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Alexandria Police at Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard Campus. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria City Public Schools saw a 26% increase in student arrests last school year, and a disproportionate number of arrested students are Black males.

There were 58 ACPS students arrested last school year, according to a school safety report to be presented to the School Board on Thursday. There were also 32 weapons-related incidents, 100 students injured, 112 fights/assaults and five reports of sexual misconduct.

The news follows an ACPS report revealing that most of Alexandria’s middle and high school students feel unsafe.

There were 451 incidents requiring a police response within Alexandria City Public Schools in the 2022-2023 school year — 188 incidents in the first two quarters of the year and 263 incidents in the final two quarters. That’s a 17% increase over the 385 incidents in the 2021-2022 school year.

While 25% of ACPS students are Black, most of those arrested are Black males.

Middle School Arrests (27)

  • Black male — 14
  • Hispanic male — 4
  • Black female — 4
  • Hispanic female — 3
  • White male — 2

High School Arrests (31)

  • Black male — 18
  • Hispanic male — 6
  • Black female — 4
  • White male — 3
  • Hispanic female — 2

Weapons seized include a handgun, two BB guns, stun guns, tasers, knives, pepper spray and a box cutter.

ACPS made a number of safety improvements in the 2022-2023 school year, like new ID requirements for students, designating entrances and exits at schools, installing metal detectors, and renewing its partnership with the police department to provide school resource officers.

Incidents in the 2022-2023 school year include:

  • 112 fights
  • 116 incidents characterized as “other” (parking lot accidents, trespassing, mental health episodes, property lost/damaged)
  • 100 injuries requiring medical assistance
  • 32 confiscated weapons
  • 21 reports of controlled substances recovered
  • 19 threats (verbal/cyber/social media)
  • 16 missing student reports
  • Seven reports of suspicious activity
  • Five alarms pulled
  • Five reports of sexual misconduct
  • Three thefts
  • One report of possessing prohibited materials

There were 175 incidents reported at the Alexandria City High School campuses, 183 incidents at the city’s two middle schools, 43 incidents at K-8 schools and 50 incidents at elementary schools.


This weekend allows you to tour historic homes in Old Town (81st Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour), celebrate German style beers at Port City Brewing Company (Wunderfest), and much more. Here’s a look at what’s happening for events, live music, and entertainment, enjoy! 

Are you organizing an event? Submit events to ALXnow.




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Gadsby’s Tavern (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Alexandria is pretty indisputably the champion of Halloween in the region, and every year, the city’s museums get in on the action.

Two museums around Alexandria are offering special tours in October exploring poisons and death in the City of Alexandria.

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (134 N. Royal Street) has Death at the City Hotel, an event that uses the death of actress Anne Warren at the hotel in 1808 to explore how Alexandrians at the time would have viewed death and grieving.

The event is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14, from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person or $30 for volunteers/Office of historic Alexandria members.

According to the Office of Historic Alexandria’s This Week in Historic Alexandria newsletter:

As is per custom, portrayal of grief can include black clothing, armbands, and jewelry, which can include the hair of our deceased friend. Join us in 1808 and learn about the unwritten social guidelines of mourning periods and the “proper attire” wealthy, free Alexandrians would have adhered to and how others would have their expressions of grief suppressed by social and economic status and, even written law. As we explore these topics guests will sip delicious spirits (two drink tickets included) and create their own individualized, wearable mourning pendant (or magnet) using designs inspired by popular death iconography of the time period. 21 and older only.

Meanwhile, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax Street) is hosting its Poisons at the Apothecary Museum. The tour runs Saturdays, Oct. 14, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

According to the newsletter:

Come explore the sinister side of medicine on the Apothecary Museum’s Poisons Tour. This one-hour tour explores several different types of poisons, their historic uses at the Apothecary, and what we know today. Recommended for ages 18 and older.

Lastly, tickets are on sale for an acclaimed Edgar Allan Poe reading returning to the Lyceum on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31.

Area of Duke Street closures (image courtesy VDOT)

Anyone driving along Duke Street tonight should be warned that traffic might be heavier than usual.

Intermittent traffic stoppages are scheduled along westbound Duke Street between South Walker Street and the bridge over I-395, along with the westbound Duke Street off- and on-ramps.

“The traffic stoppages lasting up to 20 minutes each will occur between 10 p.m. Thursday and 4 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22 along westbound Duke Street,” the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said in an email, “as well as on the ramp from westbound Duke Street to northbound I-395 and on the ramp from northbound I-395 to westbound Duke Street.”

VDOT said drivers should expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

The repaving work is part of a project to fix up the bridge over I-395.

“The work is part of the project to rehabilitate the Duke Street bridge over I-395,” VDOT said. “The improvements will extend the overall life of the bridge and improve safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, and include replacing the concrete bridge deck and beams, upgrading the westbound sidewalk to a shared-use path, and widening the eastbound sidewalk.”

The project is scheduled for completion this winter.


Good Thursday morning, Alexandria!

🌤️ Today’s weather: The weather forecast for Thursday predicts a mostly sunny day with a high temperature near 80°F, accompanied by a gentle northeast wind around 6 mph. However, the night will become mostly cloudy, with lows around 60°F and a steady northeast breeze at 6 mph.

🚨 You need to know

Classic Double Smashburger with fries (image courtesy Smashburger)

Alexandrians looking for a new burger fix have a new option opening in Kingstowne this weekend.

Smashburger is opening a new location at 5920 Kingstowne Center with a full bar, featuring beer and cocktails.

“Patties and patrons alike can get smashed at the new Smashburger in Kingstowne,” FFXnow wrote.

The grand opening is on Saturday, Sept. 23. The restaurant will offer classic single burgers for $5 or chicken wings and beer for $10.

📈 Wednesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Sep 20, 2023.

  1. Alexandria likely to throw its weight behind Arlington transit project
  2. Notes: Alexandria Gazette headquarters could see conversion into condo development
  3. Here are the finalists for Alexandria’s ‘Best in Business Awards’

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

Ting Internet team on-site in Alexandria, Virginia (image courtesy Ting Internet)

Ting Internet started providing some long-awaited competition to Comcast in parts of Alexandria earlier this year, now the company says it’s expanding to central Alexandria soon.

Catharine Rice, community engagement and public affairs manager, told ALXnow in an email that the company has finished microtrenching in work zone 1, the first area Ting Internet was implemented in Alexandria. Rice said Ting Internet is starting work in neighborhoods west of Braddock Road soon, but without any exact dates announced.

“We have now completed all microtrenching in our work zone 1, which includes all of Del Ray, and will head into work zone 2 shortly (west of Braddock Road),” Rice said.

Rice said the existing infrastructure made Del Ray and surrounding communities the ideal starting place.

“We originally began construction in northern Alexandria as our first work zone because there was already critical backbone infrastructure in place in the area,” Rice said. “It also creates a seamless starting point for construction as we build to the west and south. Most households in Del Ray, Beverly Hills, North Ridge, and Lynhaven can now sign up for service and we anticipate being able to begin construction on our work zone two in the near future.”

Rice also said “hundreds of residents” have signed up for Ting, but would not give ALXnow any exact numbers or any timetable for future expansion plans.

Alexandria Police Captain Courtney Ballantine at the George Washington Birthday Parade in Old Town, Feb. 20, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria Police Department Captain Courtney Ballantine just spent 10 weeks at the FBI National Academy, and spoke with ALXnow about his experience.

Over the summer, Ballantine lived in a dorm with a roommate at Marine Corps Base Quantico, worked out four times a week and studied the psychology of leadership, managing change, leading at-risk employees and  strategies for community partnerships. There were about 200 other law enforcement officers who participated in the academy’s 287th session.

Ballantine, now the commander of APD’s Community Engagement Division and Special Operations Division,  joined the department in 2000, straight after earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Radford University. He was promoted to sergeant in 2007, lieutenant in 2014, was made acting-captain in 2021 and officially became a captain in 2022.

Ballantine’s responsibilities include managing the department’s parking enforcement, traffic safety, special events, K9 units, crossing guards, school resource officers, and APD’s crisis intervention team program. He’s also the commander of the department’s peer support and resiliency group, which is designed to help officers cope with the wear and tear of the job.

He also now joins a list of APD graduates from the FBI National Academy, which includes Chief Don Hayes, Captain Monica Lisle, Captain Jerry Newcomb, Lieutenant Steve Carr, Lieutenant Mike May and Lieutenant Tara May.

ALXnow: Welcome back. How’d you get involved in this?

Ballantine: Thanks. I put in for this program a couple of years ago, and I’ve been on a waiting list. Eventually my name got pulled. You know, it’s always easy to put your name on a piece of paper saying you’re interested, but when your name is called you actually have to go and do it. It’s a reality check.

ALXnow: What was your life like at the academy?

Ballantine: It was 10 weeks of living in a dorm. I had a roommate from Bristol, Connecticut, and we shared a bathroom with two other people, and we did graduate-level coursework through the University of Virginia. In one particular training session, for instance, there were 40 other law enforcement executives across the world who brought their perspectives and experience to the conversation. So, if I didn’t learn something new in that course, I confirmed that we were already doing something right.

ALXnow: When I think of the FBI Academy, that opening scene in The Silence Of The Lambs with Jodie Foster running through the obstacle course comes to mind.

Ballantine: We watched that movie one night at the academy, and I actually completed that obstacle course at the end of the 10 weeks. It’s called the Yellow Brick Road, and it’s a 6.3-mile course, and the nine weeks of workouts leading up to that is the only reason I was able to successfully finish it.

ALXnow: What did you learn and how are you going to apply it in Alexandria?

Ballantine: What you have to understand is that the National Academy is like a utopia. You’re in the woods, where deer are frolicking in the pasture with bunny rabbits. You’re in a secured area on a secured military base. You have three meals a day, you exercise, you’re with people that want to learn and do better, and you’re learning about the world and how other people do what we do. And when I walked out, you’re hit with reality, like leaving college and facing the real world…

One of the biggest things I want to try to really expound on is wellness for ourselves. I’m currently the commander of our peer support and resiliency group, which we started in 2017. At the academy, I took the class for leading at-risk employees, which is about dealing with the wear and tear of the job, seeing all that accumulative trauma. The work can overwhelm the best of us and manifest in heart disease, depression, alcoholism, or even suicide. There’s a lot more that we can do and we have to make sure we take care of ourselves.

ALXnow: What was an inspiring moment for you at the academy?

Ballantine: I had to do a presentation in my class for leading at-risk employees. I asked a friend of mine working in the department to come down to present with me, and we talked about our ability to work together, our relationship and how we’ve helped each other through tough times, dark days and bright days. We’ve always been part of each other’s world to support each other, and when we were finished presenting, everyone in the room was clapping because they recognized how awesome that is, that we’ve both kept each other alive.

ALXnow: During your law enforcement career you could have left Alexandria. Why have you stayed?

Ballantine: I love my job. I absolutely love coming to work, being in this community working with the officers. After being here for 23 years, which is longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived, this is home.

Current Shirlington Transit Center (image via Google Maps)

Arlington calls for aid, and Alexandria will answer.

Alexandria’s City Council is scheduled to vote at a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, to support neighboring Arlington’s funding application for an expanded Shirlington Transit Center.

Arlington County is applying for funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to expand the transit center in Shirlington, a major hub for bus traffic.

“Arlington County has requested $11.6 million to fund the Shirlington Bus Station Expansion,” Director of Transportation and Environmental Services Adriana Castaneda wrote in a memo. “This station is the principal transfer point for Arlington Transit (ART) bus service, Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrobus service, and bus service (Routes 36A and 36B) in South Arlington.”

While the project is outside of Alexandria, Castaneda said Alexandria would benefit from the project as some of those added bus bays would serve the West End Transitway, which will stop at the Shirlington Bus Station.

“This capital project focuses on adding bus bays at the Shirlington Bus Station to meet future demand, including the space needed for future West End Transitway buses and any service improvements from Alexandria’s Transit Vision Plan, as well as expansion plans of Arlington Transit and WMATA,” Castaneda wrote.

The West End Transitway is a project that will connect transit facilities along the West End, from the Van Dorn Metro station up to Shirlington, passing through the redeveloped Landmark Mall site. The project is in the design phase, with construction scheduled for 2025-2026, opening sometime in late 2026.

Image via Google Maps

Four Mile Run Park trail closure (image via City of Alexandria)

Ideally, the Four Mile Run Park Trail would connect the two sides of the Arlandria park. Since 2021 the bridge at the center of that trail has been shut down, but work is starting this month to change that.

An inspection in summer 2021 found a hole in the bridge and the city determined the bridge was not suitable for use. The bridge was closed in August 2021. A daytime detour runs just north of the bridge along the Four Mile Run Wetland Trail. The nighttime detour runs down to Reed Avenue

The City of Alexandria is starting work this month on a replacement bridge. Construction is scheduled to run until July 2024.

The city is also hosting an open house tonight (Wednesday) at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center (25 W. Reed Avenue) from 7-8 p.m. to share more information about the bridge replacement project.

Alexandria land use attorney Cathy Puskar claps at the Chamber ALX Best In Business awards, October 27, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Chamber ALX has released the finalists for the Best in Business Awards, and the top businesses will be announced at a gala in Old Town next month.

It’s no secret that Don Simpson, Jr. is the chamber’s 2023 business leader of the year, since that cat was let out of the bag last month. Just who will receive the other highly coveted awards, however, is still secret. This year’s nominees are listed below, and winners are determined by a panel of previous awardees.

The Best in Business Awards, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank, will be held at the Westin Old Town Alexandria (400 Courthouse Square) from 6 to 9 p.m. The event costs $125 for members and $150 for non-members.

Land use attorney Cathy Puskar was named business leader of the year last year. Read more about last year’s event here.

Alexandria’s 2023 Best In Business finalists

Small Business of the Year

Medium Business of the Year

Large Business of the Year

Rising Star Business of the Year

Nonprofit & Association of the Year


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