The Department of Parks and Recreation’s online registration process is getting mixed reviews, as many frustrated parents were unable to sign their children up for their first choice classes.
Winter class registration began yesterday at 7 a.m. for gymnastics and 7:30 a.m. for all other classes. Shortly after, users took to the ARLnow comment section to share their thoughts on the process.
“I finally got to register for the class I wanted for my kid, which now had a wait list as large as the actual class,” one parent said. “I’m glad I spent almost as much time trying to register for a class that was full than my kid would have spent IN the class had I been able to register.”
“I had a fun morning waiting for pages to load, trying to figure out if I actually signed up for a class, and after about forty-five minutes of that, wound up with my son in fourteenth place on a wait list for one of the few weekend classes available,” another wrote. “Tons of weekday classes are available, but my wife and I have this thing called work that we must do in order to live here in Arlington.”
Though it’s the primary way for residents to register for classes, the online system isn’t the only way to do so.
Residents can either mail, deliver, or phone-in their forms to the registration office. Processing for mailed forms also began yesterday morning. However, delivered or phoned-in registrations won’t be accepted or processed until Dec. 16.
According to DPR Deputy Director Jennifer Fioretti, the department upgraded its online registration software in October and moved its hosting to an outside vendor in order to combat such issues. Technological problems have elicited widespread complaints from users in the past.
However, the new system did prove successful for some.
“Just registered for several classes and it was a breeze, on Chrome,” one user said. “Sorry it was tricky for you earlier, but it seems to be working great now. Much improved from the old software.”
In an e-mail, Fioretti apologized to those who experienced problems and explained what happened:
Registration days at the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) are certainly our busiest. This Wednesday, we experienced significant slowdowns that caused frustration to the public. We apologize for this inconvenience. By Wednesday afternoon, we processed more than 5,000 individual class registrations, which is consistent with past years.
DPR is always looking for ways to improve and streamline the customer experience. This October, we upgraded our registration software and moved the hosting services to an outside vendor. Post-upgrade, we had several small online registrations to test the new system (nature center classes, 55+ trips and classes), which were successful. We expected similar positive results for yesterday’s Enjoy Arlington class registration. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
DPR IT staff worked closely with the software vendor to monitor the Enjoy Arlington registration processes. The vendor reported that key performance indicators suggested that the servers could handle the projected volume. Despite this, our registration processing speed was very low. We began seeing issues with the system just as our gymnastic registration (starts as 7:00 a.m.) was slowing down and our online registration (starts at 7:30 a.m.) for all other programs was beginning. By mid-afternoon, the system appeared to be back to normal. We are analyzing yesterday’s entire registration process minute-by-minute to determine what caused these issues. Once we know, we will develop a plan to ensure it won’t happen again.
Although some popular classes and days/times are full, many classes still have availability. We encourage people to add their names to the waitlist, as we do have cancellations. If anyone has any questions or concerns they should contact DPR Registration on the web at registration.arlingtonva.us, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-228-4747.
For four consecutive Thursdays, starting Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m., prospective stand-up comedians can take a crash course in live comedy from library manager and comedian Kerby Valladares.
The classes are at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), and available for online registration. According to library spokesman Peter Golkin, “space is limited and seats are going fast.”
“You’ll learn how to shape your act, meet some local comics, get a feel for the area comedy scene and find out how to play to the audience,” the event listing says.
Each week, class will begin with an hour-long workshop before taking a field trip to the Comedy Spot in Ballston Common Mall for open mic night, starting at 7:30. The classes and shows are free.
Photo via Wikimedia
The classes, which are six weeknights and two weekends, begin on Sept. 11 (Thursday) and next Tuesday, Sept. 16. The classes are held at the new fire training academy in Shirlington (2800 S. Taylor Street).
The classes cover disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, fire suppression and utility shutoff, disaster psychology, terrorism, light search and rescue and team organization, according to Community Emergency Response Team volunteer coordinator Cythina Kellams. The session concludes with the trainees participating in a mock-disaster response.
“To date, more than 650 Arlingtonians have completed CERT training, many of whom have elected to be members of neighborhood teams available to assist the county in disasters,” Kellams wrote in an email. “Following the 2012 derecho, CERT members provided critical back-up to the county’s disabled 9-1-1 system.”
The classes are open to anyone who lives or works in Arlington and is 18 and older. If accompanied by a parent, 16- and 17-year-olds are also welcome. To secure one of the limited remaining spots, and for more information about class times, email ArlingtonCERT@gmail.com.
Photo courtesy Cynthia Kellams
Home Prices Fall — Arlington was the only jurisdiction in the D.C. metro area to see a drop in home prices last month. The median Arlington sales price in November was $498,500, down 2.1 percent from last year. [Washington Business Journal]
Big Difference Between ‘Near’ and ‘Next To’ Metro Stations — It’s no surprise that real estate closer to Metro stations is more valuable, but what may be surprising is for how high a price such properties can be sold. Looking at the five stations along the Orange Line’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — which is deemed one of the hot areas for development — researchers found that properties one-twentieth of a mile from a station (264 feet) can fetch more than a 30 percent premium over those just a quarter mile away. [Washington Post]
Winter Class Registration Begins — Online registration for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Enjoy Arlington winter classes began today at 7:00 a.m. Available class schedules can be viewed online. Call the Registration Office at 703-228-4747 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with any questions. [Arlington County]
Photo by Matt Henneman
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training instructs attendees on how to respond when an emergency occurs. The skills learned can be used in a variety of situations that could occur at home — including fires and medical emergencies — as well as community situations — such as terrorist attacks, hurricanes and tornadoes.
More than 600 Arlington residents have completed the training, and they are sometimes called upon by the county to assist when emergencies occur — like during last summer’s derecho storm.
Two fall sessions will be available, one beginning on September 12 and another on September 17. Each session includes eight classes. There is limited space and advanced registration is required by sending an email to ArlingtonCERT@gmail.com.
The classes are open to Arlington residents and those who work in the county but reside elsewhere. Participants must be at least 18 years of age, or 16 if accompanied by a parent. All classes meet at the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) Training Academy in Shirlington and are taught by ACFD and Office of Emergency Management staff, along with CERT members.
From fires to health scares to severe storms, emergencies can occur at any time and being prepared is key. Arlington County is offering free classes to train residents how to help themselves and others if an emergency occurs.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training began 10 years ago in Arlington and 575 residents have completed the program in that time. The hands-on training covers topics such as disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, fire suppression and terrorism.
One example of what CERT members do was evident last June during the derecho. Members assisted the community in various capacities immediately following the storm, often as points of contact when calls weren’t getting through to 911.
“We had people strategically posted at fire stations to dispatch the right help to where it was needed,” said Arlington County Office of Emergency Management Director Jack Brown. “The community response teams, CERT, they really stepped up to the plate.”
There are two training sessions scheduled for next month, one beginning on March 7 and the other on March 12. Each session includes eight classes which will meet on six weeknights and two Saturdays. All classes meet at the Arlington County Fire Department Training Academy in Shirlington and are taught by ACFD and Office of Emergency Management staff, as well as active duty CERT members.
Advance registration is required to participate in the classes, and there are still some spots left for the March training. Those interested should email the program’s volunteer coordinator, Cynthia Kellams, at ArlingtonCERT@gmail.com. Participants must be Arlington residents who are at least 18 years old.
Coming up with ideas for things to do throughout the summer isn’t always easy. But the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation has hundreds of classes available, and registration opens tomorrow, May 23.
Examples of active kids’ classes are swimming and tennis, creative classes include music and theater, and crafty classes include woodworking and ceramics. A wide range of activities is also available to adults, including knitting, various sports and gardening.
Although registration forms can also be mailed and faxed starting tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., and phoned or carried in starting on May 30, online registration is recommended to expedite the process.
Registration for those who are not residents of Arlington begins on June 6.
The course aims to address the unique needs women face with money management. Some of the topics covered include budgeting, insurance basics and investing.
“The premise of the program is that women have unique financial needs,” said Virginia Cooperative Extension Financial Counselor Jennifer Abel. “Women are more likely to leave the workforce to care for young children and the elderly. On average, they have lower life earnings and yet they live longer than men.”
Abel will teach the first session and bring in other certified financial planners for the following weeks.
The classes start on January 25 and run every Wednesday until February 22, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. There is an optional $25 fee for attendees who would like to purchase class materials. To register, email email@example.com or call 703-228-6417.
Registration for winter parks and recreation classes, popular with school-aged children, opened at 8:00 a.m. The registration website was beset by technical problems within 5 minutes of the opening, but was back up and working by 8:15 a.m., according to Arlington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
Even though the problems lasted less than 15 minutes, some parents — who rushed to register their children for classes before the classes filled up — weren’t pleased. Similar technical problems have plagued the class registration system in the past.
“Server crashes have happened repeatedly on the morning of class signup — to the frustration of parents across Arlington trying to sign their kids up for classes,” one parent told ARLnow.com.
Another tipster said that the timing of the registration opening — around the same time that kids are getting ready for school — has made things unnecessarily difficult for parents.
“The problem is that some of the classes fill up so fast and if you can’t get through by the time you do someone else has your class and you are wait listed,” the parent said. “Also try working on this with kids running around trying to get ready for school and climbing on you. Not easy. This happens every registration.”
Another source of frustration for some: this year’s class schedule erroneously listed the registration date as “Wednesday, Dec. 13.”
Kalish said the parks department is working with its technology vendor to identify the source of this morning’s problems. Despite the fact that online registration number have “increased significantly over the past few years,” Kalish said server capacity was likely not the culprit this year.
“In the past, the registration volume in the first 10-15 minutes of registration has taxed our servers,” Kalish said. “We addressed that issue prior to this registration cycle and our servers functioned well and were not at capacity this morning. We are working with the vendor to explore what else could be contributing to this issue.”
Kalish said today is one of the busiest days for class registration, though the first day of summer camp registration is usually the busiest.
Want to learn how to help your neighbors, co-workers or family in an emergency? If so, Arlington will be offering free emergency response training in March.
The training is part of the county’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
Recent news and weather headlines illustrate the importance of being prepared for and able to respond to all kinds of emergencies. That’s what Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is all about. This eight-session course, sponsored by the Arlington County Citizen Corps Council, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Fire Department (ACFD), covers disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, fire suppression and terrorism. It follows a FEMA/DHS curriculum being used around the globe.
To-date, over 480 individuals have completed CERT training in Arlington County. It is open to Arlington residents – and those who work in the County but reside elsewhere — who are at least 18 years of age (16 if accompanied by at least one parent) and able to participate in all aspects of the training, some of which requires lifting and carrying. The training is free, but participants are expected to acquire certain supplies themselves, many of which you probably already have on-hand. All classes meet at the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) Training Academy in Shirlington and are taught by ACFD and OEM staff and CERT members. Neighboring jurisdictions also offer CERT training for their residents.
Some complete this training simply to be safer in their own homes and workplaces. Others choose to complete additional requirements necessary to become active members of neighborhood teams trained to assist in major disasters. All help make Arlington County a safer place to live, work and play!
Spring CERT classes are scheduled to begin on March 16 and 22 and there are seats available in both that will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance registration is required. If you’d like additional information or would like to sign up, please contact the program’s volunteer coordinator, Cynthia Kellams, at ArlingtonCERT@aol.com.
Want to do more with your free time this winter? Tired of spending the cold weather months hibernating in your house or apartment with nothing productive to do?
Arlington’s parks and rec department has released its latest course catalog, with more than 250 options for exercising the mind and body.
New classes this term include:
- A Broadway Fitness class at the Madison Community Center
- Boxing 101 at the Barcroft Sports Center
- A “Flirty Girl Fitness” class, utilizing “the hottest dance moves, from the club scene to exotic dancing,” at the Barcroft Sports Center
- An advanced robotics course for ages 7-15 at the Madison Community Center
- A birdhouse building class at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center
- A voice training class at the Walter Reed Community Center
Online registration begins on Dec. 14. Find more information on the classes and the registration process here.
Now, DC’s top gay and lesbian (and “straight-friendly”) square dancing club is offering lessons in Arlington. On Saturdays starting on Oct. 9, the DC Lambda Squares club will teach you the fine art of spinning one’s partner round and round.
It’s a beginners class, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Lessons run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. A total of four classes will be held, on Oct. 9, 16, 30 and on Nov.6.
The classes are taught in the party room of the Barkley Condominiums at 1016 S. Wayne Street.
The $155 class fee covers club membership for a year and free registration for the Harvest Festival Hoedown, held from Nov. 12-14 in York, Pa.
For those who want to take the next step, plus-level classes will start on Nov. 20.
Anyone interested should email membership[at]dclambdasquares.org.
Photo via DC Lambda Squares
Do you have kids? Do they like robots? Of course they do, what kid doesn’t like robots. Let’s face it, those Transformer movies didn’t make millions of dollars off of Megan Fox Austin Green’s looks alone.
So it stands to reason that your kids would probably be thrilled to see some real-life robots in action this weekend. Good news: Anthony Nunez of local research firm Infamous Robotics is hosting a robot demonstration from noon to 2:00 p.m. Saturday at Central Library (1015 N. Quincy St.).
If you know a 7 to 12 year old who wants to get even more hands-on with robots, Nunez also teaches a Robots 101 class through the Arlington County Parks Department.
The next class is on Wednesday, Sept. 22. The class will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Madison Community Center (3829 N. Stafford St.).
“This introduction to robotics will help your child determine the two types of robots, important basic mechanical/electrical/software terms and concepts, how to use magnets in robot, common types of motors used in small robots and how to choose one, and ways to modify or use existing motors,” the class description reads. “Learn the initial steps needed to begin programming (algorithm, flow chart) and key electrical components. The class will discuss robots in foreign environments and challenges that occur, several common sensors and their applications, and what responsibilities a robotic engineer (electrical, mechanical and software).”
Once again, this class is for (smart) 7 to 12 year olds.