Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Police Called for Man Spitting on Bus Passengers — An incident on a bus prompted a police response Thursday afternoon. Per ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage: “At approximately 1:38 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly subject on a Metro bus in the area of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street. The suspect left the area prior to police arrival and a search by responding officers returned with negative results… The call for service alleged the subject was acting disorderly and spitting on individuals on the bus.”

Arlington Company Is Among Fastest-Growing — Ballston-based Hungry is the fastest-growing technology firm in the D.C. area and the 18th fastest growing tech company in the nation, according to a new list from Deloitte. Another Ballston tech company, Evolent Health, ranked No. 402 in the U.S. [Deloitte]

NAACP Statement on H-B Incident — “We are pleased that the principal took swift action to notify families and meet with affected students and that the Superintendent followed up with a letter to APS families with an honest depiction that did not minimize the significance or harm it caused. This act of racial violence is the latest and most egregious in a progressive pattern of racist incidents occurring within our schools.” [Press Release]

Grant to Help Local Tourism Recover — “Arlington Convention and Visitors Service has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of state grant funds.” [Arlington County]

ACFD Hosting Kids’ Bedtime Stories — “We are extremely excited to host our 4th Virtual Bedtime Story/ Fire Engine Tour! Spots are limited and previous events have maxed out quickly. If you are interested in joining please email [email protected] Can’t wait to see you Monday night.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

More County Website Problems — Arlington County’s website again suffered technical difficulties yesterday afternoon. The issues were resolved within a few hours. [@ArlingtonVA/Twitter]

Gondolas Gaining in Popularity — “Air gondolas — ski-lift-type conveyances that have become common sights in South American cities like Medellín, Mexico City and La Paz — could one day dot the U.S. urban landscape, some transportation planners say.” [Axios]

Nearby: Car Plows Into CD Cellar — The CD Cellar store in Falls Church was damaged after a car came crashing through one of the front windows earlier this week. “Someone thought we were a drive-thru record store,” CD Cellar quipped on social media. [Facebook]

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A fill-in-the-blank question during a science class at H-B Woodlawn has caused an uproar.

The chemistry question, asked Tuesday during what ARLnow is told was a 10th grade class, references the police killing of George Floyd.

“George Floyd couldn’t breathe because a police officer put his _____ George’s neck,” the question reads. The answer is “neon,” the element that sounds like “knee on.”

Classes are currently being held virtually at Arlington public schools. Shortly after the class, a screenshot of the question started circulating on social media, and parents started calling the school.

“There is no diversity in my school and apparently there was a bunch of white silence when this happened this morning,” a student’s social media post said. “White students were making excuses or seemed ‘too tired to talk about it’ shame on those people that’s disgusting.”

The teacher “tried to pass it off as something ‘everyone would know/easy to get,'” the post adds.

H-B Woodlawn’s student body is 4.4% Black, according to civil rights statistics published by Arlington Public Schools. That’s well under the 11% average across all APS high schools.

In a letter to families sent Wednesday, H-B’s principal said the secondary program — once known as “Hippie High” for its liberal approach to education — “does not tolerate any form of cultural or racial insensitivity.”

“We will be meeting directly with the students in the class, and will work with all of our H-B Woodlawn students to process the incident,” the letter goes on to say. “Our Student Services Team will be available for individual counseling and students can reach out directly to me as well.”

On Thursday, Superintendent Francisco Durán weighed in, with an email sent to all APS families.

“The content referenced the killing of George Floyd in an unacceptable and senseless way, which hurt and alarmed our students, staff, families, and the community,” Durán wrote. ‘The reference showed extremely poor judgement and a blatant disregard for African American lives.”

“The teacher has been relieved of classroom duties while an investigation related to this matter takes place,” Durán continued. “I want to assure everyone that this situation will be handled in accordance with our policies, and all staff are held to the highest standards of professional behavior.”

The principal’s letter, obtained by ARLnow, is below.

The H-B Woodlawn community does not tolerate any form of cultural or racial insensitivity. We prioritize making H-B Woodlawn a safe and inclusive space for all students, staff, and parents. Yesterday an incident occurred that conflicts with our core values of respect, trust, social justice, and diversity.

During a class presentation a teacher shared an example that showed significant racial insensitivity. It was unacceptable. We will be meeting directly with the students in the class, and will work with all of our H-B Woodlawn students to process the incident. We will use all of the HBW and APS resources at our disposal to do so. Students should reach out to a trusted adult at HBW if they want to discuss this matter further. Our Student Services Team will be available for individual counseling (emails below) and students can reach out directly to me as well.

Though this is an ongoing matter, and we cannot provide additional details, we appreciate all the students, parents, and alumni who have reached out — for their concern, and their thoughts and ideas on productively moving forward. We will continue to update the community on the steps we are taking both in the short-term and long-term. Every student deserves a positive educational experience where they feel safe, secure, and have a strong sense of belonging.

Casey Robinson

Principal

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Students who attend the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the Shriver Program, at the new Heights Building in Rosslyn, are staying home today.

The building is closed, Arlington Public Schools said in an email to families (below), after a contractor accidentally broke a sprinkler line, causing the library, gymnasium and some classrooms to flood. The closure may stretch into Wednesday if repairs and cleanup from the water damage are not completed in time.

APS plans to notify families by 6 p.m. tonight whether school will be back in session tomorrow.

The $100 million building opened just in time for the start of the school year this past September. More from APS:

The Heights Building, including H-B Woodlawn, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program and administrative offices, will be closed Tuesday, February 18, due to an accidental break in a sprinkler line caused by a contractor performing work on Monday. The break caused water damage in the library, gymnasium and adjacent classrooms. Repairs and clean-up are in progress. Unless otherwise directed, essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time on Tuesday, and custodians should report to work at 6 a.m. Extracurricular activities, games, team practices, field trips and other scheduled activities for H-B Woodlawn and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program at The Heights Building are also cancelled. We apologize for the inconvenience and will keep families informed of the status. Families will be notified by 6 p.m. on Tuesday regarding the operating status for Wednesday, February 19.

Update at 4:30 p.m. — The building and the programs will remain closed on Wednesday, Arlington Public Schools just announced.

Hat tip to anonymous. Photo via Arlington County.

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Arlington County’s 2019 DESIGNArlington award winners were announced earlier this week.

The big winners receiving the Award of Excellence include a cemetery, a mall, a school and two houses. Others were recognized with Merit Awards.

“DESIGNArlington 2019 award recipients were recognized for projects including public art, private home renovations, new construction, open space, sustainable design and historic preservation,” says the awards’ website. The winners were selected by a panel of local judges with architectural, planning and design backgrounds.

The Award of Excellence winners are:

  • Arlington National Cemetery’s Millennium Project — “The design accommodates an additional 56,000 interments through a combination of in-ground casket burials, cremation burials, and cremation interments in multiple courtyards across the site.”
  • Ballston Quarter mall (Ballston) — “The mall’s reconfiguration creates a shopping loop along Wilson Boulevard and through the newly converted ‘street.'”
  • The Heights Building (Rosslyn) — “[The school’s] vertical design creatively responds to site constraints and meets the main goals of providing a central space that connects the building levels with access to outdoor space at all levels.”
  • Manifold House (Lyon Village) — “Inspired by the owner’s passion for repairing small-scale engine parts, Manifold House is an ode to the precision of manufactured assemblages.”
  • Rubio Residence (Donaldson Run) — “This addition enhances a classic, early 1940’s Art Moderne house with both complimentary massing and similar architectural vocabulary.”
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Morning Notes

Metro’s Fire Hydrant Problem — “A fire safety advocate and a D.C. firefighter took to social media Tuesday to criticize the transit agency after a Metrobus was spotted parked in front of a hydrant in Pentagon City for about 10 minutes. They also said it’s a chronic problem.” [Washington Post]

Va. Was Amazon Oasis After NYC Debacle — “In late January, Holly Sullivan, the head of world-wide development at Amazon, returned to Washington, D.C., where she and some colleagues dined with executives from JBG Smith, the real-estate firm managing the Arlington County site.. A JBG Smith official remarked that Amazon’s team looked like it had come from a war zone. ‘How much more space can we get in Virginia?’ one of the Amazon executives joked.” [Wall Street Journal, Twitter]

Ballston Office Building Sold — “Hines Interests LP has acquired Ballston’s Two Liberty Center” — where ARLnow has its offices — “from New York-based real estate investment management company Westbrook Partners for $93.2 million. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (NYSE: JLL) brokered the Aug. 20 sale of the 178,000-square foot, nine-story building.” [Washington Business Journal]

APS Expanding Healthy Lunch Options — “In 2017, Café + Teria was originally introduced to high school students attending Arlington, Virginia’s three public high schools, Wakefield, Yorktown and Washington-Lee. Due to the success at these schools in Arlington it will also expand to The Heights (the new home of H-B Woodlawn) and the Arlington… Career Center on September 3.” [Press Release]

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) There’s still a lot that needs to be done in The Heights, the new home of H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the Shriver Program, before the school opens next week.

Construction crews are putting on the finishing touches of the building at 1601 Wilson Blvd even as teachers get their classrooms ready for the start of school next Tuesday (Sept. 3). Much of the state-of-the-art interior is completed.

Demolition for the old Wilson School at the site started in 2017, with crews working since then to build the new, five-story terraced structure. Most of the building is slated to be open and usable when school starts, though the auditorium remains under construction. Jeffrey Chambers, director of design and construction for Arlington Public Schools, explained that there’s still construction work that needs to be done and it won’t be accessible until a few weeks after the school opens.

There are other projects around the school, smaller pieces Chambers described as “finishing up the punch list,” but Chambers said any construction work that would be disruptive to students will be done after hours.

“We’re excited to open in a week,” said Dr. Casey Robinson, principal of H-B Woodlawn. “There’s lots to do and we’re having lots of fun exploring the new space.”

H-B Woodlawn is a secondary program with a focus on students playing an integral role in developing school curriculum and shaping the culture of the school. Robinson was a student at the old H-B Woodlawn and later became a teacher there, so like much of the faculty she’s still adjusting to the new location, but she and the others are approaching it with a smile.

“We’ve been telling ourselves and our students that the comfortable feeling [at the old school] took 40 years to create,” Robinson said. “It won’t happen overnight.”

But artifacts brought over from the old school have helped soften the blow of the move for Robinson, as has an elaborate mural painted across the main common area that includes images from the generations that decorated the walls of the old school. Robinson said a “town meeting” planned with faculty and students will decide how the relics should be displayed.

The lower two floors of the building will be devoted to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program — formerly the Stratford Program. The two programs will share a common area, cafeteria, auditorium and other school amenities.

“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am [for school to start again],” said Dr. Karen Gerry, principal of the Shriver Program. “It’s surreal to be in this beautiful building and we’re excited to collaborate again with H-B Woodlawn.”

Plans for the new building haven’t always been happily received by the H-B Woodlawn community, but faculty at the school seemed determined to make the best of the new, more urban location.

“All of your familiar teachers are ready to welcome you back,” Robinson said.

Bill Podolski, director of choral activities at H-B Woodlawn, wore a shirt with an artistic rendering of the school’s former beloved home — which has been transformed into a neighborhood middle school — but seemed happy in a spacious band room with a full wall of multi-floor windows.

“We’re going to make it home,” said Podolski.

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Morning Notes

Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]

Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]

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Construction is proceeding as planned on The Heights Building, the name of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program’s new home at the former Wilson School site in Rosslyn.

Located at 1601 Wilson Blvd, The Heights Building will include an estimated 775 seats for students, at a cost of around $100 million. The Leo A. Daly– and BIG-designed building, with its unique stacked-rectangle design, will house both H-B Woodlawn and the Stratford Program.

H-B Woodlawn, an arts-oriented high school program with a focus on self-discipline, was once known as “hippie high.” Stratford is a secondary school for students with special needs.

Demolition for the project started in 2017.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow that the project remains “on schedule to open in September,” though he offered no other details on the construction progress so far.

Meanwhile, next to The Heights Building, another large construction project is underway. Excavation for the massive project — which will feature three towers, a park and a new road as part of a mixed-use development called The Highlands — appears to be mostly complete.

More from our prior coverage in October:

Work is kicking off on a massive new development in West Rosslyn, and its developer is offering a first look at its plans to build three new residential towers, a new fire station and an improved Rosslyn Highlands Park.

The D.C. developer Penzance announced today (Monday) that it would be dubbing the project “The Highlands,” which will be located at 1555 Wilson Blvd.

In all, the development will include 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space, including a new CVS pharmacy replacing the old shop at the location that closed earlier this year.

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A senior from Arlington’s H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program appeared on NBC’s The Voice last night.

While Calista Garcia didn’t move on to the next round, her audition did get praise from the judges — including John Legend and Adam Levine — for her choice of song. Legend said she has a “powerful voice” but “wasn’t quite there.”

Garcia made headlines last year after she was selected as a 2019 Strathmore Artist in Residence.

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Morning Notes

H-B’s Rosslyn Home Has New Name — The new Rosslyn home for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program has a new name, after a School Board vote last night. The under-construction structure’s new name: The Heights Building. The vote came after the School Board voted to change the name of Washington-Lee to Washington-Liberty. [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

CPRO Gets New Interim Leader — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has named Karen Vasquez as its Interim Executive Director. Karen has spent the last fifteen years working in the field of economic development, creating compelling stories to help recruit and retain Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, hotels and more to Arlington, Virginia.” [CPRO]

Animal Welfare League Nabs Chicken — “AWLA’s 75th animal control case of our 75th year came in just a few days ago! We received a call about a chicken on 8th Rd S., and Officer Swetnam was able to catch the chicken, now affectionately called Henny Penny, and bring her back to the shelter. [Instagram]

Arlington Housing Costs Top D.C. ‘burbs — “Homes in Arlington had the highest per-square-foot costs across the Washington suburbs, according to new sales data, although most jurisdictions saw lower averages from a year before. Arlington’s per-square-foot cost of $435 led the pack but was down from $473 in 2017, according to figures reported Jan. 10.” [InsideNova]

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