A current Washington-Liberty senior experience coordinator and substitute teacher within Arlington Public Schools has announced she will be running for a seat on the Arlington School Board.
With over forty years of experience in education, Sandy Munnel firmly believes “retirement is overrated.”
“I have worked with students and teachers of all grade levels,” Munnel told ARLnow. “As such, I have a unique perspective that is not currently represented on the School Board and that will enable me to hit the ground running if I am elected.”
Heading into the November 2020 general election, two seats on the School Board are up for grabs, with neither incumbent running for reelection. Board member Nancy Van Doren and Board Chair Tannia Talento both announced they will be retiring after their terms conclude.
Prior to her current role and candidacy, Munnel was the Instructional Technology Coordinator at W-L for fifteen years. In her time there, she served on the Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) for the 2009 construction of the new W-L complex.
Munnel’s platform for school board emphasizes four “smarts:”
- Smart capacity planning
- Smart services planning
- Smart instructional planning
- Smart fiscal planning
Addressing the issue of overcrowding, “Arlington will require good data, vision — and some hard decisions,” Munnel said.
“We have empty seats available. But they are not where we need them now. Decisions on where we build new classrooms will be critical,” she says. “My work on the Schools Committee of the Civic Federation convinced me that we have not always used the best data in taking past decisions. I want to make certain that we know what we need to know when we need to know it.”
School Board elections are nonpartisan, however Munnel hopes to receive an endorsement from Arlington Democrats at their July caucus.
Munnel will face off against the other confirmed candidate, Cristina Diaz-Torres, and anyone else who enters the race. Diaz-Torres announced her candidacy in November and is running a platform emphasizing equity and, similarly, data-driven transformation.
Photo via SandyForSchools.com
Classes are expected to go on as usual at Washington-Liberty High School on Monday after a threatening message on social media prompted a police investigation over the weekend.
A tipster tells ARLnow.com that the social media message in question was an Instagram account that said “don’t come to school on Monday.” That tip could not be immediately confirmed.
In an email to parents Sunday night, school officials said that Arlington County Police “determined there is and was no direct threat to the safety of the students and employees of Washington-Liberty High School.”
The full email is below.
Earlier today (Oct. 6, 2019), Wshington-Liberty High School and Arlington Public Schools became aware of and alerted Arlington County Police Department to a social media account that contained concerning language. The Police Department has investigated the post, identified the individuals involved and determined there is and was no direct threat to the safety of the students and employees of Washington-Liberty High School.
Arlington Public Schools takes the report of threats and concerning language/behavior seriously. Students who make concerning comments of a threatening nature can face disciplinary action to include suspension, alternative school placement, and up to a recommendation for expulsion. The safety of our students, employees, and visitors is always a top priority and we want to remind all families that if they “see something, say something.”
We encourage all families to also review our webpage dedicated to threat assessment located at https://www.apsva.us/emergency-management/threat-assessment/. Students and families can take in a 15 minute training from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education as part of the Youth Violence Project. This training program is designed for all students ages 12 and up and parents to learn about the threat assessment process, what are concerning behaviors and how using threat assessment can help prevent violence in our schools.
In the event that your student raises questions about the social media account, we wanted to share this information with you. If you have any concerns or questions about the incident, please feel free to contact Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson during normal school hours at [email protected]
Arlington, Alexandria to Talk Cooperation — “The Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council will consider ways they can cooperate to manage the growth expected from Amazon’s HQ2, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and George Mason’s School of Computing during a joint work session on Tuesday, Oct. 1.” [Arlington County, Washington Post]
Some, But Not All, Washington-Lee Signs to Be Replaced — “The Generals records sign will retain that name because the students made those accomplishments while it was still Washington-Lee. Facilities is currently working on replacing signs throughout the building. The score board is in that [queue] to be replaced.” [Twitter]
BID Expansion Came Down to the Wire — “It wasn’t technically the 11th hour, but pretty close to it when the Crystal City Business Improvement District landed the support it needed to expand its boundaries into Pentagon City and the Arlington County portion of Potomac Yard.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Officer Speaks Out on Police Suicide — “‘Every day is a recovery,’ Master Police Officer Adam Stone, who has been a cop in Arlington for 30 years, said. Stone loves his job, and he’s doing his best to help others by telling his story After contemplating suicide, Stone is on medication and receiving counseling — and still on patrol.” [WUSA 9, Twitter]
Town Square in Green Valley May Get a New Name — “For decades of service to his South Arlington community, what has been known in its planning stages as the Nauck Town Square is likely to be known as the ‘John Robinson Jr. Town Square.'” [InsideNova]
A problem with the air conditioning at Washington Liberty High School is prompting an early dismissal.
With temperatures expected to climb into the mid-90s today, school administrators decided to send students home at 10:40 a.m. rather than have them stay in increasingly warm classrooms.
More via a letter sent to W-L families from the school’s principal:
Washington-Liberty Families and Staff:
The HVAC system at W-L is currently not working properly. Based on forecasted temperatures in the mid to upper 90s, we have made the decision to dismiss students at 10:40 a.m. Transportation will pick up bus riders at that time as well.
All after school athletic events will go on as planned unless those families hear from their coach.
The health and safety of our students and staff is our primary focus. Facilities has crews at the school to repair HVAC system and we will update you on operations for tomorrow. We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to the schedule.
Please call the office if you have any questions.
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The achievement gap, overcrowding, an obnoxious name change debate: there’s a lot on the minds of Arlington’s high school students.
Though a few issues tie all of the schools together, the editors of the student newspapers at Yorktown, Wakefield and Washington-Liberty also said there were certain features that make the schools — and the student coverage — unique. The editors shared the inside stories of life for local students.
United by Overcrowding
Across all three of the schools, all of the editorial teams agreed that overcrowding — thanks to an ever rising student population — was one of the biggest problems.
“It’s especially an issue this year,” said Charlie Finn, one of the head editors of the Yorktown Sentry. “We already have overcrowding and the main problem is crowded classrooms.”
Finn and Joseph Ramos, Yorktown Sentry’s other head editor, noted that the Sentry has worked on reporting overcrowding from within the school. Articles from the Yorktown Sentry detail the challenges students face in overcrowded schools and review proposed solutions.
At Washington-Liberty, the school is so crowded the interview with the students had to be held in a corner of a hallway already packed with students eating or doing work.
“I do think overcrowding is an issue,” said Abby, head editor for the Crossed Sabres, the student newspaper of W-L. At the teacher’s request, interviews with Washington-Liberty students use first names only.
“I’m in an English class with 38 people,” Abby said. “Schedules are being changed to deal with the numbers of students, especially in the [International Baccalaureate] program.”
At the Wakefield Chieftain, editor Carla Barefoot said students learned this year that pep rallies would be held outside rather than inside because the gym can’t fit the entire student body.
But each school also said there are also issues central to each school’s community they’re working to cover.
Yorktown: Investigating the Achievement Gap
At Yorktown, Ramos said one of his goals for the upcoming school year is to highlight the school’s achievement gap.
“We want to focus on the achievement gaps [at Yorktown],” Ramos said, citing figures published by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization. “Black students are 11 times more likely to be suspended as white students and white students are twice as likely to take [advanced placement] classes.”
Ramos also recognized that exploring the achievement gap — an issue inextricably tied to racial disparities in Arlington’s least diverse high school — will require thorough research and a delicate touch.
“In covering the achievement gap, it’s going to be important to look at all the whys and hows to tell the full story,” Ramos said. “It’s a sensitive subject — we can’t do a half baked job.”
Wakefield: Covering Diversity in 2019 Politics
Meanwhile at Wakefield, Arlington’s most diverse high school, the editorial team said all eyes are on the upcoming elections — namely the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The Chieftain’s editors said the student population was keenly interested in how minority groups in America would be affected.
Washington-Liberty High School is set to open to students next week, and with the new name come two new logos for the school and the rebranding for an old logo.
One logo — a profile of George Washington outlined against the Liberty Bell — was designed by students and painted to welcome students to the rebranded school, which was formerly named Washington-Lee. The image is similar to the older logo for the school but removes the profile of its former namesake, Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
— WL Arts (@wl_arts) August 21, 2019
“There are three logos being used,” Frank Bellavia, spokesman for Arlington Public Schools, said in an email to ARLnow. “The one in the tweet is one and was created by a student.”
The school website uses another logo: a coat of arms with the first president and the big bell emblazoned on a shield. Bellavia said this logo was designed by the Principal’s Student Advisory Board and the Student Athletic Council.
Both logos include a smaller version of the classic W-L overlay, which will continue to be used as another school logo.
Photo 1 via @wl_arts/Twitter, photo 2, 3 via APS
New Coworking Space Coming to Ballston — “Piedmont Office Realty Trust signed a 29K SF lease with WeWork at its Arlington Tower office building at 901 North Glebe Road in Ballston, the REIT said in its Q2 earnings release Wednesday evening. The coworking giant will take the entire fifth floor and plans to open before the end of the year, Piedmont Director Chris Poppell tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]
Disaster Declaration May Be Coming Soon — “A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs. Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.” [WTOP]
Changes Proposed for Pentagon City Hotel — “The owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City is gearing up for a play to capitalize on the 627-room hotel’s proximity to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. Tom Baltimore, CEO of the hotel’s owner, Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK), told analysts on its second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the hotel is one of several the company is evaluating as possible redevelopment opportunities.” [Washington Business Journal]
Video: Dark Star Park Day — A timelapse video captured the moment on Thursday morning when the shadows lined up at Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park, as happens once a year on Aug. 1. [Twitter]
Arlington Boy Lives Dream in Boston — “There was a special visitor to the WBZ Weather Center on Thursday. Noah Coon from Arlington, Virginia is a big weather fan and stopped by the studio thanks to Dream On 3. Noah has cerebral palsy and was in Boston to visit the Red Sox. Because he’s also a fan of meteorology, he came to visit the WBZ weather team.” [WBZ]
Video: Yorktown vs. W-L — Just published online: “Long-lost footage of the famous Nov. 5, 1970, mud bowl football game between the Yorktown High School Patriots and the Washington-Lee Generals. Yorktown was favored with a 9-0 record but W-L won 12-0 and earned the Potomac District championship. [YouTube]
‘Lee’ Supporters Seek W-L Name Delay — “It may be a last-ditch attempt, but supporters of retaining the name of Washington-Lee High School are seeking a delay of a year to implement the change to Washington-Liberty. ‘There are multiple active legal actions working their way through various courts,’ said Dean Fleming, vice president of the Washington-Lee High School Alumni Association, in an e-mail to school leaders. ‘This is a very serious matter. It should not be taken lightly.'” [InsideNova]
Moran Donates Leftover Campaign Cash — “In the summer of 2018, congressman-turned-lobbyist Jim Moran was trying to recruit his former colleagues to put pressure on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Moran was doing so on behalf of one of his clients, the government of Qatar. And he had a pot of money, left over from years of donations to his reelection campaigns, that he could steer to his lobbying targets.” [The Daily Beast]
Makeshift Memorial for Career Center Employee — “Candles, flowers, balloons, and thoughts shared in the Penrose Giant parking garage lower level for Haley Garcia, the Career Center employee.” [Twitter]
Fast-Growing Amazon Divisions Coming to HQ2 — “The divisions heading to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters in Arlington are some of the fastest-growing in the company, according to Amazon’s latest quarterly earnings report. The company said Thursday its headcount is up 13% to 653,300 full-time and part-time employees… Amazon Web Services and Alexa — two of the three Amazon businesses that are HQ2-bound — are growing at a much faster pace.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A band of brothers from Arlington saved a five-year-old girl from drowning this week during a trip to Ireland.
On Monday, three brothers — Walter Butler (21), Eoghan Butler (18), Declan Butler (18) — were enjoying a rare sunny Dublin day at a beach with their brother-in-law Alex Thomson (24) when they heard someone crying for help. The group leaped into action after spotting a young girl on an pink inflatable floaty, who was being pulled away by the ocean current.
The group was able to rescue the girl and carry her back to safety, as first reported by Ireland’s Evening Herald.
The boys’ mother, Meagan Cummings, told ARLnow that her children were visiting Ireland to bury their grandfather, who was born there and emigrated to the United States years ago. But there was also something very special about the fateful day of the rescue.
“Their grandfather, when he lived in Ireland many years ago, got on a ship to join the United States Navy. When he was coming over there was a telegram waiting for him that said his younger brother had drowned,” said Cummings. “The anniversary of his brother drowning was Monday.”
Cummings said the drowning death had made her and her parents fearful of water. That was one the reasons she encouraged her six children to learn to be good swimmers. The three Butler boys swam with the Overlee swim team for several years, and Walter and his sister were also on the Washington-Lee High School swim team.
“Only for them my daughter wouldn’t be here today,” said the father of the six-year-old girl, in an interview with the Irish Times. The man said he was unable to reach her from the shore, and could only watch as the current dragged the girl away and led her to lose her grip on the floaty she was clinging to.
“You could see the brave little girl fighting for her life, her head bobbing under and breaking the surface, she clearly could not swim,” Walter told the newspaper. “She was doing everything she could to stay alive.”
Three of the brothers swam for twenty minutes — almost a mile in total — to reach the girl. They took turns carrying her as they made their way back to the shore. Eoghan told the Irish news site the Independent that the girl was a “nervous wreck” and they calmed her by asking about her birthday and her favorite color.
Walter currently serves in the United States Coast Guard as a Health Services Technician. His mother said he put his training to use, assembling a plan for his three brothers to swim the distance and retrieve the girl while he met them halfway, to save his strength in case he needed to administer first aid.
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) July 23, 2019
Alex, who is married to the brothers’ sister Juliana, told the Independent that he thought of his own growing family during the rescue.
“The main thing I was thinking about was we couldn’t lose that little girl,” he said. “I’m expecting a daughter in October, and was empathizing with the father’s fear.”
Authorities reported the girl was taken to the hospital after the rescue and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Her father confirmed on Tuesday she was recovering back at home.
“The way I feel about it they were given a chance to rise to their best. And they did,” said Cummings, the boys’ mother. “And that just made me feel so proud.”
The “Buck Site” — a county-owned property across N. Quincy Street from Washington-Lee High School — could serve a smörgåsbord of Arlington’s needs.
Last week the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) reviewed proposed uses for four building renovations planned for the site to fit needs across several local departments and Arlington Public Schools (APS).
According to the Phase 3 plans, the Buck 1 building closest to N. Quincy Street would be used as a logistics hub for the Arlington County Fire Department.
Buck 3, a building farther back in the site, would be used for police storage.
According to Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for Arlington County’s Department of Environmental Services, the county is moving forward with renovations to the warehouse building at 1425 N. Quincy Street to accommodate the relocation of police reserve vehicles.
The police vehicles are being relocated due to the upcoming construction at Jennie Dean Park near Shirlington, where they’re currently stored.
The planned use for the two other buildings at the site is still to be determined. Baxter said the county is waiting to hear what the top priority would be from APS.
“The two office buildings at 1429 and 1439 N. Quincy Street (Buck 2 and 4) are being considered for instructional space and/or the relocation of APS’s administrative offices, trade shops, and associated white fleet vehicles from the Trades Center in Shirlington, for APS’s growing needs,” Baxter wrote. “APS will decide whether to proceed with the uses of these buildings, and is to let the county know this fall.”
Last June, the County Board approved an agreement that would allow APS to park vehicles at the property.
If APS does not proceed with classrooms or an administrative use in those buildings, the county’s plans are to convert Buck 2 into county offices and a facility for Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management (PSCEM).
The presentation at the JFAC meeting also included estimated renovation costs for each of the buildings:
- Buck 1 (Fire logistics) — $8 million-$10 million
- Buck 2 (APS classrooms or county offices) — $14.5 million-$20 million
- Buck 3 (Police vehicle and equipment storage) — $7 million-$9 million
- Buck 4 (APS classrooms, administrative, or PSCEM) — $14 million-$24 million
- General site renovations — $4 million
An alternative design for the site, also under consideration, envisions the Buck Site as a recreational field, multi-use athletic field and youth/rec baseball field was also presented at the meeting, with a $13.5 million cost estimate.
Photo via Google Maps
Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment Building — Updated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]
The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]
Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]
Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]
Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]
Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]