Arlington, VA

The elementary school at the Key site is close to getting a new name, and it will not be after a person.

A naming committee is proposing Innovation Elementary School, or Gateway Elementary School as an alternate, for the school building 2300 Key Blvd. The Arlington School Board will choose a name on Thursday, March 11 ahead of the school opening to students this fall.

“We really feel like Innovation represents a skill and an ideal that we want our children to get from their elementary school experience,” the new school’s principal Claire Peters said.

The new school at the Key site, which is currently used by a Spanish immersion choice program, will be a neighborhood school, and it was created by a controversial swap involving multiple schools.

The school will be populated with students who live in the fast-growing Rosslyn area, including some who were previously zoned for Arlington Science Focus School.

Absent from the top two was the preferred choice among a group of survey respondents — Grace Hopper Elementary School — named for computer engineer and university teacher Naval Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.

Fresh from renaming what is now Washington-Liberty High School, and in the thick of efforts to remove names of Confederate generals and soldiers and slave-owners from Arlington’s roads and parks, committee members and at least one School Board member said they want to avoid people entirely.

“We had a very significant discussion around naming a school after a person, and it was clear from both the comments we received in the survey and comments that our committee brought back from their community that naming a school after a person is a divisive choice,” the new school’s principal Claire Peters recently told the School Board.

School Board member Reid Goldstein concurred.

“I was cringing a little bit when I saw the name because lately, I’ve been shying away from naming schools after individuals,” he said.

School staff said Gateway would reference the school’s location as the gateway to Arlington from Washington and communicate the idea that an education is a gateway to a bright future.

The other suggested names were Polaris Elementary School and Summa Elementary School of Arlington.

The survey generated nearly 400 responses, as well as 74 comments, including a few in Spanish or Mongolian.

More than half of respondents said they were community members, while the rest said they were parents of students going to the new school, parents of students at other schools, APS staff or business owners.

“This was a very small representation of the community that will be served by this elementary school,” Wilson said.

Arlington Science Focus School students also picked their favorite names: Gateway came in first and Innovation in fourth.

Photos via Arlington Public Schools

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Passed Virginia legislation allows Arlington County to rename Lee Highway, but it’s unlikely to be “Loving Avenue.”

Yesterday (Feb. 23), HB 1854 passed the Virginia State Senate after passing through the House of Delegates late last month. The bill now goes to Governor Ralph Northam for his signature, which will officially codify it.

The bill specifically authorizes the Arlington County Board to name the section of U.S. Route 29, known for decades as “Lee Highway,” located within its boundaries.

However, it’s unlikely to be renamed Loving Avenue in honor of the Virginia couple whose fight to get married went to the U.S. Supreme Court despite the recommendation of the Lee Highway Alliance work group in December..

This is due to the family’s objection, says Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol. The Loving family has reiterated that the couple was extremely private and would not want a road named after them.

“I’m saddened but understanding that [the family] is strongly opposed to renaming [Route 29] in honor of their parents and grandparents,” she tells ARLnow. “Privacy is a prevailing value for them.”

Late last year, a task force put together by the Lee Highway Alliance recommended renaming Arlington’s section of Route 29 to Loving Avenue. However, they also suggested four alternatives: John M. Langston Boulevard, Ella Baker Boulevard, Dr. Edward T. Morton Avenue, and Main Street.

Ginger Brown, Executive Director for the Lee Highway Alliance, tells ARLnow that Langston Blvd is the “strong second” choice.

Cristol noted that there remains some follow-up to be done with the Loving family, but at this point, naming Route 29 in Arlington after Mildred and Richard Loving isn’t likely.

“At some point, I’ll have to take a vote on this,” she says. “With what the family has said, we know that it would be hurtful for them. It would be hard for me to vote for that.”

Either way, HB 1854 — first introduced by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48) — will allow the renaming, though it only applies to Route 29 in Arlington.

The bill notes that while the Virginia Department of Transportation will place and maintain the appropriate signage, the county has to pay for that signage.

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said the legislation is a “shared priority” at yesterday’s Board meeting.

“We are enthusiastic about the success of Del. Sullivan’s bill, and the County continues to work with our regional partners to seek a regionally consistent name for Lee Highway,” de Ferranti wrote in a statement to ARLnow. “The legislature advancing this bill to the Governor is an important tool now available to Arlington County in the renaming of Lee Highway and we will continue to seek a common name with our neighboring jurisdictions.”

Cristol says the timeline for the change is being coordinated with neighboring jurisdictions that the east-west artery also runs through, including Falls Church, Fairfax City, and Fairfax County.

“We have a shared interest in settling on the same name, for obvious reasons,” she says.

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Zitkala-Ša (pronounced “Zit-KA-la Sha”), an Indigenous rights activist and a former Arlington resident, is the Google Doodle today (Monday), in honor of her 145th birthday.

The writer, editor, translator and political activist of Yankton Lakota Sioux descent lived in Lyon Park for 13 years before her death in 1938.

She is featured in the doodle with illustrations of cardinals, as her name translates to “Red Bird,” as well as a violin, which she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music.

She recently received recognition from Arlington County as well. On Dec. 12, the Arlington County Board approved a request by the Lyon Park Citizens Association to rename Henry Clay Park after her. The park at 3011 7th Street N. remains closed while it undergoes extensive renovations, which the county expects to complete by April.

Born in South Dakota in 1876, Zitkala-Ša left her reservation at eight years old to attend a manual labor school. There, she was given the name Gertrude Simmons, her long hair was cut and she was forbidden from speaking her native language.

“Although she enjoyed learning to read and write, she experienced first-hand the damage of having her heritage stripped away,” Arlington Public Library wrote about her. “Feeling torn between her life on the reservation and her forced assimilation into white mainstream culture, Zitkála-Šá pursued higher education and distinguished herself as a public speaker on social and political issues.”

Before diving into political work, she attended college, taught at a boarding school for Native Americans and studied violin at a conservatory.

In 1925, she moved with her husband Capt. Raymond Talefase Bonnin to 261 N. Barton Street in Lyon Park, where they lived until their respective deaths in 1938 and 1942. Both are buried in Arlington National Cemetery and their home still stands at the corner of 3rd Street N. and Barton Street.

The couple founded the National Council of American Indians and advocated for voting rights, healthcare, legal standing and land rights, the library said.

Screenshot via Google

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Morning Notes

Lovings Might Not Want Name Used for Road — “The problem with these efforts [to rename Lee Highway as “Loving Avenue”] is that the surviving family has strong feelings about these efforts, statues, renaming of roads etc. They do not want this and the attention it brings. We in Caroline [County] try to be sensitive to their wishes and how they view these efforts and the Loving story. I would like nothing better than to see her remembered in this way, but must defer to the wishes of the family.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Barcroft Field Getting Video Screen — “Tucker Field at Barcroft Park will have an enhanced look for the 2021 season, as it was announced on Friday, Dec. 16 that construction has begun on a new videoboard to be used by the GW Baseball program. The project, entirely privately funded, was made possible due to a lead gift from Joe and Leslie Barmakian, parents of current GW student-athlete and baseball team member, Steve Barmakian.” [GW Sports]

Jail COVID Tests Only Find One Case — “In partnership with the Arlington County Public Health Department and the Virginia National Guard, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office tested 196 inmates and 274 deputies, civilians and contractors for COVID-19. There was only one staff member who tested positive among the 470 people tested.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Proposes New COVID Research Funding — “Rep. Don Beyer this week introduced the COVID-19 Long Haulers Act, which would authorize and fund research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PICORI) to benefit so-called “long haulers,” people who experience long term effects of COVID-19 infections.” [Press Release]

Funding Available for Overdue Utility Bills — “Arlingtonians who are having trouble paying their water and sewer bills due to pandemic-related economic hardship may be eligible to have their bills paid through the County’s new Utility Relief program. The application deadline is January 15. The program is funded through a $383,338  state coronavirus relief grant accepted by the County Board at its Tuesday, Dec. 15 Recessed Meeting.” [Arlington County]

Strong Leasing for New Ballston Building — “I’m expecting revenue to increase next year because of [B.F. Saul]’s new project called The Waycroft delivered earlier this year. The project comprises 491 apartment units and 60,000 square feet of retail space in Arlington, Virginia, as mentioned in the business update. Around 353, or 72% of available units, are leased.” [Seeking Alpha]

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Morning Notes

Schools Closed, Federal Gov’t on Delay — Due to anticipated icy conditions this morning, Arlington Public Schools has closed schools, though distance learning is still on. Federal government offices have a 10 a.m. delayed opening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington Xmas Decorations Go Viral — Two Arlington homes, next door to one another, have very different approaches to holiday decorating, as seen in a tweet that went viral. [Twitter]

Might Mayor Pete Live in Arlington? — “Pete and Chasten have an affinity for airports — Pete proposed to Chasten at O’Hare in Chicago and Chasten proposed to Pete at an airport in Berlin — so why not live walking distance from DCA? Besides having a great beer bar and Synetic Theater, the area also known as Crystal City is a major transportation hub, which could work in Pete’s favor as he starts his new role.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Bill Would Strip Lee’s Name from Arlington House — Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name is likely to soon be removed from Lee Highway in Arlington, and potentially from his former home in Arlington National Cemetery as well. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced legislation that would rename what’s currently known as “Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial” as just “Arlington House.” Arlington County is in the process of removing an illustration of the house, which critics say is a symbol of slavery, from its logo and seal. [Press Release, Twitter]

Wreaths on the Way — The wreaths for this weekend’s Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery are currently making their way to Arlington from Maine via convoy. [Twitter, Facebook]

Funeral for Vietnam War Hero — “Despite the winter elements that hit the [D.C. area] Wednesday morning, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was given modified military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Adkins died from COVID-19 earlier this year in April at the age of 86.” [WJLA]

Local Nonprofit Gets Grant — “The Arlington-based nonprofit organization, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) announced their latest financial contribution from the Arlington Women’s Civic Alliance (AWCA) to support LLT’s leadership training and college readiness programs. ” [Press Release]

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A week after narrowing down the list of possible new names for Lee Highway to ten, a task force has settled on its recommendation.

The state route through Arlington currently named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee should instead be named after civil rights figures Mildred and Richard Loving, says the Working Group on Renaming Lee Highway.

“Mildred and Richard Loving Avenue” would honor the Virginia couple whose fight for the legalization of interracial marriage in the the 1960s culminated in a Supreme Court case and inspired the 2016 movie Loving.

Though Caroline County residents, the Lovings also lived in Washington, D.C., where they originally married in 1958 since interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia at the time. They were forced to move to D.C. in 1959 after being arrested and pleading guilty to “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” Their fight to overturn anti-miscegenation laws was rejected by the Virginia Supreme Court, but eventually resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned such laws nationwide.

Members of the working group, who spent four months engaging with local residents and business owners while considering dozens of names suggested by the public, said the Lovings are deserving of having one of Arlington’s main commercial thoroughfares named in their honor.

“The landmark Loving Supreme Court case literally changed the United States” said Sandi Chesrown, Lee Highway Alliance Vice President and Working Group Member. “The case brought an end to the ‘separate but equal’ yet legally sanctioned way of life in America, it fueled the rise of multiracial families, and it supported the June 2015 ruling that legalized same sex marriage. For me, the name Loving has both Virginia and national significance and it encompasses justice.”

“The Lovings not only lived in the state, but the name relates to the Virginia state slogan, ‘Virginia is for Lovers,'” the Lee Highway Alliance, which helped organize the renaming process, said in a press release. “When travelers cross Key Bridge coming to VA from DC, they are met with the state slogan. It was the opinion of the Working Group that it made sense that the name ‘Loving’ would be the first road traveled on in the state. The name also represents a desire of Arlington County for people to treat one another in a loving way.”

In addition to Loving Avenue, the working group also narrowed down the remainder of the list to four runners-up, to be considered by the County Board: John M. Langston Boulevard, Ella Baker Boulevard, Dr. Edward T. Morton Avenue, and Main Street.

The Board is set to be briefed by the working group next week, and will then decide whether to advance the name change to the state legislature or the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

More on the name change from a press release, below.

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Morning Notes

County Lauded for LGBTQ Inclusiveness — “Arlington scored 100 points out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 9th annual Municipal Equality Index for its high standards of inclusiveness and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. While Arlington has been a top-ranked community in the past, this year it was recognized for adding gender identity/expression protections to its Human Rights ordinance and providing all-gender bathrooms in County-owned offices and facilities.” [Arlington County]

Traffic Cam Feeds Back On — After a few weeks of Arlington’s web-based traffic camera feeds being off due to technical issues, the feeds are back on. The traffic cameras can also now be viewed on the My Arlington mobile app. [Twitter]

Traffic Cam Policy Still in Place? — Some cold water on the traffic camera news, from local public safety watchdog Dave Statter: “Cutting cameras during @ArlingtonVaPD incidents is a bad look for the department… Giving a government employee the power to censor what’s in public view based on their own whims and/or a vague county standard sure gives the impression that 1A is not that important to @ArlingtonVA.” [Twitter]

CivFed to Get Aircraft Noise Briefing — “Arlington County government officials and their consultants will update delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation on the ongoing noise study related to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at the federation’s Dec. 15 meeting.” [InsideNova]

Audit Committee Seeking Members — “The Audit Committee is seeking new member applications for a two-year term beginning February 1, 2021. The committee advises the County Board on County government’s exposure to financial, operational, and reputational risks.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: School Names to Change in F.C. — “After six months of a lengthy and often contentious debate involving the entire City of Falls Church community, the Falls Church School Board voted unanimously tonight to change the names of two of its five schools, ones named for U.S. founding fathers who famously owned slaves, George Mason and Thomas Jefferson.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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A park that’s under construction a few blocks south of Clarendon is expected to get a new name.

Arlington’s Park and Recreation Commission is recommending Henry Clay Park be renamed Zitkala-Ša Park, after a prominent Indigenous activist and author who lived in Lyon Park. The County Board is set to consider the name change at its Saturday meeting.

The park at 3011 7th Street N. remains closed while it undergoes extensive renovations. It is slated to reopen in early 2021 with the new name.

The Lyon Park Citizens Association presented the idea to the Park and Recreation Commission this summer. In October, the change received unanimous support from the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board and majority support from the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee, per a county staff report.

“This proposed name change comports with the County’s naming guidelines and will add significantly to the diversity of park names,” the Lyon Park Civic Association said.

Only a handful of individuals provided public testimony, mostly in favor of the change, though at least one person spoke out against it. The Commission voted for the change in late October.

According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, the park is where the original Lyon Park School stood. The building was renamed Henry Clay School in 1927 after Clay, a slave-owning Kentucky lawmaker and Secretary of State who fought a duel near Chain Bridge.

“It is believed that Henry Clay Park was created in the early 1980s and retained the name of the school previously located on the site,” the park website said.

Clay held abolitionist views but kept the slaves he inherited as a child, freeing them upon his death.

Zitkala-Ša (“Red Bird,” or Cardinal bird) and her husband, Captain Raymond Talefase Bonnin, moved to Lyon Park in 1925 and lived there until their respective deaths in 1938 and 1942. Both are buried in Arlington National Cemetery and their home still stands at the corner of 3rd Street N. and Barton Street.

Born in South Dakota in 1876, Zitkala-Ša was eight when Quaker missionaries recruited her to leave the reservation and attend a manual labor school. There, she was given the name Gertrude Simmons, her long hair was cut and she was forbidden from speaking her native language.

“Although she enjoyed learning to read and write, she experienced first-hand the damage of having her heritage stripped away,” Arlington Public Library wrote about her. “Feeling torn between her life on the reservation and her forced assimilation into white mainstream culture, Zitkála-Šá pursued higher education and distinguished herself as a public speaker on social and political issues.”

From 1911 to her death, she was politically active. She joined the Society for American Indians, speaking nationally on its behalf. She and her husband founded the National Council of American Indians and advocated for voting rights, healthcare, legal standing and land rights, the library said.

She also created the Indian Welfare Committee of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, speaking in Washington, D.C., Arlington, and Fairfax.

She spent the rest of her life in as president of the Council of American Indians, “speaking and writing about the continuing political and social mistreatment of Native Americans,” the library said.

A county staff report recommends the County Board endorse the name change proposal.

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The task force charged with suggesting a new name for Lee Highway (Route 29) has narrowed the list down from 20 to ten finalists.

The Lee Highway Alliance, which is leading the renaming effort, said the list was whittled down by the working group “after four spirited and thoughtful public meetings held between September and December.”

The potential names to make the cut are:

  1. Dogwood
  2. Ella Baker
  3. Edward Morton
  4. Green Way
  5. James E. Browne
  6. John Glenn
  7. John M. Langston
  8. Justice
  9. Main Street
  10. Mildred & Richard Loving

The street suffix of the names that lack them would be determined later.

“The new name for Lee Highway will be the new name not just for a major road, but for a major road that is home to many businesses,” Working Group member Maia Potok-Holmes, said in a press release. “We must consider marketing and branding when making out final decision — for the survival of our businesses and for how we want our community to be perceived. The new name will affect the future of the corridor and the success our businesses.”

The release notes that the final choice will be decided at a meeting next Wednesday, Dec. 9.

“The meeting will be held via Zoom from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will be open to the public,” the Lee Highway Alliance said. “The first choice and four alternatives will then move to the Arlington County Board, which will decide which name to send to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) or the Virginia General Assembly for implementation.”

More on the possible names and the selection process, from the press release, is below.

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Morning Notes

Thanksgiving County Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 26 & Friday, Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving. Courts will close Wednesday Nov. 26 at noon… Metered Parking: Not enforced on Thurs. Nov. 26 or Fri., Nov. 27.” [Arlington County]

Development Plan for Silver Diner Site — “The Donohoe Cos. is targeting Clarendon’s Silver Diner for a major redevelopment. The company has yet to file specific plans with Arlington County for the triangular parcel at 3200 Wilson Blvd., a block from the Clarendon Metro station, but it has outlined a mixed-use vision for the newly dubbed ‘Bingham Center’ on a project page on its website. Specifically, the developer envisions 286 apartments, a 224-room hotel, 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, a public park and ‘a new public street designed with the principals of a woonerf (a curbless pedestrian-friendly street).'” [Washington Business Journal]

The End of Snow Days? — “Superintendent Francisco Durán of Arlington County Public Schools said that shifting classes online for snow days was a ‘possibility’ but that he doesn’t expect it to happen often.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Commission Calls for Renaming Powers — “The Arlington Transportation Commission is asking County Board members to seek legislative approval from Richmond to give the county government power to rename the highways and byways within its boundaries. Currently, some (though not all) Virginia cities have broad power on street and highway naming, but counties are much more restricted.” [InsideNova]

Last-Minute Thanksgiving IdeasUpdated at 8:35 a.m. — Here are a few local Thanksgiving options, including for takeout dinners, for those seeking last minute ideas. Check with the restaurant first to confirm they are still accepting orders or reservations. [Twitter, StayArlington]

Nearby: Flurry of Fs at Fairfax Schools — ” Stunning data for Fairfax County, VA’s largest school system, shows HUGE academic cost of online learning — Fs up by 83% this year. Vulnerable children struggling most: Fs for students w/ disabilities up by 111%, for English learners up by 106%.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

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