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Kenmore Middle School Wins National Special Olympics Award

Out of 30 qualifying schools across the nation, Kenmore Middle School has been selected as one of five schools chosen for the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools National Recognition Program.

The program recognizes schools that have met all 10 national standards of excellence set out by the leaders of the Special Olympics.

These standards include unified sports that allow students with and without disabilities to train and play as teammates, inclusive youth leadership, and engagement throughout the school. Schools must also demonstrate a plan to sustain these activities for years to come.

On April 12, ESPN will recognize Kenmore Middle School in a national banner awards ceremony.

Photo via Special Olympics Virginia

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Air Conditioning Problems Prompt Kenmore Middle School to Dismiss Early

The penultimate day of class for Kenmore Middle School students ended early due to air conditioning problems.

Kenmore was dismissed early after the A/C went out, a school spokesman confirmed to ARLnow.com. A parent said the HVAC issue, which happened on the hottest day of the year so far, forced “parents, students, teachers, staff and superintendent Murphy [to] swelter through 8th grade promotion ceremony” this morning.

The heat did not appear to dampen the spirits of those participating in the ceremony, however.

The school sent the following email to parents about the early dismissal.

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As many of you experienced this morning during eighth grade promotion, our HVAC system is not working. We are currently working on fixing the system, but in the meantime, the temperature in the building has continued to rise. Given the extreme heat expected this afternoon, we have decided to cancel school for the remainder of the day.

Students will be dismissed from school at 11:45 AM. Transportation will be provided buses to students. Students will also have lunch prior to leaving for the day.

The check-in program will still be open.

Thank you for your patience with this issue.

Sincerely,

David McBride
Principal

Photo (top) via Arlington Public Schools

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Arlington Police to Host Prescription Drug Take-Back Events

Police will provide an anonymous, safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs this weekend, no questions asked.

The Arlington County Police Department will hold prescription drug take back events on Saturday (April 28) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. They will collect prescription drugs at the following locations:

  • Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street)
  • Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
  • Gunston Community Center (2700 S. Lang Street)

Only pills and patches — not liquids, needles or sharps — will be accepted.

The Arlington County Department of Human Services will have staff members available at each location to provide information on substance abuse, and Virginia Hospital Center’s pharmacist outreach team will be on hand at the Langston-Brown Community Center to answer any questions regarding pills or medication.

The events are a part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Arlington County’s Sheriff’s Office. Officials hope the drug take back will result in fewer instances of pill abuse or theft.

For residents who can’t make it to a drop-off event, ACPD recommends throwing away pills by taking them out of the original container, adding water to melt the pills and then putting them in a bag with coffee grounds or cat litter before disposing in the garbage.

ACPD will host a town hall on the dangers of substance abuse from 7-9 p.m. on May 2 (Wednesday) at Kenmore Middle School.

In Arlington, the number of patients seeking treatment for opioid addiction increased by 245 percent from 2015-2017. In 2015, 100 patients sought treatment, but in 2017 that number rose to 345 patients.

Photo via Wikimedia/Sponge

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APS Looking to Add Solar Panels to Five Schools

Arlington Public Schools plans to add solar panels to five school buildings, including the soon-to-be-built Alice West Fleet Elementary School.

APS issued a Request for Proposals on December 1, calling for companies to bid to install solar panels at Kenmore and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools, Tuckahoe and Fleet Elementary Schools and Washington-Lee High School.

Fleet Elementary School will be built on the site of Thomas Jefferson, and is projected to be open in September 2019.

In the call for proposals, APS said it is seeking to be increasingly environmentally friendly in construction projects and its existing buildings, and hopes the panels will help it keep up with its schools’ energy demands.

“APS stresses energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in the design of all construction and maintenance projects,” it reads. “APS is aware of the energy and environmental advantages of solar power and has multiple buildings used as schools for all age groups and administrative offices which appear to have design characteristics which make them appropriate for the installation of [solar panels] which will produce electric power to meet, or contribute to meeting, the power needs of APS.”

The successful bidder would install the solar panels, and operate and maintain them under a lease agreement with APS for a minimum of 15 years. APS said the winning company would also be responsible for all installation and maintenance costs, but would pay rent of $1 a year for the panels.

Proposals are due on March 19, 2018. The RFP comes months after Kenmore was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Blasts GOP Tax Bill — Says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) regarding the tax bill that passed the House yesterday: “I am adamantly opposed to the House Republican tax bill, H.R.1. The bill will raise taxes on millions of middle class Americans in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, and yet still manages to explode the deficit.” [Rep. Don Beyer]

Crystal City Scores 320 Jobs — A Georgetown-based nonprofit is moving much of its staff to a new office in Crystal City, leasing 90,000 square feet and adding 320 jobs in Arlington County. The move was announced by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who approved a $500,000 state grant to assist Arlington with the project. [Virginia Business, Bisnow]

Dems Seek Ways to Defeat Vihstadt — “John Vihstadt, who in 2014 broke the Democratic stranglehold on the Arlington County Board, is ready to go back to the voters in 2018. And Arlington Democrats already are strategizing on how to oust him from office.” [InsideNova]

Charges Dropped Against ‘Laughing Librarian’ — Arlington librarian and Code Pink activist Desirée Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has had the case against her dropped by the Justice Department. [American Libraries, NPR]

Incident at Kenmore Middle School — A tipster tells ARLnow.com that a Kenmore Middle School student was arrested yesterday afternoon for assaulting a PE teacher. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman, however, did not confirm that an arrest was made, saying: “There was an incident earlier today between a student and a teacher. Staff is following normal disciplinary procedures. But beyond that, we can’t disclose anymore because it is a student matter.”

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Kenmore Middle School Staffer to Compete on ‘The Voice’

Brandon Showell, a special education instructional assistant at Arlington’s Kenmore Middle School, is a contestant on the new season of NBC’s The Voice, ARLnow.com has confirmed.

Showell previously auditioned for another singing show, X Factor, with his band 4 Shore, while he was a senior at George Mason University. This time around he’s competing solo.

On the show, Showell will be placed on the team of one of show’s four star coaches, which this year include Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton.

It is shaping up to be a big year for Showell, who married fellow Kenmore instructional assistant and GMU graduate Perla Farias over the summer. However, he is not the first person from Kenmore to appear on The Voice — that honor belongs to Samantha Rios, who competed on the Spanish-language version of the show while an eighth-grader at Kenmore in 2015.

The Voice premieres this coming Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC. No word yet on when Showell will first appear on the show.

Courtesy photo

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Schools Plan to Expand Using Temporary Classrooms, Interior Modifications

Arlington Public Schools will look to temporarily add more space to try to cope with its rising enrollment by adding temporary classrooms and making interior adjustments at several schools.

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on a slew of proposals across eight schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels at its meeting Saturday (July 15). The temporary solutions are all recommended for approval by county staff, as “student enrollment is growing at a faster rate than APS can provide new schools and classrooms.”

Some are looking to add more temporary, trailer classrooms — known in APS parlance as “relocatables” — while others will make interior adjustments to add more space.

The following schools are applying to add relocatables:

The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:

Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps

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Kenmore Middle School Receives Grant for Solar Panel

Kenmore Middle School was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.

A 1.2 kilowatt panel will be installed on the school’s roof to convert sunlight into electricity, with real-time data displays to help classroom learning. It is estimated the panel will generate enough electricity to power 18 desktop computers, or 15 42-inch LED TVs.

In addition to the panel, the program comes with technical support, training for teachers and educational materials that will enable students to monitor, track and learn about solar power production.

In June 2015, Dominion Energy partnered with the nonprofit National Energy Education Development Project to launch the program. The program is for Virginia students, teachers and communities in areas served by Dominion, and gives them hands-on experience with solar power.

Kenmore will share the $150,000 solar panel grant with schools across Virginia and the Children’s Museum in Richmond, having been selected from 35 applicants statewide. Jeff Politzer, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) teacher at Kenmore, helped apply for the grant.

“We started the process months ago and then we had to meet with people form Arlington County,” he said. “We did a site supervise, we did a walk through. We wanted to see what location would be best.”

Around 750 students gathered in the school’s auditorium today to learn about their gift.

Scott Reamy, external affairs manager at Dominion Energy, built up to the announcement by having the students guess what the surprise was.

“I want to see if you all can figure it out,” he said. “It was created in 1958. It’s been to space and back.”

“Solar panels!” shouted a student in the back of the room.

The solar panel has not yet been installed at the school. At the event, officials had no further information on when the school can expect its new panel to be added.

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Residents Start Petition Against High School On Kenmore Campus

Just days after local parents launched a petition favoring building a high school next to Kenmore Middle School, others have begun a petition of their own against the plan.

The petition against the Kenmore plan raises concerns about the impact on traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, which it says would increase the number of students that attend nearby schools from 2,200 to approximately 3,500.

“Carlin Springs Road is one of the County’s few north/south arterials and a major commuter thoroughfare,” the petition reads. “There is no reasonable alternative to Carlin Springs Road for many people using this route. Adding students would add vehicular traffic in the form of school buses, and cars for students and staff. The increase in traffic and the increase in the number of students crossing Carlin Springs Road will increase the threat of accidents involving students.”

The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33-acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new 1,300-seat high school.

The other two options remaining are to develop a ninth-grade academy on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee High School, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created, or build at the Arlington Career Center site to co-locate with Arlington Tech.

The petition was also critical of the process to determine the site of the new high school.

“The planning process by the County and the School Board to engage in more proactive planning is appreciated,” it reads, “but it appears that the effort to site the 1,300 [seat] high school seats is short circuiting the process.”

Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Education Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.

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Parents Start Petition in Favor of High School on Kenmore Campus

A proposal to build a high school next to Kenmore Middle School appears to have garnered some support among local parents.

The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33 acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new high school.

A petition in support of the Kenmore plan — and against expanding Washington-Lee High School — has garnered more than 100 signatures.

“This would be a smaller high school initially but would have the potential to become a 4th comprehensive high school if a new middle school building can be built elsewhere in the near future,” the petition says. “School start times could be staggered, and officials have recognized the need to improve access to the campus to relieve traffic.”

(Currently, the county has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield.)

Of the other two options remaining, Superintendent Patrick Murphy said a ninth-grade academy would be developed on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created.

That, says petition supporters, would make W-L far too large of a school.

“Students would share common spaces and fields with students already at W-L,” says the petition. “This would place 3,500 to 4,000 high school students in one location.”

The third option is to build at the Arlington Career Center, expanding Arlington Tech and allowing for the repurposing of the Education Center. Supporters of the Kenmore option say the plan to build at the Career Center would force that to be a choice program, something that has come in for criticism online given Arlington Public Schools’ enrollment growth.

“Choice schools were great when the schools were under-enrolled and kids had a decent chance of getting into them,” wrote one commenter on a message board for local moms. “Now getting into a choice school is like a Golden Ticket while everyone else is crammed into high schools that are getting too big and you don’t know the people in your class. We can’t afford to spend $100 million on choice schools like HB [Woodlawn] while the rest of the peasants make do in trailers smuched [sic] together at other high schools.”

“[The] Kenmore option is the only option that establishes a solid pathway to a 4th comprehensive high school, which the APS system desperately needs,” the petition says.

Earlier this week, the Yorktown PTA hosted a town hall with Board members Barbara Kanninen and Reid Goldstein. Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Career Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.

Photo via Google Maps

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Three Sites Named as Finalists for New High School

And then there were three. The list of nine possible sites for Arlington County’s new public high school has been whittled down to three finalists.

At a work session last night, the School Board weighed constructing a 1,300-seat high school at the sites of Kenmore Middle School, the Arlington Career Center and the APS Education Center. The new school is expected to open at one of these locations in September 2022.

The options have been narrowed based on staff analyses of the pros and cons each site presents, along with feedback from the Facilities Advisory Council and the community.

The Board still must determine whether the school would be a specialized choice school, like Arlington Tech or H-B Woodlawn, or a community high school like Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The information gathered thus far from surveyed community members indicates that 44 percent favor a neighborhood school and 56 percent favor a specialized school.

Board member Tannia Talento brought up the importance of further examining the impact of traffic, parking and walkability at each site. She said that parking needs and traffic for extracurricular activities and special events come into play in addition to the daily school needs.

“How is it impacting the neighborhood? These things will come into play when we’re adding 1,300 seats at a site like the Ed Center or Kenmore,” she said.

School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen questioned the feasibility of renovating or expanding any of the proposed sites rather than starting from scratch with building. That potentially could accelerate the project for completion before 2022. Regarding school overcrowding, “We really know we hit trouble in 2021,” she said.

Board chairwoman Nancy Van Doren echoed Kanninen’s sentiment about site renovation or expansion, adding that such an option could provide cost savings, perhaps even through a phased plan for adding seats over time.

“I would like to perhaps consider a hybrid option,” Van Doren said. “One of my personal criteria is cost and making sure we have enough money to build all the seats we need going forward. So if there are ways that we can provide additions or renovations at a lower cost than the total amount of money that we have currently allocated, then I’d be very interested in that.”

Site analyses will continue through mid-May, and final recommendations are expected at the Board’s May 15 work session. Final site approval is anticipated for June. Until that time, staff will continue to engage the community about the three high school site options, including through feedback received via the “Engage with APS” website.

“This is about our kids and about our families and it is emotional,” Van Doren said.

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Social Media Clown Threats Target Arlington Middle Schools

Instagram 'clown' threat against Arlington middle schoolsArlington is the latest place to have its schools threatened by “creepy clown” social media accounts.

Hoax social media posts, often featuring images of sinister-looking clowns, have threatened schools across the country. Thus far the posts have led to numerous arrests of teens suspected of making the threats, but no reported violence.

Last night, two Instagram accounts — @virginiaclowns and @dmv_clowns — posted similar threats, warning of shootings at a number of area schools, including Kenmore, Gunston and Thomas Jefferson middle schools in Arlington.

The threats have prompted a stepped-up police presence at Arlington schools this morning.

“We are aware [of the threats] and were in contact with the Arlington Police Department staff last night when we saw the messages,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “As a precaution, ACPD has had an increased presence at our schools this morning.”

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Morning Notes

Bunny rabbit (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

It’s September — Bid an especially hot and sweaty August adieu, September is here. Get ready for kids going back to school, fall beer tastingsoutdoor festivals, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and cooler weather. As a reminder, however: it’s still summer until Sept. 22.

Author Talk at Kenmore — Best-selling author Ann Patchett will be discussing her new book Commonwealth, which is set in part in Arlington, at an event on Thursday, Sept. 15. The event, at the Kenmore Middle School auditorium, is open to the public, with RSVP; it’s sponsored by One More Page Books and Arlington Public Library. [Eventbrite]

CEB CEO Stepping Down — Tom Monahan, the CEO of the publicly traded, Rosslyn-based firm CEB, is stepping down. The search is now on for a new chief executive for the 4,500-employee company, which will be moving to a gleaming new office tower after construction wraps up, likely in 2018. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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ACPD to Host Summer Block Party at Kenmore Middle School Next Week

ACPD Summer Block Party 2016, photo via Arlington CountyArlington County Police Department officers are set to bond with locals over free barbecue, games and activities during a summer block party next week.

The police department is scheduled to host a summer block party at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road) on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“This free event provides residents an opportunity to get to know their neighbors and police officers while enjoying interactive stations, safety demonstrations, entertainment, food and much more,” ACPD said in a press release.

Some of the events planned for this year’s block party include a police cruiser expo, K9 demonstration and a “mini academy” where attendees can try their hand at being a cop.

The party will also have a moon bounce and a “kid zone” with badge-making, a “need for speed” police driving experience and an area where kids can try on police gear.

Additionally, the celebration will have “lots of sauce” from Rocklands Barbeque, according to an ACPD promotional video:

Image via Arlington County

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ACPD to Participate in National Night Out Events Across Arlington Tomorrow

National Night Out 2016 logoArlington County Police Department officers are set to meet with locals during fun community gatherings at six locations across the county tomorrow night.

The planned events are held as part of National Night Out, a “community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie,” according to a flyer distributed by the police department.

National Night Out celebrations are a chance for police and members of the community to come together, usually over free food and activities.

National Night Out events will be held at the following locations:

  • Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
  • Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
  • Farlington Villages Pool 2 (3045 S. Buchanan Street) from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Park Glen Condo Associations: (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Whitefield Commons: (106 N. Thomas Street) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Image via ACPD National Night Out Flyer

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