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by ARLnow.com July 21, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Arlington Man’s Dog Found Days After Fatal Crash — Ten days after 57-year-old Arlington resident William F. Schlesinger died in a crash on I-95 in North Carolina, his dog has been found alive. Nellie is being called a “miracle dog” after she wandered into a convenience store late at night with a broken leg and numerous bug bites. She had been riding in the pickup truck with Schlesinger when he reportedly fell asleep, veered off the highway and slammed into a tree. [Fayetteville Observer]

Local Election Fundraising Very Light — The frontrunners for Arlington County Board and School Board only have a few thousand dollars apiece in the bank as of the beginning of the month. Their opponents have even less. “It may turn out to be one of the least costly County Board general elections in recent history,” the Sun Gazette reports. [InsideNova]

State Dept. Office Staying in Arlington — The U.S. State Department is keeping its footprint in Rosslyn for another decade-and-a-half. The GSA signed a lease worth just over $200 million over 15 years for nearly 350,000 square feet of office space in central Rosslyn. The lease extends over two buildings, with one of the buildings also housing a private State Department contractor. [Washington Business Journal]

Update: W-L Expected to Reopen Next Week — Washington-Lee High School is expected to reopen for summer school classes next week after an air conditioning issue closed the school this week. W-L’s summer school classes were temporarily moved to Yorktown High School this week. [Arlington Public Schools]

‘Capital Bikeshare Fiesta’ in Nauck — “Arlington’s Dieta Cero-Auto program will be promoting Capital Bikeshare this Saturday at Drew Sprayground (3514 22nd Street S.) from 2-5 p.m. Stop by and purchase your CaBi membership for 50% off!” [Event Calendar]

Discovery Named ‘Green Ribbon School’ — “Discovery Elementary School is being recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School… Discovery is one of 45 schools being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.” [Arlington Public Schools]

by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Summer school classes have been canceled at Washington-Lee High School today due to an air conditioning failure.

The failure was caused by damage inflicted by a power outage Friday afternoon, following strong storms that rolled through the area, according to Arlington Public Schools.

Repairs are underway but it is as-yet uncertain whether classes will resume Tuesday.

More from APS:

APS is cancelling high school summer classes on Mon, July 17, due to inadequate air conditioning inside Washington-Lee High School. Last Friday, July 14, a power outage occurred at the school following strong thunderstorms in the area. The power outage caused temporary damage to the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems in the building and resulted in no air conditioning throughout the building over the weekend.

APS Facilities and Operations have been working through the weekend to resolve the issue, but will not be able to restore the system to full operation by tomorrow. We are working with the principal and teachers who will ensure students are able to complete work that is missed during this time. Tomorrow, we will provide a school operations and status update for Tuesday, July 18.  We thank you for your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.

Photo (top) via Google Maps

by Chris Teale July 13, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will look to temporarily add more space to try to cope with its rising enrollment by adding temporary classrooms and making interior adjustments at several schools.

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on a slew of proposals across eight schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels at its meeting Saturday (July 15). The temporary solutions are all recommended for approval by county staff, as “student enrollment is growing at a faster rate than APS can provide new schools and classrooms.”

Some are looking to add more temporary, trailer classrooms — known in APS parlance as “relocatables” — while others will make interior adjustments to add more space.

The following schools are applying to add relocatables:

The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:

Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps

by Brooke Giles July 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School are set to be replaced in the next year.

The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday (July 15) on a plan to replace the fields with synthetic turf. Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a report that the current fields are “worn beyond reasonable repair.”

For the past eight years, the turf fields at TJ have been used in the neighborhood and for scheduled use by affiliated sports leagues and school programs.

The upgrades at the field are part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program, aimed at replacing heavily-used natural grass fields. Currently, there are 15 synthetic turf fields in Arlington, although the move to add more has come in for some criticism from some.

In addition to the new turf, the fields would get new corner flags and goals for soccer games, as well as new bleachers.

The upgrades would coincide with the construction of the county’s new elementary school on the west end of the site, and staff said Arlington Public Schools will plan out activities with the two projects in mind.

APS will share the cost of the upgrades with the county. Just under $475,000 would be spent on the new field, with an extra $47,000 held as a contingency.

by ARLnow.com July 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rough Day on the Roads — An already rain-soaked Thursday was made worse after a tree fell across the eastbound lanes of I-66, blocking the highway during the morning rush hour. Later, the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway were closed near the Key Bridge due to a crash. [WJLA, Washington Post]

Running of the Bulls Viewing Party — New Spanish restaurant Pamplona in Clarendon is hosting its first annual Running of the Bulls viewing party on Saturday. [Facebook]

Arlington Helps Out With Falls Church Graduation — Arlington voluntarily shifted its high school graduation schedule to help Falls Church’s George Mason High School get a graduation ceremony spot at D.A.R. Constitution Hall last month. [InsideNova]

Nearby: Affordable Housing Decline in Alexandria — There was a 90 percent drop in affordable housing units in Alexandria between 2000 and 2017 and the decline is likely to continue without the construction of more dedicated affordable units. [WAMU]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com July 3, 2017 at 8:00 am 0

Superintendent Gets New Contract — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has received a new four-year contract after a 3-2 vote by the Arlington School Board on Thursday. “We need stability and strength,” said School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, who voted ‘yes’ with James Lander and Tannia Talento. “We have a lot of issues we have to deal with. Dr. Murphy has gotten the job done.” [InsideNova]

APS Medicaid Reimbursement — Arlington Public Schools received a much lower reimbursement from Medicaid for the 2015-2016 school year than neighboring jurisdictions like Alexandria and Fairfax County. [Arlington County Taxpayers Association]

Fisette: Schools Are Not the Only Priority — Last week, at his final State of the County address and during a work session, retiring Arlington County Board member addressed the capacity crunch facing Arlington Public Schools. Fisette suggested predictions of the student population reaching 40,000 are “not accurate,” said APS needs to find ways to trim per-student spending and said APS priorities must be weighed with the needs of other interest groups. [InsideNova]

by Chris Teale June 30, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will add 1,300 high school seats across the Education Center and the Career Center after the School Board approved the so-called “hybrid option” at its meeting Thursday.

The option, put forward by Superintendent Patrick Murphy last month, would add 500-600 seats to a renovated Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) by 2022, then add another 700-800 at the Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive), which would get a renovation and an addition. The County Board denied a request to designate the Education Center as a historic district last month.

Murphy’s proposal had not been among the original short list of three finalists for the new high school site, but Board members said it would balance the need for more seats with limited building space, and make use of what already exists.

“We cannot allow this Ed Center site to lie fallow,” said Board member Reid Goldstein. “We go to the County Board every year and we tell them we need more: we need more money; we need more land. I’m a taxpayer too. We cannot have a site that could hold students going unused.”

By December, Murphy must also provide a list of recommendations for the Education Center, including its cost, any boundary changes needed and educational programming. He must make similar recommendations for the Career Center no later than May 2018.

In addition to their vote in favor of the plan, Board members directed Murphy to include options for a fourth comprehensive high school, including programming, cost and location, in APS’ 2019-2028 capital budget. Arlington currently has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Wakefield and Yorktown.

“It’s not a blank slate,” said Board chair Nancy Van Doren. “We have eight points we want answers to, we have a finite amount of money and we have a vision that says we’re going to need to potentially add onto those and make them into something even greater going forward. So we want to leave our options open, and one thing I think we’ve learned to do is not create buildings that aren’t flexible.”

The Board voted 4-1 in favor of the plan, with James Lander the lone dissenting vote. He said the plan was not the best use of the space at the Career Center, had safety concerns around traffic on S. Walter Reed Drive and worries about locating high school students close to Patrick Henry Elementary School.

“If you know someone with 40 acres in Arlington who is willing to sell to the school system, I would be happy to negotiate that,” Lander said. “Until then, we have to utilize the space effectively that we have now, and we have to think about what our needs could be potentially down the road. I think this site could be better used than just 600 seats.”

The perceived lack of consultation with nearby residents on the new option came in for some criticism during public testimony. Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association, urged the Board to delay their vote to explore the hybrid model further.

“We feel disappointed in the way the solution came about because we don’t feel like we were presented with the various scenarios and had an opportunity on what would affect us greatly,” she said.

Goldstein raised similar concerns with the way the fourth option came forward, and challenged his colleagues to think about how they continue engaging with the community even as new ideas come forward late in the game.

“How do we do idea changes or option changes in a project like this when there isn’t enough time to extend the community engagement process?” he asked.

Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen said APS intends to get “right back out there” in the fall to begin discussing the new schools, and may look at convening something similar to the South Arlington Working Group that helped site a new elementary school.

“After tonight, we’re proceeding with two projects, and I’m excited about both of them, the Ed Center project, the Career Center site, but it’s no longer a hybrid,” Kanninen said. “These are two projects, just like we have several other projects on the books.”

by ARLnow.com June 28, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

APS Tells Staff to Stop Paying Sales Tax — As a public institution Arlington Public Schools is exempt from paying sales tax, but the school system’s internal auditor has found that some staff members have been placing orders for APS via Amazon without sales tax exempted. APS has since requested sales tax refunds for those orders. [InsideNova]

Arlington Resident Cited for Boating Incident — An Arlington man has been cited for operating a vessel while impaired after his 28-foot boat ran aground off the eastern shore of Maryland, south of Ocean City. [WMDT]

Notable Rivercrest Property Sold — A home and an adjacent vacant lot have been sold near the intersection of Military Road and N. Glebe Road in the Rivercrest neighborhood. The lot was the site of a “national debate over property rights and conformity,” when in 1969 an architect started to build a custom home on the lot but was ultimately stopped after a legal challenge by neighbors, who thought the home was ugly and would not “retain the very pleasant, beautiful nature of Rivercrest.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Flipper: Selling Home to the County Was a Pain — A real estate investor has penned a piece for the Post in which he recounts the sale of one of his properties to Arlington County. The sale, of a house near Fire Station 8, was “neither lucrative nor convenient” and was more trouble than it was worth, he writes. However, the owner of a run-down property next to his received a much better price by holding out, the piece suggests. [Washington Post]

Mouthwash on Clarendon Bus Stop — Updating the saga of the stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop, the deodorant has now been joined by an errant bottle of Listerine mouthwash. [ARLnow]

by ARLnow.com June 23, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

Widening of W&OD Trail Studied — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is considering a proposal to widen the W&OD Trail in parts of Arlington, Falls Church and Fairfax County. The proposal also calls for separating pedestrians and cyclists along the widened portions of trail. [The Wash Cycle]

Stormy Weather Expected Over the Next 24 Hours — The remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy are expected to bring heavy rain and scattered storms to the area between now and Saturday morning. Most of the rain is expected to fall early Saturday. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Lawmakers Confronted at DCA — Protesters confronted lawmakers returning home to their districts at Reagan National Airport yesterday. They were protesting against the proposed GOP health care bill, holding signs like “don’t take away our healthcare” and “Medicaid matters.” [The Hill]

Middle School Students Burning Books — Yesterday, on the last day of middle school in Arlington, the fire department was called for a report of middle school students burning books in a field. An ACFD spokesperson could not be reached for additional information. [Twitter]

Last Day of School — High school is already out and the Class of 2017 has held its graduation ceremonies. Middle school ended yesterday. Today elementary students will have their last half-day before Arlington Public Schools is officially on summer break until Tuesday, Sept. 5. [Arlington Public Schools]

by Chris Teale June 16, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated 11:30 a.m.) Almost 300 Wakefield High School students had to re-take a Standards of Learning test after staff discovered what they described as an “irregularity” during testing.

A letter to parents from Wakefield principal Chris Willmore said that on May 30 and 31, students had to move examination rooms after two-and-a-half hours of taking a test that does not have a time limit.

But, Willmore said, some students began talking while moving to the new testing area. Willmore said staff immediately reported what happened to the Virginia Department of Education, but a VDOE spokesman challenged that assertion and said it was reported after regular business hours on June 8. VDOE decided earlier this week that students had to re-sit.

Those re-sits took place yesterday and today. An Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman said around 280 students were affected.

Willmore’s full letter is below.

Dear Wakefield Families:

I am writing to let you know about an irregularity that we experienced during Standards of Learning (SOL) testing a week ago that affects your student. As you may know, some SOL tests have no time limits which means students may take as long as they need to complete the test. During SOL testing on May 30 and 31, some students needed more than the two and a half hours that had been scheduled in the rooms where they were taking tests. Although the state allows schools to move students to another location when this occurs, we experienced some talking among students while they were moving. Because talking is not allowed when students are regrouped, the APS staff who were serving as the Wakefield testing monitors immediately reported this “testing irregularity” to the APS Office of Planning and Evaluation staff who alerted the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) as required.

Although this was reported to VDOE a week ago, we did not learn until yesterday afternoon that the state has decided to void all of the student scores for these tests because of the irregularity. This means that your student is among the group of students who will need to retake an SOL test.

The SOL retakes will be given on Thursday and Friday this week. Students will be informed by their classroom teacher today about the retake. For those students who have a final exam during the time when they need to retake the SOL test, they will be excused from their final exam and their final grade will be calculated using the fourth marking period grades. Also, because Friday is an early release day, for those students who need more time, regular transportation will be available in the afternoon at our normal dismissal time.

Finally and most importantly, I want to sincerely apologize to all of our Wakefield students and families for this error. We have had an amazing year with great progress and achievement and I regret that we have experienced this mistake during our administration of some tests this year. Please know that we will do everything possible to support our students and help them finish the year successfully.

Sincerely,

Chris Willmore, Principal

In a second letter sent Thursday, Willmore took full responsibility, and urged parents not to contact VDOE with their concerns, but him.

Willmore wrote:

Yesterday, we learned that Wakefield parents and staff have been contacting VDOE about the need to retest some students.  I need to urge you again to instead direct your concerns to me.  For those I have already spoken with, I appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts and feelings about what has happened.

In the end, Wakefield is required to follow the procedures set in place for all schools by the state and, unfortunately, that did not happen this year. I want to assure everyone that we will implement a corrective action plan so we learn from this year’s testing difficulties and can ensure that this type of irregularity does not occur again.

An anonymous tipster said students that needed to re-take the tests had been put at a significant disadvantage, and they called on the Virginia Department of Education to let their scores stand.

“They’ve been away from the subject for two-three weeks, putting them at a distinct disadvantage,” the tipster wrote. “Someone should put pressure on the state to let the scores stand.”

The APS spokeswoman said an irregularity during a test can be defined in any number of ways, and that staff are trained to report anything that happens.

“[A] ‘testing irregularity’ is anything that happens outside the norm,” the spokeswoman said. “A student getting sick and throwing up during the test is an ‘irregularity’ and test scores are thrown out by the state for the class. Same thing if there’s a fire alarm or power outage. We have monitors in all schools during testing who must share anything that occurs with our head of testing and, then our head of testing reports that to the state.”

by Kalina Newman June 13, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will begin to mark the end of the 2017 school year over the next week with graduation and promotion ceremonies.

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for the following times and places.

  • Arlington Career Center PEP (Friday, June 16, 10 a.m. in the Career Center)
  • Stratford (Friday, June 16, 1 p.m. in the H-B Woodlawn auditorium)
  • Arlington Career Center GED (Friday, June 16,  7 p.m. in the Washington-Lee High School little theatre)
  • New Directions (Monday, June 19, 11 a.m., Arlington Central Library)
  • H-B Woodlawn (Tuesday, June 20, 5 p.m., H-B Woodlawn cafeteria)
  • Comprehensive high schools (Wednesday, June 21, DAR Constitution Hall – Washington-Lee at 10 a.m., Yorktown at 2 p.m., Wakefield at 8 p.m.)
  • Arlington Community High School (Thursday, June 22, 9:30 a.m., Washington-Lee auditorium)
  • Langston Continuation Program (Thursday, June 22, 1 p.m., Washington-Lee auditorium)

The last day of school for APS is as follows.

  • Tuesday, June 20: High schools
  • Thursday, June 22: Middle schools (promotion ceremonies that day)
  • Friday, June 23: Elementary schools (a number also have celebrations that day)

The first day of school for the next school year is Tuesday, Sept. 5.

by Brooke Giles June 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools parents and teachers remain divided over the county’s one-to-one technology initiative ahead of possible revisions to the school system’s strategic plan later this year.

The rollout of the program began during the 2014-2015 school year and provides iPads for elementary and middle school students, Macbook Air laptops for high school students. The hope was that every student attending an Arlington school would have a device by 2017.

Prior to the program teachers had to check out laptops for assignments that were based online, or reserve computer lab space. In some cases, students had to pair up to complete assignments.

One middle school parent said that although her children have access to technology at home, the program is the county’s “best option” for those who don’t — helping to level the playing field for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Attended by parents and teachers, the conversation was focused on how the technology is impacting the classroom. The main concerns for many parents were how teachers could balance the use of the technology with traditional learning and how parents could monitor how their child is using their device.

Jennifer Burgin, a second grade teacher at Oakridge Elementary School, shared how her students used their iPads to identify real deer teeth samples. When the assignment was over, the devices were replaced with pencil and paper. 

“iPads are not meant to replace me, instead they help unleash me,” said Burgin. “As I learn more about deeper learning practices and ensuring equity for all my learners, I use iPads to my advantage when they benefit all learners.”

Several middle school teachers said that the technology makes their students more interested in learning, allowing them to research additional information or record and re-watch their teacher explaining challenging concepts.

Some parents, however, wanted to know what is being done to protect children from the dangers of the internet, with some saying there needs to be a county-wide policy on the use of the devices.

While there are schools that have blocked apps and have teachers conducting spot checks on student devices, parents said that there are still students who get in trouble for breaking the classroom guidelines. One anonymous parent alleged there is a culture of students using their iPads for inappropriate content. 

“I can tell you that if a child is reported to have inappropriate content, their iPad is checked and if the content is there, the iPad is taken away from the child,” she said. “But that is a Band-Aid on instance on a much wider systemic problem.”

The one group that was absent from the meeting were parents of high schoolers. The older students got laptops instead of tablets because of their heavier course load and lengthier assignments.

“[Now] that students have laptops — which they have by and large learned to bring to class, charged, every day — [it] has facilitated a sea-change in how I deliver instruction,” said Doug Burns, an English teacher at Wakefield High School. He said that an effective lesson plan helps keep students from misusing their devices.

Some suggestions for a more cohesive program included a training program for both teachers and parents, and placing more restrictions on the devices.

“If they would have thought about curriculum, investigated helpful apps, locked down the iPads to only those apps, not provide Safari, and train the teachers prior to rollout, the iPad initiative could have been much more successful,” said one parent.

APS is set to revisit its strategic plan for the devices later this year.

by ARLnow.com June 6, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

Criticism of School Drug Searches — The Arlington School Board last week heard public criticism of a new initiative to conduct K-9 drug searches after hours at Arlington’s public high schools. Despite talk of a drug problem in local schools, one activist said of the K-9 plan: “I don’t think it is reasonable.” [InsideNova]

Economic Segregation at APS — Arlington Public Schools is just below the threshold of “hypersegregation” in a new study of de facto economic segregation in public schools. Neighboring districts like Alexandria and Fairfax score well below Arlington on the “hypersegregation index,” though Prince William scores just above Arlington and is above the level considered hypersegregation. [Center for American Progress]

County Honors ‘Women of Vision’ — Arlington County’s 2017 Women of Vision honorees have been announced: emergency preparedness advocate Jackie Snelling, Washington Business Journal Editor-at-Large Jennifer Nycz-Conner and La Cocina VA founder and CEO Patricia Funegra. Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women also honored former Arlington School Board member Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez with a lifetime achievement award. [Arlington County]

Backyard Chickens Blamed for Salmonella — There have been eight salmonella outbreaks sickening more than 370 people this year due to contact with backyard or pet poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Arlington, backyard chickens are legal for only a handful of residents with very large backyards. In 2013, after dueling lobbying campaigns by chicken enthusiasts and opponents, Arlington’s county manager recommended against allowing more residents to keep egg-laying hens. [Washington Post]

Delta Experimenting With Biometrics at DCA — Delta is experimenting with a biometric identification system at Reagan National Airport. For now, the system is only being used by members of both CLEAR and Delta’s Skymiles program to enter the airline’s Sky Club lounge. If all goes well, in Phase 2 members will also be able to use their fingerprint to check a bag and board a flight. [Delta]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale June 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board members clashed Thursday over an attempt to add language encouraging more diversity in Arlington Public Schools.

The Board was discussing the new enrollment and transfer policy around neighborhood and option schools. The policies have been rewritten to help APS keep up with steep growth.

The revised policies are designed so students could have equal access to an option school with a more specialized curriculum, while also guaranteeing students a place in their neighborhood school.

The new policies will go into effect for the 2018/19 school year, with siblings able to attend the same school at the elementary level if one already attends.

But an effort by Board member Reid Goldstein to add new language that says the policy “will include steps to enhance diversity across our option schools and through our neighborhood transfer practices” got the cold shoulder from his colleagues.

Goldstein said steps that could be taken to enhance diversity could include looking at new options around transportation, to enable a better mix of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

He also said that higher-income families could thus be encouraged to attend schools where there are more lower-income students and families.

But Tannia Talento said Goldstein’s efforts represented “microaggressions,” the casual degradation of those less fortunate than others.

“While I support diversity, I think diversity is a great thing, it’s very hard for me to sit here and listen to some of this, because there are some things in here that I feel are microaggressions that I’m offended by,” Talento said.

Later, Talento added that previously, she has been seen as the “token Latino” and “token woman” in various settings. Any conversation about enhancing diversity should include all affected communities and be part of a robust public engagement process, she said.

Goldstein said his efforts were focused on helping the county and APS improve its diversity, given what he said are major disparities across the system.

“This should be a call to action for a community that so vociferously hails its diversity and proudly proclaims how diverse and inclusive it is,” he said. “And yet, outside of our vision state and our core values, APS’ definable steps to achieve diversity are scarce.”

But James Lander rejected that, and the idea that the income of fellow students’ families could be a determining factor for where people want to send their children to school.

“It’s been my experience that families choose instructional programs, not how much money their neighbors make, to determine what is the best instructional journey for their children,” Lander said. “I want to bring this back to instruction, because that’s important.”

The board voted down Goldstein’s plan, 3-2. Chair Nancy van Doren said that not only did she believe it was making an attempt at “forcing” or “incentivizing” diversity, it was too late in the process to introduce such an amendment. The Board then unanimously approved the new transfer policy, despite opposition from some parents.

by ARLnow.com June 1, 2017 at 9:55 am 0

There have been 18 drug arrests on public school grounds in Arlington so far in 2017.

That’s according to the Arlington County Police Department, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. ACPD has thus far not provided additional details about the nature of the arrests, the suspects or the schools involved.

The new statistic comes as ACPD starts conducting K-9 drug searches after hours in Arlington public high schools.

Current and former students, who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity, said there is drug problem within the school system.

“Over the past two years or so, I have definitely seen an increase in drug usage among high school students, particularly Xanax and Adderall,” said one recent graduate. “If I had to place blame on one thing, I would say that stress is what’s driving most kids towards drug use, but particularly Xanax and Adderall. The stress problem is really something that APS needs to get out in front of sooner rather than later.”

A current junior at Yorktown High School said the issue extends beyond prescription drugs.

“Yorktown definitely has a drug problem,” she said. “So many people have started getting into cocaine and a lot of the other harder drugs and many of them don’t even think much of it just because they see it around so often. It’s definitely considered ‘cool’ to be into that sort of thing, which is why I think so many kids are drawn to it.”

“There’s not much else to do so a lot of people do for fun,” said a recent graduate. “I don’t think people really think of themselves as addicts.”

“The middle schools are the worst,” said a senior. “Kids have older siblings that are in high school and are able to sell to the younger students. It’s a cycle.”

In a prior statement, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman said APS is taking steps to combat drug use, adding that the problem is part of a larger trend that extends well beyond Arlington.

“As you know, substance abuse and opioid use is a growing problem both in our region and across the US,” said Frank Bellavia. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we are taking steps to make sure that our students are safe and that our schools remain drug free. We also want to make sure that parents are aware and having conversations with their children at home.”

Kalina Newman and Brooke Giles contributed reporting. File photo.

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