Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Red Flag Warning TodayUpdated at 8:45 a.m. — The D.C. region is under a Red Flag Warning this afternoon for strong winds and low humidity, which can lead to wildfires. In Arlington, fire weather like this typically results in small brush and mulch fires that are quickly extinguished. [Weather.gov]

Report on Old Dominion Site Coming Soon — “With a task force prepping its final report on uses for the government parcel at 26th Street North and Old Dominion Drive, what will happen next to the recommendations? For both procedural and financial reasons, don’t expect the county government to jump into development of the 7.6-acre site immediately.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Eateries Among Harper’s Favorite D.C. Memories — Former Rosslyn resident Bryce Harper shouted out Silver Diner and The Italian Store in his farewell to D.C. [Twitter]

Presidential Race May Post Logistical Challenge — “As Arlington’s elections office begins mulling how to handle the 2020 presidential vote, it could be space, rather than money, that proves the biggest challenge.” [InsideNova]

W-L Hockey Player Raising Money for Diabetes Research — “Ethan Rostker, a freshman defenseman for the Washington-Lee hockey team, doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just 20 months old. He wears an insulin pump while playing and completes a 100-mile bike trip yearly to raise money for diabetes research.” [WJLA]

Nearby: Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Update — “1,000 people are still displaced after two transformers burst into flames Monday morning– cutting off power to their Fairfax County apartments.” [WJLA]

Photo courtesy Jessica Hahn

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A new study indicates most Arlington Public Schools staff and students find personal electronic devices helpful in the classroom, but School Board members say questions remain about an initiative to give iPads and laptops to students.

Dr. Shaun B. Kellogg of the Friday Institute of NC State University, which conducted the “1:1 Digital Device Initiative Study,” said teachers and students surveyed were “generally pretty positive” about devices, but that “parents who completed the survey were clearly more skeptical of the benefits.”

“In fact the results from parents were kind of polarizing,” Kellogg said.

Eighty-five percent of teachers and 75 percent of students reported that the MacBook Air laptops and iPads used in APS classrooms can make learning more interesting — but only 55 percent of parents surveyed agreed.

Last year, the Friday Institute began studying the impact the devices had on students and teachers and presented these initial results based on analysis of the quantitative data gathered over the last year. Data was collected via interviews, 410 classroom observations, survey responses from 882 teachers, 8,519 students, and 1,693 parents, per Kellogg’s presentation last week.

Kellogg told the School Board that students are using devices roughly 40 percent of the time during classes in elementary schools, about 53 percent of the time in middle school classrooms, and 58 percent of the time in high school.

“I think in simple kind of parent speak we really want to know if what we’ve invested in is of benefit to their children,” said School Board member Nancy van Doren, who acknowledged that Kellogg was likely unable to answer that question during this first phase of his research.

Board Chair Reid Goldstein said the Board will revisit the issue in May.

Officials acknowledged during the meeting that the second phase of the study is not expected to be completed by May.

Goldstein said the study to examine the “the cost benefit analysis” of the program, but noted he had hoped the presentation included information on the “health effects” more screen time could have for youth.

Board member Barbara Kanninen also asked if there exists a consensus in the educational community about one-to-one device programs.

Kellogg held his own iPad aloft at the podium and replied, “They have ether potential to really amplify really good instruction, really good curriculum, but they also have the amplify really poor classroom management, really poor instruction.”

When pressed by Kanninen on whether APS has good quality instruction and curriculum Kellogg said, “I’d be very comfortable making that conclusion after phase two. That is one of my goals, figuring that out.”

Proponents of the program have said providing an iPad or laptop for every student from second grade on offers a chance to personalize their learning and address the achievement gap. But the program remains controversial with parents, some of whom were recently billed the costs for repairing devices after a policy change last year.

Board member Monique O’Grady also asked last week if it is common for school districts to have a device for every student.

Kellogg referenced his work in North Carolina where he answered that about 40 percent of their schools have “officially” adopted a similar policy but “realistically” only about 20 percent of them have achieved a one-to-one ratio.

In 2015, Kanninen attempted to pause and study the program, which had deployed 3,000 devices at the time. Her questions four years ago echoed last week’s: “Is it helping students learn? Is it helping teachers teach?”

The initiative began toting iPads and MacBook Air laptops into classrooms in the 2014-2015 school year with the goal of outfitting every student with a device by 2017.

The program initially drew criticism from parents who said APS introduced it in the budget with little public input and without sharing details about the plan with parents.

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Arlington students will still have Columbus Day off next year, after the School Board rejected a proposal to send students to class on the controversial holiday.

The Board unanimously adopted an attendance calendar for the 2019-2020 school year at its meeting last night (Thursday). Students will still get the chance to stay home on Oct. 14 this year, while staff will have the day set aside for “professional learning.”

Arlington Public Schools staff had proposed another option sending both students and staff to school on Columbus Day, putting the school system in line with the rest of the county government, which largely does not observe the holiday. Students would’ve had Oct. 7 off instead, and staff would use the day for training.

That option did attract some support from APS employees and students — 69 percent of staff approved of that calendar, according to an APS survey, while 76 percent of students said they liked it as well. Just 22 percent of staff  and 14 percent of students said they supported the first option, though parents liked it a bit more. The status quo calendar earned support from 55 percent of parents, while the Columbus Day change garnered just 33 percent.

But Superintendent Patrick Murphy backed the calendar option maintaining Columbus Day as a student holiday instead, arguing that it provided fewer interruptions in the instructional calendar. It also better matches the calendar of other surrounding school systems, a key concern for APS employees who have children and live outside Arlington.

“This option is really similar to what we did this year, and most people felt like this worked, for the most part,” Erin Wales-Smith, interim assistant superintendent for human resources, told the Board at its Jan. 24 meeting.

Board members were initially skeptical of supporting a calendar that was so opposed by staff and students. But, in discussing the matter with staff, some members pointed out the second calendar, with Columbus Day no longer a holiday, appeared to show students and staff with more time off than the first calendar option did.

That difference could’ve accounted for some of the survey results, Board Vice Chair Tannia Talento reasoned. Staff ironed out that discrepancy in presenting the calendar options for the second time — now, students are set to see 30 days off next school year, as opposed to 29 under the rejected alternate plan.

Notably, the new school calendar also maintains Election Day as a day off for students, with staff doing off-site grade preparation.

The school system had a similar schedule in place last year, but the issue took on new urgency now that state lawmakers are advancing a bill to require all public schools to treat the first Tuesday in November as a holiday.

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A group of Arlington high school seniors are now working to raise $50,000 to support blood cancer patients, in a bid to honor a friend who died from a rare form of leukemia a few years ago.

In all, nine students at the newly renamed Washington-Liberty High School are participating in the “Students of the Year” fundraising campaign run by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The girls are competing with other students across the region to see who can raise the most money to support the nonprofit’s mission, and the program includes leadership and professional development opportunities as well.

The students named their team after Juliana Clarkson, a 14-year-old student at Swanson Middle School who passed away due to complications from mixed-phenotype acute leukemia. Two of her best friends, Julia Elman and Grace Barnes, say they were inspired to start a “Cancer Education and Action Club” at W-L as freshmen in her memory, and they’re now leading the “Students of the Year” effort as well.

“This spring, Julia and Grace will be graduating… a momentous milestone that would have included Juliana,” the students wrote as part of their fundraising efforts. “Team Juliana fights to give child cancer patients the possibility to grow up and follow their dreams, something Juliana will never get to do.”

Elman and Barnes also helped organize fundraisers through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walks,” raising “tens of thousands of dollars for LLS while providing an avenue for friends and family to come together and honor Juliana each year,” they wrote.

Elman added that she’s also working to honor her grandmother, who passed away from chronic lymphocytic leukemia years ago. Elman’s mother, Janet, says her daughter is planning to attend Princeton University this fall — she added that Julia was also recently diagnosed with primary lymphedema, a disease affecting the lymphatic system which is treatable, but has no known cure.

The students have until March 2 to raise money for the cause. The Shirlington restaurant Palette 22 is holding a fundraiser to support the group on Monday (Jan. 28), and full details about how to contribute are available online.

Photo courtesy of Julia Elman and Grace Barnes courtesy of Janet Elman

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Morning Notes

Medical Emergency at Yorktown — A student suffered a serious medical emergency at Yorktown High School this morning. Police and medics rushed to the scene, CPR was performed and the student was reportedly revived. He was taken to a local hospital.

Arlington Tourism Website Wins Award — “The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International… on Jan. 22 presented the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) with a 2018 Adrian Award for the StayArlington tourism website.” [Arlington County]

Best Bowls of Soup in Rosslyn — A new list exhaustively details “where to go for a good bowl of soup” in Rosslyn, “because it’s everybody’s favorite cold-weather lunch.” [Rosslyn BID]

Gymnastics Competition at W-L — “The annual Barbara Reinwald Invitational girls high-school gymnastics meet was held Jan. 19 at Washington-Lee High School. The high-school meet, which has been held for decades, included 11 teams and was won by the host Washington-Lee Blue team.” [InsideNova]

Chef Geoff Winning Happy Hour Fight — Chef Geoff Tracy is poised to withdraw his lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, which seeks to overturn restrictions on advertising happy hour specials and prices, after the state legislature overwhelmingly passed bills that would remove those and other happy hour restrictions. [Tysons Reporter]

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Morning Notes

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]

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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

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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

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The Arlington School Board will hear an update on student rights and the partnership between schools and the Arlington County Police Department at tonight’s (April 19) meeting.

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.”

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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.

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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.

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