Arlington, VA

(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A powerful painting about immigration by a Yorktown High School student is now set to hang in the U.S. Capitol.

The art features two young children looking to the side with pinched expressions while one of them holds a sign that reads, “Bring Our Mom Back.”

The artist behind the work is 17-year-old Dominick Cocozza, who notes on his website that his passion for art began “at a very young age”.

Cocozza won the Congressional Art Competition, which seeks art from young makers each year and is judged by local art educators. The art can be any of several mediums, and the winning artwork is displayed for a year in the U.S. Capitol Building.

“For this particular piece I was inspired by “Immigrant Children” who have been separated from their families!” Cocozza told ARLnow in a social media message, referring to the painting’s name. “I want to illustrate this particular issue to inform my peers of this ongoing crucial conflict.

He added that he was adopted from Central America as a baby but that the painting doesn’t represent his experiences.

“I am honored to have my work displayed in the capitol and I hope it can spark understanding to my audience,” Cocozza said.

He says he painted the work as part of his AP Studio Art class at Yorktown. It was honored yesterday during a ceremony for competition which was held in the 8th District of Virginia this year.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) represents the district and told ARLnow he was proud to have Cocozza’s painting “Immigration” represent the district on Capitol Hill.

“His work expresses feelings many of my constituents share,” Beyer said. “It will make a strong impression on the members of Congress, staff, visitors, and tourists who pass it every day. I congratulate Dominick and Yorktown High School for this accomplishment, and thank the many talented young people whose collective work again made for a very competitive Congressional Art Competition.”

Continuing the immigration theme, the high-schooler posted another 24 by 30 inch painting on his Instagram called “The Letter,” which shows a woman covering her face with her hands. Behind her a letter pleads for someone to “Please stop separating families at the border.”

“I chose to paint this in response to what’s currently going on in the United States,” Cocozza wrote in the image’s description.

Last year, Cocozza was selected to attend the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for Performing and Visual Arts, reported InsideNova.

Image via Twitter

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

While most Startup Monday articles profile a local business getting off the ground, today’s feature highlights Startup Arlington: an initiative aimed at bringing those businesses to Arlington.

Startup Arlington is an annual competition hosted by Arlington Economic Development that invites applications from promising startups that would be interested in moving to Arlington County. Applications for the latest round are available online and due Nov. 2.

The application consists of basic personal and company information, assessment of company growth/financial traction and the submission of a business plan and pitch deck.

Judges will review applications based on the overall strength of the team and the team’s knowledge of the market. The viability of the product, service, or technology will also be rated alongside an assessment of the company’s revenue and financing plans.

The winner of Startup Arlington will receive:

  • Three months of free living space in Rosslyn Residence Inn hotel
  • Three months of free office space in a coworking facility
  • Legal advice for the new business
  • Complimentary gym access
  • A stipend for public transportation fees

A full list of rules is available online, but in general applicants to Startup Arlington must be:

  • The CEO and/or founder (or co-founder) of an existing tech company
  • At least 21 years old at the time you complete your application
  • Able to live in Arlington County throughout the competition period

Winners of the competition must relocate to Arlington for at least four months. The startup also cannot be a business that is already located in Arlington or the Washington, D.C. region.

The previous year’s winner was GreenSight Agronomics, a system that converts drone imagery into actionable information.

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Maybe girls really do run the world — or at least, perhaps, world finals.

An all-girls group of problems solvers from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind world finals next month after becoming state champions on April 14 in Newport News, Va.

The competition pushes students to work creatively as a team to “create original solutions to… divergent problems,” according to the competition’s website. This year’s theme is “emoji, speak for yourself.”

Seven girls — Buse Arici, Maddie Brown, Audrey Ferguson, Nora Johnson, Zella Mantler, Katie Martin, and Kaitlyn Nowinski — comprise the state championship-winning team.

Getting seven children to work together as a team takes a lot of effort, and the school estimates that the girls have dedicated more than 100 hours toward their competition submission.

The pursuit of problem solving — in their case, finding a way to communicate the story of a forgotten emoji without speaking, by just using emojis — led the seven girls to build “a texting machine that prints a message” and two emoji machines. In the process, they learned to use 3D printers, Adobe Illustrator and power tools to design their prototypes and their own costumes.

The silence stipulation alone will be quite the challenge for the group, a lively and talkative bunch whose excitement bubbled over into constant eruptions of euphoria while meeting with ARLnow at their elementary school on Wednesday (April 25).

The program was first brought to the school in 2015, and the team is the first from Glebe to win at Odyssey’s regional and state competition, according to Arlington Public Schools.

The world finals, hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will pit the nine- and 10-year-old girls against about 850 teams from 25 countries. According to the competition’s website, tens of thousands of students are anticipated to descend on little Ames, population just over 66,000, from May 23-26.

Getting the team to the competition will also prove challenging, and the girls have set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for their transportation and other expenses. The overall goal is $17,000, the girls said, but the fundraising webpage’s goal is much lower, at $6,000.

The team will be hosting other fundraising efforts, like a bake sale, to raise the remaining funds.

Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Schools

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Morning Notes

Petition in Support of Affordable Housing Project — The website Greater Greater Washington is helping to promote a petition that intends to counter resident complaints about a proposed affordable housing project on the former Red Cross site along Route 50. Neighbors are concerned that the project might “defile” the Buckingham neighborhood, with increased traffic and school overcrowding and a loss of green space. [GGW, GGW]

‘A Friend’ Writes Thank You Note to ACPD — From the Arlington County Police Department Twitter account: “To the citizen who left this unexpected note on one of our cruisers, thank you. ACPD is grateful for the support we receive from the community and small gestures like this mean a lot to our officers.” [Twitter]

Arlingtonian Places 23rd at Boston — Among other impressive finishes by Arlington residents at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Graham Tribble finished 23rd with a time of 2:30:06, the fastest among the D.C. area contingent at the prestigious race. [RunWashington, Patch]

High Schools Students Learning How to Spot Fake News — “At Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, some high school seniors are bent over their laptops, engaged in a digital course called Checkology that helps them figure out what makes news and information real, misleading or just plain false.” [Voice of America]

Elementary Girls Heading to Int’l Problem Solving Competition — “An all-girls engineering team from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals where they will compete with students from nearly 25 countries… The team of fourth graders from Glebe, who are all ages 9 or 10, became state champions last weekend at the Virginia Odyssey of the Mind competition, which was held April 14 in Newport News.” [Arlington Public Schools]

ACPD Forms ‘Restaurant Liaison Unit’ — The Arlington County Police Department has formed a “Restaurant Liaison Unit” to work with local bars to tamp down on drunken and sometimes violent incidents. One Clarendon bar in particular had police responding to it for a call almost every other day in 2017. [Washington City Paper, Twitter]

Glebe Lane Closure Causes Backups — Commuters heading northbound on Glebe Road today faced major backups due to a lane closure near Ballston. Washington Gas has been performing emergency repairs in the roadway since Wednesday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

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Arlington County’s 2018-2019 vehicle decals will have a drawing of its skyline behind blossoming cherry trees.

At the Arlington County Board’s meeting Tuesday (January 30), Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced that Schuyler Workmaster, a junior at Bishop O’Connell High School, won first place in the annual design competition over three other finalists.

Workmaster, in her third year as a finalist, said she chose to draw the design as she was inspired by the county’s mix of urban and natural settings.

“I chose to do this because it shows both the urban and nature aspect of Arlington,” she said at the meeting before her win was announced. “It just comes together in both pieces, and works together to create beauty. I think it represents Arlington because it’s very diverse, but it comes together to form something beautiful.”

Workmaster’s work was chosen among design finalists from three fellow student competitors: last year’s winner Amy Kohan, a junior at Wakefield High School; Washington-Lee junior Tom Bolles; and Yorktown High School junior Maddy Heinemann. Workmaster will receive a $750 cash prize from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union and her design will be displayed on approximately 160,000 vehicles starting later this year.

A record 3,619 votes were cast in the competition, a figure de la Pava said is up 11 percent from last year. She said the interest in voting in the contest is huge across the county.

“The part that really tickles me is that it comes from all areas of Arlington,” de la Pava said. “All the nooks and crannies except for [Arlington National Cemetery]… it really represents how widespread the interest is in voting for this decal.”

Students are instructed to produce a design that represents Arlington. This year’s competition was widened to include anything that they felt represented World War I and the county’s participation in the war.

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Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Courthouse will host a doughnut and beignet eating contest Sunday to coincide with the NFL game between the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints.

Nine participants will compete at halftime of the game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. on November 19, in the “Beignet and Brown-Butter Doughnut Eating Contest.”

Bayou chef and New Orleans native David Guas will be putting on the competition alongside District Doughnut chef Christine Schaefer.

Competitors will be asked to take on 10 beignets — a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry — and 10 doughnuts each, and the one to get through all 20 the quickest will win $150 cash.

Anyone wishing to compete should arrive by 12:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the contest is free. Bayou Bakery is located at 1515 N. Courthouse Road.

More from a press release, after the jump.

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Arlington County high school students can now submit designs for the county’s 14th annual Decal Design Competition.

The winning design will appear on the 2018-19 decal that will be displayed on more than 160,000 vehicles registered in Arlington.

Wakefield High School sophomore Amy Kohan won the 2017-18 competition earlier this year with an image of the David M. Brown Planetarium next to Washington-Lee High School. Kohan’s effort, entitled “Arlington Sees Stars,” was one of a record 235 designs submitted.

Entrants are asked to submit designs that represent “the vibrant community that is Arlington,” according to an announcement from the Arlington Treasurer’s Office. The top four finalists will be selected by a panel of citizens.

The four finalists’ designs will be displayed at the main branch of the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (4121 Wilson Blvd) in December and January. The finalists will present their designs to the Arlington County Board and a winner will be announced at a Board meeting in early 2018.

“The competition gives students the opportunity to utilize their design skills in a real-world application, as well as participate in the workings of their local government,” the announcement reads. “The winner and runners-up will have a unique accomplishment to highlight on their resumés and college applications.”

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Morning Notes

Swimming at the Dominion Hills pool (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Fairfax Wants Arlington’s Tourism Dollars — Fairfax County wants Arlington’s crown as the biggest tourism center in Virginia. “It’s our goal to beat out Arlington, and we’re going to continue giving it all we’ve got,” said Fairfax’s tourism chief, who is pushing for the county to build a new convention center. [InsideNova]

Free House in South Arlington — Here’s some truly affordable housing: a historic, all-steel Lustron house is being offered for free in south Arlington, to anyone willing to haul it away. [Twitter]

Super Pollo Wins Commuting Competition — Super Pollo in Ballston has won a county-sponsored competition “designed to encourage the Hispanic workforce to use modes of transportation other than driving alone when commuting to work.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

Deer in Four Mile Run (photo courtesy B. Heather)

Steamy Stretch Starting — It’s hot and humid outside today and through the end of the week. Afternoon storms are possible each day. During this hot stretch, authorities are warning people to stay hydrated and to make sure their air conditioners are in good working condition. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Ultra-Nationalist Group Based in Arlington — The National Policy Institute, the “institutional center” of the nationalist movement that has come out of the woodwork in the U.S. thanks to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, is based here in Arlington. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the think tank a “white supremacist” group. [Forward]

New Book About Arlington — Local author HK Park has published another book about Arlington. This kid-oriented, 44-page paperback is called “How Your City Works!! Behind The Scenes In Arlington, VA.”

Discussion of Pike Development — Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey discussed the approval of the Rappahannock Coffee site redevelopment in the county’s Board meeting wrap-up video. [YouTube]

Signature Theatre Announces New Cast — The cast for the Signature Theatre production of “Jelly’s Last Jam” includes a Tony Award winner, a Helen Hayes Award winner and a star jazz pianist. The musical begins at the Shirlington theater in August. [Playbill]

Arlington’s Got Talent Winner — Lyfe, a spoken word artist, is the 2016 winner of the Arlington’s Got Talent competition. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy B. Heather

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AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR -- "Atlanta Qualifying" -- Pictured: Mike Chick -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)

Arlington resident Mike Chick is a 39-year-old husband and father of two and one of the area’s top defense attorneys. He’s also an American Ninja Warrior.

Chick had been a fan of the NBC show for years and, to the loving skepticism of his wife, he would claim that some day he was going to try out for and compete on the show.

It wasn’t until a near-death experience that Chick ended up trying out for the show. Chick was visiting a client in jail when his heart stopped beating for 30 seconds. After being evaluated by doctors, it was discovered that he has a medical condition that causes his heart to stop whenever he passes out. He says that made him realize life was short.

“It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with my health,” he said. “But I think its kind of like — look, you have to take advantage of life while you have it and take advantage of the moments you have.”

Along with the health scare, Chick received inspiration from an unlikely source: “I was definitely in the worst shape of my life at the time that I started training for this and I remember right before I started to do it, I saw a meme on Facebook that said something like: ‘A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today,'” he said. “As silly as it sounds, its something else that told me that it’s time.”

Out of the 70,000-80,000 applicants who applied for the show, only 100 are invited to each regional qualifier. After months of grueling training, Chick was invited to attend the qualifier in Atlanta.

“I think that the most important thing that I see with these competitions is having adaptability and good body awareness,” he said of his training. “I think that makes a difference between the people who do consistently well and those who don’t. Adaptability and being able to change on the fly or being able to adjust to a situation that you might not have preferred to find yourself in is a big part of it.”

Chick also credits his five-year-old son as an inspiration. At his young age, he is already competing in ninja competitions and practicing parkour and other athletic pursuits.

“I try to look at the world through the eyes of my five-year old son,” he said. “To him, everything is something to play on, everything is an obstacle or a challenge. You look silly and ridiculous jumping over things outside of the federal courthouse. The U.S. Marshals are a little skeptical and may take their Tasers out but looking at the world this way is helpful.”

After the five qualifying rounds are shown, the top 15 contestants in each city make it to the finals in Las Vegas. Along with the first 75 finalists, 25 wild cards will be given out to other contestants, allowing for 100 contestants to try and win the $1 million prize.

Chick’s Atlanta qualifier will be shown tomorrow, June 8, at 8 p.m. on NBC, with an encore being shown at the same time the following day on the Esquire network. If he advances — Chick couldn’t reveal the outcome of the competition, which was taped several months ago — he will appear in subsequent episodes.

Chick can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @TheNinjaLawyer.

Photo Courtesy Quantrell Colbert/NBC

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Major League Quidditch screenshot (via mlquidditch.com)

Update at 4:30 p.m. on June 9 — The match has been moved to Fairfax County. It will now be taking place Saturday, June 11 from 3-6 p.m. at Phillips Programs (7010 Braddock Road) in Annandale, according to the league.

Update at 1 p.m. on June 9 — It seems that Major League Quidditch may need a magic wand to make its Arlington match happen this weekend. Originally set to take place at Tuckahoe Park, organizers then switched the venue to Thomas Jefferson Middle School. But that location is also in doubt.

From an Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman:

Not sure about how they thought they’d play in Tuckahoe Park, which is under construction. But we got a request to use the public field at Thomas Jefferson Monday night. We let them know that field is for drop play and can’t be reserved. And with this short notice (and with all the makeup games dues to the rain last month), we don’t have a field for them. They didn’t respond back to us so I’m not clear what their plans are. I guess they will work some magic?

From Major League Quidditch’s Amanda Dallas:

We’re working on securing a field at a school in Annandale… We’re just double-checking the field is the right size. Usually our scheduling isn’t this chaotic.

(Updated at 1:15 p.m. on June 8) An athletic competition, inspired by novels about a young wizard, is coming to Arlington this weekend.

The Washington Admirals, the D.C. area’s local quidditch team, will play the Ottawa Black Bears on Saturday, June 11 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). Tickets are free and all ages are encouraged to attend.

According to the team roster, the Admirals consist of 28 players and a head coach. The team competes in Major League Quidditch, a national league with a regular season that runs from June 1 to August 30. Sixteen teams are divided up in four geographic divisions — North, South, East and West.

Quidditch, for those who are unfamiliar with the sport invented by author J.K. Rowling and featured in her Harry Potter novels (and movies), is described as a competitive, co-ed and semi-contact sport that’s a mixture of dodgeball, rugby and tag. Major League Quidditch rules call for teams of a half dozen players running around a field with brooms between their legs, trying to score points on a field utilizing a series of balls and hoops.

Quidditch is played by “thousands of athletes all over the world,” according to a CBS News profile of the sport that aired in April.

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