(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.
Yorktown High School was placed in “secure the building” mode this morning after someone reported a man with a weapon near the school.
A community member called authorities around 10 a.m. to report suspicious activity near the Yorktown campus, according to an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman. ARLnow hears that it was a man walking with a dog while wearing a holstered gun.
Police investigated and the security precautions inside the school were subsequently lifted, according to a message sent to parents, below.
Today at approximately 10 AM Yorktown’s front office staff received a report from a community member who indicated that he had seen someone with a weapon in the vicinity of Yorktown. As a precaution, Yorktown staff implemented our plan to secure the school while the Arlington Police Department investigated the situation. “Secure the school” means that all exterior doors were locked, entry/exit was stopped and students were not allowed outdoors for PE. Instruction continued without interruption. After approximately 10 minutes, the police department advised us to return to a regular school day.
Our first priority is our students’ safety, and at no time was there a danger within Yorktown. We applaud our students and staff for their responsiveness.
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]
Helicopter Complaints Continue — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), one of the lawmakers who requested the study, said that helicopter noise is ‘our number one constituent complaint’ and that the number of complaints has risen steadily since he took office in 2015.” [Washington Post]
Early Morning Apartment Fire — “Units were called to 2400 blk 27th Ct S for fire in 4 story garden apt. On arrival crews found balcony #fire on floors 1 & 2 being controlled by #firesprinklers. Fire extinguished, no extension inside. No injuries.” [Twitter]
New Election Chief Sworn In — “When Gretchen Reinemeyer was sworn in as Arlington County’s general registrar, she became only the fifth person to hold the position since it was created in 1947. Reinemeyer is succeeding long-time registrar Linda Lindberg who is retiring at the end of the month after serving more than 25 years in the Arlington Voting and Elections Office–16 of them as general registrar. [Arlington County]
YHS Student Helps Improve Pedestrian Safety — “Pedestrians in Arlington, Virginia, may notice flashing yellow lights when crossing the street, thanks to one high schooler who’s working to make streets safer… Jake Smith, who graduated Yorktown High School on Thursday, interned with the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services to help them plan their beacon project and keep cars accountable.” [NBC 4, Arlington County]
Zoning Keeps Parts of Arlington Exclusive — “Arlington does have a decent amount of area zoned for multi-family housing, but it’s concentrated in the more southern parts of the county. This makes North Arlington completely inaccessible to many and is the source of the county’s geographical inequality.” [Blue Virginia]
Dozen New Arlington Police Officers — “The Arlington County Police Department welcomed 12 new officers this week, as Session 140 graduated from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJA) and took their oath to serve and protect the residents and visitors of Arlington County.” [Arlington County]
Local Businessman Sentenced — “A prominent Northern Virginia businessman has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for multiple fraud schemes that cheated investors out of roughly $20 million. Todd Hitt, 54, of Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty earlier this year in federal court in Alexandria to soliciting investments in building projects as part of what amounted to a Ponzi scheme.” [Associated Press, Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
More Arlington Real Estate Optimism — “According to a report released Wednesday by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, the median home price in Arlington County is on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019.” [Washingtonian]
‘Rock the Row’ Starts Tonight — The United States Navy Band Country Current will perform tonight at Pentagon Row for the shopping center’s annual Rock the Row outdoor concert series. Concerts will be held every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the Pentagon Row plaza, through Aug. 1. [Pentagon Row]
Yorktown Girls Cap Off Stellar Soccer Season — “The Yorktown Patriots completed an unbeaten girls soccer season on June 8 at Hermitage High School near Richmond by winning the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state-tournament championship.” [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Medical Emergency at Yorktown — A student suffered a serious medical emergency at Yorktown High School this morning. Police and medics rushed to the scene, CPR was performed and the student was reportedly revived. He was taken to a local hospital.
Arlington Tourism Website Wins Award — “The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International… on Jan. 22 presented the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) with a 2018 Adrian Award for the StayArlington tourism website.” [Arlington County]
Best Bowls of Soup in Rosslyn — A new list exhaustively details “where to go for a good bowl of soup” in Rosslyn, “because it’s everybody’s favorite cold-weather lunch.” [Rosslyn BID]
Gymnastics Competition at W-L — “The annual Barbara Reinwald Invitational girls high-school gymnastics meet was held Jan. 19 at Washington-Lee High School. The high-school meet, which has been held for decades, included 11 teams and was won by the host Washington-Lee Blue team.” [InsideNova]
Chef Geoff Winning Happy Hour Fight — Chef Geoff Tracy is poised to withdraw his lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, which seeks to overturn restrictions on advertising happy hour specials and prices, after the state legislature overwhelmingly passed bills that would remove those and other happy hour restrictions. [Tysons Reporter]
(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is planning a town hall in Arlington tonight (Thursday), in order to collect feedback on everything from the government shutdown to his plans for the new Congress.
Beyer’s set to hold the gathering at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) tonight, running from 7-8:30 p.m. Though Arlington Public Schools have since canceled all after-school activities due to the threat of winter weather tonight, a spokesman for Beyer says the event is still on.
The county’s lone congressman convened the gathering to “discuss the issues on your mind, and what I’m doing in Congress,” according to an event posting.
The shutdown, now the longest in the country’s history, will likely be a prime topic of discussion, especially considering the adverse economic impacts it has had on so many federal workers in the district. A recent study found that the 8th, which covers Arlington and parts of Alexandria, has the largest number of federal employees in the country.
Beyer will also be able to use the town hall as a chance to solicit feedback on his plans in Congress for the next two years, as Democrats assume control of the House for the first time since Beyer won office in 2014.
He previously told ARLnow that he broadly hopes to focus on environmental issues, particularly oversight of President Trump’s picks to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and on securing new funding to combat aircraft noise around Arlington.
Arlington has the top public school system in the state and ranks within the top 100 in the entire country, according to a new study.
The education research firm Niche awarded Arlington Public Schools an “A+” in its new ranking of school systems released today (Thursday), and named the county the 86th best public school system in the country.
Niche ranks schools based not only data like test scores, but also takes parent, teacher and student reviews into consideration in calculating its grades. The firm gave APS “A+” marks in all of its categories but one, from “academics” to “health and safety.” The lone category where Arlington merely received an “A” was “diversity.”
The school system also ranked tops in the state for the firm’s “best places to teach” ranking, owing to the county’s 12:1 student to teacher ratio and its average staffer salary of just over $89,000.
Loudoun County schools placed second overall in Niche’s rankings, followed by Albemarle County, just outside Charlottesville in third. Falls Church City and Fairfax County rounded out the top five.
Arlington’s high schools also did well in Niche’s ranking of the top public schools in the D.C. region. Washington-Lee High School came in at 13th overall, Yorktown at 21st and Wakefield at 44th.
Weekend Rain Intensifies, Prompts Flood Watch — As if this weekend’s downpours weren’t enough, there’s now a flash flood watch in effect for Arlington and much of the rest of the D.C. region through late tonight. That seems to be the theme for much of the upcoming week’s forecast. [Twitter, Washington Post]
Amazon HQ2 Contest Sparks New Levels of Regional Cooperation — That’s what economic development officials from Arlington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland say. The Metro funding deal, negotiated across three different governments, represents some of that cooperation, but will that spirit last if Amazon doesn’t pick the D.C. region? [Washington Business Journal]
Yorktown Alum Bound for South Africa — Drew Kiser will make the trip with some help from a Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistant award and the State Department. He’ll teach English at a high school “as part of a project to promote literacy among developing nations, as well as educating youth about LGBT identity.” [InsideNova]
With Arlington Public Schools’ Stratford Program getting ready for a big move, school leaders are giving students (and their parents) a choice about where they’ll spend the next year learning.
The program, which serves secondary-level special education students, is set to relocate into a new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year. But its current space on Vacation Lane, which it shares with the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, will soon be renovated to become a new middle school, forcing Stratford students to temporarily find a new home.
APS officials initially planned to send Stratford over to the Reed School building in Westover for a year, but a few weeks ago they began seeking feedback from parents on a plan to move the program to Yorktown High School instead.
In a letter to Stratford parents Monday (June 4), Stratford principal Karen Gerry revealed that APS settled on a compromise solution between those two proposals. Families will now have the option of sending students to Yorktown or Reed for the 2018-19 school year; summer sessions in both 2018 and 2019 will be held at Reed, regardless of which option families choose, however.
“While we understand that this may mean some students within the Stratford program are educated in different locations for the 2018-19 school year, we also know that the needs of our students are different,” Gerry wrote. “We will provide the staffing and supports expected in the program at either location and will work with families on specific needs.”
Families have until June 15 to complete a survey on where they’d prefer to send their students.
Gerry added that “we want to reassure you that the Stratford Program will continue and our plan to move to the new building on Wilson in the fall of 2019 is moving ahead.” Some rumors circulated a few weeks back that APS would seek to eliminate the Stratford program instead, but officials have insisted there are no such plans in the works.
The full letter from Gerry to Stratford parents is after the jump.
Jim Gregory is the organizer bringing F3, a national organization whose name stands for “fitness, fellowship and faith,” to the county.
Gregory first experienced F3 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Then, when he moved to Arlington, he reached out to F3 about establishing a group in his new home.
“I had a great experience down there with these guys who were fun people to hang out with and it’s a free workout and I thought you know I want to start something here,” Gregory said.
F3, which was founded in 2011, has the stated goal of encouraging male community leadership. Gregory said part of the motivation for starting a male-only workout group is that it’s an opportunity for men to find friends.
He added that it can be difficult over time for men to create meaningful bonds after they leave college, get a job or get married.
“It also might help them become better husbands, better friends, better bosses, better crazy uncles,” Gregory said. “It helps them become better at it, because they develop confidence in a friendship group and a peer group that they can relate to that they may have lost.”
F3 has a female workout group affiliate called Females in Action (FiA), but Gregory said he doesn’t plan on being the one to organize an FiA in Arlington. Though he did say he hopes maybe the wives of F3 members will start one.
Though at least one resident contacted ARLnow.com to criticize F3’s exclusion of women, Gregory said he hasn’t personally received any criticism for bringing F3 to Arlington. He has about 25 men signed up for the first workout, which is set to take place at 7 a.m. on June 2 at Greenbrier Park, next to Yorktown High School.
Photo via Twitter/@F3_Arlington_VA