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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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
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
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.
Photo Courtesy Quantrell Colbert/NBC
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.
Chess prodigy Sam Schenk tied for 10th place in his division at the National K-12 Scholastic Championship chess competition in Orlando, Fla. He competed against 127 other players in his grade group to earn the ranking.
The annual competition is hosted by the U.S. Chess Federation. It separates participants by grade, and players only compete against people their own age. The grand prize is finishing first in a grade group and claiming the title of national champion.
Though this was Schenk’s fourth trip to the national tournament, it’s his first time taking home a prize.
“This was a great year for him, and this was absolutely the best he’s ever done,” Schenk’s parent Allison Rudoy said.
The 13-year-old is an 8th grader at Williamsburg Middle School in North Arlington. Rudoy said her son’s been playing chess since he joined an after school chess club at Jamestown Elementary five years ago.
“He kind of got hooked,” she said. “When the club ended, he kept with it and started studying on his own, reading a lot and playing in local tournaments.”
Now, Schenk is a part of the Arlington Chess Club where he practices what he studies, mostly playing against adults. He was also recently named one of the U.S. Chess Federation’s top 13-year-old chess players in the nation.
“He devotes an enormous amount of time to the study of chess and plays as much as he can,” Rudoy added. “It’s his favorite thing, but it’s not his only thing.”
Schenk is also involved in sports, playing youth basketball on a county recreation team.
While Rudoy said Schenk is very passionate about chess and would likely love to take home the top prize in Orlando someday, he is still young and anything could be in his future.
“All I know for sure is as long as he’s still interested in chess, his family will keep supporting him,” she said.
Photo courtesy of Allison Rudoy
(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) Local chefs walked away with big wins at a charity cooking competition in Clarendon last night.
The Arlington County Fire Department’s finest firehouse cooks faced off against three groups of local professional chefs in a reality TV-style cooking competition where the competitors had 25 minutes to whip up dishes using only ingredients found in the Arlington Food Assistance Center’s pantries.
Judges Scott Brodbeck of ARLnow.com, Becky Krystal of the Washington Post and Chef George Pagonis of Kapnos Taverna sampled each dish before choosing a winner of the round by ringing a large bell, signaling a vote for the firefighters, or putting on a chef’s hat. Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery served as emcee for the night.
At the end of the night, the local chefs walked away from the Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd) with two of the coveted “Golden Eggplant” awards.
Arlington County Fire Department’s Lt. Romulius Queen and firefighter Frank Rachal took home the first “Golden Eggplant” of the night with their Southern Style Fried Chicken topped with a homemade barbecue sauce and accompanied by a zucchini pasta with a thai peanut and ginger sauce. All three judges rang the bell.
“That fried chicken, he really nailed it,” Pagonis said.
Queen and Rachal beat out SER Restaurant chef and co-owner Josu Zubikarai, who made Rulada chicken ragout with mushrooms and spicy vegetables.
It was Queen’s first time competing in AFAC’s Chiefs vs. Chefs event.
“It feels good to go home with a trophy instead of going home crying,” he said.
Chef Tom Madrecki of Chez le Commis took home the second “Eggplant” with his caramelized onion soup with buttermilk, accompanied by homemade bread with butter. He earned the votes of two out of the three judges for his simple but flavorful soup.
Cooking with only the food in AFAC’s pantry was a challenge, Madrecki said.
“It’s reflective of what thousands of Arlington families have to do every day, so it’s very rewarding,” he said.
Facing off against ACFD’s finest brought its own difficulties as the firefighters were both skilled chefs and have a connection to the community, Madrecki said. Votes for the firefighters were applauded by the crowd, whereas votes for the chefs were greeted by good-natured boos.
“We’re the underdogs as the chef because they’re the ones out in the community everyday,” he said. “They’re the ones protecting us so it’s an honor to cook with them.”
Cooking is part of the firehouse lifestyle, said Acting Chief Joesph Reshetar, adding that the firefighters often try out new dishes on their coworkers.
“The firehouse is where they experiment,” he said. “If you can please us, if you can please a group of people, you know you’re on to something.”