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‘Something from Nothing’: Stories of Punk in Arlington

When the photography department at Arlington’s H-B Woodlawn needed some extra funding, then-teacher Lloyd Wolf held a couple of yard sales.

But those “sucked in terms of making money,” Wolf, a noted local photographer, recalls. So, in the early 1980s, they threw some dances.

Though the most successful dance, as Wolf recalls it, featured a southern rock band called the Dixie Road Ducks, there was also interest in the raw, energetic performances coming out of the burgeoning punk scene.

“There were punk kids who went to that school,” said Ian MacKaye, who was a punk kid himself at the time.

Minor Threat, a band whose members included MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, the co-founders of famed independent punk label Dischord Records, played the school cafeteria on May 9, 1981 and Oct. 30, 1982 in six- and four-band lineups.

“I was exposed to something way beyond Elvis Costello and kind of new wave poppy stuff,” said Amy Pickering, a student at H-B Woodlawn around that time who went to some of the punk shows. She would go on to form Dischord band Fire Party (active from 1986-1990), and to work at Dischord Records for more than 20 years.

The H-B Woodlawn shows represent one of many stories of punk linked to Arlington, too many to capture in one article. It was a time when “if you wanted something to come out, you totally had to do it yourself,” Pickering said. For many, Arlington became somewhere to live, practice, collaborate and create as punk expanded in the D.C. area.

MacKaye moved to Arlington from his parents’ northwest D.C. home in Oct. 1981. He and four others had three conditions in their joint search for a living space.

It had to be a detached house, “because we wanted to play music in the basement,” affordable, because they were making something like $175 a month each, and safe, so that their predominantly high school-aged friends could make it to the house from a bus or train stop without incident, MacKaye said.

The first place they toured — a four-bedroom detached house in Lyon Park that rented for $525 each month — seemed to fulfill all of those criteria.

“Arlington afforded sort of a… neutral territory, you know, [we] didn’t get much grief from anybody,” MacKaye said.

Dischord House, as it came to be known, also acted as the headquarters for Dischord Records. MacKaye now owns the home, though he moved back to D.C. after living in Arlington for 21 years — an amount of time he hadn’t anticipated spending in the suburbs as a fifth-generation Washingtonian.

Dischord House may well have been the “first of our generation… punk house,” MacKaye said, but there was already “all this early punk rock stuff” in Arlington when they moved in, and there was more to come.

“I’d say by the late ’80s and early ’90s… other group houses started to pop up, friends of ours would come out,” MacKaye said. It was “a brief period of time where there [were] all these pockets. We didn’t all spend tons of time with each other, but it was nice to know that you might pop by.”

Punk activist collective Positive Force D.C., founded in 1985, established a home base in Arlington after holding its first meetings near Dupont Circle. They first moved to a house on N. Fairfax Drive, but development on that block pushed them closer to Virginia Square in November 1988.

For the nearly 12 years Positive Force spent in that second house, rain would drip in around the windows, so they grew plants in the windowsills.

“It was kind of our bargain to do our thing — [you let us] run a radical political organization out of our house, we won’t ask you to fix stuff,” Positive Force co-founder Mark Andersen said.

Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson ran their record label, Simple Machines, out of Positive Force House’s second floor kitchen in 1990. They soon moved into the first of multiple houses the label would occupy in Arlington before shutting down in 1998.

Living near other outposts, like Dischord and Teen-Beat Records, fostered information sharing, Thomson said.

“We were trading information, asking questions, trying to sort out things to the best of our abilities quite often,” Thomson said.

Exchanges among people within and beyond Arlington helped produce the Simple Machines Mechanic’s Guide. That project was conceived as “a sort of second edition” to a Dischord/Positive Force benefit record insert that covered, among other topics, how to put out a seven-inch record, Thomson said.

The Mechanic’s Guide, in various editions, would be mailed out thousands of times.

“It became like a little ‘Consumer Reports,’ in some ways,” Toomey said. “We know a bunch of independent labels that still exist used the guide for their first releases.”

The guide reflects the do-it-yourself attitude that pervaded the punk scene and, more broadly, independent music in the D.C. area and outside of it.

“Punk was about starting something from nothing,” said Cynthia Connolly, a photographer, artist and curator who worked “on and off” for Dischord. “Literally we would go to the Ballston Common Mall and go into the dumpsters and get the cardboard,” to cut up and use to mail out records.

Connolly documented the D.C. punk scene as it looked between 1979 and 1985 in a book she co-compiled and published in 1988, entitled “Banned in D.C.” The book is now in its seventh edition.

“It’s almost like a storybook story, and it’s kind of romantic in a way because the bands [then] really influenced some of the bands today,” Connolly said.

The DIY attitude in many cases seemed to extend to the punk bands’ desired sound, which was “raw,” said Don Zientara, who founded Inner Ear Studio (today at 2701 S. Oakland Street) in the late ’70s and has recorded numerous punk bands. “That just sort of fit in with the fact that I had [at the time] very little equipment, and some of it was kind of questionable, cheap… take your own word for it.”

Wakefield High School alum Mark Robinson started going to shows, which primarily took place in D.C., when he was 15 or 16. “Seeing other kids playing in punk rock shows” made the idea of being in a band seem possible, he said.

“Before that, you would see like the band Kiss or something and that just seemed like an unattainable thing,” he said.

Robinson would form indie rock band Unrest and Teen-Beat Records in the mid-1980s, while still in high school.

Teen-Beat operated out of a house in Arlington for much of the 90s, by which time the layout that characterizes much of the area today had yet to fully form. When Clarendon bar and indie rock venue Galaxy Hut first opened in 1990, for instance, “there was a vacant Sears across the street. There was nothing there, rent was super cheap,” said Lary Hoffman, who co-owns Galaxy Hut today.

As Andersen recalls it, “there was another Arlington that existed, and that was a much more humble Arlington.”

The second Positive Force House has been demolished, as have many of the other group houses, to make way for new developments. One known as Kansas House was vacated for that purpose in 2009.

Many members of the scene have dispersed to different locations and adopted new roles — Pickering lives in New York and Robinson is in Massachusetts, for instance, and Connolly works as Special Projects Curator for the county. Still, the DIY principles behind much of the activity Arlington played host to remain relevant.

When Toomey and Thomson compiled the Mechanic’s Guide, they certainly didn’t present the applications of their resourceful attitude as limited to their scene, or to music.

“There is nothing that you can’t do with a little time, creativity, enthusiasm and hard work,” the introduction to the guide’s 2000 edition reads. It concludes several pages later with a simple send-off: “Good luck!”

Thanks to Andrew Goodwin, Arlington-based podcaster / WednesdaysWithAndrew; photos courtesy © Lloyd Wolf / www.lloydwolf.com

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APS Opts to Let Stratford Families Choose Between Reed, Yorktown for Temporary Move

With Arlington Public Schools’ Stratford Program getting ready for a big move, school leaders are giving students (and their parents) a choice about where they’ll spend the next year learning.

The program, which serves secondary-level special education students, is set to relocate into a new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year. But its current space on Vacation Lane, which it shares with the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, will soon be renovated to become a new middle school, forcing Stratford students to temporarily find a new home.

APS officials initially planned to send Stratford over to the Reed School building in Westover for a year, but a few weeks ago they began seeking feedback from parents on a plan to move the program to Yorktown High School instead.

In a letter to Stratford parents Monday (June 4), Stratford principal Karen Gerry revealed that APS settled on a compromise solution between those two proposals. Families will now have the option of sending students to Yorktown or Reed for the 2018-19 school year; summer sessions in both 2018 and 2019 will be held at Reed, regardless of which option families choose, however.

“While we understand that this may mean some students within the Stratford program are educated in different locations for the 2018-19 school year, we also know that the needs of our students are different,” Gerry wrote. “We will provide the staffing and supports expected in the program at either location and will work with families on specific needs.”

Families have until June 15 to complete a survey on where they’d prefer to send their students.

Gerry added that “we want to reassure you that the Stratford Program will continue and our plan to move to the new building on Wilson in the fall of 2019 is moving ahead.” Some rumors circulated a few weeks back that APS would seek to eliminate the Stratford program instead, but officials have insisted there are no such plans in the works.

The full letter from Gerry to Stratford parents is after the jump.

Dear Stratford Families:

Thank you for taking the time over the last several weeks to assist us in analyzing Reed and Yorktown as potential locations for Stratford students and families for the 2018-19 school year. We appreciate your input and engagement in the meetings and tours that have taken place as we work to ensure our students have the best possible educational experience prior to moving to the new building on Wilson Boulevard with the H-B Woodlawn Program.

Through the analysis that has taken place, we have evaluated the many positives as well as concerns of both locations. We want to be certain that our students are safe, supported, engaged, comfortable in their environment, and have access to the many resources that are available to all of our students. We also know that students at Stratford have a variety of needs. Therefore, in moving forward for the 2018-19 school year, we are offering families a choice in location.  Families may choose to continue in the Stratford program:

  1. at Reed for the summer of 2018, Yorktown for 2018-19, and then Reed for the summer of 2019
    OR
  2. at Reed for the summer of 2018, Reed for 2018-19, and then Reed for the summer of 2019

While we understand that this may mean some students within the Stratford program are educated in different locations for the 2018-19 school year, we also know that the needs of our students are different. We will provide the staffing and supports expected in the program at either location and will work with families on specific needs. Also, as always, if you would like to have your child educated at the neighborhood school, that is also a possibility for this summer and the 2018-19 school year and can be considered through an IEP meeting.

Please Click here to complete a brief survey to let us know your preference of location for the 2018-19 school year so that we can begin to plan for the individual supports needed at each location.  Please complete the survey by June 15, 2018. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

Finally, we want to reassure you that the Stratford Program will continue and our plan to move to the new building on Wilson in the fall of 2019 is moving ahead. We look forward to continuing to work together with our Stratford community to serve our students’ personal and educational needs.

Warm regards,

Karen

Karen Gerry,
Principal

Photo via Arlington Public Schools

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Morning Notes

‘Indivisible Arlington’ Event Wracked By Division — “A town hall with local Virginia lawmakers dissolved into chaos Saturday and police were called after Latino activists confronted Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) about his previous consulting work for a private company that operates detention facilities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

H-B Victorious at Ultimate Tourney — The H-B Woodlawn girls ultimate frisbee team won the prestigious Amherst Ultimate Invitational over the weekend. [Twitter, Greenfield Recorder]

No County Board Candidate for Arlington GOP — No one filed by the May 9 deadline to run as a Republican against incumbent County Board member John Vihstadt, the Arlington GOP announced over the weekend. Vihstadt, an independent, was endorsed by the local GOP when he first ran in 2014.

ACPD Sergeant Tapped as School Police Chief — Sean Bryson, a 20-year veteran of the Arlington County Police Department, has been named the chief of police for the Upper St. Clair School District, outside of Pittsburgh. It’s a homecoming for Bryson, who graduated from Upper St. Clair High School. In addition to his police work, Byson co-founded and has served as race director for the annual Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K. [Trib Live]

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APS: Stratford Program May Temporarily Move to Yorktown HS

Arlington Public Schools is shooting down rumors that the Stratford Program is going to be “dismantled” while also announcing that a new, temporary location is under consideration.

Stratford serves secondary-level special education students and is currently co-located with the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program on Vacation Lane. Both programs are set to move to a new facility in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year, but Stratford will be moving to a temporary home during the next school year to facilitate the renovation of its current building into a neighborhood middle school.

In a letter to parents today, Stratford principal Karen Gerry said that APS is now reconsidering a plan to house Stratford in the Reed School building in Westover for a year. For various reasons, APS says Yorktown High School may be a better temporary location, and the school system is kicking off a hurried outreach effort with parents to discuss the new option.

Gerry, in her letter, also acknowledges a false rumor that had been spreading via email that APS was planning to eliminate the Stratford Program.

“It seems that Arlington County has made a decision to dismantle the Stratford Program and that we will not be joining HB Woodlawn at the new site in Rosslyn, as planned,” said the email, which was sent by a parent and later obtained by ARLnow.com. “Several Stratford parents are concerned that this decision has been made without consultation with the wider Stratford community.”

“Over the last few days, there have been many community conversations, emails and statements posted about our plans for next year, and unfortunately, much of it has included misleading or incorrect information,” Gerry wrote. “We want to reassure you that regardless of the one-year location for Stratford students in the 2018-19 school year, the Stratford Program is not being dismantled and our plan to move to the new building on Wilson in the fall of 2019 has not changed.”

The full letter from Gerry to Stratford parents is after the jump.

Photo via Google Maps

Dear Stratford Families:

In the summer of 2018, our building here on Vacation Lane will begin the renovation process as it transitions to a neighborhood middle school. Because of the construction that will take place, Stratford students will no longer be able to access the entrances and classrooms previously available to support their learning. Therefore, for the 2018-19 school year, students will be moving to a new location within APS.

Over the last year or so, we have been working as a community to prepare our students to transition to the Reed building for one year, and then ultimately to the new building on Wilson Boulevard with the H-B Woodlawn Program. As we have been preparing for this move, APS staff has been working to ensure that Reed was the best location for our students for the 2018-19 school year. In analyzing Reed, another potential location — Yorktown High School — was suggested for consideration.  We understand that Yorktown was not an option that was previously discussed, but we believe it is worth exploring further for several important reasons. During this year of transition, we want to ensure that Stratford students have the opportunity to regularly interact with peers from outside of the program. We also want to be sure Stratford’s students have access to the resources that are available to all middle and high school students including the arts, music, and physical education (including swimming); breakfast and lunch in the school cafeteria with their peers; co-curricular activities; and other staffing and facility resources. Yorktown was suggested as a worthy alternative for consideration because none of these educational features and resources will be available next year for our students at the Reed building.

Because we want the Stratford families to help us consider all of the implications of the move for next year, we would like to invite you to join Paul Jamelske, Dr. Tara Nattrass, and me to discuss the Reed and Yorktown options for the 2018-19 school year. We will be hosting an Open House at Stratford from 5:00 until 8:30pm next Wednesday, May 16. You are welcome to drop in at any time during this window of time. We will meet individually or in small groups to discuss the benefits and concerns of both Reed and Yorktown High School as potential locations for our students.

Over the last few days, there have been many community conversations, emails and statements posted about our plans for next year, and unfortunately, much of it has included misleading or incorrect information. We want to reassure you that regardless of the one-year location for Stratford students in the 2018-19 school year, the Stratford Program is not being dismantled and our plan to move to the new building on Wilson in the fall of 2019 has not changed. We look forward to talking with you about next year and, most importantly, to work together with all of our Stratford community to find the best opportunity to serve our students’ personal and educational needs as we prepare to successfully transition to the new Wilson location in September 2019.

Warm regards,

Karen
Karen Gerry,
Principal

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Students Walk Out of School to Protest Gun Violence

(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Students at Arlington’s high schools walked out of class Wednesday morning to protest gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting.

The 10 a.m. walkout was planned nationally, on the one month anniversary of the shooting, and in Arlington it was the second such protest in as many months. Washington-Lee, Yorktown, Wakefield, Langston and H-B Woodlawn were among the schools participating. Students at Kenmore Middle School also walked out, according to the school’s Twitter account.

At Washington-Lee, hundreds — if not thousands — of students gathered on the football field amid cold, blustery weather for a solemn remembrance of the slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers.

A group of students sat in the bleachers, holding signs with the names and photos of the victims, while another group of students read each of their names and a bit of biographical information, one by one, about one per minute. The gathered students stood still, in silence only broken by a brief applause at the end, before returning to the school.

A couple dozen administrators and teachers watched over the event, along with a pair of Arlington County police officers, there to provide security. A few W-L graduates, parents and local residents also attended, some holding signs.

During Yorktown’s walkout, meanwhile, students wrote letters about school safety to members of Congress

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy said late last month that today’s walkout would be the last walkout in which participating students would be granted a blanket excused absence.

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Amid Concerns, School Board Says New H-B Woodlawn Building is Inclusive of Students with Disabilities

As plans for a new building for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program move forward, members of the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee (ASEAC) say the design is not inclusive enough for students with disabilities.

In emails sent to the Arlington School Board, ASEAC and other groups expressed concern about a separate entrance intended for disabled students in the Stratford Program.

“The current design still appears to envision Stratford students entering the school through a separate door on the ground level of the building’s northwestern corner, next to the Stratford offices, with the main entrance being at the center of the building one level up, next to the H-B Woodlawn offices,” said a Jan. 14 email from a coalition of individuals and groups, including the Arlington Inclusion Task Force.

“Designing a building that has a separate entrance for students with significant disabilities reinforces the idea that students with disabilities are inferior, second-class citizens to be kept out of sight and out of mind,” the email continued. “Separate entrances emphasize difference, encourage isolation, and erect barriers, rather than fostering connections and providing opportunities for engagement. Separate entrances are an affront to Arlington’s inclusive values.”

The School Board responded in another email that all three entrances to the building will be accessible to all students.

The new facility, which will replace and demolish the Wilson School property in Rosslyn, has an estimated cost of around $100 million and is expected to be complete in time for the 2019-2020 school year.

ASEAC also criticized what it said was a lack of communication with community members during the design process.

“Feedback from parents, the Inclusion Task Force, and this committee appears to have had little, if any, impact on the final design. Concerns were raised and provided in writing to the School Board and APS staff in October 2015, allowing reasonable opportunity for these concerns to be accommodated,” ASEAC members wrote.

Universal Design principles, as defined by the Disability Act of 2005, were not applied to the new building and should not fall on the responsibility of parents to uphold, ASEAC said. Members called for the school to consider making the best of inclusive spaces such as the cafeteria, library and other common spaces.

In a letter, School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen said Universal Design was included throughout the design process and feedback from parents, administrators and faculty were considered throughout as well.

“We wish to confirm that design and operation of the new school on the Wilson will comply with the principles of Universal Design and inclusion and that students in the Stratford, ESOL HILT, Asperger’s and H-B Woodlawn programs will not be segregated from one another,” the School Board responded.

The full response to ASEAC, after the jump.

Thank you for writing to the School Board to share your concerns about the building design at the Wilson site.  We value your feedback on this matter and we have carefully reviewed your message.

We wish to confirm that design and operation of the new school on the Wilson will comply with the principles of Universal Design and inclusion and that students in the Stratford, ESOL HILT, Asperger’s and H-B Woodlawn programs will not be segregated from one another. Universal Design and inclusion have been addressed throughout the design process by APS staff and the architecture/engineering design team, with ongoing input from program parents, administrators and teachers.

  • All three entrances into the building from adjacent streets will be accessible and may serve all students to provide staff with multiple choices on how to manage arrival and dismissal.
  • All students will share the same library, cafeteria and clinic.
  • The main and auxiliary gymnasiums will be shared by all students; the two gymnasiums are needed to provide sufficient space for staff to schedule all physical education requirements for all students, including the three Adaptive Physical Education classes per week that are required for certain students in their IEPs.
  • Some classrooms used by students in the Stratford Program will be on the ground and first floors; classrooms for students in the ESOL HILT, Asperger’s and H-B Woodlawn programs will be distributed throughout the building.
  • All students will have access to an outdoor courtyard on the ground floor, the main field, which is accessed from the first floor, and to outdoor terraces on floors two, three, four and five.
  • Short-term reserved parking spaces will be provided for parents picking-up and dropping off students on-street, and in the adjacent parking garage, when completed.
  • The school will have four elevators, three main elevators that will serve all floors of the building and one that will serve the ground and first floors; all four elevators are sufficiently large to accommodate several different mobility devices at one time.

We are confident that when the new school on the Wilson property opens to students in 2019 it will provide innovative, agile and adaptable teaching and learning environments that will enable school administrators, teachers and staff to continue to find new ways of including students in all four programs with one another.

Information about Board action on the Final Design and Construction Award for the New School at Wilson is posted on Board Docs at http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/arlington/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AUWLER528046.

We appreciate the time you took to contact us.  Please continue to write to the School Board with any other concerns you may have or if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Dr. Barbara Kanninen
School Board Chair
Arlington Public Schools

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H-B Woodlawn Evacuated After Small Fire in Science Lab

H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program students were evacuated earlier today (Thursday) after a small fire in a science lab.

The Arlington County Fire Department responded to the school at 4100 Vacation Lane just after 12 p.m. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman said some paper caught on fire during an experiment in the lab.

The fire was quickly put out by the teacher before firefighters arrived, with students evacuated as a precaution. A fire department spokesman said firefighters monitored the air and checked for hazards, but no issues were found. The smoke cleared naturally, the spokesman said.

There were no injuries and there was only minor damage to the equipment being used. Students returned to classes soon after.

Courtesy photo

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W-L High School Closes Due to A/C Issues

Washington-Lee High School has been closed and students sent home early due to air conditioning issues.

The HVAC problems at W-L struck on one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Separately, the air conditioning system for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program was down this morning, but workers were able to get the chiller “back up and running,” according to an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman. Classes there remain in session.

Washington-Lee’s principal sent the following email to parents this morning.

Dear W-L Families,

We appreciate your children’s patience and resilience as we deal with the HVAC issue in the building.

APS has decided to release students early. We will follow these procedures:

Buses will operate per usual routes.

Walkers will make their way home as normal.

Students who are unable to depart at the new dismissal time may remain on campus — a room in the trailer, where HVAC is unaffected, is available.

APS Facilities and Operations are currently in the building trying to address the problem.

Thank you to our families for their flexibility and support during this unusual situation.

Sincerely,

Gregg

Dr. Gregg Robertson
Principal, Washington-Lee High School

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

"Red-shouldered hawk" by Erinn Shirley

Williamsburg to Implement Block Scheduling — Williamsburg Middle School will, in fact, be implementing a block schedule for classes next year, an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman tells ARLnow.com. While Kenmore has a modified block schedule for sixth grade, and Gunston is “exploring moving to a flexible schedule for next year,” Jefferson and Swanson are not considering moving to a block schedule, we’re told.

Home Prices Decline in Arlington in 2016 — Per WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh and listing service MRIS: “The median price in Arlington County last year was down 1.8 percent from 2015. Arlington and Alexandria were the only local jurisdictions to see declines in 2016 prices versus 2015.” [WTOP]

Grand Opening for Pamplona — New Clarendon restaurant Pamplona is holding its grand opening celebration tonight. The Spanish tapas restaurant is set in a self-described “sultry and sophisticated space, featuring colorful Spanish tiled floors, unique murals… and of course, an arsenal of bullheads.” [Facebook]

H-B Photography in Richmond — Work by H-B Woodlawn photography students is on display in the Richmond offices of Del. Patrick Hope. Hope plans to highlight one piece a day during the legislative session. [Twitter]

Multi-Generational Housing Construction — A 1950s ranch home near Bishop O’Connell High School is being torn down to make way for a new multi-generation house for a couple, their daughter and husband, and their grandchildren. [Falls Church News-Press]

When You Don’t Want Someone to Take Your Parking Cone — South Arlington is “so rough you have to lock up your cones,” as a photo apparently taken yesterday demonstrates. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Photos: Arlington Students Spread Messages of Love in Wake of Election

(Updated at 6 p.m.) Local high school students have been spreading messages of love to counter an otherwise gloomy post-election atmosphere in deep-blue, multicultural Arlington County.

During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump made statements that many felt were hurtful and threatening to immigrants, Muslims, people of color and, perhaps to a lesser extent, LGBT individuals — communities that are well-represented in Arlington. In response, students have their own message.

“Love and respect all life,” “stronger together,” “united not divided,” “forever forward,” and “love trumps hate,” are a few of the messages Washington-Lee High School students have written in chalk on the Stafford Street bridge near the school. There are also quotes from Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela.

Elsewhere in Arlington, a message to students at H-B Woodlawn (below) has gone viral on social media.

The message of reassurance, to women and minority communities, has spread on social media and received nearly a quarter million likes after pop star Lady Gaga posted it on her Instagram account.

At Wakefield High School, chalk messages outside the school entrance today included affirmations like “smile,” “you matter” and “be the change.”

Post-it notes on the school’s doors (below) also offered positive, personal messages for students, who were encouraged to take one on their way into school.

https://twitter.com/MrBurnsWHS/status/798139316551766016

https://twitter.com/whssuperfans/status/798149528679579648

Arlington was not totally immune to a national wave of hateful messages, however. In the wake of the election there were some isolated reports of racist (confirmed by police; link is NSFW), anti-gay (not confirmed by police; link is NSFW) and anti-Trump graffiti around Arlington.

The following graffiti incidents have been reported since last Tuesday’s election, according to an Arlington County Police spokeswoman.

GRAFFITI, 2016-11090173, 2700 block of S. Nelson Street. On November 9 at approximately 2:16 PM, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti in the area. Officers located a delivery truck vandalized with black spray paint but the words were not clearly written and officers could not determine what the graffiti stated. There are no suspect(s) descriptions.

GRAFFITI, 2016-11110113, 6600 block of Little Falls Road. On November 11 at approximately 11:34 AM, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti in the area. Officers located the words “Truck Frump,” “Bet,” “LMOA” and an obscenity spray painted on the football field. There are no suspect(s) descriptions.

GRAFFITI, 2016-11120136, W&OD Trail – Rt. 66 at N. Ohio Street. On November 12 at approximately 11:33 AM, police were dispatched to Bluemont Park for the report of graffiti in the area. Officers located numerous graffiti markings including the words “Trump,” “U.S. Border,” “Caution huge,” and a derogatory term spray painted on the pavement and wall. There are no suspect(s) description.

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County Board Approves Temporary Fire Station, Park Upgrades in Rosslyn

Following a recommendation from county staff, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to locate a temporary fire station next to the future Rosslyn home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program.

Fire Station 10 will be temporarily relocated to the corner of N. Quinn Street and 18th Street, not far from the current fire station, which is set to be torn down. The old, stand-alone station will be replaced with a modern fire station at the bottom of a new mixed-use development; developer Penzance will be paying for its construction.

A number of alternative temporary fire station locations were considered but found to be lacking. In approving the location — despite the objections of H-B Woodlawn parents — County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement that the Board made the best choice in a difficult situation.

This was a very tough decision for the Board. And we know that there will be members of the community who are disappointed. I think everyone will agree, however, that we listened to the community’s concerns and launched a thorough search for an alternative that would meet the criteria of providing fire protection and emergency medical services to Rosslyn, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We acknowledge that this solution will need to be accompanied by serious efforts to mitigate the impact of the fire station on the Wilson school site and the students who will be learning there. We have always said the redevelopment of Western Rosslyn is complex and difficult, but in the end, it will result in benefits for our entire community. We will have a wonderful new urban school, new, integrated open space, including a park that the developer has agreed to pay for, a fire station that the developer will build, affordable housing and a commercial building.

Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a “coordinated open space plan” for Rosslyn Highlands Park — a plan that will come to full fruition after the temporary fire station is removed to make way for a new field.

According to the plan, the renovated park will include:

  • Multi-use, lighted court for basketball and other sports
  • Sloped green lawns for added tree canopy, picnics, seating and play
  • Lighted, synthetic turf field at Wilson School
  • Planted/permeable field boundary with trees
  • Playgrounds for tots and school age children across the street from the main park
  • Community access to Wilson School indoor amenities including gym, cafeteria and theater
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County Staff Recommends Wilson School Site for Temporary Fire Station

County staff's temporary fire station site recommendation

This summer’s back-and-forth drama over the location for a temporary fire station in Rosslyn will culminate in a County Board vote this weekend.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending that the Board stick with the original plan: to build and operate a temporary fire station on the Wilson School site while Fire Station 10 is torn down and a new permanent fire station is built in its place as part of a private redevelopment.

That plan drew criticism from parents of H-B Woodlawn students, who worried that the temporary station would be built on what would otherwise be a field for the school, which will be moving to a new building on the Wilson School site in 2019.

In addition to concerns about the temporary loss of what little open space there is adjacent to the school, concerns were also raised about students being picked up on busy Wilson Blvd while the temporary station is in operation.

Parent outreach prompted county officials to examine alternative locations, but only two other viable alternatives were identified.

One, Rhodeside Green Park, was unpopular with local residents, who started a petition against it that garnered more than 750 signatures. A second, along Lee Highway near the Rosslyn Holiday Inn, was determined by county staff to be too small and challenging from a construction standpoint.

An online poll posted on the county’s website resulted in 420 votes for the Wilson School site. ƒThe Rhodeside Green Park site received 299 votes and the Lee Highway property 113 votes.

“After extensive analysis and additional community outreach, staff confirms its recommendation that the Wilson School site be selected as the location for the temporary fire station,” says a staff report. “While there is no perfect location, the Wilson School site is recommended.”

More excerpts from the staff report, after the jump.

The Wilson School site is recommended for the following reasons:

  • Of the available options, it best meets the fire response area requirements which are essential to public safety in Rosslyn. It is on the same block as the existing, and future location for Fire Station 10;
  • While this site will delay the delivery of the full playing field on the Wilson School site, the County has worked with Arlington Public Schools to identify options to mitigate some of the impacts for students, including installation of an on-site temporary recreational playfield and use of nearby County parks by Wilson School students. The new Wilson School also includes a gymnasium and unique rooftop spaces that will potentially provide recreational space for students.
  • Is sufficiently sized to accommodate all of the necessary facilities required to support a temporary fire station;
  • Has minimal topographical and utility constraints that would need to be corrected with site work to support a temporary fire station;
  • Is appropriately zoned and designated by the GLUP to support a temporary fire station;
  • The property is owned by the Arlington County School Board in its entirety and is the subject of a License Agreement between the County and the Arlington County School Board to use the site for a temporary fire station;
  • Requires no closures of roads and only minor adjustments to traffic signals;
  • Guarantees the completion of the permanent fire station sooner than if another site is selected for the temporary fire station; and
  • Placement of the temporary fire station in an area already home to a fire station, and an area to be home to a permanent fire station does not alter the expectations of nearby residents. The placement of a fire station on the site has been discussed for an extensive period of time as part of the WRAPS process.

Rhodeside Green Park was also considered as a possible site because of its location within the fire response area, County ownership, and adequate parcel size. However, the following factors were considered by staff to counsel against the siting of a temporary fire station at this location:

  • This public park was identified by the Fort Myer Heights North Plan as a significant existing public open space that deserves additional programming through a community process and the continued use as a public park;
  • Would locate the temporary fire station approximately 30 feet from existing townhouse units;
  • The site is not appropriately zoned or designated by the GLUP to permit use as a temporary fire station;
  • Would require the removal of 36 mature trees;
  • Would require the temporary displacement of a public park which serves all the members of the community, especially the surrounding neighborhood;
  • Would require the relocation of a 12-inch waterline that traverses the site and a 15-inch storm main in the southern portion of the site;
  • May contribute to a reduction in value of the adjacent residential properties; and
  • Introduction of a fire station (even though temporary) would be a change to the neighborhood and expectations of nearby residents.

The Lee Highway property located next to the Rosslyn Holiday Inn was determined not to be a
feasible location for the temporary fire station for the following reasons:

  • The site is too small to accommodate all of the necessary features to support a temporary fire station on this property;
  • Significant site work to bring the property to the elevation of 20th Street N. and N. Nash Street, as well as extensive utility relocations would be necessary;
  • On-street metered public parking spaces would need to be removed to accommodate the temporary fire station;
  • Traffic signals along Lee Highway would have to be retimed, which would exacerbate traffic conditions in an already congested corridor of Rosslyn and may adversely affect emergency response timing;
  • Siting the temporary fire station at this location would complicate access to the Holiday Inn’s parking garage from 20th Street N.; and
  • Introduction of a fire station (even though temporary) would be a change to the neighborhood and expectations of nearby residents.
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Arlington Students Head Back to School

(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) With the notable exception of Barcroft Elementary, which opened on Aug. 1, today was the first day of school for Arlington Public Schools students.

Kids and parents flocked back to local elementary, middle and high schools this morning, as the APS bus fleet traversed local roads. There were no major hiccups reported, save perhaps a fire alarm that was set off in the teacher’s lounge of Taylor Elementary around 10 a.m. (No smoke or fire was found.)

This morning at Abingdon Elementary, which is being renovated and expanded, students were greeted by a number of newly-installed relocatable classroom trailers on the field next to the school. Several Arlington County police officers were stationed at the intersection of 29th Street S. and S. Abingdon Street, to help keep cars moving amid a new traffic pattern for dropping off students.

At Carlin Springs Elementary, meanwhile, administrators literally rolled out a red carpet for new and returning students. At the new Arlington Tech, the program’s first 40 students arrived and began classes. At the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, upperclassmen formed tunnels for freshman students on their first day.

Arlington County Police and APS are urging drivers to be extra cautious on the roads as school gets back underway.

ACPD and APS officials, School Board members and school administrators were busy ringing in the first day of school on Twitter this morning. More back-to-school tweets, after the jump.

https://twitter.com/ASFSOnline/status/773157940559745024

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H-B Woodlawn Parents Worried About Temporary Fire Station Plan

Wilson site plan (image via Arlington County)The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program is gearing up to move to a brand new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year, but a new wrinkle in that plan is worrying parents.

On Friday, Arlington County announced that it was collaborating with Arlington Public Schools on a money-saving plan: a temporary fire station will be placed on the school’s field while developer Penzance constructs two new mixed-use buildings next door, on the county-owned site of the current Fire Station No. 10.

The development will provide a new, permanent fire station and 100 underground parking spaces for the school — when it’s completed in 2022. In the meantime, the temporary fire station will be placed on the field at the corner of N. Quinn and 18th streets, and Arlington County will provide off-site fields and parking for the school.

The county says the plan will save it $20 million and will save Arlington Public Schools $5 million — thanks to Penzance paying for the parking, the new fire station and a new Rosslyn Highlands Park, adjacent to the development.

“We realize that opening the school without a field will inconvenience students and staff,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We chose this site because the parking provided to APS for schools will save a considerable amount of money for the school project, and it is the best location by far for the temporary fire station. We believe that when the project is finally completed, this site will not only be a great new home for H-B and the Stratford Program, but will also provide many, many benefits to our community.”

Members of the H-B Woodlawn Parent Advisory Committee, however, were none too pleased with the idea of opening the school without a field and other factors that could have “an adverse impact on our children.”

In an email to members, the committee urges parents to reach out to County Board and School Board members before each considers approving the plan at their July meetings.

Dear Members of the H-B Woodlawn Community:

Our apologies for sending this message out on the Friday before a three-day weekend, but we thought it was important to bring this issue to your attention as soon as possible.

The School Board and County Board announced today that they are in negotiations to build a temporary fire station on the planned athletic fields at the new home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, at the Wilson site.  This plan is being rushed through with very limited public input and without serious consideration of its impact on students, staff, and visitors, in the name of saving money.  A press release regarding this proposal can be found here: Press Release

We strongly urge you to express your opposition to this proposal to members of the County Board ([email protected]) and members of the School Board ([email protected]).  Your emails should be addressed to County Board Chair Libby Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, and will be distributed to all members of each respective board, including H-B Woodlawn’s School Board member liaison Reid Goldstein.  The County Board plans to vote on this issue on July 16th and the School Board on July 21th.

Here are suggested points to make in your communications with Board members:

  • I strongly urge you to oppose the proposed licensing agreement that would allow a temporary fire station to be built on the planned athletic field at the Wilson site.
  • H-B Woodlawn and Stratford students’ instruction would be seriously compromised by the elimination of all outdoor physical education classes for three years or more if this proposal went forward.  The idea of bussing students to parks almost a mile away is unworkable, as the entire class period would be spent loading and unloading busses and driving back and forth.
  • The safety of HB Woodlawn and Stratford students, as well as staff and visitors, would be put at risk as the planned covered drop off and pick up entrance would be obstructed by an active fire station.  There has been no analysis of the transportation impact of this major change that will result in students being dropped off and picked up on Wilson Blvd., an idea the stakeholder representatives serving on the Wilson project design committee and APS already rejected.
  • There has been no public input to this last minute, backroom deal with a private developer.  Indeed, the APS School Board is considering this significant change to the new building without even asking the architects for revised schematics to understand the impact on the building design, without knowing what the temporary fire station would look like or how its colocation could impact instruction, and without a new traffic analysis to determine the safest and most efficient ways for bus, auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and emergency traffic to flow on and/or around the new campus.
  • The County should relocate the temporary fire station to another location that doesn’t have such an adverse impact on our children.

We will keep you informed as we gather more information about this proposal and its potential impact.

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Anti-Abortion Protesters Target H-B Woodlawn

HB Woodlawn Secondary School (via Arlington Public Schools)A group of anti-abortion protesters conducted an unannounced demonstration outside of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program Thursday afternoon.

The group “had graphic signs, they filmed students, parents and staff members, attempted to distribute flyers and to engage students in discussion,” according to the following letter to parents, sent by the school’s principal.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This afternoon, at dismissal, members of an anti-abortion group appeared in the auditorium parking lot and then on bus loop sidewalk in front of H-B Woodlawn. No advance notice was given to Arlington Public Schools or to H-B Woodlawn and this was not an approved event. HBW administrators and the Arlington police asked the group to move off of school property, but they claimed that they were in the public domain on a public sidewalk.

They had graphic signs, they filmed students, parents and staff members, attempted to distribute flyers and to engage students in discussion. It is unfortunate that they chose that type of confrontational method to express their views to students who are mostly ages 11-18. Please be assured it is not anything we would ever approve of or encourage, and we regret that the events took place. We will continue to have conversations here amongst staff and students about our procedures should they return.

Sincerely,

Casey Robinson
Principal

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