Wakefield High School has opened its doors to a handful of students in search of better internet connectivity, a quiet place to study or a trip out of the house.
From 8 a.m.-3 p.m., up to 30 students can study at socially distanced work stations in the school’s vaulted atrium, featuring a glass wall that overlooks a courtyard. In the space, students can study without the distractions or demands of family life and they have access to technicians if their computers break.
It’s comparable to a co-working office, but for high school students.
“If you’re having WiFi issues, if you need a quiet study place, or if you simply are going stir-crazy and you need to get out and find a place to study, you’re welcome to come,” Principal Christian Willmore said.
Students seem to enjoy the space, with up to seven coming on average, he said. A few are regulars, while the rest come as needed.
“Honestly, it’s not to the degree that I had hoped, but we’re still trying to get the word out of what it is and what it looks like,” Willmore said. “I’m hoping more students access it, if they need it.”
Wakefield debuted its program on Nov. 5, one day after students with disabilities became the first to return to school. Wakefield had 12 students return for in-person learning, and 20 staff assigned to them, Willmore said.
The pilot is distinct from Arlington Public Schools’ return-to-school plan, which opened school buildings for students with disabilities in its first phase, also called “level one.” Future levels have had their return delayed until 2021, but APS did identify and start providing supports to an additional 150 four to 11 year olds this week.
Other principals are working with Willmore to eventually bring the program to their buildings.
“We want to see how it works at Wakefield first because we’ve been working out the detailed procedures,” Willmore said. “We’ve been able to refine practices and procedures, documents, processes so that people aren’t reinventing the wheel.”
Kids are screened and monitored by staff at the front door and to limit exposure, they cannot leave and come back later. To prevent them from roaming the building, only one bathroom and one drinking fountain are open and running. Students sign up one day in advance on Canvas, APS’ learning management software, affirming they have not been recently exposed to or sickened by the coronavirus.
The day-long study option also allows school staff to connect with students who do not log in for full periods or have fallen behind on work.
“Those conversations are hard to have, so it was nice to have them in person,” Willmore said.
Photos courtesy Frank Bellavia/Arlington Public Schools
High school athletes can start working out in-person next week, regardless of whether they chose distance- or hybrid-learning, Arlington Public Schools has announced.
Starting Monday, Oct. 12, APS will be using stadiums, tracks and fields for student workouts and athletic activities. While students exercise, the facilities will be closed to public use.
“During the APS athletic workouts, staff will be following COVID precautions and therefore all school facilities (stadiums, track, fields) will be closed to the public,” the school system said. “It is important that the community respect the closure and practice social distancing.”
APS is currently conducting remote learning only, but preparing to bring students back in a “hybrid” model, with most students spending two days per week in schools and other students able to opt to continue a distance learning-only program.
The school system previously said it would be screening kids daily, including temperature checks before participating in sports. Students are encouraged to check with their coach and school’s athletic webpage for more information.
School athletic facilities will be closed on the following days and times, according to APS.
Greenbrier Stadium (Yorktown) and fields
Monday, Thursday and Friday, closed from 3:30-8 p.m; Tuesday and Wednesday, closed from 3:30-7:15 p.m.
Wakefield Stadium and fields
Monday through Friday, closed 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Washington-Liberty Stadium and fields
Monday through Friday, closed 3:30-7:30 p.m.
The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is expanding its Farm-to-Families food program to allow for public donations.
The program, which launched in June, gives a weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need with children attending Wakefield High School, Gunston Middle and Hoffman-Boston Elementary.
Public contributions will supplement existing funds to give Farm-to-Families greater reach in the National Landing, Shirlington and Columbia Pike communities. (National Landing refers collectively to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods in Arlington.)
The press release said the BID has so far dedicated $10,000 to the program, which has allowed 150 families to receive the weekly produce supply.
FRESHFARM, a nonprofit that operates farmers markets in the D.C. region, supplies Farm-to-Families with the produce through their local vendors. The BID is also partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture and parent-teacher associations for Wakefield, Gunston and Hoffman-Boston.
“We continue to be inspired by the giving nature of the Arlington community and encouraged by all the ways that people have stepped up to lend a hand to their neighbors,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the BID. “The BID and our many partners are excited to now generate community support for Farm-to-Families and further our collective mission to create a healthier community, especially at this difficult time.”
Colton Poythress, a 2018 Wakefield High School graduate and former varsity quarterback, died on last week at the age of 20.
Poythress led the school’s football team to its first district championship in 40 years during his senior season, according to the Wakefield Chieftain student newspaper. He was also a pitcher for the varsity baseball team and helped to end a 20-season losing streak to Marshall High School in 2017.
Poythress wrote for the Chieftain for all four years of high school.
Family and friends reacted to Poythress’ Aug. 12 death on social media.
Cason Poythress, one of Colton’s three siblings and Wakefield’s graduating varsity quarterback, wrote “You’ve been my best friend for my entire life. You take care of everybody up there and I got everyone down here. I miss you more than anything right now but I know I have to stay strong to make you proud.”
View this post on Instagram
Hey Colt, we were supposed to go to school and play football together this week. I’m sorry you didn’t get the chance to get on the field again, but just know every time I step on that field it’s for you. You’ve been my best friend for my entire life. You take care of everybody up there and I got everyone down here . I miss you more than anything right now but I know I have to stay strong to make you proud. You’re in a better place now and I can’t wait to see you again. I love you Colton. ❤️
— Wakefield Athletics (@WakeAthletics) August 14, 2020
The Poythress family held a celebration of Colton’s life on Sunday in Crystal City.
— Marti Mefford (@meffedup) August 15, 2020
This is the second publicly-announced death of a local student last week. A Washington-Liberty student died suddenly of heart failure on Aug. 10.
Image via Twitter
The indoor public pools at Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools reopened on Saturday.
Arlington Public Schools announced Friday afternoon that the pools would be reopening under the state’s Phase 3 guidelines. The Wakefield High School pool “will remain closed for a few more weeks” due to major maintenance work, APS said.
Those who want to use the pools are required to make a reservation for a 45-minute window.
More from an APS email to parents:
The two pools will open under the Virginia Forward Phase III guidelines, which include diminished capacity, physical distancing of 10 feet and the requirement of a health and temperature screening for all staff and patrons. We have posted many of the details on our website and will continue to do so over the next 24 hours. Use this link to learn more and stay informed.
Patrons will need to purchase admission and make a reservation for a 45-min swim or water exercise/jog session. You will need to set up an account on our Self-Service Portal. You will receive a separate email this evening inviting you to join the APS Aquatics Self-Service Portal. Follow the instructions on the email to set up your account. […]
The reservations will open at 8 a.m. on the previous day (On Friday at 8 a.m. you will be able to register for Saturday sessions). They will first go live tomorrow morning. Instruction on registering are available at Making a Reservation. This section also includes information about what to expect when you get to the pool, while you swim and after you are done. Patrons will be checked in, directed to the locker rooms to shower before swimming and out to the deck to a designated Blue or Red lanes. After you swim, you may choose to exit directly off the deck or enter the Unisex Room to change out of your swimming gear and shower. If you have any questions or need assistance navigating the portal or the registration page, please call 703-228-6264 or 703-228-6263. […]
Regretfully, The Wakefield pool will remain closed for a few more weeks. APS is performing major maintenance in the entire building ahead of the start of the school year. We recognize this is disappointing to our Wakefield patrons, but it is imperative that this work be completed. We anticipate opening around August 24. […]
The APS Aquatics team is excited to be back at the pools and ready to welcome you back. Staff will be learning how to navigate this new way of serving you and the success of our re-opening depends greatly on your willingness to follow the guidelines and on your patience. Our primary concern remains your safety both in the water and in the building.
We very much look forward to seeing you on Saturday at Washington-Liberty and Yorktown Pools. It has been a long 4-months on dry land.
Arlington County does not have outdoor public pools, but is home to several private swim clubs. The county government itself does not currently operate any public pools, but that will change when the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center opens. The opening of the aquatics center, however, has been delayed at least a year due to the pandemic and budget issues.
A Wakefield High School teacher has been honored by a national organization for her role in promoting news literacy among her social studies students.
Every year since 2016, the nonprofit News Literacy Project (NLP) has selected one journalist and one student for their role in promoting news literacy and understanding. This year, for the first time, the organization has selected an educator — Patricia Hunt — as well.
“Patricia has set the gold standard as the first recipient of our educator of the year award,” said Alan Miller, NLP founder and CEO. “She’s… developed engaging activities to enhance her students’ ability to learn and apply news literacy skills, and her passion for improving the well-being of her students is contagious and inspiring. We are so proud to give her this award and spotlight her as a champion for news literacy education.”
Hunt said in a video that her goal as a social studies teacher is to help prepare her students to verify their sources and become informed voters.
“I started teaching in 1993,” Hunt said. “There were no cell phones, no internet. And today, the amount of information students have at their fingertips is quite daunting. Students struggle with being able to discern what is credible and what is entertainment or an ad. My goal as a social studies teacher is to get students to be skeptical of what has been laid down as the truth.”
Hunt said students leave her classroom questioning each other, questioning her, and able to engage with the news in a meaningful way.
“Preparing my students to be voters is why I’m there,” Hunt said.
Hunts efforts were also featured in an NPR article about combating fake news in the classroom.
“My goal as an educator is to give students the tools that they need to become lifelong learners,” Hunt said in a statement. “My hope would be for them to continue listening to the news, to continue checking their news feed against other news feeds, to stop and pause before sharing.”
Photo via YouTube
(Updated at 8:10 p.m.) Wakefield High School senior Kidus Sebil’s photograph “Half a Man” has won the Congressional Art Competition in Virginia’s 8th District.
A panel from the National Art Education Association selected Sebil’s photograph out of dozens of other student works, according to the Office of Congressman Don Beyer. Sebil was notified of his victory in a congratulatory call from Beyer.
Sebil said that the photo was in black and white to highlight the details while also emphasizing the country’s current black and white division. The boy’s face was half-covered by the tree as further symbolism.
“Being an African American male in America can often feel like you’re only worth half that of a white man,” said Sebil.
Winning artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year, according to the Congressional Art Competition website. However, the Congressional Institute and Architect of the Capitol are still evaluating the timeline and logistics around COVID-19 restrictions and procedures, Beyer’s office said.
The Congressional Art Competition is held each spring, accepting participants from high schools across the nation. Winners are recognized by their district and at an annual awards ceremony in D.C.
Beyer said that Sebil’s photography “speaks very powerfully to this moment,” and he believes people will be moved by this image once the Capitol building is open for visitors.
“At a time when so many are decrying the painfully slow pace of progress towards equality, justice, and the rejection of racism, this picture is powerful and moving,” said Beyer.
Photo by Kidus Sebil, courtesy of the Office of Congressman Don Beyer
Big Response to Small Biz Grant Program — “Those hit hard by the pandemic can receive help through the small business emergency grant program. More than 1,100 businesses have applied, [County Board Chair Libby] Garvey said, and at least 63% of them are owned by women or minorities. ‘With an additional $1.6 million, we can provide grants to a total of 400 businesses, more than 50% of those that… were eligible,’ Garvey said,” during her State of the County address Tuesday morning. [WTOP, Zoom]
Chamber Presents Valor Awards — Also on Tuesday, “awards were presented to honor Arlington County’s public safety personnel and first responders. Fourteen honorees were recognized for their courageous, and often lifesaving, actions in the line of duty. Leadership of all respective departments submitted nominations for the honorees, based on their performance over the past year.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce, InsideNova]
Road Closures for Grad Parades Tomorrow — “On Thursday, June 18, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will support Senior Graduation Parades for Wakefield High School and Washington-Liberty High School. Traffic around the schools will be impacted at the below listed times. The public can expect to see increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.” [Arlington County]
CivFed Wants More Open Space — “The president of the Arlington County Civic Federation on June 13 delivered his message quietly but bluntly: The county government needs to put much more emphasis on acquiring land for parks and open space before the window of opportunity closes. Allan Gajadhar handed County Board members a Civic Federation resolution calling on the county government to better balance open-space and passive-recreation needs with facilities for sports and active recreation.” [InsideNova]
COVID Cases Among DCA Construction Workers — “Employees with 17 contractors working on Reagan National Airport’s massive capital improvement project have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a staff report issued ahead of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s upcoming board meeting… The most recent positive result was confirmed June 7.” [Washington Business Journal]
Juneteenth May Become State Holiday — “Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Tuesday that he will support legislation to make Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery, a state holiday in Virginia. He gave executive branch state employees the day off Friday — June 19 — in recognition of the event. On that date in 1865, federal troops told enslaved people in Texas they had been freed, more than two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Blind Triplets Have Coronavirus — “The blind Virginia triplets who defied the odds and made history when they became Eagle Scouts in 2017 are facing another challenge. All three young men have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 and their father is praying they continue to beat the odds.” [WUSA 9]
New Food Drop-off Boxes in Ballston — “FLARE, an electric shuttle service, has partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District to collect and deliver food donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) every Friday beginning on April 24.” [Press Release]
CPRO Hosting Biz Listening Session This AM — “Our speakers will discuss the challenges local small businesses are facing as well as the opportunities that have arisen and the resources available to assist our business community, including financial assistance.” [Zoom]
Civ Fed Backs Crystal City Growth Plan — “Delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation on April 21 agreed to support efforts by three civic associations adjacent to Amazon’s new HQ2 in providing a road map for handling growth in the corridor. The resolution, which garnered support from more than 80 percent of voting delegates during an online meeting, puts the Civic Federation behind the ‘Livability 22202’ action plan.” [InsideNova]
Beyer Wants Help for State, Local Gov’ts — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), during House Floor debate on the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, urged his colleagues to send urgently-needed federal aid to state and local governments on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release, Twitter]
Clarendon Cafe Delivers Coffee to First Responders — “A Turkish small business owner is giving free coffee to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus in the US state of Virginia. East West Coffee Wine, which has been opened in Arlington County since 2017, says it is now time to give back to those ‘who are tirelessly working to protect us.'” [Anadolu Agency]
Video: Talking Small Biz with Scott Parker — “ARLnow talked with Scott Parker — of Don Tito, BASH Boxing, Bearded Goat Barber and other local businesses — about the state of local business in Arlington during the coronavirus pandemic.” [Facebook]
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.
Warrior Nation, please consider donating to Truc Tran (WHS ‘19) & her family through these difficult times. She is a brilliant student. More importantly, she is a caring, wonderful human being. Your support & thoughts are greatly [email protected] https://t.co/178rYjtVnV
— Mr. Tran (@MrTranWHS) March 10, 2020
Photo via GoFundMe