DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]
Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]
More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]
Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]
Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]
Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]
Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Rex Block
Update at 5:55 p.m. — Despite leading for much of the game, Wakefield ended up falling just short to Varina, 64-60.
We love our boys. They just lost 64-60, Varina. We are 2nd place in the State Championship. The boys have to be part of the ceremony. Takes strength to fix your face and take that trophy. pic.twitter.com/t8FGX2nu0b
— Wakefield Chieftain (@wakefieldchief) March 8, 2018
— Wakefield Athletics (@WakeAthletics) March 8, 2018
Game didn’t end the way we wanted but could not be prouder of this team. They played hard and represented us well.
— Chris Willmore (@principalWHS) March 8, 2018
Earlier: The Wakefield High School boys basketball team is currently fighting for a state championship.
If the Warriors prevail over the Varina Blue Devils, it would be the team’s first championship in 57 years, according to the Sun Gazette.
The game, which started at 4 p.m., is being played at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. At halftime, Wakefield was winning 31-23.
En route the Richmond, the team’s buses received a police escort. For fans who could not make the trip to Richmond, the game is being streamed live online (for a fee) and is being shown at the Crystal City Sports Pub (523 23rd Street S.)
The @WakeAthletics Men’s Basketball Team is headed to Richmond for the VHSL Title Game this afternoon. Good luck #WarriorNation, and thank you for the police escort @ArlingtonVaPD! @WHSHappenings #APSisAwesome pic.twitter.com/OE1OqVoztW
— Arlington Schools (@APSVirginia) March 8, 2018
— Wakefield Athletics (@WakeAthletics) March 8, 2018
Teamwork. Love. Family. 46-42, Wakefield at end of 3rd. 8 minutes between us and State Championship! pic.twitter.com/aMnCyD1qd1
— Wakefield Chieftain (@wakefieldchief) March 8, 2018
Wakefield Advances to Championship — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team has advanced to the Virginia Class 5 championship after defeating Edison last night 82-66. The team will face Varina tomorrow at VCU. Meanwhile, Wakefield senior forward A’Mari Cooper has been named Northern Region Class 5 Player of the Year. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
Metro Starts Selling Merch — Despite its reliability issues and subsequent image problem, Metro has launched a new line of clothing and gifts, sold online and at a new gift store at Metro Center. The reaction to the merchandise has been mixed. [WMATA, NBC Washington]
General Assembly Passes Car Seat Bill — “Today, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 708… which would change the commonwealth’s law to require that child safety seats remain rear facing until the age of two, or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. The bill is now on its way to Governor Northam’s office for his signature. If signed, the new law would become effective July 1, 2019.” [AAA Mid-Atlantic]
More Restaurants Considering Ballston Quarter — Fresh off the announcement that Ted’s Bulletin was coming to Ballston Quarter, the owners of trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall. Also in the works: a donut shop, an arepas stand, an oyster bar, and a barbecue joint. [Washington Business Journal]
Nicecream Expanding to D.C. — Liquid nitrogen-powered ice cream shop Nicecream Factory, which first opened in Clarendon, has since expanded to Alexandria and is now planning to open two D.C. locations, in Adams Morgan and Shaw. [Washington Business Journal]
Nearby: Gun Reform Discussion — Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting victims, will speak at an event called “A Conversation About Gun Safety And The Safety Of American Schools” at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria tonight. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting the event, which will discuss “actions we can take to ensure no other parent has to experience this kind of trauma.” [Eventbrite]
County Board Approves Bike Boulevard Contract — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a half-million dollar contract for safety improvements to the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and 12th Street S. Per a county press release: “The project, one of several designed to make the Columbia Pike bike boulevards safer and more comfortable, will provide traffic calming and pedestrian improvements at the intersection.” [Arlington County]
Wakefield Boys Win Basketball Tourney — “The Wakefield Warriors won the 2018 boys Northern Region 5C Tournament basketball championship on their home court Feb. 23. The region crown was the 10th in program history for the high school team and second since 2014.” [InsideNova]
Hearing on Historic District Fee — The County Board will hold a public hearing in April to discuss an application fee for those seeking a local historic district. The fee, between $250-1,000 per request, would only partially reimburse the county for staff time spent researching each request, but could serve as a deterrent against frivolous requests. [InsideNova]
ICYMI: Weekend Articles — ARLnow published two articles of note over the weekend: first, a recap of the County Board’s decision to not raise the property tax rate this budget season, and second, a developing story about state legislation that could cost the county’s coffers around $2 million while slashing the tax bills of Arlington’s two country clubs.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(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
W-L Name Decision May Be Delayed — “A new staff proposal detailed on Feb. 1 would delay until December or January any School Board decision on the [Washington-Lee High School] name, which has divided the school community, alumni and some activists.” [InsideNova]
Crews Treat Slick Roads — There were some icy patches on local roads this morning, but Arlington County crews were out treating potential slick spots. Unlike other school systems that delayed the opening of school, however, Arlington Public Schools started on time. [Twitter, Washington Post]
(Updated 12 p.m.) As elementary school students, blind triplets Leo, Nick and Steven Cantos were bullied, had few friends and no role models.
But that changed when, at the age of 10, blind attorney and Crystal City resident Ollie Cantos became their mentor after learning about them through a friend at church. He legally adopted them two years ago, and turned their lives around.
“I didn’t have friends, my brothers were the only people, that was it,” Nick Cantos said. “I was essentially shut in for seven years, and I was a violent kid. I got into fights with people, because I was being bullied in school. It ended up getting so bad that I wanted to end [my life]. Dad really saved my life.”
A ceremony on Wednesday night marked how far they have come, having also graduated from Wakefield High School earlier this year. At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alexandria, the brothers became the first ever blind triplets to be honored as Eagle Scouts in the history of Boy Scouts of America.
To become Eagle Scouts, the highest honor in scouting, candidates must complete a slew of assignments, including tasks like first aid, knot-tying, leadership and orientation. It also requires community service, and six months or more spent in leadership positions at their troop.
Each also had to lead a community service project. Steven Cantos collected school supplies for low-income schoolchildren for nonprofit Aspire! Afterschool. He already volunteered with the organization, which helps children improve their reading, and had intended to collect enough supplies for 90 students.
When the supply drive was over, he had collected enough for 130 students.
“They go in and help kids read in a more advanced way, since they feel that reading is the first thing that kids need to learn, and then they learn other things if they can read better,” Steven Cantos said. “The project stemmed from the fact that I’d already volunteered a bit of time to them, so I wanted to give some more time… I decided that education is important, so let’s give them school supplies.”
Leo Cantos collected blood and blankets for INOVA Fairfax Hospital, a children’s hospital where he spent a month re-learning how to walk. He finished with 88 units of blood and 77 blankets, all donated by local people he had recruited.
“I wanted to give back to the kids, because I saw the kids there and I saw how they were not doing too well,” Leo Cantos said. “I wanted to give them a better experience, kind of like the one I had in the hospital but extended to them as well.”
And Nick Cantos collected donations of hygiene supplies for nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families, which helps people out of homelessness and away from domestic violence and sexual assault. He collected about $2,000 worth of supplies to donate to the organization.
“It took a lot of planning, it took a lot of work and papers,” Nick Cantos said. “The craziest part was seeing all my scout friends and leaders and brothers helping me to do this, and me managing this thing.”
And while they could have gotten extended time to complete their requirements to be Eagle Scouts due to their blindness, they chose not to. Ollie Cantos said that decision was made to show that being blind does not need to be a hindrance.
“We were absolutely intent on not asking for any extensions,” he said. “It wasn’t what we wanted to do. I wanted the boys to learn a lesson, a positive lesson, that we keep saying blindness is just a disability and it’s not really a big deal, so if it’s not a big deal, why do we need to make an exception? That’s just us.”
One of the biggest challenges for the brothers was the swimming requirement, as none of them had spent much time in the water before.
But in the summer of 2014, they were all able to dive in, swim to a target with the aid of voice assistance and then swim back. All the while, they were cheered on by their fellow scouts and leaders at poolside.
“As I observed this moment, I thought to myself, ‘There’s no stopping them,'” said Scott Blakeslee, a former leader at the church and scout troop, in a speech. “More than that, I knew that you were going to continue to grow into wonderful, capable men of God. I hope you can take that experience as you go forward.”
With the brothers now graduated from high school, they will go to Boston in about six months to learn further life skills so they can become more independent.
All three have ambitions to go to college. Steven wants to study political science, go to law school and study copyright law and intellectual property rights; Nick wants to study marketing and go into the real estate industry; and Leo wants to study political science also before specializing in cyber law and working to make technology accessible to all.
With all they have achieved already, U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who worked with Ollie Cantos at the U.S. Department of Justice, said their futures look bright.
“There is no stopping you, and a large part of that is you, but a greater part of that is your family,” said Acosta, who was among the crowd of around 100 family members, Scouts and well-wishers at the ceremony.
“It’s you and your brothers and your dad together that show each other what courage is and what hard work is, and I have to say there is no stopping you, because you have done everything and you continue to do everything.”
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]
A social studies teacher from Wakefield High School will be Virginia’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year after winning the state’s Teacher of the Year award Monday night.
Michelle Cottrell-Williams was named Virginia Teacher of the Year on September 18 at a ceremony in Richmond. She was one of eight regional winners in the Commonwealth, and was selected for the state prize after being interviewed by a committee.
She was joined at the ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board chair Barbara Kanninen and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore. Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples announced her as the winner.
Cottrell-Williams will join her counterparts at the National Teacher of the Year award ceremony at the White House this spring, when the national winner will be announced.
More from a Virginia Department of Education press release:
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield High in Arlington County, was named 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year Monday evening during a recognition ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond. Cottrell-Williams was selected from eight regional winners announced last week and will be the commonwealth’s nominee for 2018 National Teacher of the Year.
Cottrell-Williams, the Region 4 Teacher of the Year, was selected as the state’s top teacher after being interviewed by a committee that included representatives of professional and educational associations, the business community, and 2017 Virginia Teacher of the Year Toney Lee McNair Jr. of Chesapeake. The selection of Cottrell-Williams was announced by Secretary of Education Dietra Y. Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.
Cottrell-Williams is a 11-year veteran of the classroom as a social studies teacher for grades 9-12. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
The other seven 2018 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year, who were also honored during the ceremony, are as follows:
- Greenlee B. Naughton, an English teacher at Highland Springs High in Henrico County (Region 1)
- Theresa A. Guthrie Goltermann, a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) electives teacher at Tabb Middle in York County (Region 2)
- Sarah M. Adamson-Mair, a kindergarten teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Caroline County (Region 3)
- Russell T. Jennings, an agriculture teacher at Fluvanna County High in Fluvanna County (Region 5)
- Karey A. Henzey, a special education teacher at West Salem Elementary in Salem (Region 6)
- Chrystle M. Gates, a music teacher at Chilhowie Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
- Tiffany W. Lynch, an English teacher at Park View High in Mecklenburg County (Region 8)
As the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Cottrell-Williams received a $5,000 award and a commemorative ring from the Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation; a $2,500 award from Richmond law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen; a $1,000 award from Dominion Resources Services Inc.; a teacher membership from VMFA; educational opportunities from several public and private colleges and universities; a three-year SMART Learning Suite subscription from SMART Technologies UCL; flowers from Coleman Brothers Flowers Inc.; an engraved plaque from Bunkie Trinite Trophies Inc.; a gift basket from C.F. Sauer Co.; overnight accommodations at the Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown; and an engraved crystal apple.
The 2018 National Teacher of the Year will be announced next spring at a White House ceremony. Two previous Virginia teachers — B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named as a National Teacher of the Year.
A teacher at Wakefield High School is a finalist for the Virginia Teacher of the Year award after a surprise announcement this morning (Monday).
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield, learned of the recognition from Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who presented her with a certificate and flowers during a sociology class. McAuliffe was joined by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board members and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore.
Cottrell-Williams is one of eight teachers in the running for Virginia Teacher of the Year. She represents educational Region 4, which comprises various cities and counties in Northern Virginia.
She is the first regional finalist from Arlington since Colette Fraley, another Wakefield social studies teacher, in 2010. Cottrell-Williams is already Arlington Teacher of the Year, having been nominated by Lisa Labella, Wakefield’s senior project coordinator.
“I’m speechless,” Cottrell-Williams said after the announcement. “Dr. Willmore walked in, said he had to interrupt for a minute, OK. People just kept coming and coming and coming, and I have no words. This is incredible. I feel like I’ve just been me, and to be recognized, that other people recognize that what I’m doing matters, is pretty amazing.”
Cottrell-Williams has taught at Wakefield for 10 years, and is the lead classroom teacher of World History II, U.S. and Virginia Government, AP European History, Sociology and senior project classes.
She has been recognized for her dynamic lesson plans that use various strategies and methods to help students learn as well as her commitment to professional development for her fellow teachers.
“In my other classes I’ve been asked to come up with projects and ways to rethink education,” senior Alex Pearson said. “I feel like Ms. Cottrell does that. She’s a teacher that makes class fun, and I feel like we’re going to learn a lot of things.”
“I think it says a lot about Ms. Cottrell,” senior Ana Sofia Uro-DeLeon said. “We haven’t even started our classes yet, and she’s already getting an award and everything. It shows that she really does care about the students and the individual, not just the statistics and our grades.”
McAuliffe said with budgetary pressures weighing on public school districts across Virginia, recognizing teachers when they are so dedicated is important.
“She’s so dedicated to her students, but also dedicated to her peers and to her colleagues, her fellow teachers and making sure that professional development opportunities are there so they can further their craft of teaching,” McAuliffe said. “That’s really so important, to make sure that teachers have the support they need in everything to do.”
Cottrell-Williams will join her fellow finalists in Richmond on Monday, September 18, where they will go through a series of interviews before the awards banquet that evening. Cottrell-Williams said that whether she wins or not will not change the fact that her most important interactions are with her students each day.
“It’s about the students, it’s not about whatever accolades I get,” she said. “It would be nice to have a broader platform to share with other teachers how I have found success with my students, how I interact with them, how I’ve really grown to like what I do because of the relationships I get to build with these students. But at the end of the day, I’m still here in the classroom with them whether or not I have an award.”
Students at Arlington County’s public high schools now have the chance to build their own lunch with fresh ingredients.
Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown all added food service company Cuisine Solutions‘ Café + Teria concept, the first of its kind for a school system in Virginia.
Each school’s serving area will have a similar, modern look, according to a press release. Cuisine Solutions describes itself as “the authority on sous-vide,” a slow-cooking method where food is vacuum-sealed and then slow-cooked in hot water to preserve flavors and nutrients.
Each day, students can select ingredients in four steps by picking a base of grain, salad or a wrap; a protein of antibiotic-free chicken, ground beef, or Paneer cheese; a topping of vegetables, cheese and sauces; and a dressing.
“This program introduces the healthy, fast-casual dining experience that teenagers love,” Bill Stablein, Cuisine Solutions’ manager of K-12 programs, said in a statement. “Arlington is an innovative district and a good choice to begin the program based on size, number of schools, diversity and exposure to quick-service restaurants.”
Cuisine Solutions hosted a forum last February for 10 public school districts in Virginia to discuss ways to improve dining options for students. After the forum, company chefs put together menus for Café + Teria based on local ingredients that are healthy and of good quality.
Cuisine Solutions will provide the three schools with the recipes, standard operating procedures, name brand and marketing materials for the new program, which may eventually be replicated nationwide.
But there was only one experience that I was never able to put into simple words, and that was the 11 years that I spent in immersion classes.
Arlington County is home to four Spanish immersion programs, at Claremont and Francis Scott Key elementary schools, Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School.
Arlington Public Schools says the goal of the programs is to develop “high levels” of proficiency and literacy in two languages, promote high academic achievement and cross cultural competence.
I started second grade at Claremont Immersion School in 2003. It was the first year the school opened and students came from the immersion programs at Abingdon Elementary and my former school, Oakridge. I spent half my first day reciting the multiplication tables in Spanish, the other half in English.
It was not always easy, I struggled with both science and math as I got older and the content got more complicated. I stuck with it, although it was common for classmates to leave the school so they could thrive in a traditional setting.
Language skills improve even more in middle school, when there are 11 hours of Spanish instruction a week. Because subjects switch throughout the day, there’s a possibility to go back and forth from English to Spanish. It’s a brain workout to go back and forth between the two every 45 minutes. Unlike the elective Spanish classes offered in middle school, the Spanish Language Arts class that immersion students take is structured much like an English class.
High school is the true test. Some students struggle with AP level Spanish, as you don’t practice the language the way you do in middle school. With block scheduling, you may only get one day of Spanish instruction.
Continuing to practice Spanish every day is a valuable commitment. Many of my friends are double majoring or minoring in the language. They have traveled to Spain, Cuba and Costa Rica to practice the language.
“I’ve gotten to travel the world with confidence in my ability to speak the language,” said Peyton Johnson, a senior at James Madison University double majoring in Communications and Spanish.
Aside from learning another language, the other perk of immersion is that I was able to forge lifelong friendships. Because there are designated schools to continue the program means I went to school with the same people from that first day at Claremont until my last day at Wakefield.
“A good portion of my closest friends are from immersion,” said Cathleen Madlansacay, a senior International Affairs Pre-Law major who minors in Spanish. Madlansacay and Johnson are roommates at JMU and met at Claremont in third grade.
Speaking Spanish has helped students forge relationships and have seen how immersion matters in a workforce that values employees who are bilingual.
“I have had unexpected conversations with strangers and have gotten job opportunities,” said Johnson.
Most the students I spoke to were grateful that their parents enrolled them in the program.
“They gave me an opportunity to not only become fluent in another language but also immerse myself in another culture,” said Allie Names, a Geography and Spanish double major at Mary Washington University.
Carolyn Harvey, who graduated from Wakefield in 2016, echoed the sentiment.
“I used to always be mad that my parents put me in Immersion but now I’m thankful,” said Harvey. “I always surprise people when they meet me and hear me speak Spanish.”
The Immersion program has progressed since I started all those years ago. The shiny new Claremont that started with 350 students is expanding its capacity to hold 767 students. Now, Wakefield offers Biology, Economics, and Personal Finance in Spanish.
As I approach my senior year at the University of Maryland, I realize how lucky I was to have such an amazing experience that has made an indelible impact on so many lives.
Brooke Giles is an ARLnow.com summer intern.
(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.
Arlington Public Schools will look to temporarily add more space to try to cope with its rising enrollment by adding temporary classrooms and making interior adjustments at several schools.
The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on a slew of proposals across eight schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels at its meeting Saturday (July 15). The temporary solutions are all recommended for approval by county staff, as “student enrollment is growing at a faster rate than APS can provide new schools and classrooms.”
Some are looking to add more temporary, trailer classrooms — known in APS parlance as “relocatables” — while others will make interior adjustments to add more space.
The following schools are applying to add relocatables:
- Claremont Elementary School (One relocatable, bringing total capacity up to 767)
- Arlington Traditional School (One relocatable, bringing total capacity up to 538)
- Long Branch Elementary School (Four-classroom relocatable at Fillmore Park to replace two relocatables, bringing total capacity up to 629). APS is also applying to extend the lease for Long Branch’s use of part of the park for classroom space to July 2020
- Oakridge Elementary School (Two relocatables and a relocatable gym building, increasing total capacity to 866)
- Patrick Henry Elementary School (Four-classroom relocatable, increasing total capacity to 703)
The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:
- Kenmore Middle School (Increasing total capacity to 1,060)
- Wakefield High School (Increasing total capacity to 2,203)
- Gunston Middle School (Adding two new classrooms, increasing total capacity to 1,004)
Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley