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by Chris Teale September 22, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Arlingtonians will have several opportunities to weigh in on the names of new schools and the renaming of existing ones under a plan put forward by Arlington Public Schools staff.

APS is set to undertake a four-step process to discuss its school naming policies, a conversation that will likely include discussion of the name of Washington-Lee High School.

Members of the Arlington School Board announced last month they will reconsider existing school names. That announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville at a white supremacist rally, and a petition for APS to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Board members will also be looking for names for the building on the former Wilson School site — the future home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program — and the new 1,000-seat middle school on Vacation Lane.

According to a draft plan discussed Thursday night by the Board, the first phase will begin with a committee made up of APS staff.

APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said that committee will include a “diverse” group of APS staff, including school administrators, central office staff and teachers as well as custodians and bus drivers.

That committee will study the origins of existing school names, put together draft criteria for APS school names and take feedback from the public, including staff, families, students, alumni and community members. Its work is scheduled to be completed “later in the school year,” according to the draft.

The current APS naming criteria offer only two pieces of guidance: (1) that schools can be named “according to geographical or historical relationships in which the site is located,” meaning schools are named for the neighborhood they are located in or the street they are on; and (2) that naming a school for an individual can only be considered after they have been dead for five years.

After that first phase, staff will present a draft recommendation to update APS’ naming criteria to the School Board. The committee will also “be prepared to identify names of APS schools, if any, that may need to be considered for renaming by their respective school communities,” reads the memo outlining the process.

The Board then will take public comment on the updated naming policy and any proposed changes to school names, adopt the policy and if necessary, direct Superintendent Patrick Murphy to begin a renaming process. Finding names for the two new schools could then begin, using the updated criteria.

Board members said the plan, set to be formally approved at a future meeting, is exactly what they were looking for.

“I like the fact that we’re taking baby steps towards this and being very, very thoughtful,” said Nancy Van Doren.

“[Staff has] laid out what we promised, which is a deliberate process,” said Board chair Barbara Kanninen.

by Chris Teale September 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

A teacher at Wakefield High School is a finalist for the Virginia Teacher of the Year award after a surprise announcement this morning (Monday).

Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield, learned of the recognition from Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who presented her with a certificate and flowers during a sociology class. McAuliffe was joined by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board members and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore.

Cottrell-Williams is one of eight teachers in the running for Virginia Teacher of the Year. She represents educational Region 4, which comprises various cities and counties in Northern Virginia.

She is the first regional finalist from Arlington since Colette Fraley, another Wakefield social studies teacher, in 2010. Cottrell-Williams is already Arlington Teacher of the Year, having been nominated by Lisa Labella, Wakefield’s senior project coordinator.

“I’m speechless,” Cottrell-Williams said after the announcement. “Dr. Willmore walked in, said he had to interrupt for a minute, OK. People just kept coming and coming and coming, and I have no words. This is incredible. I feel like I’ve just been me, and to be recognized, that other people recognize that what I’m doing matters, is pretty amazing.”

Cottrell-Williams has taught at Wakefield for 10 years, and is the lead classroom teacher of World History II, U.S. and Virginia Government, AP European History, Sociology and senior project classes.

She has been recognized for her dynamic lesson plans that use various strategies and methods to help students learn as well as her commitment to professional development for her fellow teachers.

“In my other classes I’ve been asked to come up with projects and ways to rethink education,” senior Alex Pearson said. “I feel like Ms. Cottrell does that. She’s a teacher that makes class fun, and I feel like we’re going to learn a lot of things.”

“I think it says a lot about Ms. Cottrell,” senior Ana Sofia Uro-DeLeon said. “We haven’t even started our classes yet, and she’s already getting an award and everything. It shows that she really does care about the students and the individual, not just the statistics and our grades.”

McAuliffe said with budgetary pressures weighing on public school districts across Virginia, recognizing teachers when they are so dedicated is important.

“She’s so dedicated to her students, but also dedicated to her peers and to her colleagues, her fellow teachers and making sure that professional development opportunities are there so they can further their craft of teaching,” McAuliffe said. “That’s really so important, to make sure that teachers have the support they need in everything to do.”

Cottrell-Williams will join her fellow finalists in Richmond on Monday, September 18, where they will go through a series of interviews before the awards banquet that evening. Cottrell-Williams said that whether she wins or not will not change the fact that her most important interactions are with her students each day.

“It’s about the students, it’s not about whatever accolades I get,” she said. “It would be nice to have a broader platform to share with other teachers how I have found success with my students, how I interact with them, how I’ve really grown to like what I do because of the relationships I get to build with these students. But at the end of the day, I’m still here in the classroom with them whether or not I have an award.”

by Chris Teale September 5, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

Students at Arlington County’s public high schools now have the chance to build their own lunch with fresh ingredients.

Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown all added food service company Cuisine Solutions‘ Café + Teria concept, the first of its kind for a school system in Virginia.

Each school’s serving area will have a similar, modern look, according to a press release. Cuisine Solutions describes itself as “the authority on sous-vide,” a slow-cooking method where food is vacuum-sealed and then slow-cooked in hot water to preserve flavors and nutrients.

Each day, students can select ingredients in four steps by picking a base of grain, salad or a wrap; a protein of antibiotic-free chicken, ground beef, or Paneer cheese; a topping of vegetables, cheese and sauces; and a dressing.

“This program introduces the healthy, fast-casual dining experience that teenagers love,” Bill Stablein, Cuisine Solutions’ manager of K-12 programs, said in a statement. “Arlington is an innovative district and a good choice to begin the program based on size, number of schools, diversity and exposure to quick-service restaurants.”

Cuisine Solutions hosted a forum last February for 10 public school districts in Virginia to discuss ways to improve dining options for students. After the forum, company chefs put together menus for Café + Teria based on local ingredients that are healthy and of good quality.

Cuisine Solutions will provide the three schools with the recipes, standard operating procedures, name brand and marketing materials for the new program, which may eventually be replicated nationwide.

Courtesy photos

by Chris Teale September 1, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

With schools set to welcome students for the new year this coming Tuesday, Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are urging everyone to stay safe on the roads.

Police will conduct highly visible traffic enforcement around county schools starting that day, while electronic message boards placed next to the roads will remind everyone of the start of school.

To ensure everyone’s safety, police reminded drivers to:

  • Obey speed limits which may change during school zone times.
  • Avoid distracted driving and keep your attention on the road.
  • Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school.
  • Don’t pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers.
    • On a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
    • On a multi-lane paved across road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
    • On a divided highway, vehicles behind the bus must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction may proceed with caution.
  • Have all vehicle occupants wear their seat belts.

Students, bicyclists, and pedestrians are reminded to:

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks and never against a red light.
  • Look before you cross and follow the direction of school crossing guards.
  • Always walk on designated sidewalks or paths, never along the side of a road.

And for general safety, students and parents are reminded to:

  • Ensure students know their address and phone number.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Whenever possible, walk or bike with another person. Stay in well-lit areas.
  • Limit the use of devices that may distract you.
  • Avoid engaging with or answering questions from strangers.
  • If something occurs that makes you feel unsafe, report the incident immediately to an adult such as a parent, guardian, principal, teacher or school resource officer.
  • Parents and guardians are encouraged to roleplay possible situations with students and discuss personal safety and awareness tips.

In a video (below) released by APS, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer supervisor Lt. Susan Noack, the three urge being safe, like staying within speed limits, avoiding distracted driving and looking out for students on bicycles or on foot.

The trio also encouraged parents practice looking both ways at crosswalks before crossing the street, as well as having a buddy to walk with.

by ARLnow.com August 24, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Local Senior Completes Alcatraz Swim — Arlington resident Mary Schade, 71, completed the 1.5-mile Alcatraz Escape from the Rock swim in San Francisco, placing first in her age group. She was the second-oldest swimmer in the race, which featured choppy, 59-degree water and a stiff wind. [InsideNova]

Arlington History Books — “Our Man in Arlington” Charlie Clark has found a number of “out-of-the-mainstream histories of our fair county,” including one book, first published in 1957, that “summarizes two centuries of legal boundary changes” involving Arlington County or its geographic predecessors. [Falls Church News-Press]

Shirlington Apartment Building Bought, Rebranded — Waterton, a real estate investment firm, has acquired the 404-unit Windsor at Shirlington Village apartment complex and rebranded it as “The Citizen at Shirlington Village.” The purchase price for the apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street was a reported $144 million. The new Chicago-based owners plan to upgrade the apartment units, outdoor spaces and the fitness center. [Washington Business Journal, BusinessWire]

Teachers Explore New Commuting Options — With the encouragement of Arlington Public Schools, some teachers are switching from a solo driving commute to carpooling or biking, as seen in a new video from Arlington County’s Mobility Lab. [YouTube, Mobility Lab]

by ARLnow.com August 22, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

NBC4: County Agency Failed to Report Alleged Sex Abuse — “The I-Team found [Arlington County Child Protective Services] failed to notify state officials to revoke the license of a former Arlington Public Schools teacher whom they investigated for sexually abusing a former third grade student. The teacher was able to work as an assistant principal in the Prince George’s County Public Schools district for years because of the error.” [NBC Washington]

Jury Duty Process Starting Soon — The Arlington Circuit Court is starting its annual juror qualification process with questionnaires set to be mailed to randomly selected Arlington and Falls Church residents in early September. “These questionnaires are used to qualify residents for jury duty which begins January 1, 2018 and ends December 31, 2018,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Heat and Storms in Today’s Forecast — Expect sweltering temperatures today, with a heat index around 100, followed by the threat of potentially strong storms tonight, according to the National Weather Service. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Chris Teale August 21, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

A longtime Arlington educator and resident, who helped secure the county’s ability to elect its School Board and self-published her memoirs at the age of 101, died last week.

Martha Ann Miller died at the Sunrise at Bluemont Park senior living facility on Wednesday, August 16. She was 106.

Along with her husband, Malcolm D. Miller, she helped lead a group in Arlington called the Citizens Committee for School Improvement, who wanted to improve the standard of Arlington Public Schools just after World War II by letting the county elect its own School Board.

Before, a county electoral board appointed School Board members, but the group lobbied hard in Richmond. State law changed in 1947 to allow Arlington to elect its School Board.

Meg Filiatrault, one of the Millers’ two surviving children, said it was inspiring as a child to see the group in action. From the basement of their home in Arlington, volunteers worked to send out campaign literature and prepared to testify before state bodies.

“It was a real community effort, just normal people doing what they felt they had to do to get what they wanted for their children,” Filiatrault said. “My parents were extremely well-invested in good schools and in public schools, and so were a lot of the committee.”

Miller taught math at what was then known as Stratford Junior High School, now the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. And in 1959, just four years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation in schools unconstitutional in “Brown vs. Board of Education,” she was one of the first teachers in the county to volunteer to teach black students.

Four students began a math class with her on February 2, 1959, and Filiatrault said she remembered no instances of violence, even amid tension and a large police presence.

Miller had her first taste of the Washington, D.C. area as a child. As a 14-year-old living in Evansville, Ind. in a family of farmers, she won a bread baking competition at the Indiana State Fair, with the prize of a scholarship to Purdue University and a trip to D.C.

On that trip in 1925, she met then-President Calvin Coolidge, then returned to D.C. after graduating from Purdue with a major in Home Economics and a minor in Math. She met her husband at Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C., then the pair settled in Arlington.

Despite losing most of her sight to macular degeneration in her 90s, Miller wrote her autobiography, “The First Century and Not Ready for the Rocking Chair Yet,” and independently published it at the age of 101.

She wrote with the help of cousin and editor Jo Allen. Miller typed some of the work herself then dictated the rest, all because of her desire to tell her descendants about her life. The book has sold more than 800 copies.

“She was a very tenacious person, and she really wanted to leave this as a legacy for her great-grandchildren,” Allen said. “Her grandchildren pretty much knew the stories, but the great-grandchildren were too young to know that much about her life. She thought it was important to leave them a legacy.”

Beyond education, Allen remembered Miller for her love of the board game bridge, as well as her support of public television, including WETA, founded in 1961 and now based in Shirlington. She was also active in the American Association of University Women, the local Teachers’ Association and Clarendon United Methodist Church, where until recently she was head of the music committee.

Miller was born in 1911 in Indiana, and had three brothers. She put her long life down to super B complex vitamins, which she initially took for knee pain in the 1960s.

Miller is survived by two children, Malcolm R. Miller and Meg Filiatrault, and predeceased by two children and her husband Malcolm D. Miller. She is also survived by four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, August 24 at 2-4 p.m. and again at 6-8 p.m. The funeral will be on Friday, August 25 at 11 a.m. at Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street).

by ARLnow.com August 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Washington-Lee High School 2015 graduate Alexander Wallace, who is now a student at the College of William & Mary.

Activists called for Lee’s name to be removed from W-L at the Arlington School Board meeting on August 17, in the wake of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville.

Board members announced they would study the names of all current and future schools in the county and decide if any should be changed.

Since the violence in Charlottesville over the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee, there have been calls to rename Washington-Lee High School, Arlington’s oldest. Others want to keep the old name.

As a 2015 graduate, I have thought about this subject often, especially after the Charleston massacre, which was on the day of my graduation.

I understand the argument for renaming the school. Robert E. Lee fought for a government whose raison d’etre since its inception was the preservation of chattel slavery; the Cornerstone Speech by their Vice President, Alexander Stephens, makes this clear as day.

In fighting for said government, Lee therefore fought to preserve that vile institution even if it was not his premier motive, and that in and of itself leads to just condemnation. That fact certainly makes the banner in the halls “Washington-Lee Celebrates Diversity” more than a little ironic.

That being said, I also understand the opposition to the name change. Washington-Lee, as a name divorced from its namesakes, has become an honored name, with famous graduates like Sandra Bullock and Warren Beatty, and academic and athletic success. Thousands of people by now have formed memories and friendships under that name.

Additionally, changing the name to proposals such as “Washington-Lincoln” or “Washington-Lafayette” (which I have both seen) would cause a significant degree of financial trouble to the school administration as they would have to replace signs, songs and logos on just about everything.

In full understanding of both perspectives I propose a compromise as a plan of action. We need not change the name “Washington-Lee,” but the name “Lee” could be rededicated to Robert’s father, Henry Lee. The elder Lee fought for the early Republic during our war for Independence in both Northern and Southern campaigns, and died long before the Confederacy was ever even an idea.

In doing so, we could keep the name “Washington-Lee,” the mascot “Generals” (for they were both generals in the Continental Army, and both from Virginia), the alma mater (which refers only to ‘Washington-Lee’ as a collective), and most everything else. All that would need to be changed are some portraits, like the ones in the main office and little theater, and one of the logos.

This compromise would allow the complete removal of the stain of the Confederacy from the school whilst maintaining its long-standing traditions. It is a compromise that I find ideal and hopefully would spare the school from the worst of the ongoing culture wars and bring the dispute to a quiet conclusion, one that would not attract undue attention.

In these trying times, I share the sentiment of our alma mater: “Washington-Lee, Washington-Lee, humbly for thee do we pray.” Our alma mater will need it.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by Chris Teale August 18, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

A $13.8 million plan to move Arlington Public Schools’ offices from the Education Center to prepare for its use as a high school is set to begin later this year.

The Education Center, which houses various APS offices as well as the Arlington School Board’s meeting rooms, will be used as part of a “hybrid option” alongside the Career Center to add 1,300 high school seats for APS. The Education Center is adjacent to Washington-Lee High School.

APS’ offices are set to relocate to Sequoia Plaza Two at 2100 Washington Blvd, which already houses the School Health Bureau that provides health programs and services, as well as the Parent-Infant Education and Environmental Health programs.

Separately, the county’s Department of Human Services consolidated more than 80,000 square feet of facilities into three buildings at its headquarters at Sequoia Plaza in 2014.

As part of a plan approved last December, the School Board agreed to amend its lease at the property and add just under 80,000 square feet of new office space. In May, the Board approved a design for the office space, which will be spread across four floors.

At its meeting Thursday, August 17, the School Board advanced a construction contract for Sequoia Plaza Two, and will vote to approve the contract as an action item at its September meeting.

Under a timeline presented by APS staff, construction would begin in September and take until April 2018. The first phase of moving would begin in December, with the second phase to begin in April once construction is complete.

Jeff Chambers, APS’s director of design and construction, said that first moving phase would be to move APS staff already based at the building elsewhere to accommodate construction. Chambers said the project will not require any more funding than the $13.8 million already budgeted.

by Chris Teale August 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm 0

(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Arlington School Board chair Barbara Kanninen announced Thursday (August 17) it will revisit all school names in the county with a view to possibly changing some, including Washington-Lee High School.

Kanninen’s announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, and a new petition for Arlington Public Schools to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The petition already has more than 200 signatures.

Though there has been talk of removing Lee’s name previously, the current backlash against Confederate symbolism has put the idea on center stage. Speakers at Thursday’s meeting and a letter to the editor published earlier in the day called for changing the school’s name, which has been its moniker since it opened in 1925.

The Board is going to be naming new schools at the Wilson, Stratford, Education Center and Career Center sites, and with that in mind, Kanninen said the time is right to look again at who schools are named after.

“Given all this, it is simply clear to us as a Board that now is the time,” Kanninen said. “It’s time to talk about the names of our schools, and what they mean and why they matter. It is time to talk about the values these names reflect and the messages we are sending our children.”

Kanninen said there will be extensive community input when discussing school names, and the process will include a “wide range of voices.” She said the Board will look to establish a naming criteria for schools that “reflects our values,” which will ensure debate is “focused on facts, not opinions.”

“We are committed to this community conversation, but it will take time and resources to get it right,” Kanninen said. “As the governing body of our school system, we have to be careful and deliberate.”

During the Board’s public comment period at the same meeting, numerous speakers showed support for changing the name of Washington-Lee, given Lee’s history with the Confederacy. Of the dozen speakers to testify, the majority expressed support for a name change.

“Today, Lee remains a potent symbol of hate, as witnessed by the events in Charlottesville,” local resident Ryan Sims said. “[It] is time for Arlington Public Schools to acknowledge its history, change the name and move on.”

“We must build on the momentum of the current crisis and use this as a teaching moment in Arlington Public Schools,” said Marc Beallor of the group Indivisible Arlington.

Not everyone who testified spoke in favor of changing the high school’s name, however. Mila Albertson, president of the Washington-Lee Alumni Association, said changing the name could set a precedent that could lead to changing numerous names and flags throughout Virginia. She said that precedent could include changing the name of the capital city of Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America, or renaming Virginia.

Instead, Albertson said, the school has gained a reputation for producing tens of thousands of graduates who have led productive lives.

“The name Washington-Lee is exalted because of its graduates, not because of the two [people] it is named for,” Albertson said.

Local resident and “unofficial W-L historian” John Peck urged caution and urged residents to learn more about Lee’s history, especially after the Civil War.

In a rarity for School Board meetings, two members spoke after the public comment period — urging patience for those who wish to change the name quickly. James Lander, the Board’s only black member, said it is important that community members continue to focus on students who face discrimination every day.

“I just don’t want us to take our eye off the ball and the children who are looking to us for examples,” Lander said.

Board colleague Reid Goldstein promised a robust process involving a wide range of opinions and community members, and no “knee-jerk” decisions.

“It’s very, very important that we do this right, or we’re going to keep doing this over and over again,” Goldstein said.

by ARLnow.com August 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by writer and Washington-Lee High School graduate Waleed Shahid, who has started an online petition to push for removing Robert E. Lee’s name from the school.

Activists are also expected to call for Lee’s name to be removed from W-L at tonight’s Arlington School Board meeting, in the wake of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, sources tell ARLnow.com.

When I was a student at Washington-Lee, I clearly remember being taught in history class that Robert E. Lee “did not fight for slavery; he fought for Virginia.” I didn’t make much of it until I left Virginia for college. Many of my classmates thought it was strange that I went to a school named after the leader of the Confederate Army and that there was a highway that ran through my hometown honoring Jefferson Davis. These were racist slave-owners who rebelled against the American government and Abraham Lincoln, they told me. I shrugged and didn’t make it much of it.

But over the past few years — and particularly over the past week — many Americans have been beginning a conversation about our nation’s living wounds. It’s clear that too many are ignorant of our country’s history. And this past week has shown that a small minority of white nationalists are increasingly comfortable with publicly stirring up the worst aspects in American society by pitting Americans against each other.

To these white nationalists, Robert E. Lee represents their deep commitment to racial hierarchy. When three of his slaves escaped, Lee whipped them and had their backs washed with stinging brine. Lee ordered his Confederate soldiers to respect white property, but declared that any black people they encountered — regardless of their previous ‘status’ — were to be seized and returned to the South to be sold into slavery. At the Battle of the Crater, Lee’s Army even killed black prisoners of war. This is the history we honor when we name our school after Robert E. Lee — and why white nationalists felt so threatened by the removal of his statue in Charlottesville.

We must understand the stakes too. Arlington Public Schools should not shy away from taking a clear stand on this issue. It’s up to our civic leaders and institutions to take steps toward reconciling and repairing our nation’s living wounds where we can make a difference. Washington-Lee High School should be renamed so that we can move toward creating a school, county and country that truly belongs to all who call it home. If the President of the United States is unwilling to provide the leadership our country needs, then we need to provide it ourselves.

America was founded upon a revolutionary promise: freedom and justice for all. But, the revolutionary promise of America has never been fulfilled. We, the people has never included all of us. The story of our nation has always been a struggle over who America belongs to: the chosen few, or all of us? This is what is at stake when we honor the leaders of the Confederacy. Which side of that struggle will we honor? Germans don’t honor Nazi soldiers; South Africans don’t honor those who held up Apartheid. But Americans still honor Robert E. Lee and countless other Confederates who raised up a new flag and started a rebellion against the United States of America. Why?

It’s time Arlington honor those who fought tirelessly to create an America for all of us. As an alum of Washington-Lee High School, I urge you to consider re-naming our school Washington-Douglass or Washington-Tubman High School. As a Muslim-American who grew up in Arlington, continuing to have my alma mater named after Robert E. Lee is like seeing a Confederate Flag being constantly waved in my face. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing that we are honoring a man who fought to shackle and chain other human beings.

In many ways, Washington-Lee is a microcosm of America. My alma mater — just like my country — is still working to perfect our experiment in constructing a vibrant multi-racial democracy. This past week has been a reminder that some still hope to thwart our collective project and take us back to darker times. But by committing to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, we can take concrete steps toward living up to our best traditions and creating a nation where we all feel like we belong and where “We, the People” includes all of us. This is our historic responsibility as Americans in this moment in our history.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com August 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Hundreds Ticketed for Passing Stopped School Buses — Last year, 618 drivers in Arlington County received a $250 fine for illegally passing a stopped school bus. A police spokeswoman said it was “very alarming” that so many drivers were ignoring the lights and stop arm on buses. [WJLA]

Firefighter Places Fourth in Bodybuilding Competition — An Arlington County firefighter, Capt. Tiffanye Wesley, finished fourth in the 40+ figure bodybuilding competition at the 2017 World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles. [Twitter]

Arlington Bishop’s Statement on Charlottesville — Bishop Michael Burbidge released a statement earlier this week about the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Burbidge condemned “racism, bigotry and self-proclaimed superiority,” writing: “For Christians, any form of hatred, no matter who it is against, is an offense — a sin — against the Body of Christ. Each person is created by God and bestowed with His unyielding love.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Hate Groups in Arlington — The Southern Poverty Law Center lists three hate groups as being headquartered or having a presence in Arlington, though the local connection is questionable for at least two of them. ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant group, is listed by the SPLC as having an Arlington headquarters, but it has a Washington, D.C. office address listed on its website. The National Policy Institute, headed by white nationalist Richard B. Spencer, lists an Arlington P.O. box but its headquarters is in Alexandria, according to news reports. The Center for Perpetual Diversity, a white nationalist organization that is fighting immigration in Europe and pushing for African Americans to return to Africa, is listed as having an Arlington headquarters. It has an Arlington P.O. box with a 22204 ZIP code. [Southern Poverty Law Center, Patch]

Arlington Near Top of Va. SOL Results — “Pass rates for Arlington Public Schools students on Standards of Learning tests taken last spring were up in 11 cases, down in 12 and unchanged in six from a year before, according to new state data. The county school system met or exceeded statewide passing rates in all but one of 29 exams, and exceeded the statewide rate by 5 points or more on 17 of the assessments.” [InsideNova, WTOP]

by ARLnow.com August 10, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Advanced Towing Lobbied Hard for Bill — Advanced Towing spent $10,000 on lobbyists and made a $1,500 donation to state Sen. Barbara Favola while successfully pushing for a state bill to override Arlington’s second-signature towing requirement. Supporters of the bill say it passed and McAuliffe ultimately signed it because it had the support of the business community. Advanced is one of the largest towing companies in Northern Virginia and has drawn the ire of many local residents for its ruthless efficiency at trespass towing from private lots. [NBC Washington]

Russian Military Jet Flies Over Arlington — Yesterday an unarmed Russian military jet flew over the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and the U.S. Capitol “as part of a longstanding treaty that allows the militaries of the United States and Russia to observe the other from the air.” [CNN, Axios]

Arlington Still Hiring Teachers — Arlington Public Schools is still hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. “A total of 280 full- and part-time contract positions were unfilled as of Aug. 1… as the school system continues to process applicants,” the Sun Gazette reported. [InsideNova]

Uber, Lyft Make Mark on Local Restaurant Biz — Although readers were skeptical in a poll late last year, the Washington City Paper reports that Uber and Lyft are having a significant impact on the local restaurant industry, drawing customers from a wider area geographically than would have visited before the ride hailing services existed. It’s also bringing more customers to hot non-Metro-accessible restaurants. And it’s not just hipster-y D.C. restaurants drawing customers from around the region: Lyft said Clarendon’s Don Tito was its most visited bar in the D.C. area in 2016. [Washington City Paper]

by Brooke Giles August 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Applying to college is a scary but exciting process. Picking out schools, writing a personal statement and stacking up all of your best accomplishments.

But there was only one experience that I was never able to put into simple words, and that was the 11 years that I spent in immersion classes.

Arlington County is home to four Spanish immersion programs, at Claremont and Francis Scott Key elementary schools, Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School.

Arlington Public Schools says the goal of the programs is to develop “high levels” of proficiency and literacy in two languages, promote high academic achievement and cross cultural competence.

I started second grade at Claremont Immersion School in 2003. It was the first year the school opened and students came from the immersion programs at Abingdon Elementary and my former school, Oakridge. I spent half my first day reciting the multiplication tables in Spanish, the other half in English.

It was not always easy, I struggled with both science and math as I got older and the content got more complicated. I stuck with it, although it was common for classmates to leave the school so they could thrive in a traditional setting.

Language skills improve even more in middle school, when there are 11 hours of Spanish instruction a week. Because subjects switch throughout the day, there’s a possibility to go back and forth from English to Spanish. It’s a brain workout to go back and forth between the two every 45 minutes. Unlike the elective Spanish classes offered in middle school, the Spanish Language Arts class that immersion students take is structured much like an English class.

High school is the true test. Some students struggle with AP level Spanish, as you don’t practice the language the way you do in middle school. With block scheduling, you may only get one day of Spanish instruction.

Continuing to practice Spanish every day is a valuable commitment. Many of my friends are double majoring or minoring in the language. They have traveled to Spain, Cuba and Costa Rica to practice the language.

“I’ve gotten to travel the world with confidence in my ability to speak the language,” said Peyton Johnson, a senior at James Madison University double majoring in Communications and Spanish.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com July 31, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Texas Murder Suspect Arrested in Arlington — A suspected MS-13 gang member, wanted for two Houston-area homicides, was arrested in Arlington on Saturday. Twenty-year-old Douglas Alexander Herrera-Hernandez, also known as “Terror,” was taken into custody while walking near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. [Fox 5, WTOP]

Family of Murder Victim Donates Reward Funds — The family of an Iraq war vet shot to death in front of the Pentagon Row shopping center in 2006 has donated $5,000 in unclaimed reward money to Arlington Crime Solvers. “Despite an intensive investigation, a suspect and motive have not been identified,” said Arlington County Police. “This case remains an active cold case investigation.” [NBC Washington, WJLA, Twitter]

Some Arlingtonians Pay to Attend D.C. Public Schools — A handful of Arlington residents pay tuition for their children to attend D.C. public schools. Most are paying for enrollment in the renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest Washington. Arlington, which is still facing a school capacity crunch, does not allow nonresident students as does D.C., Fairfax County and Montgomery County. [Washington Post]

APS May Buy Home Next to Glebe Elementary — The Arlington School Board is considering buying a home next to Glebe Elementary School for $525,000 to provide emergency vehicles another point of access to the school. The home was recently sold to an investment firm for just over $400,000 this past January. [InsideNova]

Explanation for Low-Flying Helicopter — If you spotted a helicopter making low passes over Arlington this past weekend, it might have for a survey by the National Nuclear Security Administration “to measure naturally occurring background radiation.” [Twitter, National Nuclear Security Administration]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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