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A new farmers market in Cherrydale will open in a few weeks following a vote by the County Board last night (Tuesday).

Ahead of the vote, some residents — chiefly worried about noise early in the morning — told Board members the market will be a rotten deal for their neighborhood. The issue drew 14 speakers for and against the proposal and the discussion lasted one hour, prompting some Board members to hasten to a vote and move on.

The new market will attract up to 20 vendors to its location at Dorothy Hamm Middle School (4100 Vacation Lane). Its first day is expected to be Saturday, July 3; starting next year, the market will operate from April through November. Field to Table, an Arlington-based nonprofit that facilitates the markets at Lubber Run, Fairlington and Westover, will manage the market.

Sales will start at 8 a.m. and end at noon. The School Board is set to approve an agreement during its Thursday, June 24 meeting.

Concerned residents asked for a 9 a.m. start time to allow for more quiet time in the morning. While the County Board ultimately sided with an 8 a.m. start time, proposed by staff and requested by Field to Table, they did extend an olive branch to residents in the form of a County Board review of the market in six months.

“Having lived through this with my Fairlington community, there was a lot of concerns about noise, and I would hear about it on walks,” Board member Libby Garvey said. “I have not been hearing about complaints since, and I’m fairly confident that this will work out fine.”

Local resident Joan Perry predicted that with this level of concern over the impact on the neighborhood, the market will not succeed, just like a community-supported agriculture program in the neighborhood failed.

“The farmers market is supposed to serve the immediate community surrounding the school, the very people opposed to the market who did not support the CSA,” she said.

Neighbor Simone Acha asked for a later start time so her Saturday mornings would not be unduly disturbed.

“We know from having lived through almost four years of construction at Dorothy Hamm Middle School that noise is very disruptive,” she said.

Others were excited at the prospect of a walkable market.

“I can’t think of a better place to hold the farmers market,” said Marcy Gessel.

Neighboring civic associations advocated for starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m. The Donaldson Run Civic Association conditioned its support on — among other requests — this start time.

“A farmers market located in this kind of neighborhood setting, such substantial disruption of nearby DRCA residents on a weekend morning is unreasonable,” wrote Bill Richardson, the president of the Donaldson Run Civic Association. “For those living near Hamm Middle School, who have already had to endure many years of construction activity, this burden is particularly distressing.”

In response to the concerns, ahead of the Tuesday Board meeting, staff added language governing noise levels, limiting vendor parking to one road, and suggested both a staff and County Board review.

Attempting to wrap up the discussion and propose a resolution that would work for everyone, Board member Katie Cristol nodded to some mothers and children in the audience of the County Board meeting. They were waiting to speak about a later agenda item: county attempts to improve conditions at the Serrano Apartments, an affordable housing complex in Columbia Pike.

“I’m cognizant that we have some really important items, as I know our chair feels acutely — and it’s bedtime in some cases — so I think we should try to be moving forward,” Cristol said.

By the time the Serrano discussion started, however, those families had to leave, according to Rev. Pete Nunnally, the assistant rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

“I wonder what the conversation was between the mothers who brought their kids here but had to wait so long, so long that they had to go home, while white people argued about a farmers market,” he said.

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A new installation outside Dorothy Hamm Middle School tells the story of the four students who integrated the building, formerly Stratford Junior High School, six decades ago.

Four free-standing panels and a wall-mounted panel, connected by a trail, depict Gloria Thompson, Ronald Deskins, Lance Newman and Michael Jones — the four students who desegregated the building on Feb. 2, 1959 — as well as Dorothy Hamm, the new school’s namesake and prominent civil rights activist in Arlington, and Barbara Johns, who at 16 led a student strike for equal education at a high school in Farmville, Virginia.

During a dedication ceremony for the new Stratford Commemorative Trail on Friday, several speakers said the installation equally inspires children to achieve greatness and charges Arlington Public Schools to continue making history.

“Rest assured that every child will leave this school knowing the civil rights history that happened here, understanding that while four students did begin the desegregation process in 1959, many others were denied that opportunity, and it came later,” school Principal Ellen Smith said. “Our students must know that as citizens of our school, our county, our state and our nation, they have the responsibility to speak up, to say something and make good trouble, as [former Rep.] John Lewis so aptly stated.”

The panels challenge those who walk the trail to take action and remind middle schoolers can make a difference at their age, she added.

In 2016, the school was designated a local historic district and APS convened a committee to find a way to honor its history. Soon after, APS embarked on a process to convert the school at 4100 Vacation Lane from a building housing the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs to a neighborhood middle school. It was renamed for Hamm and reopened to students in 2019. Final touches were finished during the 2020-21 school year.

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A giant photograph of four Black children who made history in Arlington was just installed in the new wing of Dorothy Hamm Middle School (4100 Vacation Lane), which is close to being completed.

The mural honors Ronald Deskins, Michael Jones, Lance Newman and Gloria Thompson, who set foot in Stratford Junior High School on Feb. 2, 1959, officially ending the practice of segregation in Arlington Public Schools.

“What a beautiful tribute and celebration of four amazing APS students!” School Board member Barbara Kanninen said on social media.

“It’s such an awesome, hopeful story,” said Ellen Smith, principal of the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

Smith is excited for her students to see history come to life at their school, which opened in September 2019 while construction on a new addition continued. Once the last touches on the wing are finalized, the school will be 100% complete.

The middle school weaves in history through its name — after Dorothy Hamm, a key figure in the charge to integrate Arlington Public Schools — plus installations recounting the history of racial integration, Smith said. Gone is the old identity as a segregated school named after Stratford Hall, the plantation where Confederate general Robert E. Lee spent his childhood.

From the beginning, the architectural team and Arlington Public Schools wanted to incorporate into students’ experience the idea that kids and the community advocated for integration, she said.

“The retelling and knowledge of this story is part of our mission as a school,” Smith said. “I expect it to be a part of students’ lived experiences every year.”

A new commemorative walk outside will have illustrated panels retelling the story of integration. Inside, historical artifacts from the Hamm family will also be on display.

Smith plans to recognize the first day of school for Deskins, Jones, Newman and Thompson every Feb. 2. Additionally, the school curriculum will include the topics of integration, civil rights and social justice, she said.

Although the building has changed uses since the four entered it 61 years ago — most recently housing the H-B Woodlawn program since the 1970s — the interior configuration has largely stayed the same, Smith said. The biggest upgrades include the new name and a new wing to the west of the school, which is a few finishing touches away from being completely done.

After the H-B Woodlawn program moved to Rosslyn, work began to convert the building into a neighborhood middle school. Construction started in early 2018 and continued after Smith opened the school last September. Just seven months later, students were learning remotely due to the pandemic, and the pace of construction has accelerated without students present, the principal said.

The new wing features a new library, a small gym and 15 classrooms, including a family consumer sciences (previously known as home economics) classroom and a makerspace.

“The architectural team did a fantastic job: It’s very bright, geometric and light-filled,” Smith said.

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Two Arlington teens are facing felony charges after an alleged vandalism spree in the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

Police were dispatched to the under-construction school on Vacation Lane — which formerly housed the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program — just after 11 p.m. Wednesday, following a burglar alarm activation. They found two 18-year-olds and a slew of damaged property, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

“Arriving officers established a perimeter and observed the suspects exit the building,” police said in a crime report. “One suspect was taken into custody, while the second suspect attempted to flee on foot. Officers later located the second suspect nearby and took him into custody without incident.”

The teens “were arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Commit Larceny/Assault & Battery/Other Felony, Conspiracy to Commit a Felony, Destruction of Property and Consume/Purchase/Possess Alcohol: <21 Years Old,” the crime report said. “They were held on no bond.”

A police spokeswoman said the damage was mostly from graffiti.

“The suspects allegedly tore down posters and papers and spray painted various items throughout the building,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. “A cost estimate of damages is ongoing.”

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Dorothy Hamm Middle School has been open for less than a year, but the girls soccer team is already Arlington County champions, thanks to a group of enthusiastic players and Arlington County Police Department’s Detective Tiffanie Heggerty.

Heggerty has worked as a School Resource Officer in the county for four years, currently serving both Hamm and Taylor Elementary School.

This year, Heggerty decided to pursue a new after-school activity — coaching soccer at Hamm.

“I thought it would be another great way to connect with students,” Heggerty said.

For the 2019-20 school year, Hamm students were pulled from nearby Williamsburg Middle School and Swanson Middle School. The team’s first season meant organizing a group of brand new teammates and practicing at a school still under construction.

“Finding places to practice took some creative effort,” Heggerty said. “Ms. Dabney, our Activities Coordinator, helped us get practice space at other schools, and we used the baseball field at the school when possible.”

Despite some setbacks, the team worked its way to an undefeated season (7-0-1).

“New team, new school, new coach, and we all had so much fun doing it,” said Heggerty. “Having a team that all got along, and played so well together is more than I could have hoped for, so winning on top of that is the icing on the cake.”

Now, Heggerty is coaching the boys soccer team at the middle school, and is hoping she’ll have similar success.

“The best part of being the School Resource Officer and coach is that I get to see my players throughout the day, and they bring their friends along to talk to me,” she said.

“This has helped me connect with more and more kids. Now adding the boys season beginning this week, when I walk the halls, I hear, ‘Hey Coach,’ and I know that they see me and not just my uniform.”

Across the county, many SROs volunteer their time as coaches of sports teams.

“ACPD is proud of the work the SROs do in their roles as officers, as well as through their work as coaches, mentors and advisors to students in Arlington outside the school day,” said ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark.

“One of our goals as a school division is to make sure that every student has at least one trusted adult that they can talk to,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia, pointing to the recent 2017 collaboration program between APS and ACPD, ACPD & APS Cares.

“Because our SROs interact with our students on a daily basis, they can be that one trusted adult that students can talk with.”

Photo via ACPD

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