(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) As the development plans stack up for Crystal City and Pentagon City, the need for a new school could be growing.
As plans progress for Amazon’s second headquarters, developer JBG Smith has submitted its own plans to the county proposing to build thousands of additional apartments (and potentially condos) in the area, to help house the tens of thousands expected to one day work at HQ2.
JBG Smith’s plans for Crystal City and the Pentagon City area so far include adding:
- About 1,000 new housing units at the RiverHouse development
- 790 units in two new structures at 1900 Crystal Drive
- 762 units in its towers planned on S. Bell Street
- 752 units at its two connected, V-shaped towers planned for 2525 Crystal Drive
- 645 units along 23rd Street S.
While apartment buildings catering to younger workers are unlikely to generate an abundance of students — in 2015 it was reported that the entire 1,670-unit Riverhouse complex in Pentagon City only housed 30 Oakridge students — the redevelopment plans are still raising an eyebrow among those monitoring school capacity issues.
Local officials tell ARLnow that there are no specific plans in the works for building a new school to accommodate new students in the area. There has been past discussion, however, of Vornado (now JBG Smith) providing a site for a new school.
“As of this moment, [Arlington’s planning department] has not had any discussions with JBG Smith about any of their pending applications regarding providing a school site,” a county spokeswoman when asked whether there are current school-related discussions with the developer.
In an interview with the Washington Business Journal, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said that in exchange for approving the massive developments, the county could ask JBG Smith for a package of “truly transformative community benefit improvements.”
Dorsey did not immediately respond to a request by ARLnow to clarify what might be included in such a package.
“APS has discussed an elementary school in that area in the past,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia, when asked if Arlington Public Schools was considering adding a new school to the area.
“Specifically, the South Arlington Working Group had identified the Aurora Highlands neighborhood,” which is adjacent to Pentagon City and Crystal City, as a potential site, Bellavia said Thursday. “We are in the process of working through our future seat needs and will most likely need elementary seats in that neighborhood.”
Prior to its merger with JBG Smith, Vornado had given APS a tour of vacant office space it owned nearby which could be converted into a school.
APS will be updating its facilities plan in early 2020 as part of the county’s 2021-30 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), according to Bellavia.
A spokeswoman for JBG Smith said the developer is “working with the County but it’s too early to discuss the community benefits package.”
The USS Arlington, named for the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, is soon bound for its second overseas deployment.
The U.S. Navy vessel is currently at sea preparing for the deployment, away from its base at Naval Station Norfolk, according to a news release. The ship is one of three named for the victims of 9/11, and was commissioned back in 2013.
Members of the county’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee visited the ship in Norfolk two weeks ago before it went out to sea, in order to meet with its commander, Navy Capt. Todd Marzano. According to the county, “the group discussed opportunities for greater interaction with Arlingtonians, both virtual and in-person.”
They settled on forming a new partnership where a county school will “adopt” the ship, with students getting a chance to stay in regular communication with its crew. The group picked Oakridge Elementary School as the first school to participate in the program, and the county says “work is underway to plan the first activities.”
A small team of the ship’s crew members not set to be deployed also recently traveled to the county to run in this past Saturday’s Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K.
The USS Arlington has a crew of 360 sailors, and is one of the Navy’s 11 San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks.
Photo via Facebook
A top Nestle official will join Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe at Oakridge Elementary School on Friday to announce the company’s support for an anti-child hunger initiative.
Nestle’s USA CFO Steve Presley will announce the company’s support for the initiative alongside McAuliffe, who is described by the spokeswoman as a “longtime advocate of fighting childhood hunger.” The event is scheduled to take place from 8:20-9:40 a.m. at the school in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood near Crystal City.
McAuliffe is part of the No Kid Hungry initiative, alongside the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Education and several corporate partners.
The public-private initiative aims to end child hunger in America by ensuring children have access to healthy food where they live and where they learn.
“Oakridge Elementary has implemented a breakfast program in partnership with No Kid Hungry that aims to provide children with a healthy, nutritious start to their day,” the spokeswoman said.
An Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirmed the visit, and said McAuliffe will show the officials from Nestle “how the school serves breakfast.”
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:
- Claremont Elementary School (One relocatable, bringing total capacity up to 767)
- Arlington Traditional School (One relocatable, bringing total capacity up to 538)
- Long Branch Elementary School (Four-classroom relocatable at Fillmore Park to replace two relocatables, bringing total capacity up to 629). APS is also applying to extend the lease for Long Branch’s use of part of the park for classroom space to July 2020
- Oakridge Elementary School (Two relocatables and a relocatable gym building, increasing total capacity to 866)
- Patrick Henry Elementary School (Four-classroom relocatable, increasing total capacity to 703)
The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:
- Kenmore Middle School (Increasing total capacity to 1,060)
- Wakefield High School (Increasing total capacity to 2,203)
- Gunston Middle School (Adding two new classrooms, increasing total capacity to 1,004)
Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps
Norovirus Outbreak at School — More than 80 students at Oakridge Elementary in south Arlington are out sick as a result of a suspected norovirus outbreak. The virus causes symptoms like “stomach aches, fever, vomiting and, in some cases, diarrhea.” [NBC Washington]
Sign Controversy at Yorktown — Some conservatives are upset that teachers at Yorktown High School are being allowed to hang “politically suggestive” signs in their classrooms. The signs read: “Patriots Know: Facts are not political. Diversity strengthens us. Science is real. Women’s rights are human rights. Justice is for all. We’re all immigrants. Kindness is everything.” [Daily Caller]
Yorktown Lacrosse Star Nears 200 Goals — Yorktown senior lacrosse star Laura Crawford is nearing the 200-goal mark for high school career. Crawford, a three-time team MVP, has committed to Penn. [Washington Post]
Female UAE Hockey Player Visits Caps — Fatima Al Ali, a hockey player and coach from United Arab Emirates, has been visiting with the Washington Capitals this week as part of the NHL’s “Hockey Is For Everyone month.” The visit has included taking the ice at the Caps practice facility in Ballston and dropping the puck at last night’s game at Verizon Center. [Fox 5, Al-Arabiya]
Levine, Favola Advance Rape Kit Bill — Updated at 9:40 a.m. — Legislation sponsored by Del. Mark Levine and state Sen. Barbara Favola, which Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol helped to craft, has passed unanimously in the Virginia House of Delegates. The bill calls for police to keep rape kits for a longer period of time even if the victim is not ready to prosecute. [WVTF]
MMA Studio Gives Parents a Night Off — A mixed martial arts gym is not a place that one would usually think of as a babysitting venue, but that’s precisely what Pentagon MMA on Columbia Pike will be Saturday night. The business is hosting a “parents’ night out” event for Valentine’s Day, letting mom or dad “enjoy a worry-free evening with your special someone this Valentine’s Day while your child enjoys a night of structured activities in a supervised environment.” [Pentagon MMA]
Oakridge and Ashlawn elementary schools have adopted a reading-only homework policy this year, according to Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. Another local school, Taylor Elementary, is currently piloting a similar program for second graders.
Under the new program, teachers will only assign occasional at-home reading. Students are graded not on homework, but on class participation and what they produce during the school day.
The policy is aimed at teaching students how to think critically and solve problems, said Oakridge principal Dr. Lynne Wright.
“We felt that when we used homework as a grade, it was inequitable because we couldn’t really determine how much of the assignment was done by the student or how much was done with editing, support and coaching,” Wright said.
But that doesn’t mean kids at those schools won’t learn how to be responsible after class, Wright said. Teachers will encourage students to learn practical tasks such as making their lunch for the next day or putting things away at home.
So far, Wright said there’s been little resistance from parents, partly because the new program didn’t come as a surprise. School officials spent the last year looking at research and talking it over at PTA meetings.
“The questions about responsibility and getting ready for middle school were the questions that came up the most,” Wright said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of pushback.”
In fact, many parents said they felt like homework took too much time away from interacting with their kids.
“They weren’t spending time talking to their children about their day or their friendships or the content they’d learned,” Wright said. “They were really just saying, get that worksheet done. They felt like they were putting all this energy into something that wasn’t impacting their learning or their creativity and problem solving.”
And how are students taking to the new policy?
“They were jumping for joy,” Wright said. “They feel relief. They’re happy. They’re proud. They feel like they’re developing their relationships.”
Last year, Oakridge Elementary parents used donations and sponsorships to buy pedal desks, standup desks and yoga ball chairs to help fidgety kids learn while staying active.
Now, parents are back trying to raise money to expand the program, which received both local and some national attention.
On Tuesdays this month, starting tomorrow, the Oakridge PTA is hosting four evening fitness programs for adults, featuring local fitness and wellness businesses like SpecOps Fitness and Mind Your Body Oasis.
“These adult May fitness classes are one of two fundraising efforts we are currently doing to raise additional funds for the kinesthetic equipment,” explained Dana Dougherty, a mother of three and substitute teacher. “All donations will go toward our mission, all classes are sponsored by the individuals teaching.”
“We have had incredibly positive feedback from parents, students and teachers — they want more!” she told ARLnow.com. “Depending on the funds raised, we will look at adding pieces the teachers would like to add. You can see tons of different options at www.kidsfit.com… there are several great options under kinesthetic classroom desks.”
Money for the initiative will also be raised at the PTA’s Spring Fling on May 22, where teachers and administrators will be dunked for the cause.
“We will have a dunk tank with favorite teachers, principal and perhaps even a school board member participating,” said Dougherty.
Ballston Restaurant Makes Habit of Breaking Plates — Order the suckling pig at SER restaurant (1110 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston and the chef will chop it at the table with the blunt edge of a plate. After the chopping is done, the chef will smash the plate, as part of a Spanish tradition. [Washington Post]
Dem Dinner May Be Renamed — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is considering renaming its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, given that the event is currently named after two slaveholding presidents. [InsideNova]
Oakridge Pedal Desks Get National Attention — The pedal desks at Oakridge Elementary are getting some attention from a national cycling magazine, which write that the desk is “is a novel idea because it allows a child to fidget without creating a distraction.” [Bicycling]
School Bus Cameras to Start Issuing Tickets — Stop sign cameras on Arlington school buses will start issuing $250 tickets on Tuesday, the first day of school. The cameras were installed earlier this year and started issuing warnings this summer to those who drive past school buses while the stop sign is deployed. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Oakridge Elementary is getting desks with bicycle pedals and swinging bars in an effort to incorporate movement and exercise into classroom learnings.
The new desks, as well as yoga ball chairs, are part of a pilot program to improve kids’ ability to learn while in school.
The idea behind the new equipment is based in science, said Heather Suave, a member of Oakridge’s 2Fit2Quit Committee and Wellness Council. Research has shown that when kids’ brains are active, which happens during exercise, they are able to retain more information.
“Kids in elementary school have the wiggles, and it’s a good energy release,” Suave said.
Oakridge Elementary was able to raise $9,000 through sponsorships and donations — from Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts, the Oakridge PTA and individual donations — to buy three of the two person pedal desks, four stand-up/swinging desks and eight yoga ball chairs.
The pilot program has only been in place for a month, Suave said, but it is already showing promise.
Jenn Crain, a third and fourth grade teacher, said the new equipment has helped with keeping her students focused and have not been a distraction in the classroom. She has had the pedal desk and standing desks in her class.
“Some of them prefer the pedal desk, some of them prefer the standing desk, some of them prefer none,” she said.
The kids have also had positive feedback toward the equipment, she said during a presentation.
Maxwell Thomas, an 8-year-old student, likes the pedal desk because they help him concentrate while he does his math schoolwork.
“I can get my body moving while I work,” Maxwell said.
Annabella Brooks, a fifth-grade student, likes the standing/swing-desk “because people have a way to fidget without making noise.”
The desk helps her concentrate and she finds it relaxing, Annabella said.
“It’s easier to think while moving,” she said.
This is the first pilot program in Virginia. The equipment is also used in 30 schools in Texas and in 32 other states, said Lowell Lease, a representative with KidsFit, the company that provides the equipment.
The company has received good feedback on the equipment from other schools as well, Lease said.
“The kids love it,” he said. “The teachers love it because the kids pay attention better.”
Oakridge Principal Lynne Wright will be honored with APS’ top award for administrators, 11 years after she won the 2004 Teacher of the Year Award while she was at Taylor Elementary School. Wright managed to improve Oakridge’s Standards of Learning test scores while at the helm of Arlington’s most overcrowded elementary school.
“Lynne is an energetic and charismatic leader who creates a positively charged school where students thrive and families are welcomed,” APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy said in a press release. “She recognizes the importance of building relationships with families and community that supports the diverse student population. Lynne is an exceptional educator and dedicated instructional leader who creates connections among staff, families and the community, all leading to the success of students.”
In the 2013-2014 school year, Oakridge raised its SOL pass rate in math from 76 to 85 percent and in reading form 74 to 81 percent. She accomplished this, in part, by integrating technology, data and stronger assessments into her school’s instruction.
Wright was named Oakridge’s assistant principal in 2007 and was promoted to principal in 2010.
“She is firm and demanding, yet friendly and approachable,” counselor Anne Terwilliger said in the release. “She encourages staff to hold each other to high expectations by modeling how to do so in a comfortable and respectful manner.”
Arlington’s 2015 Teacher of the Year is Dahlia Constantine, who serves as an instructional lead teacher and student teacher host, as well as leading her third-grade class.
“Dahlia is an outstanding educator who builds strong relationships with her students and families,” Murphy said in a release. “She has a special talent to inspire children to become lifelong learners and continually seeks ways to involve families in the instructional process to create a comprehensive learning network.”
Constantine came to Arlington, and Patrick Henry, in 2011 after stints teaching in New York City, La Puente and Monterey Park, Calif., and Woodbridge, Va. Her principal, Annie Frye, lauded her use of data to inform her work in the classroom.
“Dahlia’s style, technique and passion for the educational profession are immediately evident when you walk into her room, when you meet her or, better yet, when you see her in action with her class,” Patrick Henry parent Colleen Godbout said. “The children are at such ease in the environment she creates. She respects her students and they can sense it.”
Constantine and Wright will be honored, as well as winning teachers from the other 34 schools in Arlington, at an awards reception at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27 at Washington-Lee High School. The winners from each other APS school can be seen after the jump.