Chess Growing in Popularity at Wakefield HS — A hot new trend with students at Wakefield High School: chess. The school offers chess boards for students and teachers to use during their lunch periods. Five or six students were regular players at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year the number of students playing on a weekly basis grew to around 200, including standout varsity athletes like Amari Cooper and Ben Horsford. [InsideNova]
Religious Protesters Picket Freddie’s — A pair of religious protesters held signs and chanted anti-gay slogans outside of Crystal City LGBTQ watering hole Freddie’s Beach Bar over the weekend. Despite their message of intolerance, owner Freddie Lutz invited the two in to have a dialogue about their beliefs and why Lutz is proud of his bar and customers. [Washington Blade]
Ballston Mall Owner to Be Sold — The Cleveland-based owner of the revamped Ballston Quarter mall is being sold to a Toronto-based management company, Brookfield Asset Management, for a reported $11.4 billion. [Washington Business Journal]
Marymount University sophomore Kevin Strickland has raised a total of $54,000 to fight malaria by holding bake sales for the past seven years.
The proceeds go to global grassroots organization Nothing But Nets, which provides insecticide-treated bed nets to families in Africa looking to protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
“I’m going to keep doing this for as long as malaria exists,” said Strickland. “I’m not stopping until I see it listed in the Center for Disease Control’s storage area, right next to small pox.”
Strickland, a Springfield resident, began selling baked goods for Nothing But Nets as a part of an eighth grade civics project. He first started baking in kindergarten and learned about Nothing But Nets through an ad on Hulu.
Nothing But Nets honored Strickland as one of 150 champions of the United Nations campaign in 2015. He’s currently studying public health and sociology at Marymount.
Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is also a proponent of Nothing But Nets and follows Strickland on Instagram. When Curry visited the White House in 2015 to discuss the organization, then-President Barack Obama reportedly asked Curry, “So where’s that kid who makes the cupcakes?”
After graduation, Strickland said he wants to open up a cupcake truck in Washington, D.C. and donate 20 percent of the proceeds to Nothing But Nets.
Photo courtesy of Marymount University
The possibility of including a swimming pool in Career Center site planning arose at a joint Arlington County Board/Arlington Public Schools work session last week.
Kristi Sawert, who presented Career Center site considerations for programming and amenities during the work session, said that the pool possibility was “one of the more lively discussions” that the working group has had. Sawert listed several reasons for being pro-pool, including what she called a long-standing APS and School Board policy that aquatics education is essential.
“The main reason I hear that we don’t need a pool at the Career Center site is that those students could be bused to Long Bridge Pool when it opens,” said Sawert.
Sawert said that after having consulted with county staff, she believes that busing students isn’t feasible at the high school level because of the lack of free elective periods that students would need for off-campus travel. Busing, Sawert said, would only be a realistic option if students chose to give up core instructional time.
“Those lost hours would really add up,” she said, adding that this was a matter of equality between wealthy students who could afford private swim lessons and those who couldn’t.
High schoolers take at least eight swimming lessons per year in 80-minute blocks. Elementary and middle schoolers are required to take far fewer lessons, at just five swimming instructional hours annually.
Though County Board member John Vihstadt said that he thought a pool is appropriate and necessary, other board members had questions. County Board member Libby Garvey questioned why changes couldn’t be made to students’ schedules to accommodate activities like swimming.
“I appreciate the discussion of swimming and why we need swimming and pools, I totally believe that,” Garvey said. “But listening to the concerns and the difficulties, they all sit around schedules, and the same old block schedules, and the same old constrained day.”
Garvey suggested, as an example, a school schedule of 6 a.m.-11 p.m. for students, which she said would provide flexibility for students to go to Long Bridge to swim. Her intent with the example, she explained, was to highlight the importance of flexibility for students who need to take jobs, go to internships or do other activities that don’t conform well to the traditional school schedules.
“I totally agree with the need for swimming. I’m not sure we have to preserve the same schedule that we’ve had for a hundred years,” Garvey said.
Board member Erik Gutshall questioned how realistic it would be to have another pool in light of county-wide funding concerns.
“I’d want to know that if we’re going to build a pool, and if we agree it’s a great idea, that that pool is going to get absolute, full use and that all of our other pools that we have get full use,” he said. “Money is an object, and it’s going to be highly constrained in every decision [so] every recommendation has to be fully justified.”
Screenshot via Arlington County
The board will consider a memorandum of understanding that details the ways by which Arlington Public Schools and ACPD intends to “foster relations of mutual respect and understanding in order to build a positive and safe school environment.” Police officers are embedded in schools full time via the department’s School Resource Officer unit.
The document goes on to note that “the vast majority of student misconduct can be best addressed through classroom and in-school strategies,” and enumerates the difference between school discipline and law enforcement matters.
School administrators and teachers are responsible for school discipline. SROs are expected to be familiar with the school division code of student conduct, the rules of individual schools, and their application in day-to-day practice, SROs should not be involved with the enforcement of school rules or disciplinary infractions that are not violations of law. However, SROs may remind students of school rules or disciplinary infractions with prior approval from school administrators.
Consequences of student misconduct should be effective, developmentally appropriate, and fair. Interventions and school sanctions should help students learn from their mistakes and address root causes of misconduct. School administrators will consider alternatives to suspensions and law enforcement officials may consider alternatives to referrals to juvenile court services and arrests for student violations of law.
The [School-Law Enforcement Partnership] shall operate in a manner to ensure children with disabilities receive appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.
Also discussed are policies relating to sharing information about students, interviews and investigations, and searches.
A “student rights draft” has been drafted and is part of the presentation. In an effort to “empower students,” it describes the rights that students have and what interactions are and are not permitted between a student and law enforcement.
The police department previously published a pamphlet for students with “tips for interacting with law enforcement.” Advice includes “do not walk away from officers when they are trying to talk to you” and “if you are at a party where alcohol is present and the police arrive, do not run away and do not hide.”
Much has been written about youth and their media consumption. In Arlington, they have an opportunity to be something more than just consumers — they can become media creators and generate their own high quality content.
Arlington Independent Media (AIM) has offered media training to the community since 1982. In addition to adult and teen programs, AIM offers spring break and summer camps for children as young as eight.
AIM’s Media Production camps are for youth ages 8-13. Working with expert instructors and media professionals, participants will develop story ideas, write scripts, shoot footage, record audio, act in and edit their own short productions. In the process, they will be introduced to the basic concepts of media literacy and critical thinking.
All camp sessions run Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and take place at AIM’s facility in Clarendon.
iPad Movie and Animation Camp
In this one week camp, students learn iPad movie making, stop motion animation and sound effect production while they create several short works.
Spring Break Session — March 26-30
Summer Session — August 6-10
Cost — $299.00
Summer Movie Camps
In this two-week camp, students learn to use professional equipment and work together to develop a story idea, and write, plan, shoot and edit a production that will premiere on the final day of camp.
Session 1 — June 25-July 6
Session 2 — July 9-July 20
Session 3 — July 23-August 3
Cost – $599.00
Radio Production Camp
Campers learn basic audio production, sound effect recording and on-air DJ-ing to create several live and pre-recorded radio programs for air on WERA 96.7FM including a scripted radio play with live Foley sound effects.
Summer Session — August 13-17
Cost — $299.00
For more information, visit www.ArlingtonMedia.org, or phone 703-524-2388.
The final design of Yorktown High School modifications that will increase the building’s capacity to 2,189 seats is set to be approved at the Arlington School Board meeting on Thursday (March 8).
Per the plan, at least six classrooms will be created by converting a computer lab, a computer alcove, and several teacher work rooms. A copy room will turn into a new “teacher collaboration space,” and other teacher work space and offices will also be reconfigured.
Existing storage will be turned into bicycle storage, and charging stations will be added throughout the school, including in the cafeteria and atrium. The current gym lockers will be replaced.
The larger seating capacity comes weeks after the proposed Arlington Public Schools budget was announced with class size increases.
The project’s estimated $4 million cost will be funded by the capital reserve, according to School Board documents.
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Arlington high school students walked out of class Wednesday at about noon, joining nationwide protesters responding to a recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Wakefield High School students made their way to the athletic stadium for a rally in favor of stricter gun control laws during a 30 minute class walkout. Administrators agreed to consider the walkout an excused absence, according to several Wakefield students.
Students spoke to the crowd with a public address system, calling themselves “moving targets” and shouting that gun violence won’t be resolved until everyone helps them “rise together and create that change.”
Hannah Jones, a 17-year-old junior at Wakefield and an Arlington Young Democrats member, referenced tweets from an account called National School Walkout as her and her peers’ inspiration for the walkout.
Another student, 16-year-old sophomore Natasa Volk, only recently has become involved in politics.
“I think my mom wanted me to swivel in my own ideas and figure out what my values are,” said Volk. “But definitely this year I have engaged a lot more in political conversations, whether its with teachers or with my mother and other students.”
“I guess I started to care, which is kind of disappointing that I didn’t care as much.”
Volk and other students drew protest posters in their morning classes, with slogans like “317 Last Year — How Many This Year?” The walkout crowd was a few hundred teenagers and adults, a portion of the school’s 2016 enrollment rate of around 2,000 students.
Student protests are being staged as widespread as Chicago and Florida in response to the Parkland shooting, but Volk says that it wasn’t just the most recent shooting that inspired action, but that she learned last year that mass shootings happen much more frequently than one might see reported in the national media.
Some students were pessimistic about the protest, reportedly believing that it would just be an excuse for the apathetic to skip class. But, Jones believes, even those students will benefit from the walkout.
“Even if that’s their motive, being around this many people and to see this many people caring” about gun control legislation, said Jones. “I feel that if the news that they’re hearing hasn’t affected them, then this will get them to change their minds and get them to be a bit more directly involved.”
Reporters from ARLnow and WJLA (ABC 7) were not permitted to follow students to the rally at Wakefield High School.
Students, parents, and administrators alike took to Twitter in support of the march — including Virginia’s 2018 teacher of the year, Michelle Cottrell-Williams.
Further protests have been called for by student and adult activists nationwide, and a nationwide “March For Our Lives” protest has been scheduled for March 24.
Tweets from the Wakefield walkout, along with emails sent to H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown parents, after the jump.
From H-B Woodlawn Principal Casey Robinson:
Dear H-B Woodlawn Parent or Guardian:
Today at noon many H-B Woodlawn students participated in a student walkout to protest gun violence following the recent events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This walkout occurred during lunch; students congregated in the front circle for about 20 minutes. These students were supervised by school staff and the School Resource Officer. It was a peaceful and safe gathering. During this student initiated protest some students suggested that the group should walk to the White House. We told students that they must have parent permission and sign out in the office since this was not a school-sponsored activity, and school staff would not be with them.
Most students walked a short distance and then returned to school. Other students participated in the longer protest. We were not aware of plans for this protest, but we know that other walkouts and protests are being planned for March and April. We will continue to support students by providing them a safe space to exercise their constitutional rights, while also respecting the right of all students to continue with their education during these activities.
From Yorktown Principal Bridget Loft.
Dear Yorktown Parent or Guardian,
Today at noon many Yorktown students engaged in a student walkout to raise awareness of gun violence following the recent events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. During this walkout, many students left their fifth period classes or lunch to congregate primarily in the amphitheater at the front the building for approximately 20 minutes. These students were supervised by school staff and all gathered peacefully, respectfully, and safely before returning to class. Students who were out of class during this time and returned to class with their classmates will be marked as ‘excused absent’.
Like all of us, many students at Yorktown have been trying to make sense of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last week and have been concerned about their safety in our school. As a school staff, we are committed to ensuring that our students know that their safety is our top priority and to giving them a space to talk about and process the events of last week.
Today’s walkout at Yorktown was planned and organized by several students here. When we learned that it was being planned, school staff made arrangements for the students to congregate in the amphitheater as they had direct access to it as they left through the front doors and it made it easier for Yorktown staff to provide supervision and to monitor who was entering and exiting the building.
I was exceptionally proud of our students today. Those who participated did so respectfully and peacefully. Those who chose to participate respected the feelings of those who opted not to, and those who opted to not participate supported their classmates who did. With the walkouts and protests that are being planned for March and April, we will continue to support students by providing them a safe space to exercise their constitutional rights.
— Michelle Cottrell-Williams (@WakeHistory) February 21, 2018
— Michelle Cottrell-Williams (@WakeHistory) February 21, 2018
— Ms. Hsu 許 (@wasamshsu) February 21, 2018
Wakefield High School Arlington, VA is walking out for "The Movement" right now, and I am so proud because one of my daughter's is marching now with her friends and fellow students.
— Steve Hellem (@Navista7) February 21, 2018
@studentswalkout Here we go Wakefield!!!! let's be the change!!
— emma ashley heavey (@EmmaKatherine29) February 21, 2018
Randolph Elementary School’s PTA is hosting an online charity auction to support classroom and extracurricular programs, auctioning off local business deals, unique experiences and gift certificates today through Feb. 15.
There are over 200 auction items up for grabs, with prizes ranging from a veterinary check-up to an Annapolis sailboat ride valued at $500. One lucky bidder could even win a homemade baby back rib dinner for four at Arlington Public Schools board member Reid Goldstein’s home, for a minimum bid of $75.
Or perhaps you’d rather just relax at home and let Randolph Elementary principal Dr. Donna Synder and assistant principal Ms. Rebecca Irwin Kennedy take over the bedtime story routine one evening for a minimum bid of $15.
Holly Jeffreys, the Randolph Elementary PTA auction chair, says that all auction proceeds will fund field trips, classroom supplies, field day, and literacy programs like the Summer Mailbox book program. She noted that Randolph is a Title I school, a designation indicating “high percentages of children from low-income families,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Approximately 73.6% of students at Randolph qualify for free or reduced price meals, according to an October 2017 Arlington Public Schools report.
The auction has taken place in previous years. New this year, according to organizers, the auction website will accept credit card payments — via PayPal — from auction winners, in addition to checks.
File photo via Arlington Public Schools
Patrick Henry Elementary School principal Annie Turner kissed a pig Tuesday to mark the end of a successful Read-A-Thon at the school.
Turner had promised the students at the school at 701 S. Highland Street that if 300 or more of them turned in reading logs and had read for 500 minutes or more, she would kiss the pig at their final assembly before Thanksgiving.
And the students far exceeded that goal. Patrick Henry parent Christine Brittle, who coordinated the Read-A-Thon, said 360 students turned in reading logs and they exceeded their goal of 500 minutes reading each.
The school’s PTA sponsors the annual Read-A-Thon, which kicked off just over a month ago. Students are challenged to read at least 500 minutes, about 40 minutes a day, and earn prizes for fundraising.
The students read for 263,211 minutes altogether, the equivalent of about 4,388 hours or 182 days.
“I set a really ambitious goal, because we had a really awesome prize and I thought you all could do it,” Brittle told the students.
And so Turner puckered up with Roscoe, a pig that lives in nearby Penrose, to whoops and cheers from the more-than 400 students who assembled in the school’s gymnasium.
The Read-A-Thon also raised more than $22,000 for the school, to be spent on field trips among other things.
“I am so proud of you all for reading so much,” Turner told the students after her encounter with Roscoe. “I hope you continue to read all year and the rest of your lives.”
— Donleigh Honeywell (@APS_HankHenry) November 21, 2017
— Donleigh Honeywell (@APS_HankHenry) November 21, 2017
Parents of Thomas Jefferson Middle School students are petitioning for traffic calming measures on a stretch of road near the school where they report witnessing a number of vehicle-pedestrian close calls.
They’re asking for a crossing guard and a traffic-calming measure — such as a four-way stop — at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and Irving Street, which is a heavily traveled pedestrian thoroughfare for students going to and from school.
The entire stretch of 2nd Street S. near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, from Irving Street to Old Glebe Road, is well-traveled by vehicles and does not have four-way stops. Parents chose to ask for traffic calming at the Irving intersection because of the significant amount of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic at that particular spot. Plus it’s one of the few streets in the neighborhood that runs uninterrupted all the way from Columbia Pike to Washington Blvd., making it easier for motorists to speed than on adjacent streets.
The intersection, like the others on 2nd Street, may not have four-way stops, but it does have painted pedestrian crosswalks. Neighborhood residents say motorists ignore people in the crosswalks, though, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. “That’s prime commuter time and prime school time,” said TJ parent Alisa Key.
Key saw a girl nearly get hit while walking in the crosswalk to school, and that prompted her to take action. “I couldn’t walk away from that without doing anything,” she said. “In the past two weeks, we have had multiple near misses and countless instances of motorists… disregarding kids in the crosswalk. We have taken it upon ourselves to help the kids cross safely because APS and the county have not.”
The group of concerned parents invited county officials to visit the site to see the dangers that students and other pedestrians face. The group reports that a number of representatives showed up from Arlington Public Schools, the county’s Department of Environmental Services, the police department and the county board.
DES currently is collaborating with APS and police on reviewing the intersection and will report the results of the study next week. According to a DES spokesperson, “The traffic study consists of collecting additional traffic volume, speed and pedestrian volume data to determine whether a four-way stop meets federal standards (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices).”
Parents are hopeful that the results next week indicate the need for increased safety measures, including a crossing guard. In the meantime, they’ve been taking turns positioning themselves at the crosswalk in the morning to make sure children get to school safely. They’ve also started an online petition requesting traffic calming measures, which has more than 400 signatures.
Parents are particularly worried about what happens when the volume of students increases upon completion of a new elementary school at the TJ site.
“The intersection at S. Irving & S. 2nd Street is a magnet for kids, bikers, walkers, etc. because there are currently three community attractions at this site — TJ Park, TJ Recreation Center, TJ Middle School and soon to be coming Fleet Elementary School,” said concerned parent and Arlington Heights resident Colleen Godbout. “This intersection needs calming measures immediately. We can not wait for the accident that is inevitable here.”
Students and parents throughout Arlington celebrated “Walk and Bike to School Day” this morning, and those at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School especially got into the spirit.
Parents and crossing guards assisted children across the intersection of S. Queen Street and 13th Road S., where they were greeted by a parent helper. “Good morning! Thanks for walking today!” she said to kids approaching school property.
Some of the students seemed hesitant and needed a little prompting about how to safely walk through a crosswalk. The parent helper chuckled, saying, “You have to remember, for some of them this is their first time walking here.”
Once at school, the kids gathered for a Walk and Bike to School Day event in the back field. After participating in some activities, students formed a star and had their picture taken by the Arlington County Fire Department from the top of a ladder truck.
Students were excited about the photo opportunity, but so were the adults. “I’m waiting for the kids’ picture. I want that photo!” said a parent.
Wakefield Student Sang National Anthem — Wakefield High School junior Samantha Rios sang the national anthem before Sunday night’s Redskins-Raiders game. Rios, who previously competed on a Spanish language version of The Voice, was seen by a national TV audience as controversy swirled over players kneeling in protest during the anthem. [WUSA 9]
Officials to Compete in Trivia Battle — County Board Chair Jay Fisette, state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope and former County Board members Mary Hynes and Joe Wholey will compete in a “housing trivia battle” next month, testing their knowledge of Arlington history, particularly as it relates to housing issues. [Arlington County]
Clement Blasts Daycare Approval — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement said in a new email to supporters that the current Board places the interests of developers ahead of that of residents. As an example, she cited the recent approval of a new daycare center on Lee Highway, despite concerns about traffic among some local residents. The approval “will likely engender cut through traffic on an adjacent one lane street off Lee Highway that has already experienced major traffic accidents,” Clement wrote. The daycare had the general support of the local civic association. [Audrey Clement]
Gun Control Group to Host Fmr. ATF Agent — The local chapter of the pro-gun-control group Moms Demand Action is hosting a special event on Wednesday, featuring a former ATF special agent. The event will include discussion of the “the challenges facing gun violence prevention.” It is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library. Moms Demand Action had a booth at Clarendon Day this past weekend and signed up nearly 100 new volunteers. [Facebook, Medium]
Nearby: One Guy is Holding Up Development in D.C. — One persistent activist is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in the District. Chris Otten has succeeded in delaying numerous developments by rallying a group of neighbors and filing court challenges. [Bisnow]
Local affordable housing provider AHC Inc. is still seeking volunteers to work in its education programs ahead of school resuming next week.
Spaces are still available to help in AHC’s After-School and Teen Tutoring programs, which help educate young people from kindergarten through 12th grade.
In the After-School program, volunteers work with elementary school students to build literacy and math skills, and to help with homework. AHC asks for a commitment of one hour once a week between 4 and 6 p.m.
Teen Tutoring helps foster both academic and life skills to help teens graduate from high school and maximize their potential. Tutors are paired with one student during the school year, and meet for one hour once a week between 6 and 8 p.m.
There will be several orientation sessions in the coming days for both programs:
- September 6 – After-School Orientation, 6-7 p.m. (Gates of Ballston, 4108 4th Street N.)
- September 12 – Teen Tutoring Orientation, 6-7:30 p.m. (Gates of Ballston, 4108 4th Street N.)
- September 14 – Teen Tutoring Orientation, 6-7:30 pm (Gates of Ballston, 4108 4th Street, N.)
In addition to these schemes, AHC offers various others through its resident services program. Earlier this year, 15 high school graduates in the pilot year of its college mentoring program celebrated finishing the program and advancing into higher education.
For more information, potential volunteers should contact Cindy Rozon at [email protected].
Photo via AHC
(Updated 11 a.m.) Wakefield High School students Anna Tiernan and Kate Williams won the Alex and Ani Friendship of the Year Award at the 28th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indiana earlier this month.
Tiernan and Williams were nominated by the program’s Capitol Region director and campaigned heavily for the competition. The duo earned votes from across the country for their efforts and were announced as winners live at the conference, which took place July 21-24 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that aims to create opportunities that for “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The pair’s nomination explained why they were well-suited for the award:
Anna’s and Kate’s friendship is truly genuine and exemplary of the Best Buddies mission; they are true equals and friends. They support each other’s interests – from Anna’s love of music to Kate’s involvement in school plays. They were highlighted on the local news as they prepared for their Prom together. They are always the first to start a party and the last to leave; from sporting events, karaoke outings, dance parties, and more, it is clear these two friends love to have fun and love each other!
Tiernan and Williams live a few houses away from each other, and have been able to develop a friendship with movie nights while also helping build the Best Buddies organization in their community. The pair were featured on Fox 5 last month when they were promoting the annual Best Buddies Prom.
Williams, who is the president of the Wakefield chapter, said she can see the impact of the Best Buddies program in the school.
“I think there are a lot more kids that recognize the students in the special needs classes,” said Williams.
Tiernan, who graduated from Wakefield this past June, says she enjoys her unique friendship with Williams. She said she is also looking forward to the organization’s Friendship Walk on October 21, hosted by local radio host Tommy McFly.
“I just want to be in a video with him,” said Tiernan, who said the walk is one of her favorite Best Buddies events.
Best Buddies partnered with jewelry company Alex and Ani, the sponsor of the awards, in 2015. Last year, Best Buddies was one of two charities that benefited from the sales of the Liberty Copper Carry Light line, and currently benefits a portion of the proceeds from the Arrows of Friendship Charm Bangle.
From my first breath at Virginia Hospital Center to walking across DAR Constitution Hall for high school graduation, Arlington has been my home since birth. Despite the county’s growing hype around millennials, 18.5% of Arlington’s total population is 18 years or younger. That’s over 40,000 children, 27,000 of which are enrolled across Arlington’s nearly three dozen public K-12 schools.
There’s no complicated way to go around it: it has been a fantastic privilege to grow up in Arlington and I am not alone in this thought. Along with many of my friends and classmates, I was born here. I attended a private daycare, spent many of my childhood days swinging at the Harrison Street playground and went to preschool at The Children’s School in Westover.
When I was ready to attend kindergarten, my parents faced no qualms about a waitlist for a private education. Arlington’s public schools are as great as they come. Even a quick glance at national school rankings makes it clear why so many parents choose to live in Arlington and commute elsewhere for work.
I lived the first ten years of my life in Westover in a quaint two-bedroom home. I shared my bedroom with my little sister and attended McKinley Elementary School, where I received a great education. When my youngest sister was born, we decided it was time to move. We moved when I was in the fifth grade to a four-bedroom house in the Williamsburg neighborhood, which meant that I would have to attend a different middle school than all of my peers.
At eleven years old, that’s about as devastating as it comes. Yet looking back, I simply moved from a great neighborhood to another great neighborhood. In both middle school and high school there was never a day where there wasn’t something to do, whether in the county or across the river in the nation’s capital.
Now I’m 20 years old and attend college at Boston University. My high school friends are all over the map, some up north like me and many others still here in Virginia. However we’ve all looked back fondly at our time growing up in Arlington and come to the realization that we’ve all had it very, very good.
“I’ve had a chance now to see a little bit more of the country and I realize how lucky and privileged I’ve been with just about every aspect of my upbringing here,” said Maddie Donley, a rising junior at the University of Virginia. “People always say that they want to escape [Arlington], but I’ve come to see it as a great networking resource and an incredible place to call home.”
Kimberly Estoque, a 20 year old student at George Mason, said Arlington’s growth and prosperity helped to drive and motivate her as she transitioned to adulthood.
“Growing up here gave me a sense of what true innovation is, it’s truly a place that is always thriving to grow in order to make the community better,” she said.
Though a major component of it, public school attendance alone does not define the Arlington born-and-raised experience. Paulie Jesukiewicz is a student at High Point University who grew up in Arlington but attended Bishop Ireton High School, a private school in Alexandria.
“I still hang out with my best friends from kindergarten even though we went to different high schools, but I definitely think the biggest perk of growing up here is the proximity to the city,” said Jesukiewicz. “It’s given me bigger goals in life.”
Across the board, myself included, the true privilege of growing up in Arlington wasn’t completely known until it was finally seen from the outside. Agreeing with this is Rhys Davis, a student at St. John’s College in Maryland, who also grew up here.
“Growing up in Arlington feels like a prototypical suburban experience, until you meet people from other suburban cities in America,” said Davis. “In a university away from Virginia, I’ve learned how to appreciate the good in Arlington and recognize its flaws.”
I don’t think I would be the person I am today had I not grown up in Arlington. I am tremendously thankful for the opportunities and memories this county has presented me (including a fantastic internship writing for this very publication), and I carry it with me every day.
Kalina Newman is a ARLnow.com summer intern. Screen capture (above) via Arlington TV.