The following Letter to the Editor was written by Aaron Wajsgras, who serves on Arlington Public Schools’ Budget Advisory Council and its Career, Technical and Adult Education Citizens Advisory Committee.
It’s no secret that workforce needs are changing. From coding to manufacturing, industry is pining for a STEM workforce that can think critically and creatively. No longer are the times of the switch board operator or the repetitive assembly line worker.
So, exposing students to rigorous, hands-on learning where they can apply content knowledge to promote higher-order thinking skills is necessary for the future workforce. And, at the rate technology is changing, “the future” could be just a few years away.
According to the NOVA Workforce labor market dashboard, over 6,800 positions in management, science, technical consulting and computer systems design and related services were posted between April and June of this year. Additionally, across the country, skills gaps (what’s available versus what’s needed) exist in manufacturing, healthcare and other major industries to the tune of 5 million unfilled jobs by 2020, according to Georgetown University.
The skilled and creative future workforce has been a hot-topic for the last handful of years. Consequently, the Congressional STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Caucus and the CTE (Career and Technical Education) Caucus held a joint briefing to discuss opportunities to incorporate arts and design into in-demand CTE and STEM curriculum; and Arlington Public Schools represented half the panel last week.
In addition to perspectives from General Electric and the Rhode Island School of Design, Danielle Meyer, the technology and engineering teacher at Washington & Lee, along with Daniel Grumbles, a recent graduate of W&L and a student of Meyer’s, were invited to discuss W&L’s engineering and technology program.
Danielle teaches several courses focused on engineering and technological design (the “A” in STEAM) and shared testimony about the importance of the aesthetics in her field. “We talk about the design process with our projects. The students create sketches and drawings and then use software to add dimensions, and we redesign and test when necessary.”
“Creativity is difficult,” she exclaimed, and uses the question “Would you buy that?” to keep students focused on the importance of the “consumers” of the projects. Giving the student perspective, Daniel highlighted his gratefulness for the collaborative nature of Danielle’s courses, the improvement of his technological literacy, and expansion of his creativity that he “did not always get to use in his mainstream courses.” All necessary skill-building for Daniel’s future career.
Of note, Daniel discussed the generous resources that APS has provided towards engineering courses to purchase items like 3D printers. Hoping students in other schools across the country can get the opportunity that he had, he stated, “It was not simply to provide the technology, but to facilitate the integration of it into the classroom.”
The value of skills in STEM and CTE fields are currently, and will continue to be, critical for the future workforce. However, the importance of creativity and higher-order thinking combined with in-demand skills helps to create our leaders of tomorrow.
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.
Pictured: Danielle Meyer, Technology and Engineering Teacher, Washington-Lee High School; Daniel Grumbles, Class of 2017, Washington-Lee High School; Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), STEAM Caucus co-chair. Photo by Aaron Wajsgras.
Arlington Man’s Dog Found Days After Fatal Crash — Ten days after 57-year-old Arlington resident William F. Schlesinger died in a crash on I-95 in North Carolina, his dog has been found alive. Nellie is being called a “miracle dog” after she wandered into a convenience store late at night with a broken leg and numerous bug bites. She had been riding in the pickup truck with Schlesinger when he reportedly fell asleep, veered off the highway and slammed into a tree. [Fayetteville Observer]
Local Election Fundraising Very Light — The frontrunners for Arlington County Board and School Board only have a few thousand dollars apiece in the bank as of the beginning of the month. Their opponents have even less. “It may turn out to be one of the least costly County Board general elections in recent history,” the Sun Gazette reports. [InsideNova]
State Dept. Office Staying in Arlington — The U.S. State Department is keeping its footprint in Rosslyn for another decade-and-a-half. The GSA signed a lease worth just over $200 million over 15 years for nearly 350,000 square feet of office space in central Rosslyn. The lease extends over two buildings, with one of the buildings also housing a private State Department contractor. [Washington Business Journal]
Update: W-L Expected to Reopen Next Week — Washington-Lee High School is expected to reopen for summer school classes next week after an air conditioning issue closed the school this week. W-L’s summer school classes were temporarily moved to Yorktown High School this week. [Arlington Public Schools]
‘Capital Bikeshare Fiesta’ in Nauck — “Arlington’s Dieta Cero-Auto program will be promoting Capital Bikeshare this Saturday at Drew Sprayground (3514 22nd Street S.) from 2-5 p.m. Stop by and purchase your CaBi membership for 50% off!” [Event Calendar]
Discovery Named ‘Green Ribbon School’ — “Discovery Elementary School is being recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School… Discovery is one of 45 schools being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.” [Arlington Public Schools]
The failure was caused by damage inflicted by a power outage Friday afternoon, following strong storms that rolled through the area, according to Arlington Public Schools.
Repairs are underway but it is as-yet uncertain whether classes will resume Tuesday.
More from APS:
APS is cancelling high school summer classes on Mon, July 17, due to inadequate air conditioning inside Washington-Lee High School. Last Friday, July 14, a power outage occurred at the school following strong thunderstorms in the area. The power outage caused temporary damage to the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems in the building and resulted in no air conditioning throughout the building over the weekend.
APS Facilities and Operations have been working through the weekend to resolve the issue, but will not be able to restore the system to full operation by tomorrow. We are working with the principal and teachers who will ensure students are able to complete work that is missed during this time. Tomorrow, we will provide a school operations and status update for Tuesday, July 18. We thank you for your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.
High school summer classes at W-L on Mon, 7/17 are canceled due to inadequate air conditioning inside the school. Visit W-L webpage 4 more
— Arlington Schools (@APSVirginia) July 16, 2017
Photo (top) via Google Maps
Arlington’s Gang Prevention Task Force will hold its 12th annual Gang Prevention Soccer Tournament on Sunday, June 25 at Washington-Lee High School from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Task force coordinator Robert Vilchez said that those who have recently moved to the area may struggle to adjust, and the tournament helps them find their place in their new environment.
When Vilchez joined the task force, statistics showed that the majority of the gangs in the area were Latino. The MS-13 gang, in particular, is one of the most pervasive; WTOP reported this week that authorities are concerned that MS-13 activity is on the rise in Northern Virginia and the D.C. area.
Vilchez said soccer seemed like a natural activity to use to bring awareness to the gang issue, due to its popularity and the pool of talented players in the area.
“It’s a beautiful sport that brings kids together and our soccer tournament is just about engaging our youth, making them aware of what resources, programs and services that already exist in the county,” said Vilchez.
All the materials from the tournament feature the program’s slogan, “Don’t lose yourself in a gang” and include the number for a helpline and the address for a website that tries to help prevent teens joining gangs.
“After each tournament, the people who manage the website see a number of hits and there’s an increase of calls asking for more information,” Vilchez said.
Registration is closed but the tournament is open to spectators.
Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management will host its new HERricane camp at Washington-Lee High School next week, with the goal of inspiring “the next generation of firefighters, meteorologists, epidemiologists and county managers.”
Lauren Stienstra, senior manager at OEM, said she was inspired to hold a camp after she and a co-worker had a hard time naming women in emergency management for Women’s History Month. Young women in particular often account for only a small percentage of emergency management professionals.
“We started to think about a summer camp to be a way to bridge the gap, to help girls to consider fields in emergency management and allied fields,” said Stienstra.
The week-long camp from June 26-30 will give participants hands-on training with firefighting equipment and CPR. Other activities include preparing meals from emergency kits and a scavenger hunt. Registration is closed, with the camp filling up after just two weeks.
In addition to the exercises at camp, the young women involved will be able to find long term professional development opportunities. Guest instructors from the Red Cross, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Urban Alliance and the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs will all participate.
Stienstra said it makes sense for such a camp to take place in Arlington, as the county was the first to have a woman work as a professional firefighter in the 1970s.
“[Arlington County] was on the front line of integrating gender equality for that field,” Stienstra said.
The HVAC problems at W-L struck on one of the hottest days of the year so far.
Separately, the air conditioning system for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program was down this morning, but workers were able to get the chiller “back up and running,” according to an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman. Classes there remain in session.
Washington-Lee’s principal sent the following email to parents this morning.
Dear W-L Families,
We appreciate your children’s patience and resilience as we deal with the HVAC issue in the building.
APS has decided to release students early. We will follow these procedures:
Buses will operate per usual routes.
Walkers will make their way home as normal.
Students who are unable to depart at the new dismissal time may remain on campus — a room in the trailer, where HVAC is unaffected, is available.
APS Facilities and Operations are currently in the building trying to address the problem.
Thank you to our families for their flexibility and support during this unusual situation.
Dr. Gregg Robertson
Principal, Washington-Lee High School
Photo via Google Maps
During the last few weeks of the school year and throughout the summer, the dogs will patrol secondary schools after hours to try to sniff out illegal drugs.
Described as a “proactive measure” in a letter to parents, sent today (Thursday), the searches come at a time when parents are becoming increasingly alarmed about the presence of drugs in middle and high schools.
“I have two children in middle school and have heard of numerous times this year alone of students overdosing on prescription drugs on school grounds or having drugs on school grounds,” one Arlington Public Schools parent said in an email to ARLnow.com.
“Drugs in APS middle and high schools are a real problem,” said an APS employee, who wished to remain anonymous. “Administrators are quick to sweep the drug problems under the rug so it won’t make the school look bad. Do the police warn drug dealers of a raid before the raid? I’m a concerned parent, tax paying citizen and an employee of APS.”
In an email to staff yesterday afternoon, obtained by ARLnow.com, Washington-Lee High School Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson acknowledged that Arlington “has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances.”
As many of you may be aware, Arlington, like many areas of the country, has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances. Over the course of the past year, APS staff worked closely with a number of county agencies to respond to this uptick and to ensure that our schools continue to be safe spaces for students and staff. One of the new measures that will be implemented to help minimize the presence of illegal substances in the schools is the use of the Arlington Police Department K-9 unit. Beginning later this month, the police will come to each of the high schools with the K-9 units to search for drugs. The searches will take place in the evening after students and staff have left.
APS has been communicating this information to families, and all high schools will make an announcement tomorrow (Thursday) morning. I wanted you to be aware of this initiative as I am sure students may have questions.
The drug dogs will only patrol high schools, not middle schools, according to APS.
At least one middle school principal downplayed the extent of the “drug problem” at her school. In an email sent to parents on Monday, Williamsburg Middle School principal Connie Skelton said the problem was limited to “a small cohort of students.”
I’ve had some questions about the “drug problem” at Williamsburg. I want to assure you that this is not a widespread problem, however, we do share your concern. In our school, there is a small cohort of students we are carefully following for drug related issues. If you have any information you would like to share with me, please give me a call.
Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system is taking measures to keep students safe in the face of a nationwide upswing in drug use.
“Substance abuse and opioid use is a growing problem both in our region and across the U.S.,” said Bellavia. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we are taking steps to make sure that our students are safe and that our schools remain drug free. We also want to make sure that parents are aware and having conversations with their children at home.”
Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]
Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]
Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [Niche, Washington Business Journal]
ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]
Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]
Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]
Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Glebe Elementary students were bused to Washington-Lee High School this morning after a power outage closed the school.
The school sent the following letter to families.
Dear Glebe Families:
Power went out at Glebe Elementary School this morning due to high winds. There is no estimate as to when power will be restored, so students are being bused to Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford St.) for the remainder of the day. Students will continue instruction at W-L and lunch will be provided.
Students in Extended Day will remain at Washington-Lee until they can be picked up. If possible, families of students in Extended Day are encouraged to pick up their students early. To pick up your child, please go to the main office (Door 1) at Washington-Lee. A staff member will be there to assist you. Students who ride the bus will be transported from Washington-Lee to their normal bus stop.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Forecasters say strong wind gusts will continue through the afternoon, though the worst of the wind is over.
High wind warning downgraded to wind advisory in DC area. Gusts in 40-50 mph still possible thru this afternoon: https://t.co/8kbQyv6tsh
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) February 13, 2017
New Clarendon Cafe Has ‘Oatmeal Program’ — Baba, the new Balkan-themed cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, has an “oatmeal program,” says its owner. Baba will serve La Colombe coffee, two types of “fancy oatmeal,” as well as oatmeal packages for takeout. [Washingtonian]
School Board Wants to Lift Pay Cap — It’s unclear why the Virginia General Assembly capped the pay of Arlington School Board members at $25,000, but the School Board is hopeful that a measure making its way through the legislature will pass, allowing members to raise their salaries in 2021. [InsideNova]
Accenture Acquires Part of Endgame — Consulting and professional services firm Accenture has acquired the federal government services business of Arlington-based startup Endgame for an undisclosed sum. [WTOP]
Longtime Arlington Teacher Dies — Margaret (Peggy) Huddleston, a Washington-Lee grad and longtime W-L teacher and guidance counselor, has died at the age of 92. [Falls Church News-Press]
Delays Likely at DCA — Between high winds in the D.C. area, and flight cancellations and delays due to the snowstorm in the Northeast, there may be significant impacts on flights at Reagan National Airport today. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Police said one or more subjects appeared to follow students near the school on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. Both incidents happened around 6 p.m.
Though authorities said no crime is believed to have occurred during the incidents, the department is looking to identify and speak with the person or people involved.
In the first instance, a person driving a red minivan appeared to follow a girl who was walking in the area of 15th Street N. at N. Stafford Street. “As she picked up her speed, the vehicle accelerated to match her pace,” police said. “The juvenile ran to a friend’s house and the subject proceeded to drive off in an unknown direction.”
Two days later, someone in a black sedan appeared to follow two middle schoolers as they walked near 13th Street N. at N. Nelson Street. When the car made a “sharp turn” and pulled into a driveway, blocking their path, the boys ran home and the driver sped off in an unknown direction.
Police described the person involved in both incidences as a “white male, mid-30’s with a short beard and dark hair.”
The full police press release is below:
The Arlington County Police Department is making the public aware of two instances of suspicious subject(s) appearing to follow students in the vicinity of Washington-Lee High School. At this time, no crime has occurred. The police department is investigating these incidents and would like to identify and speak with the subject(s) involved.
At approximately 6:02 p.m. on January 31, an 11-year-old female was walking in the area of 15thStreet N. at N. Stafford Street when she noticed a red minivan keeping pace with her. As she picked up her speed, the vehicle accelerated to match her pace. The juvenile ran to a friend’s house and the subject proceeded to drive off in an unknown direction.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. on February 2, two middle school-aged male juveniles were walking in the area of 13th Street N. at N. Nelson Street when they noticed a newer black sedan appearing to follow them. As they continued walking, the vehicle made a sharp turn and pulled into a driveway, blocking their path. The juveniles ran home and the subject proceeded to drive off in an unknown direction.
The subject involved in both incidences is described as a white male, mid-30’s with a short beard and dark hair.
The Arlington County Police Department is increasing patrols in the area. If anyone has information on the identity of the suspect, please contact the non-emergency number at 703.558.2222. In the case of an emergency, call 911. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
Arlington Public Schools has hired a consultant to review its high school enrollment projections.
The consultant, Dr. Richard Grip, previously worked on the Arlington Community Facilities study. He will be studying the way APS projected enrollment during its recent high school boundary change process.
“To ensure our methodology follow best practices, we have hired an external statistician who will review the projections and methods used,” said APS Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos. “The November projections will be updated in March, which is our standard practice, to finalize the budget for next year.”
The move comes as parents are questioning a slide from a recent School Board meeting (above) that seemingly shows overcrowding at Yorktown following the controversial boundary changes, which shifted students from overcrowded Washington-Lee to the somewhat less crowded Yorktown and Wakefield.
“The projected attendance numbers used during the redistricting process were wrong,” said an email that has been circulating among parents, which was forwarded to ARLnow.com. “APS staff underestimated the number of students who will be attending Yorktown in 2020/21 and now Yorktown is projected to be over capacity by about 700 students… apparently a new consultant has been hired to re-do the projections.”
Erdos, however, says that is not the case. The slide, she says, shows two different things: enrollment projections bef0re boundary changes and the total number of students in each of the three high school zones. But the latter numbers, shown in the right column, include students who attend magnet/choice schools like H-B Woodlawn and the new Arlington Tech program, and thus do not reflect any sort of net enrollment projection.
“The November projections vs. January analysis is like comparing apples and oranges — they were developed for two totally different reasons,” Erdos said. “The January report was only intended to be an analysis of the ethnicity of the student population in the three neighborhood boundary zones because of earlier questions raised.”
“Staff is not aware of any plan by the School Board to revisit high school boundaries at this time,” Erdos added.
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is expected to address the projections review and timeline during tonight’s School Board meeting.
Arlington County firefighters, including the hazmat team, responded to Washington-Lee High School this morning after air monitoring alarms indicated a possible refrigerant leak in the school’s boiler room.
ACFD was dispatched to W-L around 10:45 a.m. Firefighters investigated the alarms for more than an hour before concluding that there were no hazards, a fire department spokesman said.
The boiler room was ventilated during the incident response, but the school was not evacuated and no injuries were reported.
In the end, it was a malfunctioning alarm, not a hazardous leak, that caused the incident, said APS spokeswoman Jennifer Harris.
Current situation at Washington-Lee HS. pic.twitter.com/sIX8ONTon3
— LincolnACFD (@LincolnACFD) January 12, 2017
— Karen (@kbgut) January 12, 2017
ACFD Battles New Year’s Day Fires — The Arlington County Fire Department had a busy New Year’s Day. In the afternoon the department battled a fire in a duplex on the 2400 block of S. Nelson Street. That night numerous ACFD units assisted Fairfax County Fire in battling a high-rise apartment fire on S. George Mason Drive. [Twitter, NBC Washington, Twitter, Twitter]
Dorsey on Metro’s Service Hours — Arlington County Board member and WMATA Board member Christian Dorsey writes in a Washington Post op-ed that planned cuts to Metrorail’s late-night hours are painful but necessary. “These service cuts are necessary to protect our riders from the risk of injury or worse,” Dorsey wrote. “It is our ethical and public duty to take every reasonable step to ensure that we don’t harm Metro riders in the worst and most irreparable ways.” [Washington Post]
W-L Soccer Team to Be Lauded — The Virginia General Assembly is expected to approve a joint resolution saluting the Washington-Lee High School boys soccer team for winning its first state title last year. [InsideNova]
Wakefield Reaches Tourney Championships — Over the holiday break the Wakefield High School boys basketball team reached the championship of the George Long Holiday Hoops Tournament but fell to Glenelg Country. The Wakefield girls, however, beat Parkview to win the Parkview Classic tournament. [Washington Post, Wakefield Athletics, Twitter]
(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) A 17-year-old girl was struck by an SUV on Washington Blvd in front of Washington-Lee High School this morning.
The incident was first reported to 911 around 9:30 a.m. as a pedestrian lying in the middle of the street, mid-block, near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Stafford Street. It was soon learned that the girl had been struck by a vehicle while crossing the street.
The girl suffered leg and facial injuries that were considered serious but not life-threatening, according to scanner traffic. She was covered in a thermal bag to keep her warm before she was loaded into an ambulance and transported to a local hospital.
Washington Blvd was blocked in both directions between N. Stafford and Randolph streets as a result of the emergency response.
No word yet on the exact circumstances of the crash nor whether any charges will be filed against the driver.
The stretch of Washington Blvd between N. Quincy Street and Glebe Road in Ballston has been a focus of pedestrian safety enforcement by Arlington County Police this year after a serious pedestrian collision involving a teen and a driver in April. Some pedestrians have said cars often do not stop for them along the four-lane road, even in crosswalks.