Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

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An Open Letter to the School Board

Dear Chair Anderson, Vice-Chair Nolan and Members of the School Board: Your decision this Thursday about whether to maintain one connected T.C. Williams High School or to build a second comprehensive high school is about as clear-cut as it gets: Choose the option for adding capacity that is quickest, least expensive and most equitable. Most equitable: To avoid repeating the sins of the past is the most important reason why […]

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Let’s All Do Better

Over the past few months, I’ve watched with sadness as our community has descended into the tribalism that’s now commonplace in our national politics. Both sides have vilified and demonized their opponents, vowing to fight to the end and promising retribution at the ballot box for city council members who vote against them. And all because of a half-mile stretch of pavement. In case you’ve been spared the sparring, the […]

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School-Based Meals: Safe From New Trump Rule

The most recent Trump administration policy change designed to sow fear and confusion among immigrants—the potential denial of a green card if an individual has taken advantage of need-based public benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Medicaid or housing vouchers—is doubly pernicious. First, it will have a chilling effect on families seeking the food and health care assistance to which they are entitled, and second, it […]

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Paralysis of Indecision

In Bird by Bird, one of my favorite books about the art of writing, the celebrated author Anne Lamott tells the relatable story of her 10-year-old brother sitting at the kitchen table, tearfully agonizing over how to begin a major report on birds that had been assigned three months earlier and was due the next day. Lamott’s father puts his arm around her brother and says, “Bird by bird, buddy. […]

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Vote for Women!

One of my favorite historical photographs is a picture of my husband David’s grandmother (who was named Laura but called Mimi by her family) holding his mother–then an infant–also named Laura. It was taken in the fall of 1922 at an outdoor event, likely in the suburbs of Chicago, and if you look closely in the background, you can see a flag-draped booth with a banner that reads “Vote for […]

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Alexandria Symphony Orchestra: 75 Years and Counting

The following article appeared in the August 2, 2018 edition of The Alexandria Gazette: The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1943, in the depths of World War II. The occasion of its 75th anniversary gives the ASO and its new Music Director, Jim Ross, an opportunity to look back at what our city was like when the orchestra was formed. The Alexandria Gazette was a daily paper in those […]

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News You Can Use

The last month of school is always a busy time, but these events merit your attention: Wednesday, May 16: Alexandria PTA Council Education Forum at T.C. Williams High School from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. This forum will focus specifically on the mayoral and city council candidates’ views of education in the City and the role of these elected officials in addressing education in the City of Alexandria. You can submit […]

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A Parent’s Guide to the 2018-2019 Program of Studies

Welcome to Port City Notebook’s fifth annual Guide to the Program of Studies for parents of middle- and high-school parents. You might benefit from looking back at previous editions of this post (2014,  2015, 2016, and 2017) which contain general information that’s largely still current about course requirements and selections. At 115 pages, the Program of Studies resembles a college course catalog. Take a quick glance at it and you’ll […]

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Changing Young Lives in Alexandria

While watching the movie STEP earlier this fall, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that there are at least two programs for ACPS students that can have this sort of life-changing impact—AVID and ASO Sympatico. STEP is a documentary about the senior year of a high-school dance team at an all-girls school in Baltimore’s inner city. The team provides a space for girls to find their place away […]

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Help the Alexandria Symphony Choose its New Music Director

The following ran in the “My View” column in the August 31, 2017 edition of the Alexandria Times: Alexandrians are accustomed to the transient nature of our town. Neighbors come and go, restaurants open and close, and friends who work in politics, foreign service or the armed forces find a temporary home here for a few years before moving on to their next assignments. Perhaps that’s why those of us […]

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