(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Students at Arlington’s high schools walked out of class Wednesday morning to protest gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting.
The 10 a.m. walkout was planned nationally, on the one month anniversary of the shooting, and in Arlington it was the second such protest in as many months. Washington-Lee, Yorktown, Wakefield, Langston and H-B Woodlawn were among the schools participating. Students at Kenmore Middle School also walked out, according to the school’s Twitter account.
At Washington-Lee, hundreds — if not thousands — of students gathered on the football field amid cold, blustery weather for a solemn remembrance of the slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers.
A group of students sat in the bleachers, holding signs with the names and photos of the victims, while another group of students read each of their names and a bit of biographical information, one by one, about one per minute. The gathered students stood still, in silence only broken by a brief applause at the end, before returning to the school.
A couple dozen administrators and teachers watched over the event, along with a pair of Arlington County police officers, there to provide security. A few W-L graduates, parents and local residents also attended, some holding signs.
During Yorktown’s walkout, meanwhile, students wrote letters about school safety to members of Congress
Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy said late last month that today’s walkout would be the last walkout in which participating students would be granted a blanket excused absence.
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]
Arlington Public Schools plans to add solar panels to five school buildings, including the soon-to-be-built Alice West Fleet Elementary School.
APS issued a Request for Proposals on December 1, calling for companies to bid to install solar panels at Kenmore and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools, Tuckahoe and Fleet Elementary Schools and Washington-Lee High School.
Fleet Elementary School will be built on the site of Thomas Jefferson, and is projected to be open in September 2019.
In the call for proposals, APS said it is seeking to be increasingly environmentally friendly in construction projects and its existing buildings, and hopes the panels will help it keep up with its schools’ energy demands.
“APS stresses energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in the design of all construction and maintenance projects,” it reads. “APS is aware of the energy and environmental advantages of solar power and has multiple buildings used as schools for all age groups and administrative offices which appear to have design characteristics which make them appropriate for the installation of [solar panels] which will produce electric power to meet, or contribute to meeting, the power needs of APS.”
The successful bidder would install the solar panels, and operate and maintain them under a lease agreement with APS for a minimum of 15 years. APS said the winning company would also be responsible for all installation and maintenance costs, but would pay rent of $1 a year for the panels.
Proposals are due on March 19, 2018. The RFP comes months after Kenmore was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.
Hot Item for the Holidays: E-ZPass — With tolling set to begin on what are now the I-66 HOT lanes, stores in Arlington and elsewhere in Northern Virginia are having trouble keeping E-ZPass transponders in stock, particularly the E-ZPass Flex devices that will allow carpoolers to continue to use I-66 for free. [WJLA]
W&OD Trail Changes Discussed — Officials are considering options for separating cyclists from those on foot on the W&OD Trail. “I love the potential separation,” Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt is quoted as saying. “I think that will be well-received by both sets of users.” [InsideNova]
Dad Speaks Out After W-L Grad Son ODs — “As an admiral I helped run the most powerful military on Earth, but I couldn’t save my son from the scourge of opioid addiction,” writes retired Adm. James Winnefeld, in an Atlantic article entitled “No Family Is Safe From This Epidemic.” Jonathan Winnefeld, a Washington-Lee High School grad, died in Denver this past September “after a long and honorable battle with addiction.” [The Atlantic, Legacy, Denver Post]
More on Accessory Dwelling Vote — A GGW writer argues that while the Arlington County Board is to be commended for allowing the creation of basement apartments that can be rented out, it punted on the issue of backyard cottages at its Tuesday meeting. The Board’s action on so-called Accessory Dwelling Units included instructing the County Manager to study setbacks from the property line for detached accessory structures before any are approved under new rules. [Greater Greater Washington]
New Incentive for Sustainable Buildings — “Arlington County will pioneer Virginia’s first Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program–a public-private partnership to provide affordable, long-term financing for projects to improve the energy or water efficiency of commercial buildings in the county.” [Arlington County]
DCA Tweets at Teigen — Model and social media personality Chrissy Teigen told followers yesterday that she left “a very large mom bra” under her seat on a flight that arrived at a D.C. area airport. Reagan National Airport’s official Twitter account responded by recommending that Teigen stop by the Spanx store in the airport for a replacement. [Twitter]
‘Age in Place’ Tax Deferral Questioned — Mortgage and title companies are reportedly not big fans of Arlington’s Real Estate Tax Relief Program, which allows older residents who meet certain income requirements to defer property tax payments until the home is sold. The system has sometimes sprung large tax bills on unsuspecting heirs, real estate agents and mortgage settlement officers. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
Two Washington-Lee High School students suffered minor injuries after the car they were riding in hit a tree in a home’s front yard near the school.
The car hit the tree just after 11 a.m. on the 1600 block of N. Randolph Street after veering off the road. The crash occurred in the Cherrydale neighborhood, near the Cherry Valley Nature Area.
It caused damage to the front of the car, but did not appear to have caused much damage to the tree or any of the surrounding houses.
The pair were interviewed by police officers and attended to by paramedics, while startled neighbors came out of their houses to survey the scene.
Two Arrested After Fleeing from ACPD — Two men who fled from a traffic stop in Arlington were later arrested in Northwest D.C. Arlington police tried to stop the vehicle near Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road, in the Virginia Square area, but the car took off and police did not pursue, per department rules. U.S. Park Police then tried to stop the men in D.C. and they fled again but were eventually taken into custody after crashing their car along Connecticut Avenue. [Fox 5]
WSJ Highlights W-L’s 178 Valedictorians — Washington-Lee High School in Arlington had 178 valedictorians this past school year. Having multiple valedictorians is a national trend among high schools. W-L considers any student with a 4.0 GPA or above to be a valedictorian. [Wall Street Journal, Falls Church News-Press]
Arts + Startups = Millennials? — “Arts groups should work to make common cause with high-tech firms and Millennials in an effort to bring benefits to all, one panelist said at an arts forum sponsored by Opera Nova and held Oct. 8 at Washington Golf & Country Club.” [InsideNova]
Distil Hires New CEO — Distil Networks, the cybersecurity firm with offices in Arlington and San Francisco, was just trying to hire a new Chief Operating Officer but ended up with a new CEO. Tiffany Olson Jones will lead the company, with $20 million in revenue and 65 percent annual revenue growth, from Arlington. [San Francisco Business Times]
‘Speedy’ Tolliver Dies — “Roy ‘Speedy’ Tolliver, an Arlington-based bluegrass fiddler who performed at local folk festivals for 65 years and was an inaugural recipient of the Virginia Heritage Award in 2009, died Sept. 18 at an assisted living center in Arlington, Va. He was 99.” [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Michael Thomas
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) Washington-Lee High School is in “secure the building” mode as police investigate a threat.
“At approximately 12:07 p.m., police responded to the report of a telephone threat received at W-L,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The school has been secured as police investigate.”
Initial reports suggest the school received calls claiming to be from an expelled or suspended student, threatening violence. While police investigate the threat, officers and school employees are taking precautions.
“Staff are at every door to monitor people coming to the school,” said Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman Linda Erdos. “Police are investigating. Classes are going on as scheduled.”
A heavy police presence could be seen around the school around lunchtime today. The W-L pool was closed to members of the public while the school was secured.
Dismissal is occurring as scheduled at Washington-Lee High School. The investigation into the phone threat is ongoing.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 10, 2017
County Celebrates ART Maintenance Facility Opening — Arlington County officials drove a bus through the ribbons at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Arlington Transit Light Maintenance Facility near Crystal City. “The facility provides… fueling, maintenance and wash services for the entire ART fleet,” noted a press release. “Washing and fueling services for ART buses had been contracted from an adjacent Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) facility at a higher cost and with restricted hours.” [Arlington County]
Banned Books Week at Libraries — Arlington Public Library is marking Banned Books Week, which runs through Sept. 30, by encouraging readers to check out at least one “challenged” book this week. [Arlington Public Library]
Lamenting Construction Inconveniences — From “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark: “My East Falls Church neighbors and I are at nerves’ end about a seemingly perpetual construction project we drive or walk past daily. The county’s stormwater drainage system expansion has been underway for a year at N. 24th and Rockingham streets. It has necessitated countless automobile and pedestrian detours… Construction improves our shared living space and boosts the economy. But it’s tough on neighbors.” [Falls Church News-Press]
W-L HOF Noms — The Washington-Lee High School Athletic Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for new inductees through Nov. 1. [W-L Athletics]
Lost Puppy in Va. Square-Ballston Area — A local resident is searching for her puppy, named Faith, who got loose Sunday night and was “lost by Quincy Park running towards Washington Blvd.” The dog is described as “a very sweet, incredibly timid boxer mix. Her identifying markings are: light brown body, black/white muzzle, white dipped paws, and a large spot of missing hair on her right hind thigh.” [Facebook]
Legal Drama for Matchbox — Matchbox Food Group, which counts a large Matchbox restaurant in Pentagon City among its locations, is locked in a messy legal battle between two of its cofounders and two of its financiers: a bank and the bank’s CEO, who is also an investor in the company. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlingtonians will have several opportunities to weigh in on the names of new schools and the renaming of existing ones under a plan put forward by Arlington Public Schools staff.
APS is set to undertake a four-step process to discuss its school naming policies, a conversation that will likely include discussion of the name of Washington-Lee High School.
Members of the Arlington School Board announced last month they will reconsider existing school names. That announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville at a white supremacist rally, and a petition for APS to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Board members will also be looking for names for the building on the former Wilson School site — the future home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program — and the new 1,000-seat middle school on Vacation Lane.
According to a draft plan discussed Thursday night by the Board, the first phase will begin with a committee made up of APS staff.
APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said that committee will include a “diverse” group of APS staff, including school administrators, central office staff and teachers as well as custodians and bus drivers.
That committee will study the origins of existing school names, put together draft criteria for APS school names and take feedback from the public, including staff, families, students, alumni and community members. Its work is scheduled to be completed “later in the school year,” according to the draft.
The current APS naming criteria offer only two pieces of guidance: (1) that schools can be named “according to geographical or historical relationships in which the site is located,” meaning schools are named for the neighborhood they are located in or the street they are on; and (2) that naming a school for an individual can only be considered after they have been dead for five years.
After that first phase, staff will present a draft recommendation to update APS’ naming criteria to the School Board. The committee will also “be prepared to identify names of APS schools, if any, that may need to be considered for renaming by their respective school communities,” reads the memo outlining the process.
The Board then will take public comment on the updated naming policy and any proposed changes to school names, adopt the policy and if necessary, direct Superintendent Patrick Murphy to begin a renaming process. Finding names for the two new schools could then begin, using the updated criteria.
Board members said the plan, set to be formally approved at a future meeting, is exactly what they were looking for.
“I like the fact that we’re taking baby steps towards this and being very, very thoughtful,” said Nancy Van Doren.
“[Staff has] laid out what we promised, which is a deliberate process,” said Board chair Barbara Kanninen.
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.
More on Mini Nazi Rally in Dominion Hills — “I hate to think the founder of the American Nazi Party would take satisfaction knowing he influences Arlington 50 years after his assassination.” [Falls Church News-Press]
W-L Alum Sandra Bullock Donates to Harvey Relief — Actress and 1982 Washington-Lee High School grad Sandra Bullock has given $1 million to the American Red Cross to help with hurricane relief efforts along the Texas coast. Bullock has quietly made $1 million donations in the wake of a number of major disasters. [People, Twitter]
ACPD Mourns Drowned Houston Officer — The Arlington County Police Department is joining other departments across the country in mourning the line of duty death of Houston officer Sgt. Steve Perez, who was overcome by high water while trying to drive to downtown Houston in torrential rain early Sunday. [Twitter]
Last-Minute Eclipse Glasses in Crystal City — PBS, which is based in Crystal City, will be giving out the remainder of its supply of eclipse glasses at the Crystal City Water Park this morning at 9 a.m. (Update: They’re all gone.) [Twitter]
W-L Grad Studying Eclipse — Arlington native Adriana Mitchell, a 19-year-old University of Arizona student and Washington-Lee High School graduate, will be studying this afternoon’s eclipse as part of “an unprecedented effort to help solve some of the mysteries surrounding our home star.” [University of Arizona]
Whitlow’s Also Hosting Viewing Party — In addition to the sold-out eclipse viewing party at Don Tito’s in Clarendon, Whitlow’s will be hosting a viewing event at its rooftop tiki bar, featuring “a limited number of eclipse glasses” and half-priced burgers. [Event Calendar]
Petition to Keep W-L Name Gains Support — An alumni petition calling for Washington-Lee High School to keep its name as-is, despite a push to remove Robert E. Lee’s last name and a School Board effort to consider name changes, has collected more than 700 signatures. “Washington-Lee has been part of the lives of Arlington school children since the 1920’s and has been one of the top high schools in the country throughout its existence,” the petition says. “To change the name of the school now is not reflective of W-L spirit nor W-L pride.” [Get Petition]
Wardian Still Good at Running, Humaning — Arlington’s own Michael Wardian is not only keeping up his impossible, superhuman distance running schedule, at the age of 43, but he’s also continuing to be a really nice guy in the process. [DelmarvaNow]
Board members announced they would study the names of all current and future schools in the county and decide if any should be changed.
Since the violence in Charlottesville over the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee, there have been calls to rename Washington-Lee High School, Arlington’s oldest. Others want to keep the old name.
As a 2015 graduate, I have thought about this subject often, especially after the Charleston massacre, which was on the day of my graduation.
I understand the argument for renaming the school. Robert E. Lee fought for a government whose raison d’etre since its inception was the preservation of chattel slavery; the Cornerstone Speech by their Vice President, Alexander Stephens, makes this clear as day.
In fighting for said government, Lee therefore fought to preserve that vile institution even if it was not his premier motive, and that in and of itself leads to just condemnation. That fact certainly makes the banner in the halls “Washington-Lee Celebrates Diversity” more than a little ironic.
That being said, I also understand the opposition to the name change. Washington-Lee, as a name divorced from its namesakes, has become an honored name, with famous graduates like Sandra Bullock and Warren Beatty, and academic and athletic success. Thousands of people by now have formed memories and friendships under that name.
Additionally, changing the name to proposals such as “Washington-Lincoln” or “Washington-Lafayette” (which I have both seen) would cause a significant degree of financial trouble to the school administration as they would have to replace signs, songs and logos on just about everything.
In full understanding of both perspectives I propose a compromise as a plan of action. We need not change the name “Washington-Lee,” but the name “Lee” could be rededicated to Robert’s father, Henry Lee. The elder Lee fought for the early Republic during our war for Independence in both Northern and Southern campaigns, and died long before the Confederacy was ever even an idea.
In doing so, we could keep the name “Washington-Lee,” the mascot “Generals” (for they were both generals in the Continental Army, and both from Virginia), the alma mater (which refers only to ‘Washington-Lee’ as a collective), and most everything else. All that would need to be changed are some portraits, like the ones in the main office and little theater, and one of the logos.
This compromise would allow the complete removal of the stain of the Confederacy from the school whilst maintaining its long-standing traditions. It is a compromise that I find ideal and hopefully would spare the school from the worst of the ongoing culture wars and bring the dispute to a quiet conclusion, one that would not attract undue attention.
In these trying times, I share the sentiment of our alma mater: “Washington-Lee, Washington-Lee, humbly for thee do we pray.” Our alma mater will need it.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Arlington School Board chair Barbara Kanninen announced Thursday (August 17) it will revisit all school names in the county with a view to possibly changing some, including Washington-Lee High School.
Kanninen’s announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, and a new petition for Arlington Public Schools to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The petition already has more than 200 signatures.
Though there has been talk of removing Lee’s name previously, the current backlash against Confederate symbolism has put the idea on center stage. Speakers at Thursday’s meeting and a letter to the editor published earlier in the day called for changing the school’s name, which has been its moniker since it opened in 1925.
The Board is going to be naming new schools at the Wilson, Stratford, Education Center and Career Center sites, and with that in mind, Kanninen said the time is right to look again at who schools are named after.
“Given all this, it is simply clear to us as a Board that now is the time,” Kanninen said. “It’s time to talk about the names of our schools, and what they mean and why they matter. It is time to talk about the values these names reflect and the messages we are sending our children.”
Kanninen said there will be extensive community input when discussing school names, and the process will include a “wide range of voices.” She said the Board will look to establish a naming criteria for schools that “reflects our values,” which will ensure debate is “focused on facts, not opinions.”
“We are committed to this community conversation, but it will take time and resources to get it right,” Kanninen said. “As the governing body of our school system, we have to be careful and deliberate.”
During the Board’s public comment period at the same meeting, numerous speakers showed support for changing the name of Washington-Lee, given Lee’s history with the Confederacy. Of the dozen speakers to testify, the majority expressed support for a name change.
“Today, Lee remains a potent symbol of hate, as witnessed by the events in Charlottesville,” local resident Ryan Sims said. “[It] is time for Arlington Public Schools to acknowledge its history, change the name and move on.”
“We must build on the momentum of the current crisis and use this as a teaching moment in Arlington Public Schools,” said Marc Beallor of the group Indivisible Arlington.
Not everyone who testified spoke in favor of changing the high school’s name, however. Mila Albertson, president of the Washington-Lee Alumni Association, said changing the name could set a precedent that could lead to changing numerous names and flags throughout Virginia. She said that precedent could include changing the name of the capital city of Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America, or renaming Virginia.
Instead, Albertson said, the school has gained a reputation for producing tens of thousands of graduates who have led productive lives.
“The name Washington-Lee is exalted because of its graduates, not because of the two [people] it is named for,” Albertson said.
Local resident and “unofficial W-L historian” John Peck urged caution and urged residents to learn more about Lee’s history, especially after the Civil War.
In a rarity for School Board meetings, two members spoke after the public comment period — urging patience for those who wish to change the name quickly. James Lander, the Board’s only black member, said it is important that community members continue to focus on students who face discrimination every day.
“I just don’t want us to take our eye off the ball and the children who are looking to us for examples,” Lander said.
Board colleague Reid Goldstein promised a robust process involving a wide range of opinions and community members, and no “knee-jerk” decisions.
“It’s very, very important that we do this right, or we’re going to keep doing this over and over again,” Goldstein said.
The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by writer and Washington-Lee High School graduate Waleed Shahid, who has started an online petition to push for removing Robert E. Lee’s name from the school.
Activists are also expected to call for Lee’s name to be removed from W-L at tonight’s Arlington School Board meeting, in the wake of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, sources tell ARLnow.com.
When I was a student at Washington-Lee, I clearly remember being taught in history class that Robert E. Lee “did not fight for slavery; he fought for Virginia.” I didn’t make much of it until I left Virginia for college. Many of my classmates thought it was strange that I went to a school named after the leader of the Confederate Army and that there was a highway that ran through my hometown honoring Jefferson Davis. These were racist slave-owners who rebelled against the American government and Abraham Lincoln, they told me. I shrugged and didn’t make it much of it.
But over the past few years — and particularly over the past week — many Americans have been beginning a conversation about our nation’s living wounds. It’s clear that too many are ignorant of our country’s history. And this past week has shown that a small minority of white nationalists are increasingly comfortable with publicly stirring up the worst aspects in American society by pitting Americans against each other.
To these white nationalists, Robert E. Lee represents their deep commitment to racial hierarchy. When three of his slaves escaped, Lee whipped them and had their backs washed with stinging brine. Lee ordered his Confederate soldiers to respect white property, but declared that any black people they encountered — regardless of their previous ‘status’ — were to be seized and returned to the South to be sold into slavery. At the Battle of the Crater, Lee’s Army even killed black prisoners of war. This is the history we honor when we name our school after Robert E. Lee — and why white nationalists felt so threatened by the removal of his statue in Charlottesville.
We must understand the stakes too. Arlington Public Schools should not shy away from taking a clear stand on this issue. It’s up to our civic leaders and institutions to take steps toward reconciling and repairing our nation’s living wounds where we can make a difference. Washington-Lee High School should be renamed so that we can move toward creating a school, county and country that truly belongs to all who call it home. If the President of the United States is unwilling to provide the leadership our country needs, then we need to provide it ourselves.
America was founded upon a revolutionary promise: freedom and justice for all. But, the revolutionary promise of America has never been fulfilled. We, the people has never included all of us. The story of our nation has always been a struggle over who America belongs to: the chosen few, or all of us? This is what is at stake when we honor the leaders of the Confederacy. Which side of that struggle will we honor? Germans don’t honor Nazi soldiers; South Africans don’t honor those who held up Apartheid. But Americans still honor Robert E. Lee and countless other Confederates who raised up a new flag and started a rebellion against the United States of America. Why?
It’s time Arlington honor those who fought tirelessly to create an America for all of us. As an alum of Washington-Lee High School, I urge you to consider re-naming our school Washington-Douglass or Washington-Tubman High School. As a Muslim-American who grew up in Arlington, continuing to have my alma mater named after Robert E. Lee is like seeing a Confederate Flag being constantly waved in my face. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing that we are honoring a man who fought to shackle and chain other human beings.
In many ways, Washington-Lee is a microcosm of America. My alma mater — just like my country — is still working to perfect our experiment in constructing a vibrant multi-racial democracy. This past week has been a reminder that some still hope to thwart our collective project and take us back to darker times. But by committing to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, we can take concrete steps toward living up to our best traditions and creating a nation where we all feel like we belong and where “We, the People” includes all of us. This is our historic responsibility as Americans in this moment in our history.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.