Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

An Interview with Outgoing School Board Member Marc Williams

By John Ladd, guest blogger At the end of this year, Marc Williams will be stepping down after 7-1/2 years on the Alexandria School Board. As a fellow parent and a good friend who appreciates Marc’s desire to make Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) the best school division it can be, I asked him to share with me his thoughts on lessons learned, on how the board functions, and what […]

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What is ASO Sympatico?

Think about what you’re doing at 6:50 a.m. on a typical weekday. At that hour about 50 John Adams Elementary School students are tuning their violins or sitting around a circle of Orff instruments. Every day. Another 50 or so stay after school until 4:00 p.m. for choir or bucket band. Every day. These students participate in the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) Sympatico program, which was born out of the […]

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Fact-Checking the City Council Candidates

There is something about local elections in Alexandria that causes candidates, particularly challengers, to make outrageous claims about Alexandria public schools. One of the latest examples is a letter to the editors of local news organizations by city council candidate Phil Cefaratti, an independent who ran unsuccessfully in a previous election. Cefaratti is a realtor by trade, and he states in the letter that many of his clients with young […]

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What Obama CAN Do About Gun Violence

Last weekend a large group of parents were protesting the opening of a gun store just steps away from an elementary school in McLean, Va. This weekend, after nine college students were gunned down in Roseburg, Ore., the 45th school shooting this year, parents once again hugged their children a little tighter and a grim-faced President once again called on Americans to “find the courage to change.” While Obama alone […]

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What is the Status of Redistricting?

School board candidates report that they are fielding many questions from anxious voters about redistricting. Parents are concerned that school buildings this year are more crowded than ever and are wondering about the redistricting process and timetable. Some of them believe that the process is much further along than it really is. The major action that the school board has taken to date is retaining J.R. Reingold & Associates Inc., […]

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Save These Dates!

On Sunday, October 4, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Westminster Presbyterian Church will be hosting a Dessert & Dialogue program on mental health. The guest speaker will be Dr. Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health. All Alexandria community members are welcome, and parents of school-age children are especially invited to attend. Dr. Insel’s presentation in the church’s Fellowship Hall will focus on “The State of […]

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What Can We Glean from the SOL Scores?

There’s good news to report about the 2014-2015 Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores. Pass rates were up significantly and fairly consistently across core subjects, both in Alexandria and statewide. Changes to the SOLs over the preceding several years to make them more difficult had resulted in lower scores across the state, including Alexandria. But scores are improving now that the tests are no longer being revised, and teachers have […]

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