Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

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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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When the Exception Becomes the Rule

As Alexandria schoolchildren sharpen their pencils for the first day of school, the majority of students across the state are entering their second, third or even fifth week of instruction. Remember that so-called “Kings Dominion Law” that prevents school divisions from opening before Labor Day in order to help the commonwealth’s tourism industry? Out of 133 school divisions, 83 of them (62%) have waivers from the state Department of Education […]

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Three Easy-to-Remember Steps for Parents of New Undergrads

When my daughters were in preschool, the gifted and unfailingly patient teachers there taught their young charges the “STAR” method for dealing with challenges and frustrations: Stop, Take a Deep Breath, And Relax. There was even a little song that went with it. The somewhat-annoying little ditty had the (probably intended) effect of rubbing off on the parents. I confess that I still fall back on those simple instructions 15 […]

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