Virginia Hospital Center Prepares to Close Glencarlyn Childcare Center, Leaving Parents ‘Panicking’

Virginia Hospital Center executives celebrated when they finally earned permission to expand the hospital’s North Arlington campus and execute a long-planned land swap with the county — but one of the consequences of the deal has some employees and parents feeling blindsided.

VHC is gearing up to send Arlington its property at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road in Glencarlyn, in exchange for gaining control over a piece of land at 1800 N. Edison Street. The latter property is adjacent to its existing facilities along N. George Mason Drive, and will be a key part of the hospital’s hotly debated expansion plans.

Of course, that’s going to prompt some big changes at the Carlin Springs Road site as the county takes over. Among them is the impending closure of a childcare center that the hospital operated on the property in tandem with Bright Horizons, serving VHC employees and local parents alike.

The daycare facility is now set to close on July 26, according to letters from both VHC and Bright Horizons provided to ARLnow. Though that deadline may be a full four months away, parents with kids at the daycare say they’re now scrambling to find alternative options.

The county is currently facing a childcare crunch, with local leaders currently weighing strategies to bring down the cost of daycare options in Arlington, and VHC parents say those conditions have only exacerbated the shock they felt about the childcare center’s closing.

“I was feeling reassured that finally Arlington realized that there’s more demand than supply when it comes to childcare, and now this happens,” said one parent, who declined to be identified. “It’s ironic that in Arlington, where there’s supposed to be some attention to how challenging it is to find childcare centers, instead of opening a new place we’re closing one of the big ones down and forcing families and employees to figure things out on their own.”

A spokesperson for the hospital would only confirm that the center is closing sometime this year, saying that “the details of the closing are still being worked out,” but otherwise would not comment on the situation.

Mike Malone, VHC’s vice president for administrative services and chief human resources officer, wrote in a letter to parents that it was his “great disappointment” to have to close the center. He said “the county will be repurposing the land on the Carlin Springs campus and demolishing the building,” prompting the closure — VHC leaders previously told ARLnow that the land swap would be finalized by May or June at the latest.

Malone added that Bright Horizons is “committed to helping every current family find care in another Bright Horizons center or [helping] you transition into another center of your choosing.”

In a letter of their own, Bright Horizons executives pointed to the “over two dozen centers spread across the metro area” that the company operates as options for parents. They also noted that they have “resources available to facilitate your child’s transition,” and said they plan to help staff at the center find jobs at other Bright Horizons locations.

Parents at the center told ARLnow that help is appreciated, but they fear it isn’t enough to manage the transition.

Several say that the hospital and Bright Horizons told them that the land swap would likely affect the center somehow, but that any decision about its future wouldn’t be made for a year or two yet. Others had never even heard about the land swap in the first place.

“Neither the staff nor the parents knew it was going to close permanently and we certainly had no warning that the notification for it to close was happening in March,” said one parent, who declined to be identified over fears of reprisal as they work with Bright Horizons to find a new daycare for their child. “Now the parents are panicking and don’t know whether or not they will have daycare.”

In the worst-case scenario, however, parents say they heard that the facility wouldn’t close until the end of this year.

Not only would that give them more time to search for options, but it would also give Bright Horizons time to open up a new childcare center in Ballston — the County Board signed off on the project earlier this year, and it’s set to open in January 2020.

“Wouldn’t it have made some sense to delay this until that Ballston center opened, and fill that first with anyone that wants to go there from [the VHC center]?” one parent asked.

Now, parents say this planned summer closure puts them in a tough spot, as many other programs don’t start offering classes until August or September.

“They’re giving us less than six months notice, which is ridiculous,” said another parent, who also declined to use their name.

Parents fear that other daycares, run by Bright Horizons or otherwise, will be more expensive than the VHC option, or too far away to be convenient. One parent points out the VHC facility is unique in the county for the way it “accommodates hospital employees with extended hours and [offers] guaranteed care even on snow days.”

Another says they took several days off work, just to spend time calling up other daycare providers.

“I’m on so many waitlists now, but who knows whether I’ll make it,” they said. “I can’t believe I’m having to go through this process again. I thought I was done.”

Perhaps most of all, parents at the center are frustrated by the lack of transparency from VHC. They can understand the motivation for not being fully forthcoming with all these details — parents might’ve fled the daycare early if they knew it was closing imminently — but they remain exasperated all the same.

And considering that the hospital pledged to mend some fences in the community following the contentious process of securing the expansion’s approval, parents are puzzled that VHC officials haven’t sought to be more helpful.

“Nobody has been forthcoming about this, and that’s especially disturbing given the tight childcare and pre-K availability in Arlington,” one parent said. “The hospital’s approach was completely inappropriate. If they’re trying to build relationships with community, this is not way to do it.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

APS on Two Hour Delay — Arlington Public Schools are opening today on a two hour delay. “The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled,” APS said. [Twitter]

Chain Bridge Closes Due to Ice — Chain Bridge was closed for much of the morning rush hour this morning due to icy conditions on the bridge. Multiple crashes were reported, though the bridge has since reopened. [Twitter, Twitter]

Amazon News Roundup — Per the Washington Business Journal: The neighborhoods around the Rosslyn area might have been rebranded as “Capital View” had it been chosen for Amazon’s HQ2. The retro Americana hotel in Crystal City is hoping to stay put and revamp a bit as Amazon moves in. The Crystal City BID is working to expand its boundaries and, if successful, may be renamed the National Landing BID. Finally, while Virginia is mostly welcoming Amazon with open arms, in the other half of the HQ2 equation, New York City, Amazon is facing protests and opposition from local lawmakers.

Amazonians May Invade Dating Scene — DCist asks: “Will Amazon Bring A Bunch Of Rude Workaholics To The D.C. Dating Scene?” [DCist]

Money Diary of a Local Parent — As part of a money diary feature, Slate asks: “How Much Does a Dad of Two Spend on His Kids During One Week in Arlington, Virginia?” [Slate]

E-CARE This Weekend — The Arlington Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE), “a biannual event at which residents can safely dispose of household hazardous materials (HHM), bikes, small metal items and other recyclable items,” is set to happen this weekend at 1425 N. Quincy Street. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17  from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Jenn Vogel

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Arlington Soccer Asks Parents to Pipe Down This Weekend for ‘Silent Soccer’

The Arlington Soccer Association is asking parents to pipe down this weekend, scheduling a day of “silent soccer” for its recreational league.

Managers of the 6,000-member league are encouraging parents and other spectators to refrain from cheering and offer their support silently on Saturday (May 12) for teams with players ranging from second grade through high school.

Dan Ferguson, ASA’s recreational soccer director, says fans of kids in kindergarten and first grade will still be able to cheer as loud as they’d like this weekend. But, for the rest of the league’s teams, he’s hoping to give players a bit of a break from the constant feedback they receive from the sidelines.

“It’s a reminder to adults that kids don’t need constant instruction to be able to play the game,” Ferguson told ARLnow. “Sometimes parents feel like their kids are lost when we do this, but we try to tell them: ‘That’s okay.’ We’re not really here for the wins and losses.”

Ferguson says ASA has been holding “silent soccer” days on Mother’s Day weekend for at least the last six or seven years, and he’s consistently gotten positive feedback from coaches and parents about the event. In fact, he says some coaches continue to ask spectators to keep quiet even after the weekend is over.

“The overwhelming reaction is the kids seem to enjoy it,” Ferguson said. “They can actually hear each other talk on the field, communicating with their teammates and giving them instructions.”

Ferguson added that ASA is currently only planning a day of silent soccer for its rec league, not its travel teams.

Just last weekend, DC Stoddert Soccer, one of the region’s largest youth sports associations, enforced silent soccer rules for the first time in its history.

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Reaction: Parents Frustrated, Miss Work over APS Tech Failure

Arvaye Robinson, the mother of two elementary school girls she had hoped to enroll in the Arlington Public Schools extended day program, stood in front of the Syphax Education Center this morning during the system’s technical problems that ultimately suspended sign-up indefinitely.

“I’m so disappointed,” Robinson said, exasperated, with her phone in her hand waiting to hear from a school staffer. “I wanted some confirmation.”

After setting an alarm for exactly 7:59 a.m. so she could hop online and enroll her children, Robinson realized that the site was down and that she would have to drive to the center to enroll her children in person. She was told that she would receive a call about placement, but she didn’t feel confident about that.

“They have the means to take payment, but no concrete confirmation,” said Robinson.

A father who overheard ARLnow interviewing Robinson cut into the conversation, calling the situation absurd and saying that it had thrown his work schedule out the window for the second year in a row.

Indeed, this is the second consecutive year that extended day registration has flopped. There are varying reports of exactly how many parents waited in line to secure a spot for their children, but one parent told ARLnow she saw at least 100 people in the Syphax Education Center’s lobby this morning.

The extended day program allows parents “who can’t juggle everything” to leave children in their school’s care before and after classes, according to the program’ director, Bobby Kaplow.

According to Kaplow, after last year’s technical failure with the same vendor, APS spent the year troubleshooting with the contractor, trying to find a solution.

“All year we worked with him, we told him what we needed, we told him what the problem was, can he see it on his end,” Kaplow said, adding that he had demanded that the contractor fly in from Michigan to be on-site for the enrollment rollout today in case any issues cropped up.

“I talked to him 20 minutes before it started today, and said, ‘Are we good?'” Kaplow said. The contractor told the director that there wouldn’t be any problems.

Kaplow suspects that the issue lies in the simultaneous, high numbers of enrollment attempts overloading the system.

Today’s 8 a.m. enrollment start time was just that — a start time. Technically, enrollment is ongoing, but some schools quickly incur a wait list for open spots and parents don’t want their child’s status to remain in limbo. Many wake up and pound the keyboard, as Kaplow put it, hoping to get their child in the right program right away.

He said that this year’s line of waiting parents wasn’t as bad as last year’s, which he recalls went “all the way down the hall and out the door and down the street.”

One mother tried to enroll her daughter in the program both on her computer and her cell phone before eventually going in person to the facility.

“When I tried to, the system was closed off,” she told ARLnow in Spanish. “It was the same last year.”

Typically, she makes $9 an hour as a cleaner. Having to take off the day, without notice, to enroll her daughter this morning was necessary, but it impacts her family financially.

“The worst is that we lost the day and we won’t get paid,” she said, pointing to two friends joining her in line.

Despite the difficulty, that mother values the extended day program, although she added that “when you have a low salary, it’s more or less very expensive.”

“This program is very important,” she added. “It’s just very slow for the people who need it.”

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Arlington Agenda: March 12-18

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Tuesday, March 13

Trivia Night: Are you smarter than a Catholic sister?*
Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6:30-9 p.m.

Test your pop culture and general knowledge against a team of Catholic Sisters, with drink specials and free appetizers. Prizes for top trivia teams.

Wednesday, March 14

Shaping Arlington for a Smart & Secure Future*
County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6-8 p.m.

Listen to a panel discussion on how technology will shape Arlington, featuring government and cybersecurity experts. A reception with light refreshments will also be held.

Arlington Committee of 100 Virginia Hospital Center Expansion*
Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

The Committee of 100 is hosting a panel discussion on Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion, the county’s population growth and evolving community healthcare needs. Optional dinner served.

Thursday, March 15

Parenting Lecture: Parenting an Anxious Child
The Sycamore School (4600 N. Fairfax Drive)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

Dr. Christine Golden will discuss the challenges of parenting a child with anxiety and offer some helpful strategies for managing behaviors. The lecture is free to attend.

Friday, March 16

St. Agnes Soup Supper*
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.

The church will offer meatless soups and a noodle dish, and more every Friday during the Lenten holiday. Guests are invited to stay for confession and the stations of the cross afterwards.

Saturday, March 17

Whitlow’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 9 a.m. – Close

Live Irish music and an open rooftop welcome you at Whitlow’s On Wilson’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Special Irish menu and March Madness games on the TVs all day.

WJAFC Open Day*
Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street)
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

A co-ed, free clinic to learn the Australian football game. Kids from 5-15 will learn starting at 9 a.m., with an adults clinic and co-ed non-contact game at 10:30 a.m.

Guinness and Gold*
Ten at Clarendon (3110 10th Street N.)
Time: 12-5 p.m.

Tour the Clarendon apartment building with a free Guinness and cash in on leasing deals. Leasing specials are subject to terms and conditions.

Wine Dinner*
Osteria da Nino (2900 S. Quincy Street)
Time: 6:30-10:30 p.m.

Join Tre Monti winery over a four course meal with five wines, including theThea Passito 2012 Romagna Albana DOCG raisin wine. Tickets are $75 per person.

Yorktown High School Presents “Almost, Maine”*
Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Boulevard)
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.

Students will be performing John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” about a remote, mythical town and the effect of the northern lights on the lovestruck residents. Tickets are $10.

Sunday, March 18

St. Joseph’s Table Celebration
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 1-4 p.m.

Join the church following the noon mass for a procession to celebrate this feast day with a potluck lunch, live music, and a kids woodworking shop.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

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First ‘Mom Prom’ in Northern Virginia Aims to Celebrate Women

When Jessica Winesett became a mom 16 months ago, she quickly learned how hard it was for moms to have “the night off.” The experience led the Alexandria resident to organize Northern Virginia’s first-ever “Mom Prom.”

Set for Saturday, March 24 from 7-11 p.m., the ladies-only event at Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd) will raise funds for the Greater DC Diaper Bank and Second Story for Young Mothers.

Winesett said she was inspired to launch the event after hearing about mom proms in Richmond, now in its seventh year, and Hampton Roads, now in its third year.

“Since becoming a mom, I have such passion for moms now. When we take care of our moms, we take care of our society,” she said, “In my eyes, the initiative has already been a success because I see the community coming together and giving together. This is a feel-good event where women who are and aren’t mothers are welcome for a fun night out.”

Only women 21 years and above are allowed because alcohol will be served at the event. Tickets are available online. The offer for $45 early bird tickets ends on Saturday. Prices increase to $50 afterward.

The first 100 women to arrive will receive a door prize and awards for the “most glamorous” and “most outrageous” outfit will be given. A prom queen or mom of the year will be crowned from submitted nominations.

An after-party open to the public is scheduled after the prom ends at 11 p.m.

Flyer via ProMOmenade

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Morning Notes

Metro Station Closures Promoted Big Lines at DCAShutting down the National Airport and Crystal City Metro stations caused long lines for shuttles and cabs and very pricy Uber and Lyft rides for travelers trying to leave the airport this past weekend. [Washington Post]

Chase Starts in Arlington, Ends in Alexandria — Arlington County Police spotted a stolen car heading southbound on I-395 yesterday afternoon and initiated a traffic stop. The driver, however, refused to stop and instead fled down the King Street exit. Virginia State Police gave chase down King Street and Braddock Road near Fairlington — Arlington units stayed behind per department policy — and eventually the car was stopped and two people arrested in Alexandria. [Twitter, Twitter]

Va. Square Land Use Changes Considered — The Arlington County Board will hear public comment on and vote on whether to advertised proposed land use changes to several parcels of land near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road in Virginia Square. Citing traffic and building height concerns, some residents have objected to the possibility of a six-story apartment building on part of the site. [InsideNova]

E-CARE Event StatsUpdated at 1:25 p.m. — Arlington County’s biannual E-CARE recycling and disposal event this past weekend collected 55,875 pounds of household hazardous materials, 30,000 pounds of used electronics, 700 compact fluorescent bulbs and 30 cubic yards of scrap metal, while setting a record hourly rate, according the county. [Twitter]

Bad Behavior at Elementary School — Yesterday during afternoon school dismissal, police were called to Campbell Elementary on S. Carlin Springs Road for a report of a driver in the parent pickup line who was “cursing at teachers.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Alexandria to Promote Metro Improvement — “The City of Alexandria is launching the ‘Back 2 Blue’ campaign to raise awareness about the improved rush-hour service times on Metrorail and encourage residents and customers to ride the Blue Line. Service on Metrorail’s Blue Line has improved significantly, with rush-hour wait times of just eight minutes. [City of Alexandria]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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App Helps Arlington Moms Coordinate Playdates

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A new app has been designed to help busy Arlington moms organize their social calendars.

On MamaLeave, local moms can find playgroups and activities in their neighborhoods. Instead of traditional playgroups with set days, the app takes advantage of mobile technology to make the experience more spontaneous.

The woman behind the app is Laurie Cordova, a product development professional based in Arlington. The mother of two said that as a working mom, both from at home and in the office, she often needed to make plans quickly.

She also recognized that some moms have evolving availability. They might find it difficult to join an established playgroup, or they might not want to commit to a group because they know their schedule will change.

“The goal is to create flexibility for moms, if they’re home during the day or if they’re just available on weekends or night time,” said Cordova. “I think it appeals to moms no matter what their situation is.”

MamaLeave connects through Facebook, where moms can fill out a profile and connect automatically to moms in their zip code who also have the app installed. Moms can join the events — known as “Mama Leaves” — that interest them, or they can create their own event. If a family lives close to another zip code, they can also be linked to “Mama Leaves” in those neighborhoods as well.

The other goal of the app is to bring communities together in a way that is accessible in modern society. In a world where outside play is less common and many are wary of strangers, Cordova said MamaLeave helps get neighbors talking.

“Everyone is glued to a device, they’re used to meeting people through a device,” Cordova said. “People don’t approach people to make friends or to meet their neighbors in the same way.”

The app is live now but Cordova calls this is the “beta” period. She is focused on building the app in Arlington and within her own network.

“The most important thing for me right now is to see how people use it and what they think of it,” Cordova said.

MamaLeave is available for both Android and iPhone.

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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Backpack Mail’ at Arlington Public Schools Going Paperless

Students going back to school (file photo)Arlington Public Schools will soon no longer be sending paper flyers home in students’ backpacks.

The so-called backpack mail for parents of elementary and middle school students is being phased out in favor of an electronic system, following a successful pilot program, according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

The system, called Peachjar, is specifically designed for schools. It sends electronic flyers to parents’ email inboxes, thus cutting costs and staff time that would otherwise be spent making paper copies and distributing them.

The new system is being rolled out to all elementary and middle schools “over the next few weeks,” Bellavia said.

Families can request that they keep receiving paper copies and paper flyers will be posted on school bulletin boards. Otherwise, there are a number of options for electronic delivery.

“Parents can access the flyers via weekly email notifications they receive, by checking the school’s website, or accessing flyers on the APS Mobile App,” said Bellavia. “Families like the Peachjar option because electronic copies stay online for at least 30 days, and are linked directly to the organization’s website where they can access more information or directly sign up for programs electronically, which is more convenient than keeping track of paper copies and following up on advertised services.”

The pilot program took place at six elementary schools and one middle school last fall and of the families surveyed about it, 86 percent said they wanted to keep the new system instead of returning to backpack mail, according to APS. Nonprofit organizations and PTAs also participate in backpack mail and APS received an enthusiastic response from them.

“More than 100 nonprofit organizations who participate in our backpack mail program were surveyed, and only one respondent indicated a desire to return to backpack mail,” said Bellavia. “APS, schools and PTAs can use the service for free, and nonprofit organizations pay a nominal fee that is less costly than making copies, to distribute their flyers electronically to families. Our PTAs are excited about the service because they can use it for free to distribute their flyers, saving time and the expense of printing paper copies.”

“This program supports the APS commitment to its core value of sustainability, and many families, community members and staff have urged APS to find a paperless (environmentally friendly) alternative to backpack mail,” Bellavia noted.

High schools do not have backpack mail and thus are not slated to get the new system. After the jump, a video about Peachjar.

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Morning Notes

Missing Dog poster in Lyon Village

Beyer Again Leads Fundraising Race — Former Va. lieutenant governor Don Beyer is still at the top of the fundraising heap in the race to succeed Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). Beyer, one of seven Democrats seeking the party’s nod on June 10, has raised $1.1 million so far, according to the latest Federal Election Commission finance report. Beyer’s campaign has $351,371 on hand for the remainder of the primary. The only other primary candidate to have more than $100,000 cash on hand is Mark Levine, who has loaned his campaign $400,000 and has $292,753 on hand. [Washington Post]

Hazing Film to Be Shown to Parents — The Arlington READY Coalition will be screening a film on college hazing for parents Monday night. The screening will take place from :007-8:30 at the Lyon Village Community Center (1920 N. Highland Street). It tells the story of a “preventable tragedy” caused by college hazing. [Arlington Public Schools]

Ballston Restaurant Challenge Dustup — The final round of competition in the Ballston Restaurant Challenge will be held this coming Wednesday, but one competitor who did not advance to the finals is upset that they won the public vote in the last round and yet was not chosen to advance. Another passed-over competitor is upset that established restaurateurs were allowed to compete in the contest. [Washington City Paper]

Disclosure: Ballston BID, organizer of the Restaurant Challenge, is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

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Wednesday is Bike and Walk to School Day

Walk and Bike to School Day 2012 at Oakridge Elementary School in October 2012Tomorrow, May 8, is Bike and Walk to School Day in Arlington.

Not to be confused with Walk and Bike to School Day in October, which has a similar name and a similar mission, Bike and Walk to School Day “encourages students to bike or walk to school while teaching them about the health and environmental benefits of biking and walking.”

“Bike and Walk to School Day also helps to raise community awareness about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety education, safe routes to schools, well-maintained walkways, and traffic calming in our neighborhoods and around our schools,” says Bike Arlington, on its website.

The event, held in conjunction with National Bike and Walk to School Day, is a partnership between Arlington Public Schools, Bike Arlington and Walk Arlington.

“APS encourages all families and staff to participate in this event,” said a school system press release. “This energizing event reminds parents and students alike of the simple joy of biking and walking to school while focusing attention on the importance of physical activity, air quality, safety, and bike-able, walkable communities.”

The event will be held in the morning. Students and parents will be greeted at their elementary, middle and high schools by county and school officials and staff. At the schools, giveaways will conducted and “healthy refreshments” will be distributed, according to Bike Arlington.

Update at 3:50 p.m. — “Based on weather forecasts, some schools have opted to postpone their celebrations until Friday, May 10,” according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Tree buds at night

Parents of Gymnasts Want New Facilities — Despite a tight county budget, parents of Arlington gymnasts are calling on the County Board to fund new gymnastics facilities. Heather Cocozza, a representative of the Arlington Tigers competitive boys gymnastics team, claims that a new gymnastics facility can actually make a profit for the county. [Arlington Mercury]

APS Ranks Among Top High Schools — Arlington’s public high schools have ranked in the top 2 percent of all high schools in the country, according to the Washington Post’s “Challenge Index.” In the Washington region, H-B Woodlawn ranked #4, Washington-Lee #10, Yorktown #14 and Wakefield #62. [Arlington Public Schools]

Vacant Retail Space May Become Conference Facility — A vacant 13,000 square foot retail space on the ground floor of the new 800 N. Glebe Road office building in Ballston would become a conference facility, under a proposal that’s under consideration by the Arlington County Board. The nearby Bluemont Civic Association has expressed concerns about the change. [Sun Gazette]

More Yarn in Rossyn — The Guerrilla Stitch Brigade has struck again and provided colorful, whimsical decorations for the Cupid’s Garden sculpture in Rosslyn. [Ode Street Tribune]

Va. Tech Shooting Anniversary — Today is the 6th anniversary of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. A moment of silence will be observed across the state at 9:43 a.m. [Twitter, Wikipedia]

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Arlington Group Offers Advice to Parents for New School Year

In a recent study by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, only 24 percent of students said their parents were actively involved in helping them succeed in school.

With that in mind, APCYF has issued some advice for parents to help their kids “get off to a great start” as Arlington starts a new school year.

September is an exciting time for children, families and school staff. The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families (APCYF) wants to remind everyone that it’s a great time to think about what families can do to get off to a positive start and help make this a successful, asset-building school year for your children. Assets are simply the positive experiences, relationships and values that help young people make smart choices and grow up ready to be responsible, healthy, successful community members. Learn more at http://www.search-institute.org.

Mary Ann Moran, Assets Liaison and founding member of APCYF, advises parents and caregivers that a good start to the year begins at home with the basics. All children and teens need good rest and a healthy breakfast. “Although you can’t make kids eat or sleep, you can create an environment and set boundaries that encourage getting enough sleep and healthy eating,” said Moran.

  • A healthy breakfast is vital. If you have a picky eater, get creative and offer choices. Any healthy food is good for breakfast – even pizza or PB&J.
  • On average, elementary school children need 10-11 hours of sleep. Teens need 8-9 hours. Setting a regular bed time helps.
  • No one can sleep with a cell phone under their pillow. Consider collecting all electronic devices at bedtime. Kids can retrieve them in the morning.
  • Try to plan time to avoid “scrambling-to-get-ready” syndrome – it’s a bad way to start anyone’s day.

According to a survey of 1,651 students in Arlington, only 24% of 8th to 10th graders report having parents involved in school. Get involved with your child’s education now and stay involved all the way through 12th grade. One way to participate is to have real conversations about school. “Do you have homework?’’ is not a conversation starter. Instead, parents might say:

  • Who did you eat lunch with?
  • Why did you choose that particular book for your report?
  • Tell me about your new teacher. (Instead of “Is your teacher nice?”)
  • Tell me about the kids in your class.
  • When I went into __ grade, I remember feeling _______.

If your child doesn’t want to talk when they get home from school or you first come home from work, try again later, said Moran.

Remind yourself that it’s your child who goes back to school, so their successes and their failures are their own. It’s hard, but let them learn from both. Children learn about being responsible and planning ahead by practice. At some point, they probably will forget their homework, let projects go to the last minute and leave books they need at school. But if they never experience consequences, there’s no motivation to learn to be responsible. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities to let children know you believe in them and their ability to deal with what happens, advised Moran.

Finally, let kids be kids. In our rush-around, stressed-out world, adults can help children have time to be silly, play and daydream, Moran said. It’s essential for them and it does wonders for us. For more information, visit http://arlingtonpartnershipforyouth.org/youthsurveyresults.htm.

Flickr pool photo by Divaknevil

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‘Silent Soccer’ in Arlington This Weekend

The 6,000-player Arlington Soccer Association (ASA) will implement “Silent Soccer” rules in its recreational and teen leagues this weekend.

Parents and spectators will be encouraged to only silently support their kid’s team, and coaches will be asked to only provide “positive and encouraging feedback and allow players the time to work through issues on the field.”

“The reason for Silent Soccer is to let the kids enjoy the game of soccer and make decisions on their own,” the ASA said in a blog post. “While the practice does remove positive cheering of the kids accomplishments from the field, the goal is to make parents aware that the kids can play without their coaching, yelling, and other disruptive influences during play. At any age. So we remove all voices coming from off the field for this one day.”

Players are encouraged to speak to each other on the field as normal, but those on the bench are asked to remain quiet.

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Parks and Rec Class Registration Crashes, Again

Overzealous parents may have helped to bring down the server that hosts the Arlington parks and recreation class registration system this morning.

Registration for winter parks and recreation classes, popular with school-aged children, opened at 8:00 a.m. The registration website was beset by technical problems within 5 minutes of the opening, but was back up and working by 8:15 a.m., according to Arlington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

Even though the problems lasted less than 15 minutes, some parents — who rushed to register their children for classes before the classes filled up — weren’t pleased. Similar technical problems have plagued the class registration system in the past.

“Server crashes have happened repeatedly on the morning of class signup — to the frustration of parents across Arlington trying to sign their kids up for classes,” one parent told ARLnow.com.

Another tipster said that the timing of the registration opening — around the same time that kids are getting ready for school — has made things unnecessarily difficult for parents.

“The problem is that some of the classes fill up so fast and if you can’t get through by the time you do someone else has your class and you are wait listed,” the parent said. “Also try working on this with kids running around trying to get ready for school and climbing on you. Not easy. This happens every registration.”

Another source of frustration for some: this year’s class schedule erroneously listed the registration date as “Wednesday, Dec. 13.”

Kalish said the parks department is working with its technology vendor to identify the source of this morning’s problems. Despite the fact that online registration number have “increased significantly over the past few years,” Kalish said server capacity was likely not the culprit this year.

“In the past, the registration volume in the first 10-15 minutes of registration has taxed our servers,” Kalish said. “We addressed that issue prior to this registration cycle and our servers functioned well and were not at capacity this morning. We are working with the vendor to explore what else could be contributing to this issue.”

Kalish said today is one of the  busiest days for class registration, though the first day of summer camp registration is usually the busiest.

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