Earthquake Drill Today — Virginia and a handful of other states will be participating in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut earthquake drill today at 10:20 a.m. [ShakeOut.org]
Sobering News on Office Vacancies — County officials are warning that Arlington’s office vacancy rate will remain relatively high for the foreseeable future. Optimistically, economic development officials believe that by “slowly and steadily” winning lease renewals and new tenants, the vacancy rate could decline to just past 15 percent, from the current 20 percent, within a few years. [InsideNova]
Arlington No. 8 on Marathon Training Rankings — Arlington County has ranked No. 8 on a list of the best places to train for a marathon. The county earned high marks for its parks, its walkability and its climate. [Competitor]
Most Popular College Applications — The three top schools in terms of the number of applications from the high school class of 2016 in Arlington were: 1. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2. University of Virginia and 3. Virginia Tech. [Arlington Magazine]
Arlington’s Commuter Efforts Lauded — “Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is being recognized for weaving mobility into broader efforts to improve local quality of life and economic competitiveness. ACCS was named by the Association for Commuter Transportation as having the best transportation demand management (TDM) program among all large municipalities in the United States.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Katie Pyzyk
Three Arlington Public Schools students have scored a perfect 36 on their ACT college entrance exams so far this year.
Two Yorktown High School students and one Washington-Lee student earned the perfect composite score, which only one in every 1,000 test-takers achieve, according to an ACT spokesman.
Among the APS students to score a 36 was Yorktown senior Megan Grieco. From a press release:
Megan Grieco, daughter of Michael Grieco and Lisa Campbell, and a senior at Yorktown High School, earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.
In a letter to Ms. Grieco recognizing this exceptional achievement, ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda stated, “Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare. While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”
ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.
The student, an 11- or 12-year-old girl, ran away before the man stopped speaking. Police were called and the school has notified families of the incident, in an email (below) that includes safety tips for students walking home from school.
The girl was not harmed. Police say they’d like to locate and talk with the van driver.
“We want to identify the individual and speak with him,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage, “but a crime has not occurred.”
Savage said there have been no other reported incidents involving either a van or a suspect that fit the description in this case.
The letter from Swanson Middle School administrators to parents is below.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We just learned from the Arlington County Police Department that at approximately 3:00 p.m. today, a 12-year-old female student from Swanson Middle School was approached by a man driving a white van. When the man attempted to ask the student a question, she fled to her home. The incident occurred at the intersection of North Carlin Springs Drive and North Park Drive. The suspect is described as a man of American Indian descent, approximately 30 years old.
The student’s mother reported the incident to Arlington County Police and police officers arrived to the scene quickly.
We are grateful that the student was not harmed.
This is a good time for all of us to remind students about some important steps they should always take to ensure their continued safety when they are out in the community, and even take time to role play possible situations with them. Please remind students to:
Always report all incidents immediately to an adult (parent, principal, teacher, resource officer) whenever something occurs that makes them feel unsafe.
- Be aware of their surroundings.
- Don’t wear devices that block their hearing or seeing.
- Avoid talking to, engaging with or answering questions to passersby or strangers.
- Always walk or bicycle with at least one buddy in well-lit areas.
- Use a cell phone, if available, to call for help. (If students have cell phones, make sure that emergency numbers are programmed into the phone so they can be dialed quickly. Also, remind your student that the cell phone should not be used during class time at school.)
Working together, all of us can help to insure that our students have a safe community in which they can continue to grow and learn. Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.
The assault was reported around 3:30 p.m., on the 2600 block of Arlington Blvd. Initial reports suggest that a man reached up the teen’s skirt and touched her inappropriately, before fleeing on foot.
The suspect was described as a Hispanic male in his late 40s, who was wearing work pants, work boots, a white hat and a white t-shirt at the time of the attack. Police are currently searching for the suspect.
Photo via Google Maps
Elementary Student Fascinated by Fallout Shelters — Nathan Eberhart, a McKinley Elementary student, has been trying to unravel the mysteries of school fallout shelters for his school’s student newspaper. Eberhart thinks the Cold War relics could be better put to use nowadays “as a community-activities storage area for things like Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, recreational sports and enrichments.” [InsideNova]
Protest Planned in Rosslyn — The Mayday Project will be protesting outside the Infectious Diseases Society of America headquarters in Rosslyn today and tomorrow. The organization wants Lyme disease recognized as a chronic illness. The protest will be held from about 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the 1300 block of Wilson Blvd. [Twitter]
Four Mile Run Cleaning Planned — Starting in a few days, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will begin a joint project to remove excess vegetation from the Four Mile Run flood control channel, which extends from I-395 to the Potomac River. “Residents will see crews working in or near Four Mile Run, removing trees, shrubs, and other vegetation growing in the channel,” the county noted in a press release. [Arlington County]
Washington Blvd Lane Closure — A northbound lane closure on the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 was put in place overnight, according to VDOT. A southbound lane closure, similarly reducing the number of lanes on the bridge from three to two, is expected to be put in place next week. The lane closures were originally planned for this past Monday.
Another County Board Straw Poll — Another straw poll in the race for the Democratic County Board nomination was held last night at Del. Alfonso Lopez’s campaign kick-off event at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. The reported results were: Christian Dorsey 27%, Peter Fallon 23%, Katie Cristol 22%, James Lander 15%, Andrew Schneider 12%, Bruce Wiljanen 1%.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Some of Arlington’s most ambitious teenagers will go before a panel of judges, “Shark Tank”-style, to present business ideas they have cultivated for weeks.
The event is called the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel, is May 7 at Marymount University’s Reinsch Library (2807 N. Glebe Road), from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. It’s hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which has taken a dozen students from ages 12 to 18 from Arlington schools and taught them the fundamentals of starting a business, every Wednesday evening since Jan. 7.
“It’s important for them to see how the process of starting a business works,” Chamber Communications Manager Meredith Smith said. Each business group will go through the process of applying for business licenses. “It’s been really good seeing these kids develop their businesses.”
The 12 students have split into seven different businesses, and each startup will have six minutes to present to a panel of eight members of the Arlington business community, including from Vornado, Graham Holdings Company and the Ballston BID. Those judges will ask questions, debate and “invest,” just like on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank.”
Among the businesses the kids have come up with are custom-denim shorts, mobile apps and an e-commerce marketplace for “local streetwear/lifestyle brands,” according to the Chamber. They have been instructed by Charlie Sibbald, an entrepreneur and adjunct business professory at MU.
“[The academy] helps the Chamber build the next generation of business leaders by introducing young people early to entrepreneurship and its rewards and challenges,” Chamber President and CEO Kate Roche said in an email. “The program also provides a significant number of meaningful ways for our members to engage with the students. Business leaders are instrumental to the curriculum and the program, serving as mentors, guest speakers, graphic designers, and business plan reviewers.”
Tickets for the event are $10, and it is open to the public. The winning team will be entered into a national scholarship competition and could present its idea to the Americas Small Business Summit in D.C. this June.
Yesterday @APSVirginia tweeted a “friendly reminder” for those mentioning it in tweets to “be respectful.”
“We remove followers who don’t,” the school system said. “Our technology policies apply in the Twitterverse.”
Via email, school spokesman Frank Bellavia says the tweet was specifically aimed at students who have been complaining about snow cancellation and delay decisions.
“We have had a number of students use inappropriate language or make inappropriate comments on twitter over the last few weeks,” Bellavia said. “This is the second time we have posted this message asking students to be respectful on Twitter or we will block them.”
APS’ internet policy states that student and staff must be courteous, use appropriate language, must not harass or attack others, and must not “view, send, display, or use profanity, obscenities, sexually explicit, or offensive materials.”
Violations of the policy may result in school suspension, but so far APS has apparently just been blocking offenders.
Today, when APS decided on a two hour delay instead of a school cancellation — like Fairfax County Public Schools — students did not seem to heed the warning.
More tweets from this morning, after the jump.
Residents Getting Dominion Scam Calls, Again — Some Arlington residents are again reporting getting phony phone calls claiming to be from Dominion Power. Just in time for this week’s extremely cold weather, the scammer threatens to shut the power off unless the homeowner pays a supposedly overdue bill over the phone.
Child Sex Trafficking Case Had Arlington Connection — A Nevada man pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court yesterday to charges of prostituting women and underage girls in various states including Virginia. Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions named as a place where the man, Lenny Haskins, plied his trade as a pimp. [Reston Now]
Rosslyn Red Hot and Blue Tchotchkes Moved to N.C. — Various equipment and memorabilia from the now-closed Red Hot and Blue restaurant in Rosslyn are being moved to a new Red Hot and Blue location in Cary, N.C. The Arlington location was the barbecue chain’s first. [Triangle Business Journal]
BBC Mentions Weenie Beenie — The BBC takes a look at the mysterious D.C. food phenomenon known as the half-smoke. The broadcaster points out that the Weenie Beenie in Shirlington, which opened in 1954, may have been the first in the area to start slinging half-smokes. [BBC Travel]
Arlington 13-Year-Old is a Web Cartoonist — Arlington student Cole Goco, 13, is the cartoonist behind a surrealist web comic about a boy, a talking ice pop and a pet turtle. [Washington City Paper]
Malvar died in a skateboarding accident in June. Police say the 18-year-old was hanging on to the driver’s side window frame of his friend’s pickup truck when he lost his balance and fell, hitting his head on the pavement. Malvar succumbed to his injuries a few hours later. Students held a candlelight vigil in his memory.
The driver was later charged with reckless driving and pleaded guilty earlier this fall. At a juvenile court sentencing yesterday afternoon, a judge sentenced the teen to serve a weekend in juvenile detention. He was also placed on probation; ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and attend a victim awareness program; and had his drivers license revoked for 6 months and a $500 fine imposed.
Metro Weekend Service Adjustments — Due to work on the Metrorail system, trains on the Orange and Blue Lines will run every 24 minutes this weekend. The altered schedule begins at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 22, and runs through closing on Sunday, November 24. [WMATA]
Metro Sign Upgrades on the Way — By the end of the winter, Metrorail riders should notice a number of upgrades to the electronic signs announcing train arrivals. Some improvements include making the display crisper so it’s easier to read from a distance and temporarily stopping service advisories from scrolling on the screens when trains are arriving. [Washington Post]
ART System Expansion — At its meeting on Tuesday (November 19), the County Board approved a plan to expand the ART bus system within the next year. Two lines will be added and one line will have service later into the evening. [Sun Gazette]
Students Place First in Video Contest — Six students at Arlington Career Center won first place for the video they submitted to the Virginia School Boards Association student video contest. High school students were challenged to create a 30 second video for the theme “What’s Super About Public Schools.” [Arlington Public Schools]
The Hoya student newspaper reports that the school is looking at Clarendon, Capitol Hill and a location north of the Georgetown’s main campus as possible areas to house 385 students starting in the fall of 2015.
The off-site housing is necessary in order for the university to comply with an agreement with Georgetown residents and the D.C. government to house 90 percent of students on campus by 2025. Construction of a planned on-campus dormitory has been delayed, The Hoya reports, making a satellite campus — likely apartments rented by the university — a last-resort option for compliance.
The school may have a hard time convincing students to live far outside campus, however.
“University officials have discussed making satellite housing higher quality than current campus housing by including a swimming pool for student use or situating the campus near a Metro stop,” The Hoya wrote. Georgetown would also run a shuttle from the satellite campus to the main campus across the Key Bridge.
Stacy Kerr, Assistant Vice President of Communication for Georgetown, disputed The Hoya article and said it overstates the number of students who would be potentially be housed in Clarendon. She said the university is actually looking to house some 160 students.
Georgetown has a history with Clarendon, operating its Center for Continuing and Professional Education on Wilson Blvd across from the Clarendon Metro station. The program, however, has moved to a new office in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. The school’s lease on the building runs until 2014.
Local ‘Stacking’ Champ Gains International Fame — William Polly, the 12-year-old Thomas Jefferson Middle School student who’s a Sport Stacking champion, is gaining international notoriety. This summer he filmed a television commercial for a South African orange soda, and next week he will attempt to break his own world record during the taping of a Guinness Book of World Records TV show in Beijing. [Washington Post]
Arlington GOP Renovates HQ — The Arlington County Republican Committee is putting the finishing touches on its new headquarters. Located on the ground floor of an apartment building at 405 S. Glebe Road, the office is expected to reopen after Labor Day. The local GOP is also planning a door knocking campaign for gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli on Sept. 7. [Sun Gazette]
Bourbon, Bacon and Blues Party — A group of Arlington-based bloggers is throwing a party tonight at O’Sullivan’s (3207 Washington Blvd) in Clarendon. The event will start at 7:00 p.m. and will feature music by Duffy Kane. [Clarendon Nights]
Flickr pool photo by christopherskillman
An ART bus will be more colorful for the next year, thanks to the winner of the ARTists for PAL Bus Design Contest.
County Board Chair Walter Tejada and County Manager Barbara Donnellan joined in a ceremony on Thursday for the unveiling of the winning bus wrap. They recognized Annemarie Dougherty, who will be an 8th grader at St. Agnes Catholic School in the fall, for her winning design.
Dougherty offered the following description of her design:
“My picture on the bus incorporates the ‘Be a PAL’ theme because the cars, bikes and people are sharing the space and are aware of the street signs. This shows that it is equally important for pedestrians, bikers and drivers to watch out for each other and their surroundings. In addition the street is green reminding people to walk or bike more.”
The contest asked middle and high school students to submit designs in line with the theme “Share Our Streets — Be a PAL.” The 26 entries were narrowed down to three finalists and Arlington residents were able to vote online for their favorite.
The newly wrapped bus will be on display at the Arlington County Fair this weekend. After that, it will take to the streets and will remain decorated for about one year.
All of the other contest entries are on display inside the bus.
Hundreds gathered on the lawn at Washington-Lee High School on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to remember John Malvar, who died in a skateboarding accident on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old had been holding on to a truck while skateboarding, but fell and hit his head. He died from injuries sustained during that fall, which included significant head trauma and cardiac arrest.
At the student organized vigil, tables were set up around the perimeter with candles and ribbons for attendees. Students cried, hugged and comforted each other, while others passed around water jugs for donations to cover the family’s expenses. Some also laid items — such as flowers and skateboards — at a makeshift memorial along the stage.
As attendees passed the flames from candle to candle at the vigil, members of the school’s choir sang “Lean on Me.” Speakers focused on John as a skateboarding enthusiast, member of the swim team and overall kind individual. Speaker after speaker noted Malvar’s positive attitude and frequent encouragement of others.
“In this time of sadness and grief, it is important to remember that John was always the kind of person who was smiling and looking for the best in life no matter the circumstances,” said student Daniel Sharp, Jr.
Malvar was in Rob Summers’ anthropology class this year, and clearly left his mark on his teacher.
“I used to call John, ‘Big John.’ It wasn’t because of his stature, it was because of his heart. You never heard John saying anything negative or bad about a person, about the day, about what we were trying to learn. John had the most unique attitude of positivity,” said Summers. “John had that ear to ear grin and those eyes that always looked at you and told you no matter what was going on, there was another way to look at it.”
Similar to nearly all the other speakers, student Nicolas Suarez choked up while at the podium. He spoke of the times spent skateboarding and swimming with his good friend, and the enormous impact Malvar had on his life.
“I’m sure we can all say he was truly one of a kind. I can genuinely say that John was one of the most honest and caring souls I’ve ever met,” said Suarez. “He taught me so much about perseverance, honesty and most importantly above all, integrity. I think it’s safe to say that John embodied all aspects of what integrity means. John was a good friend of mine. His footprints on my life will forever guide me in the right direction.”
An innovative summer camp could spark new career ambitions among high school-aged girls in Arlington who feel up for a challenge. Long term, it could also help the Arlington County Fire Department meet its goal of recruiting more female firefighters.
The Girls’ Fire Camp, a free overnight camp scheduled for July 12-14, is designed to give girls aged 13 to 16 a taste of the firefighter’s life. Participants will work out, run drills and learn skills — all under the close supervision of ACFD staff. The department’s recruiting officer, Capt. Brandon D. Jones, described the camp as a “fun-filled weekend” in which high school students will “learn how to stay in great shape” while performing basic firefighting and emergency medical tasks.
“The department hopes to make a long-term connection with the participants,” Jones said. “After they attend this camp, some may be inspired to continue their ambition to become a Firefighter/EMT in the future.”
Though Arlington was the first fire department in the country to hire a female professional firefighter, in 1974, it has struggled like other departments nationwide to recruit women for the traditionally male profession. Currently, females comprise about 9 percent of the 300-plus member Arlington department. Nationwide, only about 6 percent of firefighters are women.
As recruiters get more creative in their quest for diversity, fire camps for high school girls have proliferated. Since the Tucson Fire Department joined with the neighboring Northwest Fire/Rescue District to open its inaugural Camp Fury for girls in 2009, other jurisdictions have followed suit. The Ashland Fire Department in Massachusetts runs a Camp Bailout, the New Hampshire State Fire Academy runs a Camp Fully Involved and the Utica Fire Academy in New York offers the Phoenix Firecamp.
“The camp is a really great idea,” said Capt. Anne Marsh, an EMS supervisor and 15-year veteran of the Arlington department. “We want our department to represent the general population. So many people come into the fire department as part of a family legacy, and women have simply not had as many role models to follow.”
Campers will spend the two nights, with chaperones, at Marymount University. During the days, they will participate in activities that include physical training, a fire extinguisher class, hose drills and an aerial ladder demonstration. They will tour the Arlington fire stations and, treat of treats, dine with the on-duty crews.
“The idea is to put the possibility of becoming a firefighter on the front burner for them,” said Arlington firefighter/paramedic Jennifer Slade, a seven-year veteran of the department, “but we’re also trying to incorporate fun into it, so it’s not just learning.”
“Even if they don’t go into the field,” Slade added, “hopefully they will talk to their friends about how much fun they had.”
The camp is limited to 16 participants, who must fill out an application that includes an essay. Those interested can call 703-228-0098 or visit the camp’s web page for more information.
Photos via Arlington County. Michael Doyle is a journalist and Arlington resident. He is a member of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.