Arlington, VA

Schools may be closed, but Arlington PTAs have stepped up and supported local families in their school communities through the coronavirus pandemic.

At K.W. Barrett Elementary School in the Buckingham neighborhood, the school PTA has gone through two rounds of grocery gift card distribution to families in need.

“To date, we have distributed a total of $19,500 worth of grocery gift cards for Harris Teeter, Safeway and Giant,” Melanie Jones and Will Le, representing the Barrett PTA, said in an email. “In the first round (in early April), we distributed or mailed out $8,350 in $50 grocery gift cards (128 distributed; 39 mailed to families). In the second round (in early May), we distributed or mailed out $11,150 in $50 grocery gift cards (203 distributed; 20 mailed to families).”

The PTA has also distributed 275 school supply kits, paid from PTA funds totaling $1982.

The pair said in the email the PTA has received a total of $25,235 in donations and gift card contributions from families and friends and through the One Pantry at a Time GoFundMe set up by Arlington teachers.

The PTA’s goal is to do another gift card distribution in early to mid-June.

“Based on our past distribution (and with $5,735 and 40 gift cards to work with) we believe that another round of $50 grocery gift card distribution will require an additional $4,000 of donations,” the pair said.

Additional donations can be made to the PTA’s efforts through:

  • PayPal to [email protected] (with the note “gift cards for Barrett families” and sent as friend and family)
  • Venmo to @Melanie-Jones-10
  • Givebutter, though donations here have a fee
  • Gift cards donated to the Barrett PTA in $50 denominations.

The Barrett parents said the plan is to shift towards the distribution of groceries and other items of need rather than gift cards. This would require more volunteers and logistical support, but Jones and Le said it would be less costly and let the PTA utilize their own funding.

Other school PTAs have been organizing similar efforts.

The PTA for Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington has raised over $14,000 for rent relief to help 34 local families. The goal is an additional $28,000 to help cover the families’ rent.

“We have heard that families are being threatened with eviction, despite the governor’s stay on evictions,” the PTA said on the donation page. “Our goal is to have rent covered for these families through June. We would like to provide rent relief for families as soon as possible.   When you pledge to make a contribution, a volunteer will get in touch with you via email within 24 hours regarding details. Checks will be written directly to property managers or landlords.

Emily Vincent, Vice President for Communications for the County Council of PTAs in Arlington, said these PTAs are continuing their missions to help their communities despite school being closed for the rest of the academic year. Such efforts are on top of Arlington Public Schools’ meal distribution program for families in need.

“Despite Arlington County’s wealth, a significant portion of our families experience economic difficulties,” Vincent noted in an emailed statement to ARLnow. “As of October 2019, 8,083 students (29% of the APS student body) qualified for free or reduced meals (FARM). Of those, 6,376 qualified for free meals, which means that their family is living on less than $36,000 a year.”

Vincent’s full statement is below.

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Morning Notes

Three COVID Cases at Pentagon City Apartment — “Three residents of the largest apartment building in Arlington — The Bartlett owned by JBG Smith Properties — have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to messages sent to Bartlett tenants.” [Washington Business Journal]

Elton John Tweets About Barrett Elementary Video — “The staff at @BarrettAPS recorded their own music video to @TaronEgerton’s version of ‘I’m Still Standing’ and it’s so much fun!” [Twitter]

Library Launches ‘Quaranzine’ — “Liz Laribee, the programs and partnerships librarian at Arlington Public Library, says she thinks in puns. So, when the word ‘quaranzine’ popped into her head a little over a week ago, it gave her an idea. On April 3, the library published the first issue of Quaranzine, a weekly online collection of works by local artists responding to the coronavirus pandemic.” [DCist, Arlington Public Library]

Dems See Few Refund Requests After Event Cancelled — “Arlington County Democratic Committee leaders say the party did not take a big financial hit due to the cancellation of its Blue Victory Dinner, which traditionally brings in about a third of operating revenue for county Democrats each year. ‘We had very few folks ask for refunds,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said… Democratic leaders offered those, who were willing to let the party keep the ticket prices, access to an online event.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Accepting Donations of Food But Not Supplies — “Thank you all for the generosity. You are amazing!! We have have been getting a lot of questions about donating PPE (masks, gloves, respirators, etc). At this time we are NOT collecting any supplies.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

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Virginia schools may be closed for the rest of the academic year, but Barrett Elementary staff members haven’t gone anywhere.

That’s the message from a new music video uploaded to YouTube last night, featuring teachers dancing in their homes and yards to a cover of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.”

“Check out this amazing video that our music teacher put together to bring some smiles to our students and their families,” Marissa Mulholland, a special education teacher at the school, told ARLnow. “It was so fun to be a part of this video… almost like music therapy for us teachers!”

Arlington’s public schools are still educating students via online distance learning, though curriculums have been pared back and standardized tests cancelled.

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It’s T-minus 15 hours until voting closes on a contest for students to name NASA’s next Mars rover.

One of the submission happens to be from an Arlington fourth grader.

Barrett Elementary student Oliver (a last name was not provided) submitted a name that has become a finalist in the contest: ENDURANCE.

Here’s what Oliver wrote about the name in an essay:

“Endurance” is the right name for the Mars 2020 Rover. The Endurance was the ship of Ernest Shackleton, a great leader and one of the first Antarctic explorers. Antarctica and Mars both have a harsh and unforgiving surface and environment. The Endurance was on a scientific mission, just like Mars 2020. No matter what went wrong, Shackleton stuck with it. I know the NASA team will do the same for the Mars 2020 mission.

I think about space all the time. I love watching NASA TV. My favorite events were New Horizons, ISS space walks, and the Mars Insight landing. My school was the first NASA Explorer School in the state of Virginia.

Shackleton’s journey inspired kids to explore over a century ago, but “Endurance” needs a second chance to survive! Today, we are so excited for Mars exploration and soon, the first human to step foot on Mars.

Oliver’s was among more than 28,000 essays submitted. Other finalists include CLARITY, TENACITY, INGENUITY, VISION, PROMISE, PERSEVERANCE, FORTITUDE, and COURAGE.

Voting closes at midnight tonight.

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Morning Notes

Fundraiser for Family in Need — Money is being raised online for an Arlington woman and her two school-aged sons after her husband — their dad — passed away from stomach cancer. The De Leon Ordonez family was very active with the Barrett Elementary School community, volunteering “countless hours of time and energy” to the school and the PTA. “Please donate to help them get back on their feet,” wrote Del. Patrick Hope. [YouCaring, Twitter]

Tenant-Landlord Guidelines Changed — “County Board members on May 22 approved revisions to the guidelines that developers either can or must follow – depending on the specific circumstance – if they are renovating residential properties and displacing tenants in the process. The revisions… will provide many tenants with more notice and, in some cases, higher relocation payments if they find themselves displaced.” [InsideNova]

Turtle Causes Flight Delay at DCA — A flight from Reagan National Airport to Chicago had its departure delayed a few minutes due to a turtle on the runway. [WUSA 9]

Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Profiled — WaPo has published another profile of an Arlington neighborhood and this time around it’s the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just south of the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations. The neighborhood’s civic association president said the neighborhood is “concerned about increased density” from development, “want it reasonable” and “open to affordable housing and diversity.” [Washington Post]

County May Hold Discussion of School Construction Costs — “Members of the [Arlington County] government’s audit committee are seeking to hold a summertime discussion of the high costs of Arlington school construction, hoping to piggyback on a report due out in coming weeks from the school system’s auditor. The audit committee has ‘made overtures’ to school officials about holding a joint community forum – date and place still undetermined – to discuss the findings of the report.” [InsideNova]

Ribbon Cutting for New Crystal City Office — Helicopter manufacturer Bell has opened a new office — its “Advanced Vertical Lift Center” — in Crystal City. A ribbon cutting was reportedly held yesterday. The new office “is designed for the company’s military customers, partners and policy makers to ‘interact with technology that is defining the future of vertical lift.'” [Rotor & Wing]

Photo courtesy Jeremy Galliani

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Morning Notes

Arlington Doctor Sentenced in Poisoning Case — Arlington doctor Sikander Imran was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, with 17 years suspended, for slipping pills into his pregnant girlfriend’s tea, causing her to lose the unborn baby. The now ex-girlfriend pleaded for leniency during the sentencing. [WJLA, New York Daily News]

Miniature Horses Could Be Allowed at Schools — “A new policy defining the rights and responsibility of those – students, staff or visitors – wishing to bring service animals into schools would allow for dogs and miniature horses… schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told the Sun Gazette there are no miniature horses used as service animals in the school system at the moment.” [InsideNova]

Powhatan Skate Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a $1.87 million contract to overhaul the Powhatan Springs Skate Park, the only such park in Arlington. “This well-loved skate park is in need of a makeover to address crumbling concrete conditions,” said Chair Katie Cristol. “The result will be a safer park that both kids and adults in Arlington who are passionate about skateboarding, inline skating and BMX cycling can enjoy for years to come.” [Arlington County]

Residents Protest Amazon at County Board Meeting — Several public speakers at Saturday’s County Board meeting spoke out against the prospect of Amazon’s second headquarters coming to Arlington. They held signs saying “No Amazon” and decried the company’s “brutal working conditions” and “culture of toxic masculinity,” among other things. [Blue Virginia]

Walter Reed Drive Project Green Lit — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $1.8 million contract to A & M Concrete Corporation to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections on a short but critical segment of South Walter Reed Drive, between South Four Mile Run Drive and South Arlington Mill Drive. The project will provide safer connections between two of Arlington’s busiest trails: Washington & Old Dominion and Four Mile Run.” [Arlington County]

Trees Fall During Heavy Rain — A number of trees around the area fell late last week after a record-breaking stretch of heavy rain. Among the trees to topple was a large one that fell on a home on the 2100 block of N. Vernon Street and injured one person. [Twitter, Washington Post]

Lubber Run Farmers Market OKed — “Field to Table, Inc., an Arlington-based non-profit organization, won the County Board’s approval today to open the Lubber Run Farmer’s Market in the parking lot at Barrett Elementary School, 4401 Henderson Road. The market is expected to open in late May.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Train Derailment in Alexandria — A large contingent of emergency personnel responded to the CSX tracks near Port City Brewing in Alexandria Saturday morning for a freight train that had derailed. About 30 cars came off the tracks but no injuries or hazardous spills were reported. [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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An open air market is coming to Barrett Elementary School in Buckingham, pending an Arlington School Board vote on its license agreement tonight.

The market would be run by Field To Table, Inc., the same nonprofit that operates the Westover Farmers Market, and would pay an annual fee of $200 to use the property.

Proposed operating hours are 8 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturdays from April to November, with the nonprofit being responsible for premise clean up by 1 p.m. School board document do not list the exact start date of the market.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s office has recommended that the school board approve the license agreement at its monthly meeting tonight (March 22).

The market is expected to be called the Lubber Run Farmers Market which, according to a newsletter for the Arlington Forest neighborhood, will “avoid some of the negatives of other suggested names.”

Additional volunteers are being sought to help out with the market, the newsletter says, adding that it will be “an exciting addition to the neighborhood community bringing together residents from Arlington Forest and neighboring areas to enjoy shopping for fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, bread and so on.”

Vendors for a farmers market at Barrett are not yet listed, but current vendors at the Westover Farmers Market include Baltimore’s Dimitri Olive Farms, Woodbridge’s Gina’s Pacific Jams and Jellies, and Arlington’s Mormor Crepes.

File photo

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(Updated 6/17/17) A Barrett Elementary School student was struck and injured by a driver in front of the school, just after dismissal Friday.

The crash happened shortly after 3 p.m. along N. George Mason Drive. The student was assisted by crossing guards and parents after being struck by the vehicle, before medics arrived.

The student’s injuries are being described as non-life-threatening, but the student was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital and police investigators briefly photographed the scene.

Part of N. George Mason Drive was blocked during the emergency response.

On Saturday, a police spokeswoman said no charges would be filed as a result of the crash.

“The investigation determined that the juvenile entered the intersection of N. George Mason Drive at N. Henderson Road against the traffic signal and was struck by a vehicle,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The driver of the vehicle remained on scene. The juvenile was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No charges are pending.”

Barrett principal Dan Redding sent the following email to parents about the crash.

I am writing to provide information regarding a student pedestrian accident that occurred at dismissal time today, June 16, 2017. A Barrett student was struck by a vehicle at 4th Street and Henderson Street, and Police and EMS responded immediately. The injuries are not life-threatening, and the student has been transported to the hospital for treatment. Police are investigating the accident.

This is an opportunity to remind families to review safety procedures with their children, and to practice them when they walk, bike or ride the bus to school. As always, we are grateful for our amazing crossing guards and for the Barrett families who stopped to provide assistance.

Map via Google Maps

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Parents and teachers at Barrett Elementary have started a weekly outdoor library to encourage kids to keep reading during their vacation.

The program, Barret Book Blast, was created by the Family and Community Engagement committee at Barrett Elementary as a way to combat the seemingly inevitable “summer slide” in reading comprehension.

The outdoor library can be found every Friday from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. outside of the Gates of Ballston Community Center (4108 4th Street N.). At the weekly event, which is run by Barrett Elementary teachers on an entirely volunteer basis, neighborhood kids can check out up to three books or listen to a librarian from Arlington Public Library read some stories.

Barrett Elementary teacher Emily Sonenshine estimates that on June 19, the program’s second week, almost 65 children came by to check out books and visit their teachers. Sonenshine added that attendance at the weekly checkout hour has been consistently on the rise.

This Friday will mark the program’s fourth week. Sonenshine says the events are scheduled to continue through the summer, ending Aug. 28.

The books for the outdoor library were supplied by donations from Books for America and Donors Choose, as well as neighborhood donations.

Photos courtesy Emily Sonenshine and Jen Flores

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ACFD ambulance / advanced life support paramedic unit (file photo)(Updated at 11:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck by a car in front of Barrett Elementary School, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, this afternoon (Tuesday).

Initial reports suggest the pedestrian — a family member of a Barrett student — was crossing in the crosswalk at the intersection of George Mason Drive and N. Henderson Road when a car ran a red light and struck her.

The victim suffered injuries described as “minor.” A crossing guard came to her aid immediately following the collision, and she was alert and conscious when paramedics arrived, according to scanner traffic. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

In a message to parents, Barrett principal Dan Redding said that the victim was taken to a local hospital and police are investigating.

Dear Families –

I am writing to provide information regarding a pedestrian accident that occurred at dismissal time today, April 7, 2015. A family member of a Barrett student was crossing the street and following the directions of a crossing guard when a vehicle turned and struck her. Police and EMS responded immediately. The injuries did not appear immediately to be severe, but the pedestrian was transported to the hospital, and the driver did stop. Police are investigating the accident.

As always, we are grateful for our amazing crossing guards and for the Barrett families who stopped to provide assistance.

Sincerely,

Dan Redding

File photo

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) George Mason Drive is shut down between N. Henderson Road and Park Drive due to a single-vehicle wreck that knocked over a utility pole.

The crash happened around 1:00 p.m. A driver in a sedan lost control of her car while heading down George Mason, near Barrett Elementary School. The car flipped on its roof and knocked over a utility pole and active power lines.

An Arlington County Fire Department rescue squad helped to pull the woman out of the overturned vehicle while keeping clear of the power lines. She was transported to a local hospital but her injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. Initial reports suggest that alcohol might have been a factor in the crash.

The road is expected to remain closed while utility crews work to repair the pole and the lines.

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