Gunston Could Get New Baseball Diamond — Arlington County officials are considering renovating a baseball diamond at Gunston Middle School, replacing it with a lighted artificial turf field. A public meeting about the project, is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 7-9 p.m. at the Gunston community center. [Arlington County]
TJ Elementary Design Approved — The Arlington School Board has unanimously approved schematic designs for the new elementary school planned for the Thomas Jefferson Middle School site. Construction on the $59 million project is expected to begin in July and wrap up in time for the 2019-2020 school year. [InsideNova]
More Details About W-L Fight — A large fight at Friday night’s Washington-Lee High School football game, first reported by ARLnow.com, involved “at least 20 parents and students” and “was the result of a dispute between two families,” unrelated to the game, according to police. Officers used pepper spray to break up the fight. One adult was arrested during the game. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Brent Robson
Balcony Fire in Arlington View — Arlington County firefighters battled a small fire on an apartment balcony in the Arlington View neighborhood yesterday afternoon, following reports of an “explosion” sound. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Carpool’s New Owner Trying to Sell — The fate of Carpool is once again uncertain. The Ballston-area bar was supposed to close later this fall to make way for a new high-rise residential development. Despite County Board approval of the project, and the just-completed sale of the bar, developer Penzance is now reportedly trying to sell the site. [Washington Business Journal]
Student Population Growth Lower Than Estimate — The student population at Arlington Public Schools grew 3.6 percent from last school year to the beginning of this school year. That’s an increase of 914 students, the equivalent of a new middle school, but it is 262 students below APS projections. [InsideNova]
Pedestrian-Only Streets on County Board Agenda — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is slated to consider allowing pedestrian-only streets in Arlington. Currently such streets are not part of the county’s Master Transportation Plan. Pedestrian-only streets are being discussed for parts of Rosslyn and Courthouse. [Arlington County]
White Squirrel Hit By Car? — A commenter says an albino squirrel that was often seen in neighborhoods near Columbia Pike has been hit by a car and killed. [ARLnow]
Three Arlington Public Schools students have scored a perfect 36 on their ACT college entrance exams so far this year.
Two Yorktown High School students and one Washington-Lee student earned the perfect composite score, which only one in every 1,000 test-takers achieve, according to an ACT spokesman.
Among the APS students to score a 36 was Yorktown senior Megan Grieco. From a press release:
Megan Grieco, daughter of Michael Grieco and Lisa Campbell, and a senior at Yorktown High School, earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.
In a letter to Ms. Grieco recognizing this exceptional achievement, ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda stated, “Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare. While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”
ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.
Man Struck By Car on Columbia Pike — A man suffered critical injuries after being struck by a car at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive early Friday morning. Rainy weather may have been a factor in the crash, police said. [WJLA]
APS Stop Arm Camera Program Resumes — Updated at 11:15 a.m. — Arlington Public Schools has restarted its School Bus Stop Arm Camera Program as of today, a school spokesman has confirmed. The program uses cameras to fine motorists who drive by school buses while the stop sign is extended. The program began last year but was suspended due to legal issues, which have since been resolved. [Arlington Public Schools]
Juror Questionnaires Now Overdue — If you received a jury duty questionnaire from Arlington County and have not yet returned it, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. The questionnaires are now overdue; those who have still not sent them in can be summoned to court to complete the form in person. [Arlington County]
Local Church Hold ‘Blue Mass’ — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Paul Loverde held a “blue mass” Friday night to honor local police officers and to recognize fallen officers. A number of Arlington County Police officers were among those in attendance. [NBC Washington]
Domestic Violence Awareness Month — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Arlington. The Arlington County Police Department has partnered with local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families to place a purple ribbon on ACPD cruisers “in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community.” [Arlington County]
Hoax social media posts, often featuring images of sinister-looking clowns, have threatened schools across the country. Thus far the posts have led to numerous arrests of teens suspected of making the threats, but no reported violence.
Last night, two Instagram accounts — @virginiaclowns and @dmv_clowns — posted similar threats, warning of shootings at a number of area schools, including Kenmore, Gunston and Thomas Jefferson middle schools in Arlington.
The threats have prompted a stepped-up police presence at Arlington schools this morning.
“We are aware [of the threats] and were in contact with the Arlington Police Department staff last night when we saw the messages,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “As a precaution, ACPD has had an increased presence at our schools this morning.”
That’s the latest from APS, which reported today its average combined SAT score in 2016 fell 19 points, to 1,661. APS Students achieved an average combined score of 1,680 last year.
Despite the drop, however, the newest numbers still easily beat the Virginia average score of 1,535 and national average score of 1,484 in 2016. The latest average score also exceeds what APS students achieved in 2014 by eight points.
“Our students continue to have a proven track record of exceptional performance on the SAT that far exceeds their peers around the country,” Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a press release. “We are very proud of their success and their level of preparation for post-secondary opportunities.”
Year-over-year, mean APS SAT scores fell three points in reading, eight points in writing and seven points in math.
Additionally, “results for APS black and white students also exceed the peers in Virginia and the nation by large margins,” the school system noted in its release.
“I am grateful for the leadership of our principals and the support from our teachers and counselors who helped to prepare our students well to achieve these impressive results,” Murphy added. “Our congratulations go out to our students and their families for successfully completing this important step to achieving their post-secondary pursuits.”
Arlington Named No. 11 Best Place in America — The same folks who named Arlington the best city to live in America earlier this summer have named it the 11th “best place to live in America.” Los Alamos, New Mexico topped the list and locally Merrifield, Virginia placed fourth. [Niche]
APS Schools Earn State Accreditation — All Arlington public schools, save one that is still being considered, have earned state accreditation. The final school is expected to be accredited later this fall, school officials say. “I want to congratulate all of our dedicated teachers and school leaders as well as our students and families on achieving full accreditation in all of our schools once again,” Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a statement. [InsideNova, Arlington Public Schools]
Park(ing) Day Returns Tomorrow — The annual Park(ing) Day event in Arlington will be held tomorrow (Friday). At least five metered parking spaces around Arlington will be blocked off and converted into pop-up parks, “to elicit a reconsideration of the designation of public space.” [Arlington County]
There are more than 80 historical markers scattered throughout Arlington County’s 26 square miles, but if you’re like many locals, you probably haven’t visited all of them.
A recently launched video series from Arlington Public Schools will let you learn about some of those sites without leaving your computer.
The program, hosted in part by APS Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy, highlights 11 of the county’s most significant historic sites.
Since the series debuted earlier this summer, it’s already uncovered some interesting tidbits about the area, such as:
- An Arlington resident’s medical research led to a breakthrough in blood transfusions.
- A community campaign turned an old school into a museum.
- The first flight of an aircraft on a military installation happened at an Arlington fort.
- The first federal building constructed in the county was a post office in Clarendon.
- Arlington once had a community for newly freed slaves.
- There used to be three massive radio towers in Arlington that were, at the time, the second-tallest manmade structures in the world.
- The county’s first fire company consisted of 10 leather buckets, a ladder and some volunteers.
- Chain Bridge got its name from a chain suspension bridge built over the Potomac River in 1808.
And there’s more history on the way. Next up, the series will tackle historical sites such as the Necostin Indian Site at the Roosevelt Island Parking Lot, Stratford Junior High School (which currently houses the H-B Woodlawn secondary program) and the Reevesland farmhouse.
Screenshot via Arlington Historical Markers video
One expected hot topic of conversation: whether parking for the school should be partially above ground or completely below ground.
From an APS email about the meeting:
APS wants to hear your input and questions related to the New Elementary School at the Jefferson Site. Planning is currently in the schematic design phase and a proposed design is expected to be submitted to the School Board in October. On September 13, 2016 APS will host a Community Forum beginning at 7 PM in the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Library. The purpose of the event is to inform the community of the planning progress made so far and to hear feedback from community members. The event will be an Open House format with materials on presentation boards. APS staff and consultants will be available to answer questions. Participates are welcome to come and go as they please.
Originally a number of community members fought against a new elementary school on the TJ site, but they only succeeded in delaying the project for a year before the County Board voted to approve it in December.
School administrators say they are “currently without air conditioning in the majority of our building.” The A/C troubles come as temperatures are expected to reach into the upper 90s today.
Separately, Taylor Elementary School is also reported to be experiencing air conditioning problems.
“There is an issue with the HVAC in three classrooms,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “The problem is intermittent and right now it is on. Maintenance is looking into the problem and we are watching it closely.”
A parent tells us that her daughter’s kindergarten classroom, another classroom and the school’s gym are “a sweatbox.”
“My daughter was talking about fighting to sit by a fan,” the parent said.
The letter from school administrators to Gunston parents, after the jump.
(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) With the notable exception of Barcroft Elementary, which opened on Aug. 1, today was the first day of school for Arlington Public Schools students.
Kids and parents flocked back to local elementary, middle and high schools this morning, as the APS bus fleet traversed local roads. There were no major hiccups reported, save perhaps a fire alarm that was set off in the teacher’s lounge of Taylor Elementary around 10 a.m. (No smoke or fire was found.)
This morning at Abingdon Elementary, which is being renovated and expanded, students were greeted by a number of newly-installed relocatable classroom trailers on the field next to the school. Several Arlington County police officers were stationed at the intersection of 29th Street S. and S. Abingdon Street, to help keep cars moving amid a new traffic pattern for dropping off students.
At Carlin Springs Elementary, meanwhile, administrators literally rolled out a red carpet for new and returning students. At the new Arlington Tech, the program’s first 40 students arrived and began classes. At the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, upperclassmen formed tunnels for freshman students on their first day.
Arlington County Police and APS are urging drivers to be extra cautious on the roads as school gets back underway.
ACPD and APS officials, School Board members and school administrators were busy ringing in the first day of school on Twitter this morning. More back-to-school tweets, after the jump.
Hazmat Incident, Arrests on I-66 — Two people were arrested on drug charges Saturday after their SUV broke down on I-66 and police found a suspicious liquid in and a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. Lanes of westbound I-66 were shut down while a hazmat team investigated the substance. [WUSA, NBC 4]
Man Arrested for Sexual Assault on Orange Line Train — A man allegedly exposed himself and then tried to force a woman to perform a sex act on an Orange Line train Monday afternoon. The incident happened as the train was approaching the Dunn Loring station, but the man was reportedly arrested in Arlington and held at the county jail. [WTOP]
APS Still Searching for More Space — Arlington Public Schools officials have been busy trying to add more high school seats as a student capacity crunch continues and is expected to get worse at the top grade levels. For now, APS appears to be focused on adding seats at existing high schools and adding additional capacity through new high school programs, like the just-launched Arlington Tech program, as opposed to opening a fourth comprehensive high school. [InsideNova]
Photo (above) of Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon courtesy Valerie Crotty
Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are reminding students, parents and drivers to watch out for one another on the roads as a new school year starts.
Yesterday APS released a new Public Service Announcement video, above, featuring Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer Supervisor Lt. Susan Noack.
Among other things, the video reminds parents to practice safe walking with their kids and reminds drivers that it’s never okay to pass a school bus with its stop arm out.
The first day of school for the vast majority of APS students is a week from today — Tuesday, Sept. 6. Barcroft Elementary Students, however, are already back at school; their first day was Aug. 1.
Arlington Searching for Ultimate Frisbee Coaches — With ultimate frisbee approved as a new school-sponsored sport, Arlington Public Schools in now on the hunt for frisbee coaches at each of its middle and high schools. [InsideNova]
Dems Hold Unity Event — Arlington Democrats are presenting a unified front heading into election season. After a bruising primary, both County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her once-challenger, Erik Gutshall, attended a Democratic unity event at the house of County Board member Jay Fisette last night. [Twitter, Twitter]
‘Tranquility’ in Crystal City Underground — Gallery Underground, the subterranean art gallery in the Crystal City Shops, is preparing for its next exhibit, on the theme of “Tranquility.” The month-long art show starts Sept. 1. [Gallery Underground]
Photo courtesy Eric LeKuch
APS Testing for Lead in Pipes — Arlington Public Schools has been testing systemwide for lead in pipes. Already, the school system has replaced a water fountain in Jamestown Elementary School found to have lead levels above a level considered safe by the state health department. [InsideNova]
Bayou Bakery Raising Money for Flooding Victims — Bayou Bakery in Courthouse is raising money for Louisiana flooding victims. The restaurant is offering a special Shrimp Creole appetizer for $9 this week; half the proceeds from that dish will benefit flood victims, including chef/owner David Guas’ own aunt, whose home in Abbeville, LA flooded with two feet of water. [Bayou Bakery]
Arlington Names New Communications Director — Dr. Bryna Helfer has been named Arlington County’s new Director of Communications and Public Engagement. She joins county government from the federal government. “Helfer currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Transportation and also serves as Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Accessibility and Workforce,” a press release notes. [Arlington County]
Crystal City Boxing Recap — It was a nine-bout, nine-knockout night at the Crystal City Hilton Friday night. [Fight News]
Transport Nerds ‘Playing With Traffic’ — A big group of “transportation techies” gathered recently at WeWork in Crystal City to discuss creative and tech-based solutions to transportation problems. The group is sponsored by Mobility Lab, the research arm of Arlington County Commuter Services. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf