Alexandria, VA

Free food distributions will be disrupted by the July 4 weekend in Alexandria, but food is still available.

Most notably there will not be any Alexandria City Public Schools distributions from Friday, July 3, until operations resume on Monday, July 6.

“Meal distribution locations and pop up sites will not operate on Friday, July 3, ahead of the Independence Day holiday,” advised ACPS.

Here are the available free food distribution points in the city this weekend, according to Hunger Free Alexandria.

  • A bag lunch and food pantry distribution is available on Friday at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church (322 N. Alfred Street) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals and food will be served in the courtyard to go.
  • Washington Street United Methodist Church (109 S. Washington Street) has a free breakfast Friday from 6-8 a.m.
  • Christ House (131 S. West Street) has evening meals available every night of the week from 4:30 – 6 p.m.
  • The ALIVE! food delivery program for COVID-19 patients, seniors, the disabled and single parents with young children is available for eligible residents by calling 703-746-5999
  • Rising Hope United Methodist Church (8220 Russell Road) will provide grab-and-go meals from 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday while supplies last

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Alexandria African American activists and leaders virtually came out in force on Sunday to demand that T.C. Williams High School be renamed.

“When I first learned that the high school that I graduated from was named after a segregationist and a racist, I was appalled,” said Lindsey Woodson Vick, a T.C. grad, who organized and led Zoom chat with advocates for changing the school name. “We owe better to the people who came before us and the people who will come after us.”

Vick’s father, Howard Woodson, led an effort to change the school name in the early 2000s.

Woodson, the former president of the Alexandria NAACP, wanted to get the school renamed when the school board approved a massive renovation in 2004.

“When I came to Alexandria in ’75, I was appalled to find out that a couple years before that the teachers lounges have been segregated,” Woodson said. “Black teachers were not allowed to go into the same lounge with white teachers. The school board heard our statement and did nothing, decided to keep the name and here we are today.”

The city, over the last month, has seen Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death, prompting the Alexandria City Public School system to condemn systemic racism, in addition to increased focus that has been put on the police and quality of life issues throughout the city.

Thomas Chambliss Williams, who was the superintendent of the city school system from the 1930s to the 1960s, was a segregationist who advocated against integration. A petition to rename the school was submitted to the school earlier this month, and more than 170 people signed it, including Del. Charniele Herring, Del. Mark Levine, City Councilman Canek Aguirre, Councilman John Taylor Chapman and Councilman Mo Seifeldein.

“I do not want my daughter having to see that name every day when she goes to school,” said one parent. “That’s just shameful.”

Vick said that the school board has agreed to put the issue up for discussion in September, but that she wants the board to address it next month.

“We need to remain vigilant and make sure that the school board right this is something that needs to be done today,” Vick said. “Not tomorrow, not next week, not in September, but now.”

Board Chair Cindy Anderson said that wouldn’t be possible, except to open the topic for discussion. The upcoming July 10 meeting will cover the reopening plan for this fall, and she said that the school system has so far been focused on contending with the pandemic.

“We actually have to let people know before we vote,” Anderson said. “We have to have public engagement before we vote to even change the name.”

Anderson added, “I understand the urgency… I’m in communication with, with the superintendent and the policy person about this and the kinds of things that we need to do to follow the steps that have been in our policy.”

Glenn Hopkins led an effort to try to get the name changed in the 1990s, and hopes for different results this time around.

“We absolutely must change the name of T.C. Williams High School,” he said. “We don’t have a choice because the time is now, and I expect my friends on the school board to get behind this and make up what for they should have done years and years and years ago.”

Christopher Harris, the current Alexandria NAACP president, is a T.C. graduate, and said he was always proud to be a Titan, until he began to understand who T.C. Williams was.

“Every time someone goes in that school, they have to walk underneath the name and a banner of an individual that does not want us there,” Harris said. “Not only will it be a political issue, it’s gonna be an ethical issue, an issue that a lot of people are gonna have to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘Okay, it is time to make this change.'”

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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It was a busy week in Alexandria, and there is plenty to talk about.

The city is moving forward with phase three of reopening its economy on July 1, and the news comes as the death toll from the coronavirus moved up to 50 and the number of cases steadily rise.

It also looks like the upcoming Alexandria City Public School school year and city services will continue to be impacted until the virus is held at bay, and school and city staff are developing plans to stagger teleworking and in-person schedules for students and staff alike.

Restaurants are reopening like never before, which is to say that customers are cautiously welcomed as Health Department restrictions are slowly lifted and many establishments have expanded their outdoor seating.

Here are the top 11 most-read articles this week in Alexandria.

  1. Del Ray Pizza Restaurant Converts Parking Deck Into Tropical Oasis Themed Bar
  2. COVID-19 Cases Steadily Increase as Alexandria Releases Phase Three Reopening Guidelines
  3. Large Residential Development in Braddock Goes to Planning Commission Tomorrow
  4. Alexandria Now Has 50 COVID-19 Deaths, Cases Climbing by Double Digits Daily
  5. East Eisenhower Avenue Project Returns With A New Senior Living Component
  6. Students Likely to Rotate School Attendance When ACPS Reopens
  7. Alexandria Preps for Phase 3 Reopening on July 1
  8. Lights On: Two Nineteen Restaurant Reopening Today in Old Town
  9. Developers Take Another Crack at Converting North Old Town Office to Housing
  10. Housing Affordability and Cost of Living Get Low Rating in Community Livability Report
  11. Inova Alexandria Hospital Now Treating 20+ Coronavirus Patients

Feel free to discuss these or other topics in the comments. Have a safe weekend!

Staff photo by James Cullum

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The Alexandria School Board has received a petition from the community, and the topic of renaming T.C. Williams High School will be addressed this fall, according to Board Chair Cindy Anderson.

The school system will also be looking at the names of all of its facilities, however no future date has been set in stone as ACPS is focusing on its reopening plan, Anderson said.

“We will look at this in the fall, but we’ll also be looking more holistically at names of all of our facilities,” Anderson told ALXnow. “It doesn’t make sense to address one when there’s discussion in the community about other schools.”

Anderson would not discuss her opinion on the subject, but added, “I think we need to have a discussion about names just generally before we decide what kind of process we might want to consider.”

As previously reported, another effort is underway to send the Board a petition on renaming Matthew Maury Elementary School. Maury, the father of oceanography, was a special agent for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and tried to found a new colony in Mexico after the Union defeated the southern rebellion.

“First of all, we have to decide as a board whether we wanted to pursue it at this time,” Anderson said. “If the answer is yes, then we’d have to devise a process that includes robust public engagement.”

T.C. Williams, who was the superintendent of the city school system from the 1930s to the 1960s, was a segregationist who advocated against integration. More than 170 people signed the petition to rename the high school, which is the largest in Virginia, including Del. Charniele Herring, Del. Mark Levine, City Councilman Canek Aguirre, Councilman John Taylor Chapman and Councilman Mo Seifeldein.

T.C. graduate Lindsey Woodson Vick is one of the leaders of the effort.

“We have unprecedented support from a variety of stakeholders and feel confident that with continued momentum through the summer the name will be changed this fall,” Vick said.

Marc Solomon organized the petition and was critical that ACPS did not address the issue sooner.

“While understandable given the reopening crisis, it’s just unfortunate that our school board wasn’t able to make this happen sooner like other districts have done,” he said.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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One thing is clear: Alexandria City Public Schools won’t be the same if they reopen this fall, according to School Board Chair Cindy Anderson.

On Friday, the board will receive information on the school system’s reopening planning after shutting down in-person learning completely in March. Since that time, everything has been online, including classes, parent/teacher conferences and school board meetings. The plan itself is still in development.

But social distancing requirements will likely mean that there will be a rotation of students who will go to school every week, while other students remain home, Anderson said.

“You’re only supposed to have one student per seat on every other seat on a bus,” Anderson told ALXnow. “You can see that that’s not going to mean business as usual.”

There are 15,000 students in ACPS and the plan is due to be turned into the Virginia Department of Education next month. The hope, Anderson said, is to reopen a modified school schedule in September.

“Most likely there will be a certain percentage attending on a given day or at a given time,” Anderson said. “There are lots of ways that maybe the students will be doing less moving and the teachers more. We’ve got to think of it in a whole different way.”

Still, Anderson also said there is still the possibility that the school system will be completely virtual in the fall depending on the direction that the coronavirus takes in the city and throughout the state.

There will be virtual public hearings on the matter on July 10, August 6 and 7. The plan will also be discussed at the June 26, July 10, July 17, and August 7 meetings. The deadline to get the finalized reopening plan to the state is August 14.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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With summer officially in full swing, Alexandria City Public Schools is working to reopen its playgrounds to the public.

On Monday, the playgrounds at Patrick Henry Elementary School, Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School and Jefferson Houston School reopened, according to an email that was sent to parents.

“All other playgrounds will remain closed for the time being to complete necessary repairs to ensure the safety of playground visitors,” Helen Lloyd, ACPS director of communications, wrote to parents. “Repairs are anticipated to begin early next week and affected playgrounds will reopen once deemed safe to do so.”

One parent who spoke anonymously was miffed that the playground at Mount Vernon Community School was closed.

“Closed for maintenance?” the parent said. “Seriously? Couldn’t that have been done while everything was closed?”

Playgrounds will be considered open only if and when their gates are unlocked and signs are erected telling folks that restrictions have been lifted.

Lloyd told ALXnow that the coronavirus has slowed down operations, and that as playgrounds are being cleaned and renovated, there is no timeline which playgrounds will open and when.

“We understand families really want to be on the playgrounds,” Lloyd said. “We’re working as quickly as possible to make that happen.”

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Beyer Criticizes Pence Over Second Wave Comments — “Over 116,000 Americans have died. Over 2,000,000 have gotten sick. The person appointed by the President to lead the response (you) flout basic safety precautions recommended by the CDC to prevent spread of the virus as more people get sick.” [Twitter]

Alexandria DMV Opening June 22 by Appointment Only — “The validity of driver’s licenses and identification cards expiring on or before July 31, 2020, is extended for 90 days, not to exceed August 31, 2020. This means that a customer whose credential expired between March 15 and May 31 will have 90 days beyond the expiration date to renew, and credentials with an expiration date from June 1 to July 31 must be renewed no later than August 31, 2020. Vehicle registrations that expire in March, April, and May are extended for 90 days; those expiring in June are extended for 60 days; and those expiring in July are extended for 30 days. In addition, the federal enforcement date for REAL IDs was moved to October 1, 2021.” [DMV]

Mind The Mat Offering Outdoor Fitness Classes — “We’re outdoors! Of course our virtual classes are here to stay but check out our schedule each week to see our outdoor schedule!” [Facebook]

City Pools Opening Next Month With Restrictions — “Outdoor pools will open on July 1 under Virginia’s phase two reopening guidance.” [Patch]

Who Alexandria Schools Are Named After — “Here’s who (or what) Alexandria’s school buildings are named after, with links to learn more information about each person.” [Alexandria Living]

Patagonia Opening in September in Old Town — “Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company, is moving into the Old Town Theater space on King Street. Construction stopped in March due to concerns about coroanvirus, but the company is planning to resume construction in early September and open just a few weeks later.” [Alexandria Living]

New Job: DASH Bus is Hiring — “Join the DASH team! We’re looking for operators.” [Facebook]

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m. on June 24. A previous version of the story said that Maury was a slave owner.)

A new effort is underway to rename Matthew Maury Elementary School in Alexandria.

Matthew Fontaine Maury is considered a father of oceanography, but the Virginian was also a special agent for the Confederacy during the Civil War and tried to found a new colony in Mexico after the Union defeated the southern rebellion.

“The name seems so arbitrary,”said Glenn Klaus, who is leading the effort and has two children who attended the school. “He had nothing to do with Alexandria. Yes, he was a Virginian, but it just seems inappropriate in this day and age.”

Maury was also the first Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the first Hydrographer of the U.S. Navy. He also has a statue in Richmond.

“I find it insulting for the school to be named after him, especially since the majority of students there are black” Klauss said.

Klaus was inspired to rename the school after residents sent a petition to the School Board to begin a renaming process for T.C. Williams High School.

More than 170 people signed that petition, including Del. Charniele Herring, Del. Mark Levine, City Councilman Canek Aguirre, Councilman John Taylor Chapman and Councilman Mo Seifeldein.

“T.C. Williams was an arch-segregationist who did everything in his power to segregate Alexandria’s black students from its white students,” says the petition to the board. “He was against everything for which our high school, our school system, and our community stand. It is not only unacceptable that Alexandria ever honored Williams by naming our only high school for him, but it is reprehensible that nothing has been done to change it. It is long past time to remove the name of a known racist, arch-segregationist from our city’s high school.”

Photo via ACPS

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T.C. Williams High School held a graduation ceremony like no other on Saturday, with world champion sprinter Noah Lyles, members of the student body, the superintendent and principal — while most of the school’s 865 graduates never left the comfort of their homes.

The virtual ceremony was the first of its kind in the history of the Alexandria City Public School system, as all schools throughout Virginia were shut down in March for the remainder of a school year that would also be defined by the state of race relations in the country. The graduating class of 2020 was also the largest in T.C. history, according to ACPS.

Lyles, a 2016 graduate of T.C., said that his life was also filled with adversity and that he is a lifelong asthmatic who was bullied in high school and is dyslexic.

“Facing those adversities are what got me here today,” Lyles said. “You need to know that you can make it through, because just this time period of 2020 will not be your last, and you can make it to the next one, and the next one and the one after that, and you will look back on the times of 2020 and say, ‘I got through that, and I came out stronger than ever.'”

Class President Amiya Chisolm said that she and her classmates faced a school year full of uncertainty and that it will make them stronger in the future.

“Right about now we had envisioned going to our prom, senior cookout, walking around the hallways of our elementary and middle schools and even hearing our names celebrated as we walk across the stage at (George Mason University),” Chisolm said. “Instead, we were unexpectedly hit with a pandemic that not only took away our plans — and some of our loved ones — but also blurred our futures. In addition to this pandemic, we have also witnessed multiple murders in the black community at the hands of police brutality.”

Posted by Alexandria City Public Schools on Monday, June 15, 2020

Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., said that the class made history with its virtual graduation, and that it will be defined by righting societal wrongs.

“These are times when we can actually collectively feel the uncertainty, the stress, the anxiety as individuals, as families as a school division and as a nation,” Hutchings said. “Class of 2020, we must advocate for social justice and anti-racism in America, regardless of your race, regardless of your background. This is a new time in all of our lives when all lives must matter and we must rethink our priorities, our values and reinvent a new normal.”

T.C. Principal Peter Balas said that the class of 2020 was one of the most special he has ever led, and challenged the graduates to lead the way in the future.

“I challenge you to lead the way and to be the change that you want to see in the world,” Balas said. “And to accept nothing less, because your futures matter. I can promise you that the class of 2020 will always be remembered.”

https://www.facebook.com/acpsk12/videos/304725407199397/?__xts__[0]=68.ARAsbRe8VyP2ncLA2_J1k6lH3AaPI6ygQCfN0wrkLl7ZwL3DlT8-3DTUQnTB8gnUOpP5tuINP6Guu0yxwGCQ2x3EsfZnxDkXVfNVkzNccLQIjg_fW-IiTlH_ONy5Gn7ciqdeulYRDObGN0L4SnHSbnI3OTEo214vlaI206vsslhIfV0KIUXjGAy79wUshyIw3Z0r4uRSQKk0JrL0ha8Urz6CAq5XvWUUTUZ69iMyA1gLr1J9lzpjR27-BdPnh2usBHstFH_mCH5cnLvMuKXgRBrC53iABl2V390tYGjwxmwqtwZRL2ySzEVWt6ifLp5AMLie-wszVaCleu2J_56BlbmuZ7Vmt5qxzR8&__tn__=-R

Images via ACPS/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Enters Phase 2 of Reopening Economy — “Under phase two, the maximum number of people allowed to gather increases from 10 to 50. Restaurants can open indoor dining at 50 percent capacity, and fitness centers can open at 30 percent capacity.” [Alex Times]

Del. Herring Supports Criminal Justice Reform — “As legislators there is a lot of work ahead of ahead of us. This piece was originally published in 2018 & updated. From policing to solitary confinement this is worth reading & then acting.” [Twitter]

Sheriff and Staff Congratulate T.C. Williams High School Graduates — “You’ve handled it with true Titan spirit — responsibly, creatively and boldly! We’re so proud of you and we will always remember the 2020 Titans!” [Facebook]

Locals Create Face Mask Company — “The masks sell for only $5.00 apiece in packs of 3/$15 for a very breathable fleece, and 3/$20 for the scuba knit. They also have adorable children’s masks, in colorful fabrics, sized appropriately.” [Zebra]

Old Town Books Closed Sunday in Recognition of Black Lives Matter Protestors — “Our storefront will be CLOSED this Sunday, June 14 to stand in solidarity with protestors in Old Town. We’ve also extended our donations from the antiracist reading list on our homepage, with 20% of sales from those books going toward the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot of the books on the list are in high demand right now and are taking a bit longer than usual to receive, so we appreciate your patience as we continue to fulfill all your orders!” [Facebook]

fibre space Staying Closed Until Next Week — “While northern VA will begin phase 2 tomorrow, we will remain closed to the public for in store shopping until some time next week. This will allow us to monitor Nova cases of covid as well as figure out a schedule for the team that balances processing web orders with hosting customers in the shop. More details to come. See you soon.” [Facebook]

Bishop Ireton High School Raises $70K for Annual Fund — “We did it! Thanks to YOU and your generosity, we met our goal of getting a donation from every state (and DC) during our 2020 Annual Fund Day of Giving. We raised more than $70,000 with a number of first time donors. Thank you for supporting Bishop Ireton, our current students and faculty and the future of our school.” [Facebook]

New Job: Event Manager — “The Individual will be responsible managing part and full time employees in operations, logistics, and events. The position requires a strong Project Management background to ensure the continued success of our various events offered throughout the country.” [Indeed]

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World champion sprinter Noah Lyles will give the keynote address at the T.C. Williams class of 2020 graduation on Saturday, June 13.

Lyles, a 2016 T.C. graduate and Olympic hopeful, will congratulate his fellow Titans in a virtual ceremony that will be featured on ACPS-TV Channel 71, Facebook Live and on its website.

The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m.

Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., on Thursday reminded the city to commemorate the occasion by lighting up their homes in red, white and blue. He also said that the George Washington Masonic Memorial will be also lit up that night.

“Please show your support by sharing photos and comments on our social media pages with the hashtags #TCW2020 and #TitansRising,” Hutchings wrote. “On Saturday evening we want to see the entire city lit up in our Titan colors of red, white and blue. The George Washington Masonic Temple will lead the way.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner will provide a congratulatory statement, and class president Amaya Chisolm will speak, in addition to Principal Peter Balas and Hutchings.

https://www.facebook.com/acpsk12/photos/a.281772705295865/1748037968669324/?type=3&theater

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has set its deadline for renewal scholarships for July 15, and the nonprofit currently needs donations after its annual gala was canceled due to COVID-19.

“The economic impacts our families are going to continue to be felt in the coming days, weeks and months, but we feel like it’s really important to still be there for the kids,” Beth Lovain, executive director of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, told ALXnow. “They have hopes and dreams, and the proper education will make a difference in not only their futures, but for the futures of their families.”

Lovain anticipates awarding more than $500,000 in renewal scholarships, which are for students who previously received awards through the fund, and are now in college and need additional assistance.

“We need to make sure that we’re there for them so they can count on the money so that they can graduate in four years,” she said.

The fund awarded 181 scholarships for the class of 2020 totaling $507,000. In all, the fund has awarded $16 million in college scholarships to more than 4,750 students since 1986, and the annual gala raises upward of $400,000 every year. As the numbers of students at T.C. increase every year, the number of scholarships has also increased — especially since two-thirds of the students in Alexandria’s public high school are living at or below the poverty level.

Recipients made the following video talking about what it meant for them to get a scholarship.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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