Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

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Some Random Things to Know about the Program of Studies

The 2014-2015 Program of Studies is an important document for middle-school and high-school students and parents.  It outlines all of the graduation requirements for both the advanced studies and standard diplomas, and provides descriptions of required and elective courses. A quick scroll through the Program of Studies illustrates the advantages that a high school as large as T.C. can offer students who wish to explore subjects as diverse as photography, […]

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What Role Should Marching Band Play in a High School Band Program?

Last November, a group of parents* representing 15 former and current band students at T.C. Williams High School met with Principal Suzanne Maxey, Band Director Carlos Gonzalez and Athletic Director Steve Colantuoni to discuss the ongoing conundrum of students exiting the band program at 9th or 10th grade—before reaching the pinnacle of their high school band experience—because of the marching band requirement. Under the current program of studies, band students […]

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How are Decisions Made about Weather-Related School Closings and Delays?

On mornings when your student can turn off the alarm because of wintry weather—or when you are suddenly scrambling to find childcare—a school administrator has been up since 3 a.m. driving around the main streets and back roads of Alexandria. At regular intervals in the wee hours, Director of Pupil Transportation David Rose sends updates to Interim Superintendent Dr. Alvin Crawley and Chief Administrative Officer Tammy Ignacio* on road conditions. […]

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A 2014 Wish List

If I could wave a magic wand, these would be nine of my wishes for our schools and students for 2014: 1. Six tennis courts would be completed at T.C. before the end of the spring season. Last month the City Council unanimously overruled a Planning Commission recommendation against including conduits for future lighting on the courts; with that uncertainty resolved, construction should begin as soon as weather permits. Funds […]

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What I’m Reading: Whistling Vivaldi

Achievement gaps have been highlighted recently in news reports about how the U.S. educational system falls short when compared with the rest of the world. And closer to home, they remain one of our school division’s biggest challenges. So when a friend (and long-time educator) mentioned the 2010 book by social psychologist Claude M. Steele, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (W.W. Norton & Co.), […]

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How Can We Connect Uninsured Children to Health Coverage?

More than 1,600 children in the city of Alexandria lack health insurance coverage. Children without health insurance are less likely to receive the medical, dental and vision care that they need and are more likely to miss school. Children with unmet medical needs are also likely to suffer from lower academic performance. A new report, prepared by the ACPS School Health Advisory Board (SHAB) and by Jennifer Tolbert, an ACPS […]

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What’s New and Different at Chinquapin?

The Chinquapin Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility re-opened earlier this month with a community celebration hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Chinquapin Advisory Council. The building was closed in mid-June for major renovations and upgrades: replacing some of the key components of the HVAC system; new entrance doors and doors from the pool deck to locker rooms and office; new lockers; new paint and ceilings throughout; solar […]

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What Should Alexandrians Know about Jefferson-Houston?

A week ago I attended a program presented by Agenda:Alexandria regarding Virginia’s new OEI law (OEI stands for “Opportunity Educational Institution”), and what a state takeover of one of our schools would look like. David Foster, president of the Virginia Board of Education, gave a very helpful overview of the OEI law’s current status. (As background, “the law requires any school that has been denied accreditation and permits any school […]

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Bullying Prevention Begins at Lunch

by Sarah Markel, guest blogger When it comes to social interaction, the middle school years are tough. That’s why George Washington and Hammond Middle Schools are celebrating Mix It Up at Lunch Day on Tuesday, October 29. Each campus is taking a different approach. At Hammond, Mix It Up at Lunch is a school-wide initiative. GW students must sign up with their counselors to participate. Mix It Up at Lunch […]

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How Can My Voice Be Heard? How Can I Learn More About Our Schools?

Different questions, overlapping answers. If you want to weigh in on the ACPS budget, a process that is just getting under way for Fiscal Year 2015, you can do that at one of three upcoming school board meetings that have been designated for budget-related public testimony: November 14, December 19, and January 23. All of the meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. at the ACPS central office building (first floor, 2000 […]

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