Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria


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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“How Do You Store Your Firearms?” and Other Awkward Questions

Each year unintentional shootings claim the lives of at least 100 children age 17 and under, and more than 400 other children commit suicide using a gun, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. As a response to these tragedies, Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization that formed after the Sandy Hook school shooting, has developed Be SMART, an educational outreach program. Be SMART promotes responsible gun storage and encourages adults […]

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Broken Promises

Less than six months ago, I stood in front of the T.C. Williams Swim & Dive Boosters meeting and excitedly reported on the progress for the new 50-meter pool at Chinquapin. It’s a done deal, I announced proudly. It’s REALLY going to happen! After four years of advocating for a long-overdue new pool, the hard work to convince our elected officials to fund it is done! Indeed, the City Council […]

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Who are our ACPS Students? An Update

A recent Facebook chat comparing Alexandria’s average cost of educating a student to that of neighboring school divisions was a helpful reminder to update a blog post from the fall of 2013. Especially during budget season, it’s important for city residents to understand the composition of our student population, and how it is similar to and different from our surrounding jurisdictions. About 15,000 students are currently enrolled in ACPS, up […]

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Seven Favorite Books of 2016

Nonfiction dominates my list of favorite books for 2016. Part of that was driven by my desire to better understand why the economy and society more broadly are failing certain segments of the U.S. population, and how those failures could help explain the outcome of the 2016 election as well as the racism and xenophobia that were unmasked by the campaign. If you’re not already a lawyer, Just Mercy by […]

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