Arlington, VA

Wakefield High School’s “Warrior Nation” and other friends of recent grad Truc Tran are rallying online to raise money online for the medical care of a student who was badly injured in a car crash last month.

Tran graduated from Wakefield in 2019 and is a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) studying biochemistry. Her friend Ileana Mendez, who created the GoFundMe for Tran’s family three days ago, said Tran excelled academically and is kind and sincere.

According to the GoFundMe page:

On February 23rd, 2020, Truc was driving back to VCU from her home in Arlington when she was involved in a terrible car accident along with her roommate and her friend. Truc was laying down on the back seat, with no seatbelt on. She suffered the worst injuries out of everyone in the car and had to be taken [to] a different hospital.

The page says that Tran suffered severe brain damage, collapsed lungs, and a broken spine. She was admitted to the cardiovascular ICU unit and given sedation.

“Truc is now at the Trauma ICU, being closely monitored and everyone is waiting for more updates on her condition,” Mendez said on the page. “She was slowly taken off the sedation and was able to open her eyes and move her shoulders and head a little. However, since the brain damage was too severe, the doctors are unsure if Truc will be able to be more responsive than how she is right now — only able to blink, move her fingers, toes, and her shoulders.”

Mendez said the broken spine will require additional surgery on top or two previous operations that attempted to fix the damage to her lungs.

“Truc’s family needs as much help as possible,” Mendez said. “Her parents are unable to work in this situation and they still have to take care of Truc’s little sister. It would be extremely appreciated if you could donate as much as you can in order to be able to cover for Truc’s stay at the hospital and for the recovery that lays ahead. The goal is to reach $500,000 as soon as possible, but whatever amount is reached we’ll be grateful for.”

As of 2 p.m. the fundraiser had raised more than $18,000.

The page has been shared throughout the Wakefield High School community.

Photo via GoFundMe

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The timing could hardly be worse: during the coronavirus outbreak, as people are urged to frequently wash their hands, Wakefield High School is experiencing water pressure issues in bathrooms.

Emails sent to parents and staff report occasional but recurring water pressure problems that affect second and third floor bathrooms in particular. We’re told the issues cropped up again earlier this week.

As a result, school officials say they’ve propped open bathroom doors — so users don’t have to touch handles — and put hand sanitizer in place. The school is also awaiting delivery and installation of a “booster pump” to help solve the issue.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia suggested it’s an issue with water pressure from county pipes.

“We have identified the problem and are working on a solution,” Bellavia told ARLnow. “The problem is occurring because Wakefield sits at a high point at the end the line.”

Wakefield Principal Chris Willmore sent the following email to parents last night.

Good Evening Wakefield families,

I wanted to share with you recent steps we have taken to protect against the coronavirus.

We are aware of the urgent issue related to low and inconsistent water pressure on the second and third floors and are working closely with Facilities to address it as quickly as possible. Please note that this issue related to water pressure does occur on the first floor occasionally as well, but not as often as the upper floors. While there are no problems with the water pressure on many days, there are days in which it will disappear for 5-20 minute periods of time. This fall and winter, APS Facilities staff repaired or replaced all broken sinks, faucets, and dead batteries and looked closer into the water pressure situation. Facilities is expediting the purchase of a “pump booster” that will supplement the pressure when there is not enough when water enters the building from the county lines. We do not have an estimated delivery or installation date yet and will keep you informed.

In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the Facilities department to identify interim solutions to ensure students can practice good hand-washing hygiene while we await the installation of the booster pump. As an immediate first step, we have secured bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that we will place outside the administrative offices on the second and third floors and at the welcome table in the Town Hall. If there is no water pressure, staff and students can go get hand sanitizer. While it is not convenient, since many times there is water pressure on the first floor, coming down to a bathroom is also an option.

We have also ordered additional door stops for all student bathrooms so that students will not need to touch door handles as they enter or exit.

I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this challenging time. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Best,

Chris

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Morning Notes

Amazon Leases Former PBS Building — “Amazon.com Inc. is gobbling up more office space in Crystal City, signing a lease for another full building owned by frequent partner and current landlord JBG Smith Properties. The tech giant is now set to occupy another 272,000 square feet at 2100 Crystal Drive… The building is currently home to the Public Broadcasting Services’ headquarters, though the nonprofit announced plans last year to move to a different building within Crystal City.” [Washington Business Journal]

W-L vs. Wakefield in the Semis Tonight — “Having been blown out by the Yorktown Patriots a few days earlier, the Washington-Liberty Generals turned the tables on their Arlington rival, winning 66-61 Feb. 25 in a quarterfinal game of the 6D North Region boys high-school basketball tournament… Washington-Liberty will now face another big Arlington rival – the Wakefield Warriors (17-9) – in the Feb. 27 region semifinals at Wakefield at 7 p.m.” [InsideNova]

JBG Selling Properties to Fund Development — “JBG Smith Properties sold a 50% stake in its 552,000-square-foot Central Place office tower in December for $220 million… The sale to PGIM Inc. of the Rosslyn asset netted JBG Smith $53.4 million and comes as the company seeks to both shed properties outside of its core business and fuel a development pipeline.” [Washington Business Journal]

Another Possible N. Va. Coronavirus Case — “Health officials in Virginia said Tuesday they are monitoring two residents for possible coronavirus, including one in Northern Virginia.” [Washington Post]

DMV Urging Residents to Get REAL ID Now — “More than 850,000 Virginians in 2019 took the steps necessary to get a ‘REAL ID’-compliant driver’s license or identity card, but perhaps twice that many are still in need of one, state officials say. ‘We estimate approximately 1.5 million more Virginians will want to get a REAL ID between now and October,’ said Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard Holcomb.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Warren Blasts Bloomberg at Arlington Event — “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Thursday that Michael R. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic presidential nominee because of newly surfaced comments he made 12 years ago in which he said the end of a discriminatory housing practice had helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis.” [New York Times]

Warren Draws Big Crowd at Wakefield — Last night’s Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign event at the Wakefield High School gym drew national media, a crowd of thousands and lines that stretched around the block. The gym’s scoreboard was programmed to say “ELIZABETH WARREN” and “20:20.” Warren later addressed the overflow crowd outside the school.

Bike Rack at EFC Metro Has Cost Millions — “Metro has spent $3.8 million and taken five years to build two unfinished bike racks — at East Falls Church and Vienna Metro Stations. WMATA originally budgeted $600,000 for each rack, but the price tag has soared to $1.9 million each. The covered bike shelters will house 92 bikes, putting the price tag at more than $20,000 per bike… The projects were supposed to be completed in December of 2015 but remain unfinished in 2020.” [WJLA]

EPA May Move Out of Arlington — “The Trump administration is planning to move the Environmental Protection Agency from leased space at Potomac Yard to the federally owned William Jefferson Clinton complex in downtown D.C… The GSA plans to shift workers from One Potomac Yard in Arlington starting in March 2021, boosting occupancy in the Clinton building by about 1,200 employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Megamansion Skews Arlington Real Estate Stats — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington was more than $2 million, though that figure was skewed by the nearly $45 million sale of an estate along the Potomac River, the priciest home sale ever in the D.C. area. [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Sells to Texas Firm — “Mobile Posse announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Digital Turbine, a mobile delivery and app advertising company headquartered in Austin, TX. The acquisition by Digital Turbine builds on both firms’ strategies of creating frictionless mobile app and mobile content solutions for carriers and OEMs, thus creating effective advertising solutions for brands and app developers.” [Mobile Posse via Potomac Tech Wire]

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Just two days removed from today’s New Hampshire primary, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren will be holding a town hall event in Arlington.

The town hall is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street), the campaign announced today. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP.

More via the campaign website:

Elizabeth Warren is coming to Virginia!

Join Elizabeth Warren and Team Virginia at a Town Hall on Thursday, February 13th in Arlington, VA.

Elizabeth knows that to create real change–to rebuild the middle class and save our democracy–we need to dream big and fight hard. That’s why she’s in this fight: to have a real conversation about how to level the playing field for working families, and who is best to lead that fight.

Doors open for the event at 6:00 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, so feel free to bring your friends and family along too! Tickets aren’t required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged. Admission will be first come, first served.

Virginia’s “Super Tuesday” primary will be held on March 3.

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An Arlington tribute to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. scheduled for Sunday is planned to include original songs and spoken word performances.

The ceremony “Prayers of a King” is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 19, at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street). Doors are scheduled to open at 4:30 p.m. with the program running from 5-6:30 p.m. The ceremony will feature music, dance and spoken word performances that tell the story of desegregation in Arlington, the county said.

According to a press release:

At 8:45 a.m. on February 2, 1959, four young students from the Arlington’s Halls Hill neighborhood entered Stratford Junior High School and became the first students to desegregate a public school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The 2020 MLK Tribute program focuses on their journey; when they learn they will be the first African Americans to integrate a school in Virginia and into their first day of school, while simultaneously following Dr. King’s fight for equality during the same time period.

Admission to the event is free, though guests are encouraged to bring non-perishable goods to donate to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Seating is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Photo via Wakefield High School

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Wakefield High School students will soon have a new way of getting to and from school: Capital Bikeshare.

A new CaBi station with eleven bike docks was approved unanimously at the Jan. 9 School Board meeting. The station will be placed near the other bicycle racks on the southern side of the school, along S. Dinwiddie Street.

The agreement between Arlington Public Schools and Capital Bikeshare is effective for five years, with an automatic renewal thereafter. The agreement specifies that the Capital Bikeshare is responsible for the costs of setting up the station and maintenance.

There are nearly 100 Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington, with a number of other stations in the works across the county. There are several stations not far from Wakefield, along Four Mile Run Drive, Columbia Pike, and around Shirlington.

The plans did not include a timeframe for when the new station will be implemented. A school spokesman said the timeline will be determined by the Capital Bikeshare.

Photo via Arlington Public Schools

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(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Nearly 400 Dominion customers are reported to be without power in the area around Wakefield High School on this snowy Tuesday night.

The outage follows a report of a live wire that fell across S. Chesterfield Road, prompting a road closure near the high school, according to police radio traffic. Dominion says the outage is caused by a tree on a power line and the estimated restoration time is between 7-10 p.m.

Currently, the outage is mostly affecting the Claremont neighborhood. Earlier, some 3,500 customers were said to be without power in Claremont and portions of surrounding neighborhoods like Shirlington and Fairlington.

Arlington County Police tweeted video of power lines sparking and an apparent transformer explosion on Chesterfield Road near Route 7, encouraging residents to “stay clear of downed trees and power lines.”

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(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The achievement gap, overcrowding, an obnoxious name change debate: there’s a lot on the minds of Arlington’s high school students.

Though a few issues tie all of the schools together, the editors of the student newspapers at Yorktown, Wakefield and Washington-Liberty also said there were certain features that make the schools — and the student coverage — unique. The editors shared the inside stories of life for local students.

United by Overcrowding

Across all three of the schools, all of the editorial teams agreed that overcrowding — thanks to an ever rising student population — was one of the biggest problems.

“It’s especially an issue this year,” said Charlie Finn, one of the head editors of the Yorktown Sentry. “We already have overcrowding and the main problem is crowded classrooms.”

Finn and Joseph Ramos, Yorktown Sentry’s other head editor, noted that the Sentry has worked on reporting overcrowding from within the school. Articles from the Yorktown Sentry detail the challenges students face in overcrowded schools and review proposed solutions.

At Washington-Liberty, the school is so crowded the interview with the students had to be held in a corner of a hallway already packed with students eating or doing work.

“I do think overcrowding is an issue,” said Abby, head editor for the Crossed Sabres, the student newspaper of W-L. At the teacher’s request, interviews with Washington-Liberty students use first names only.

“I’m in an English class with 38 people,” Abby said. “Schedules are being changed to deal with the numbers of students, especially in the [International Baccalaureate] program.”

At the Wakefield Chieftain, editor Carla Barefoot said students learned this year that pep rallies would be held outside rather than inside because the gym can’t fit the entire student body.

But each school also said there are also issues central to each school’s community they’re working to cover.

Yorktown: Investigating the Achievement Gap

At Yorktown, Ramos said one of his goals for the upcoming school year is to highlight the school’s achievement gap.

“We want to focus on the achievement gaps [at Yorktown],” Ramos said, citing figures published by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization. “Black students are 11 times more likely to be suspended as white students and white students are twice as likely to take [advanced placement] classes.”

Ramos also recognized that exploring the achievement gap — an issue inextricably tied to racial disparities in Arlington’s least diverse high school — will require thorough research and a delicate touch.

“In covering the achievement gap, it’s going to be important to look at all the whys and hows to tell the full story,” Ramos said. “It’s a sensitive subject — we can’t do a half baked job.”

Wakefield: Covering Diversity in 2019 Politics

Meanwhile at Wakefield, Arlington’s most diverse high school, the editorial team said all eyes are on the upcoming elections — namely the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The Chieftain’s editors said the student population was keenly interested in how minority groups in America would be affected.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Free Amazon Mugs at Northside Social — Amazon is partnering with Northside Social to give out free branded to-go tumblers this morning. [Instagram]

Kojo Explores the Amazon Effect — “We’ll look back on Seattle’s history with Amazon and discuss how our local governments can navigate their relationship with the company. Plus, we’ll hear from a policy researcher on how the DMV’s housing market will shift over the next two decades as Amazon gets settled in the region.” [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

Amazon’s Tech Effect — “Within the [D.C.] area’s tech industry – the sector likely to be most affected by the [Amazon] news – leaders are either keeping mum about their reaction or publicly expressing excitement. But behind the scenes, experts say, there is a fair amount of apprehension.” [U.S. News]

Metro to Subsidize Late Night Uber Rides? — “With Metro hours due to remain limited for the foreseeable future, Metro plans to pay cabs or a company like Uber or Lyft $1 million to slightly discount trips for certain people rather than provide alternative bus or other service.” [WTOP, WMATA]

737 Max Grounded at DCA — “For people flying in and out of the Reagan National Airport, Wednesday’s grounding of all 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets brought mixed reactions. Some flights were cancelled. Others were already in the air when the emergency order came down, and were grounded the moment they touched down.” [WJLA, NBC 4]

‘Poo’ at Wakefield High School — Arlington Public Schools has been slow to fix a direction sign at Wakefield High School that is missing the “L” in “pool.” [Sun Gazette]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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A video showing a masked figure pulling a gun out of the trunk of a car in front of Wakefield High School has led to an arrest and charges against a Falls Church teenager.

The menacing video was posted on Instagram on Jan. 25, but the weapon was eventually determined to be an airsoft gun, not an actual firearm, and the teen “did not have the means to carry out a threat,” according to Arlington County Police.

The U.S. Secret Service brought the video to the attention of ACPD on the day it was posted. The subject of the video was identified and now faces a felony charge.

More from a police press release:

Police have arrested and charged a City of Falls Church teen following an investigation into a video recorded on the property of Wakefield High School and posted to Instagram.

At approximately 7:24 p.m. on January 25, an officer with the United States Secret Service responded to the Arlington County Police Department to report a video posted to Instagram involving a weapon. In the video posted at approximately 12:00 p.m. on the same day, a teen is shown sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle in the parking lot of Wakefield High School. The teen exits the vehicle, opens the trunk, places a black mask over his face and removes an airsoft rifle before the video ends.

After reviewing social media posts and working with school administrators, detectives quickly identified the teen in the video. During the course of the investigation, detectives determined that there was no immediate threat to the safety of the school or its activities, that the video contained a replica firearm and that the teen in the video did not have the means to carry out a threat.

Following consultation with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and a review of the evidence, the teen has been charged with Virginia Code § 18.2-422 Prohibition of Wearing a Mask, a Class 6 Felony. The teen is not an Arlington Public Schools student and his identity is not releasable due to age.

The Arlington County Police Department is committed to maintaining the safety of our community. Our School Resource Officers work closely with Arlington Public Schools administrators in our shared mission to provide a safe learning environment for students, teachers and staff. Parents and guardians are encouraged to talk to their children about the serious nature of school-based violence and the content they post to social media. All reports of threats and violence made at our schools and in our community are thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and where appropriate, charges will be sought against those responsible.

The public is reminded that you play an important role in keeping our community safe. If you see something, say something® by reporting suspicious behavior and activities to law enforcement.

This case was investigated by detectives from the Arlington County and Fairfax County School Resource Officers Unit, Arlington County’s Homeland Security Section and assisted by administrators in Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools.

File photo

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