Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

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Even More Random Things to Know about the Program of Studies

Starting this month, middle- and high-school students will be making their course selections for the coming school year. The 2015-2016 Program of Studies is a good place to begin. A year ago, Port City Notebook covered topics concerning course selection for rising ninth-grade students and outlined some differences between Dual Enrollment (DE) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Much of that advice is still relevant. What follows is some new and […]

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Turning the Page on School Calendars

A couple of items to note about the recently-approved 2015-2016 ACPS traditional academic calendar and the modified calendar for Samuel Tucker Elementary: All schools will be closed for students on Election Day, November 3, a change from past practice. Because city-wide elections will be held that day, voter turn-out is expected to be slightly higher than some years, even though not as high as for a Presidential election. And though […]

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Five Favorite Books of 2014

These five weren’t all published in 2014, but they are ones that I most enjoyed reading during the past year. Here they are, in alphabetical order: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (fiction) Named to the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014, this novel weaves together the stories of Werner, a young German orphan whose knack for putting radios together attracts Nazi recruiters, […]

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How are SOL tests changing?

By my rough calculation, my daughters, who are currently juniors at T.C., will have taken around 45 high-stakes exams—Standards of Learning (SOLs), Advanced Placement (AP) exams, SAT and ACT college entrance exams, and SAT II subject tests—by the time they leave Alexandria City Public Schools. Throw in a couple of PSATs and an SAT/ACT practice combo test and the total is nearly 50. (By contrast, when I was their age, […]

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Should T.C. Offer Honors History and English?

By Lisa Jacobs, guest blogger ACPS created an Honors Review Committee which met several times during the fall to discuss honors courses in the middle and high schools.  The committee recommended several changes to the middle school honors class expectations and descriptions in the 2014-2015 Program of Studies, which were incorporated into the proposed 2015-2016 Program of Studies. View the agenda (see #17). Several other proposals–including the creation of honors […]

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News You Can Use

Helpful Dates for Parents of T.C. Williams Juniors   Here are the 2015 SAT and ACT test dates and registration deadlines. All registrations are online, and all of these tests will be administered at T.C. Williams. Fee waivers are available for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; bring your eligibility letter to the college and career center to receive a waiver code. SAT (www.collegeboard.org; $52.50) Jan. 24             […]

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Aren’t Students More than Just a Number?

by Amanda Wilcox and Kelly Townsend, guest bloggers As high school students in 2014, we can’t escape the impact that numbers have on our own and others’ perceptions of our success.  We repeatedly refresh PowerSchool [the online gradebook] to check our grade averages, we strive for that perfect 2400 on the SAT, and we cross our fingers for a 5 on every AP exam and a Pass Advanced on every […]

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ACPS Enrollment: It Keeps Growing and Growing

To no one’s surprise, the ACPS enrollment data show that significantly more children are enrolled in our schools this year compared with last year. The 4.4% increase over 2013-2014 is slightly above the average increase over the past eight years. Total enrollment at the end of October was 14,157 students, an increase of 594. ACPS has 34% (3,600) more students now than when the Class of 2015 finished elementary school. […]

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Why is Safety First for Drivers but not Gun Owners?

In no other country is driving and owning a car as quintessential to the culture and lifestyle as it is in the U.S. “Two cars in every garage,” promised the Republican campaign slogan in 1928. Willie Nelson “just can’t wait to get on the road again.” For some of us, our love affair with the automobile began with our first wheels—a red Corvette Matchbox car, perhaps, or a pink Barbie […]

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What’s Up with the T.C. Tennis Courts?

More than a year ago, Port City Notebook reported that there was a good chance, weather-permitting, that the new T.C. Williams High School tennis courts would be finished in time for the end of the spring 2014 season. But now it’s looking very doubtful that they will be ready for spring 2015. Why the delay? No official explanations have been offered, and given that ground has still not been broken, […]

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