia through a 10-minute overview video, handouts with characteristics of dyslexia and training for school psychologists and special education coordinators to help them determine if a student is dyslexic and help parents understand how to help.

According to testimonies provided by IMSE, the use of the Orton-Gillingham approach is paying dividends.

“A student with an Individualized Education Program who came from kindergarten not knowing letters and letter sounds, with significant deficits in memory and attention, after a year with IMSE’s [Orton-Gillingham approach] now has consistent memory of their letter and letter sounds,” one APS first-grade teacher said in a statement. “The sentence dictation has resulted in growth of concept of word as evidenced by spelling, word space and sentence structure.”

The APS spokesman said the Orton-Gillingham approach is just one way the school system helps students with dyslexia. APS paid a discounted rate of $800 per teacher for the training.

“We have trained teachers from all of our schools in not only Orton Gillingham but other structured literacy approaches that provide systematic, explicit and multi-sensory instruction for students who have Dyslexia,” the spokesman said. “Our goal is to build capacity with all of our teachers to know about Dyslexia and then build capacity within each team to be able to offer a variety of interventions and supports for all of our students.”

by Chris Teale November 6, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

Abingdon Elementary School’s own version of the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents got a visit from the real thing at school today (Monday).

The seven students and Little League friends, who wore the custom-made costumes for Halloween, were surprised by the four Racing Presidents, who race around Nationals Park during every home game. It took parent Catherine Ladd five weeks to custom-make the costumes.

The Presidents came into an assembly at the school in Fairlington and gave the boys signed bobbleheads and tickets for them and their families to the team’s Winterfest in December.

“The final surprise was that the Nats presidents invited the Petite Presidents to race them at Nats Stadium in the spring,” Kathleen Branch, a parent at the school, said. “The boys were shocked, as they were told that they had to wear their uniforms to school to pose for more photos. They had no idea that the assembly was for the surprise announcement. Catherine Ladd, the creator of the Petite Presidents, was presented with a signed Bryce Harper jersey.

“The parents and families thank the Washington Nationals for their recognition of a school that loves the Washington Nationals.”

Photos via Catherine Ladd

by ARLnow.com October 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The Arlington neighborhood tradition of Halloween parades continued today on a picture-perfect fall day.

Among the neighborhoods and schools hosting parades was Abingdon Elementary in Fairlington. Led by the Wakefield High School marching band, with rolling road closures courtesy of the Arlington County Police Department, hundreds of students and teachers marched down local streets as parents and residents snapped smartphone photos and cheered them on.

Among the crowd were ghouls, goblins and even raccoons.

One costume standout were small, paper mache versions of the Washington Nationals racing presidents. It took parent Catherine Ladd five weeks to custom-make the costumes for her sons and their Little League friends.

“It required the coordination of other parents… and taking over her first floor for over a month with the multiple figures in various stages of the design process,” Ladd said of the effort.

Dressed as George, Tom, Abe, Bill, Herbie and Teddy, the “petite” presidents batted cleanup near the end of the parade.

by Chris Teale October 26, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program students were evacuated earlier today (Thursday) after a small fire in a science lab.

The Arlington County Fire Department responded to the school at 4100 Vacation Lane just after 12 p.m. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman said some paper caught on fire during an experiment in the lab.

The fire was quickly put out by the teacher before firefighters arrived, with students evacuated as a precaution. A fire department spokesman said firefighters monitored the air and checked for hazards, but no issues were found. The smoke cleared naturally, the spokesman said.

There were no injuries and there was only minor damage to the equipment being used. Students returned to classes soon after.

Courtesy photo

by Chris Teale October 25, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will host two community meetings this week to present proposals for changes to middle school boundaries.

Entitled, “What We Learned,” APS staff will present a second round of boundary proposals, developed after receiving community feedback on initial plans. The meetings are set for the following dates and locations:

  • Wednesday, October 25, 7-9 p.m. at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd)
  • Thursday October 26, 7-9 p.m. at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street)

The forums will follow up on meetings earlier this month, entitled “Getting Started,” where staff presented initial ideas to provide a “starting point” for further discussion. APS is redrawing its middle school boundaries as a sixth is set to open at the Stratford school site in 2019.

Staff wrote that this second round of proposals will “shape the Superintendent’s recommendation to the School Board that will create boundaries for the new middle school at Stratford, relieve crowding at some schools, and balance enrollment among all six middle schools.”

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will make a recommendation on the redrawn boundaries on November 14. The Arlington School Board will hold a public hearing on November 30, then vote on the plan on December 14. The new boundaries would take effect in 2019.


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