Seven Arlington students graduated Friday from a culinary program that trains individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the skills necessary to get a job in a commercial kitchen.
This was the sixth incarnation of the D.C. Central Kitchen’s Culinary Training Program, which meets locally at the Fairlington Community Center. The graduation ceremony was held in Rosslyn Friday afternoon and the Arlington students were joined by eight other students from the Central Union Mission, a homeless shelter in D.C.
One of the speakers at the ceremony was Napolean Boakye, a graduate of the fifth Arlington class. He first found out about the program while living in the Carpenter’s Shelter in Old Town Alexandria. As a result of the program, he was offered two jobs in the culinary field and he now works with the National Youth Escape Arena in Maryland.
“This job training sponsored by Arlington County positively influenced me and prepared me to change my way of thinking and my life,” said Boakye. “I said to myself, never again. I’m tired of failure. I’ve been there, done that, I’m moving on to success.”
Two students won the program’s Ron Swanson Life Skills Award: Bryce Churchman from the Arlington program and Gary Lucas from the D.C program.
Along with culinary classes, the students also receive self-empowerment classes and get to train outside of the classroom, with each student receiving a month-long internship. Some of the internship sites included the Key Bridge Marriott, Mess Hall in D.C. and Nando’s Peri-Peri.
The graduation rate for Arlington students ranges between 85 to 90 percent and graduates have an 90 percent job placement rate.
Photos by Jackie Friedman
Here’s what the website had to say about Arlington and its No. 1 spot.
“If you’re looking to live near other educated people, this Washington, D.C., suburb is the place to be. A whopping 71.5% of Arlington’s 25-and-older population holds at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest percentage on our list. Arlington also is tops for the number of jobs in management, business, science or arts occupations, as well as for salaries.”
“Arlington, Virginia, stands out in our analysis because 67.1% of its workforce find jobs in management, business, science or the arts. These fields have the most jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher.”
“However, if you move here, be ready to give up a big chunk of your salary for housing. The median rent is one of the highest among the 100 cities in our analysis, and it would take up nearly a third (31.4%) of that paycheck.”
The report analyzed a number of data points, including:
- Percentage of population 25 and older with bachelor’s degree or higher
- Percentage of population ages 20 to 29
- Median earnings of residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree
- Jobs in management, business, science and arts occupations
- Rent as a percentage of income
- Unemployment rates
The class of 2015 had a 92.8 percent graduation rate, 0.8 percent higher than the previous year. The on-time graduation rate has increased 8.1 percent over the past six years, according to APS.
The rate is 2.3 percent higher than the state average of 90.5 percent, APS said.
“The increases in the on-time graduation rate and the proportions of graduates earning advanced diplomas is notable given the more strenuous requirements for earning a diploma in Virginia,” APS said in a press release.
Students receiving diplomas this year had to complete an economic and personal finance course, the first time Virginia had this requirement.
“The students who graduated in May and June began high school just as the commonwealth was introducing challenging, new assessments in mathematics, English and science,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples said in a statement.
Of the students who graduated this year, 68.5 percent of them graduated with an advanced or International Baccalaureate diploma, 17 percent higher than the state average of 51.5 percent. The average number of students graduating with advanced or IB diplomas has also increased 7.3 percent over the past six years, from 61.2 percent in 2009.
“While I am pleased that our graduation rates have continued to rise, I am especially excited to see that more and more of our students also have challenged themselves to earn advanced or IB diplomas. This expands the options for their academic and personal pursuits after graduation,” said APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy.
While graduation and advanced diploma rates have increased, the number of students dropping out of school increased, as well. The rate jumped up from 3.8 percent in 2014 to 4.2 percent in 2015.
Although the rate increased, the dropout rate has decreased since 2009, when the rate was 11.9 percent. The rate is under the Virginia average of 5.2 percent.
Graduation Live Streaming Nixed — Arlington Public Schools canceled internet live streaming of its high school graduation ceremonies this year due to budget cuts. Graduation ceremonies has been streamed online for the past two years. [InsideNova]
Police Foot Chase in Pentagon City — Last night, after the Pentagon City mall was evacuated due to a power outage, mall security spotted two men lingering and entering closed stores. Police were given a lookout and one of the alleged suspects was spotted outside the mall. A foot chase ensured and the man was apprehended behind nearby Pentagon Row. No word yet on any changes.
Economic Chief Has a Plan For Arlington — New Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins says he has a plan for economic growth in the county that will reduce the county’s office vacancy rate from the current 21 percent to 10 percent over the next six years. The plan includes “a mix of much more aggressive marketing efforts, incentives and other government aid, and the help of ‘frenemies’ in competing local governments such as the District and Alexandria.” [Washington Business Journal]
A-Town Plans ‘Sunday Funday’ Summer Kickoff — “Ballston’s rowdiest bar,” A-Town Bar and Grill, will be kicking off its summer “Sunday Fundays” this weekend with “squirt guns, beach balls, popsicles, barbecue, water balloons” and multiple DJs. [Clarendon Nights]
APS Graduation Rate Rises to 92 Percent — Arlington Public Schools’ graduation rate rose to 92 percent for the Class of 2014, up from 85.2 percent in 2010. The dropout rate declined to 3.8 percent this year and the graduation rate for Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools reached 98.7 percent. “This steady improvement is a reflection of the teamwork of everyone working together to ensure that our students succeed,” said Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, in a statement. [Arlington Public Schools]
Company Promises In-N-Out Delivery — As a publicity stunt, food delivery service OrderAhead is offering to deliver frozen In-N-Out Double Double burgers from California today to addresses Arlington and D.C. Even though In-N-Out is famous for food that’s never frozen or pre-packaged, the offer is apparently proving popular for those with a craving for the west coast chain. Currently, a website set up to provide more information about the promotion is down. [Eater]
County Board Supports Nonpartisan Redistricting — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to support nonpartisan redistricting of state legislative boundaries. Democratic Board Chairman Jay Fisette said partisan redistricting leads to “stagnation and gridlock,” while independent Board member John Vihstadt said it produces “toxic partisanship in Washington and Richmond.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
This article was written by Audrey Batcheller
Whether they’ve spent the past 18 years in the county or have just been around for high school, these young adults have unique perspectives on life in Arlington.
Devon Brown, a lifelong Arlingtonian, will be attending Wake Forest University this year and has mixed feelings about leaving Arlington.
“It’s been really easy to get involved in the community here,” said Brown, who was a member of the Teen Network Board. Aside from her time involved in the community, however, Brown does complain that there’s not much to do in Arlington for high school students.
“Recently I’ve felt like the only option when going out with friends to do something is getting something to eat,” said Brown.
Nicole Collantes, an upcoming Radford University freshman, disagrees with Brown on that point.
“It’s their own fault if people are bored,” she said. “Around Arlington, there are so many places to go to and shop. Also, there’s always an art or music festival going on if you know where to look. And even if people don’t think there’s anything to do around here, the metro takes you all around D.C., where there’s even more things to do.”
Alec Schadelbauer, who will be a freshman at Virginia Tech, said he stayed active in Arlington through volunteerism.
“There are so many ways to get involved in the community through leadership and service,” said Schadelbauer. “The Leadership Arlington Youth Program was one of the best experiences of my life so far.”
The county’s proximity to Washington, D.C., has been the best part of the Arlington experience to many students. Justin Snow and Maggie Burgos, who will be attending George Mason University and Colby College in Maine respectively, have taken advantage of living near the political hub of the country.
“Growing up near D.C. has helped me have opportunities to see government happen,” said Burgos, who went to President Obama’s first inauguration and hopes to work on Capitol Hill.
Snow interned on Capitol Hill and said he and other local high school students “[have] access to a lot of things that other [areas] don’t.”
As privileged as all its graduates feel about being able to live in Arlington, a few common criticisms arose among the students: the traffic, the dreaded “Arlington Bubble,” and the weather.
Gondola From Rosslyn to Georgetown? — The Georgetown Business Improvement District has floated the idea of running a gondola from Georgetown to Rosslyn in order to make it easier Metro riders to shop and dine in the D.C. neighborhood. Georgetown businesses are worried about competition from other, more trendy neighborhoods. [Washington Post]
Job Fair Today — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is holding a job fair for his Eighth District constituents this morning. The job fair is taking place from 9:00 a.m. to noon at T.C. Williams High School (3330 King Street) in Alexandria. [Rep. Jim Moran]
Award for Half-Cab Half-Cop Car — A combination police car / taxi cab, created by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) in partnership with Arlington County Police and Red Top Cab, has been honored with the Virginia Governor’s Transportation Safety Award for its role in deterring impaired driving. [WRAP]
High School Graduation Recap — The Sun Gazette has published recaps of each of the three Arlington public high school graduation ceremonies last week. According to the paper, Washington-Lee grads were “encouraged to reach for the stars, stay true to beliefs;” Yorktown grads were “urged to embrace challenges, take setbacks in strides;” and Wakefield grads were “urged to build on the past to create the future.”
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
An early release is planned for Arlington’s high schools today, the start of students’ summer breaks. An early release will be held tomorrow (Thursday) for middle school students and on Friday for elementary school students, the end of their respective school years.
Commencement ceremonies will be held for APS high schools on Thursday, at DAR Constitution Hall in the District. The graduation for Washington-Lee will be held at 10:00 a.m., Yorktown at 3:00 p.m. and Wakefield at 8:00 p.m. Each ceremony will be broadcast live on the APS website, on Comcast channel 70 and Verizon FiOS channel 41.
Bishop O’Connell, a private Catholic high school in Arlington, has already held its 2013 graduation ceremony.
A listing of other APS graduation events, including middle school graduations, is available here.
Board Approves New Hotel — On Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a new 168-room hotel on the former Colony House furniture site at 1700 Lee Highway. As part of the site plan approval, developer B.F. Saul agreed to make a $510,000 contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund, $62,546 to the utility undergrounding fund, $75,000 to the public art fund and $70,000 to pay for a widened sidewalk on a portion of N. Quinn Street. [Arlington County]
Diener Murder Case In-Depth — Writer Kris Coronado takes an in-depth look at how Arlington County police cracked the Carl Diener murder case, including how a hunch and DNA evidence played a pivotal role, and how one of the suspects rapped about the case against him. [Arlington Magazine]
County Floodplain Maps Updated — Arlington County has updated its floodplain maps for the first time since 1982. The new maps “reflect the best available data on flood risks,” removing 230 land parcels from the 100-year floodplain while adding 81 parcels. [Arlington County]
Airfare Drops at DCA — The average roundtrip airfare at Reagan National Airport was $370 in 2012. That’s down 4.6 percent from a year prior and down 20.1 percent compared to the year 2000. [Sun Gazette]
AHC Seniors Headed to College — All 11 high school seniors in the AHC Inc. Teen Program graduated this year and are going to college. “Many are the first in their family to achieve this milestone,” said Celia Slater, communications director for the Arlington-based affordable housing developer. “Together, the group earned more than $20,000 in scholarships”. The students’ families are from 9 different countries. [AHC Inc.]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Va. Budget Standoff — There’s a standoff in Richmond as the 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats in the state Senate remain evenly divided over the state’s two-year budget. Democrats say their opposition stems from the budget’s inadequate funding for public education, transportation and health care. Republicans, meanwhile, are accusing Democrats of obstructionism and “Washingtonian behavior.” The budget needs at least 21 votes to pass. The last vote was 20-19. [Washington Post, Washington Times]
High School Graduation Date Moved — The graduation date for Arlington public high schools is now Wednesday, June 20. The date was switched from the 21st because the graduation venue, DAR Constitution Hall, was not available that day. The last day of school was also moved back a day, to Tuesday, June 19. [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington Au Pair Recognized — An au pair from Arlington has been named the winner of the national ‘Ultimate Au Pair’ contest. AuPairCare, an agency that places international au pairs with host families in the U.S., says they selected Mariana Moujan, of Buenos Aires, as the Ultimate Au Pair “for her compassion and dedication to the Edwards family in Arlington, Virginia.”
Newly-minted high school graduate Rachel Wilburn was a two-time high school dropout with a kid and another on the way when she entered the Langston High School Continuation Program. This morning, she was given the honor of addressing about 150 fellow Langston and Arlington Mill high school continuation graduates at the Washington-Lee auditorium.
“Despite everything that has come our way, there is a voice in our unconscious minds that said ‘I will not give up on myself,’” she said. “I thank God for giving us the strength to make it through this.”
Wilburn credited her parents, her husband and her parents-in-law with helping her to find Langston and make it through the teen parenting program. With their support, she even achieved perfect attendance in her third trimester.
Wilburn said she now plans to attend college to study business and human resource, so that she can give her kids “the best possible future.”
For Arlington Mill graduate Joel Diaz, who turned 21 today, going back to high school in his 20s was “embarrassing.” But, he said, he was able to overcome that initial trepidation and thrive.
“After I began going to Arlington Mill… I realized that a lot of us, we’re just different. We all have different stories, we’re all on different paths, we all have different goals,” he said. “Going through this has made me a stronger person. Our paths do not have to define our future.”
“I have been waiting for this day so long,” Diaz continued. “I hope you realize that this is not the end but the beginning.”
More photos, after the jump. (more…)