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(Left to right) ACPS Interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Mayor Justin Wilson, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, ACHS senior Elizabeth Lane and School Board Chair Jacinta Greene at the high school, Nov. 7, 2022 (via Twitter)

After a back-and-forth with city leadership on school safety, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares got a quick tour of Alexandria City High School from the city’s leaders on Monday (Nov. 7).

Miyares toured the school, met with students and city leaders, ate lunch and discussed school safety.

In a joint statement released Monday night, Mayor Justin Wilson and School Board Vice Chair Jacinta Greene said that the health of the school system depends on its relationship with the police department.

“We agree on the importance of students being able to grow and thrive in a safe learning environment and assured him of the close partnership between our school division, Alexandria Police Department and other agencies that promote the well-being of children,” Wilson and Greene wrote.

The meeting was also attended by City Manager Jim Parajon, Police Chief Don Hayes, ACPS Interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt and ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas.

Wilson added, “We thank Attorney General Miyares and his team for their visit and for his offer of any help or support from his office for the City of Alexandria and Alexandria City Public Schools.”

Miyares, in August, wrote a letter to Mayor Justin Wilson and School Board Chair Meagan Aldterton saying that he was alarmed by reports of violence within the school system last year. In his letter, he urged Alexandria to work closely with law enforcement to strengthen the city’s School Resource Officer (SRO) program.

ACPS began the 2021-2022 school year without school resource officers, after they were defunded by the City Council. They were returned after an alarming number of incidents with weapons in schools.

There were 46 students arrested and 68 injured last school year, and 194 incidents that provoked a police response, according to a new safety report detailing arrest and security incidents.

After the meeting, Miyares released the following statement:

As the proud product of public schools, I’m particularly passionate about making sure that every public school student not only has access to a quality education, but a safe environment to learn. I’d like to thank Alexandria Mayor Wilson, School Board Chair Alderton and the ACPS officials who invited and welcomed me today.

Today’s meeting was productive and I was able to share some concerns, as well as offer the resources of the Office of Attorney General to support them. Alexandria City High School has amazing students, and I was honored to meet some of them today. I look forward to working together with the Alexandria City officials to make sure parents feel confident that their children will be safe at school. As Attorney General, every Virginia family’s safety is my number one priority.

This Thursday, the School Board will vote on a recommendation extending the ACPS agreement with the Alexandria Police Department to provide SROs until the end of this school year. In December, the School Board will also receive the interim Superintendent’s recommendation on the partnership between ACPS and the police department.

Via Twitter

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School buses on W. Braddock Road on Dec. 10, 2021 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria has started identifying pedestrian safety improvements around Alexandria City High School and a number of other school campuses.

Staff with the city’s Department of Transportation & Environmental Services are creating “walk audits” with available for public review in a final report by next June.

The walk audits will be conducted at both campuses of Alexandria City High School, George Washington and Francis C. Hammond Middle Schools, and at the city’s newest school — Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School.

“We will be coordinating with the school communities for each of those schools,” said Bryan Hayes, the City’s Complete Streets coordinator. “That’s the principals, teachers, parents, the students… to help identify things that make it challenging or unsafe for students to walk or bike to school.”

It’s all part of Alexandria’s Complete Streets and Safe Routes To School programs, which are devoted to making infrastructure improvements like adding new sidewalks, enhancing crossings and traffic calming.

Five years ago, the City identified 250 transportation improvement recommendations at 13 elementary schools. The city has completed about half of those recommended projects, according to the Department.

Staff will gather data through this winter and spring. To develop recommendations, the Department will have a small team of city staff, consultants, school representatives, and others to observe students walking to schools.

Making the improvements will be a multi-year process, said Alex Carrol, program manager of the City’s Complete Streets project.

“We’ve we’ve tackled a lot of the low hanging fruit in the recommendations,” said Carrol. “These were always intended to be multi-year efforts. I don’t have a specific timeline for when we expect all of the recommendations to be completed, but it is going to be a multi year process.”

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Minnie Howard design renderings, photo via Perkins-Eastman/Alexandria City Public Schools

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has filed a special use permit to allow it to extend the use of trailers at Alexandria City High School to 2024.

The specific temporary trailers being discussed in the special use permit are those built specifically to accommodate students displaced by the Minnie Howard campus renovation.

The special use permit also notes that, technically, ACPS’s permit to use those trailers has already expired.

“The proposed change is an extension of the August 31, 2022 expiration of the temporary trailers at [Alexandria] City High School until the Minnie Howard campus renovation is complete for adequate space between the Minnie Howard and King Street campuses,” the special use permit said. “The requested extension is for August 31, 2024.”

The Minnie Howard campus expansion — part of a plan to expand capacity at Alexandria City High School — broke ground this March.

The project is scheduled to be completed for the 2024-2025 school year, so there’s a fair chance ACPS will be back for another extension before the expansion is finished.

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It was crisp, clear on Sunday in Del Ray — perfect for the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade.

Thousands of kids and adults marched in costumes for the event, including members of the Alexandria City Council and the Alexandria City High School ‘Zombie Band’.

It’s Visit Del Ray’s 26th year hosting the fun event, which it started at Mount Vernon Avenue and E. Bellefonte Avenue and ended with live music and prizes at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center athletic fields.

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Updated at 5:55 p.m. The Alexandria School Board on Friday (October 20) received a recommendation to extend its agreement with the Alexandria Police Department to provide school resource officers at the city’s high school and middle schools until  the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

The School Board will vote on the matter at its upcoming meeting on Thursday, November 10.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the school system and police department was set to expire at the end of this month. By mid-December, the School Board will also receive interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt recommendations on the reimagined partnership. Those recommendations will have been guided by the School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group.

“The SLEP advisory group may recommend changes to the MOU as part of their overall recommendations to the School Board in December 2022/January 2023,” Alicia Hart, the ACPS chief of facilities and operations, wrote in a memo to the School Board. “To this end, we are recommending extending the current MOU with APD through the end of June 2023. This extension will allow time to account for any potential recommendations that may come from the SLEP advisory group process as well as completion of the public comment process related to the review of the MOU.”

School safety has been a major focus within ACPS since full in-person schooling resumed at the beginning of the last school year.

ACPS began the 2021-2022 school year without school resource officers, after they were defunded by the City Council in last year’s budget. The first few months of the school year were punctuated by incidents with weapons in schools, prompting School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and then-Superintendent Gregory Hutchings to successfully plead to Council for SROs to return in October 2021.

Two months later, two SROs at Alexandria City High School’s King Street campus were put on administrative leave after being accused of having inappropriate sexual conversations with a former student. The school ended up not having SROs stationed at the King Street campus for the remainder of the school year.

There were 46 students arrested and 68 injured last school year, and 194 incidents that provoked a police response, according to an ACPS safety report.

Police Chief Don Hayes says that police are needed to contend with crews of violent kids within the school system, and Kay-Wyatt said that she will work collaboratively with the police to keep schools safe.

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A 15-year-old Alexandria City High School student was arrested after being found with an “edged weapon,” according to police.

The incident occurred at around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 13. The male student was searched, a weapon was allegedly confiscated and he was arrested.

Police provided no other details on the weapon.

There were no other arrests in connection to this incident, and there were no injuries.

ACHS has more than 4,100 students and is the largest high school in Virginia. Last school year, 46 students were arrested, 68 students were injured and 13 weapons were seized. The weapons included a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons and pepper spray.

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City leaders are arranging to meet Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares next month in response to an effort to curb violence within Alexandria City Public Schools.

The discussion with Mayor Justin Wilson, School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt was initiated in August, when Miyares sent a letter offering the support of his office.

The meeting is tentatively planned for early November, according to sources.

Miyares wrote that he was prompted by numerous violent incidents, especially the murder of Alexandria City High School Student Luis Hernandez Mejia in the Bradlee Shopping Center parking lot in May.

“Given the high level of violence and disruption that has taken place, I urge you to work more closely with local law enforcement, the Virginia State Police, and the local Commonwealth Attorney as partners in preventing and reporting violent criminal behavior in, and around, our schools,” Miyares wrote in the letter. “I realize the City of Alexandria’s elected officials have not always supported the concept of SROs (school resource officers). However, I’m glad that SROs have been reinstated at some of your schools, and I encourage you to strengthen your commitment to these dedicated men and women, and to proactively reject arguments against their presence in the City’s schools.”

There were 46 students arrested and 68 injured last school year, and 194 incidents that provoked a police response, according to a new safety report detailing arrest and security incidents.

Wilson and Alderton responded by inviting Miyares to Alexandria, and in his own letter outlined a number of ways Richmond can help.

In December, the School Board will also receive the interim Superintendent’s recommendation on the partnership between ACPS and the police department.

In the meantime, the city and governor’s office remain at odds over Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed new policies restricting transgender bathroom and pronoun use. Wilson has said that the city will likely enter into litigation against the restrictions.

Wilson said that the transgender policy issues will likely not be discussed with Miyares.

“I cannot imagine the transgender inclusion policies will be part of the discussion,” Wilson told ALXnow. “But you never know.”

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World champion sprinters Noah and Josephus Lyles were born and raised in Alexandria, and now they’ve got the key to the city.

Last weekend, the brothers were inducted into the Alexandria City Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame, and on Monday night (October 10) they got a little extra. At a ceremony at Market Square, the pair were presented with the key and a commendation by Mayor Justin Wilson.

Noah, who won the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, has been hailed for frankly discussing battles with mental health.

“The reason we’re here is not just your athletic pursuits, but what you have done using your platform that you have as an athlete to speak out on mental illness and make sure you raise awareness of that,” Wilson said. “We know that that advocacy that advocacy is not not just important, that advocacy saves lives.”

The 25-year-old is a 2016 graduate of T.C. Williams High School (now Alexandria City High School), and 24-year-old Josephus graduated in 2017. Following the Olympics, Noah ran the third-fastest 200m in history at the World Championships in July, clocking in at 19.31 seconds. Josephus also broke a personal record by running the 200m in less than 20 seconds on the U.S. National team. The brothers now live and train in Clermont, Florida.

After receiving the awards, Noah said he was surprised that talking about mental health would have an impact. Since he was a child, he and his brother have gone to family therapy, and have been open about their mental health challenges.

Noah said that he sees two therapists “quite often.”

“I truthfully did not realize how much of the impact I had on everybody when it came to mental health,” Noah said. “Until I came back from the Olympics, and everybody was talking about it. Even at the world championships this year, I had the honor to talking to the Second Gentleman of the United States, and we talked about mental health, and I was shocked, because my first thought is like, ‘Me? Why do you want to talk to me?’ I mean, I know I’m fast, but fast only gets you so far.”

Lyles continued, “And he’s said, ‘Well, you’re the only male that talks about mental health openly in a international level.’ And I thought to myself, ‘What? No, there’s, um, well, there’s… I never thought of that before. I never thought of my moment of, you know, being vulnerable as being so heroic.”

The brothers, who have a sports foundation, were also praised for giving ACPS more than $100,000 in Adidas sports attire to local high school athletic teams, including Alexandria City High School.

“It’s always a wonderful feeling when Alexandria City public school students work hard and realize success in their endeavors,” said School Board Chair Meagan Alderton. “One of their biggest achievements has been how they’ve developed as young men outside of sports. They have the character that will stand the test of time. We need more of that in this world.”

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The scene of a crash outside Jefferson Houston Elementary School, March 29, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Things are about to slow down in school zones.

The Alexandria School Board on Thursday (October 6) unanimously approved a resolution requesting a reduction from 25 miles per hour to 15 mph in school zones.

“We are really making our students and our community safe,” said Board Member Abdel Elnoubi, who wrote the resolution. “We’re helping save lives here.”

The resolution now goes to City Council for approval.

The following school zones have 25 mph speed limits:

  • N. Beauregard Street — Outside the John Adams Elementary School, William Ramsay Elementary School and Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School zones
  • Braddock Road from N. Beauregard Street to Quaker Lane — Outside Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard Campus school zone
  • Seminary Road (Kenmore Avenue to N. Pickett Street) — In the Francis C. Hammond Middle School zone
  • King Street — Alexandria City High School’s school zone

City Council will also review a plan to install Alexandria’s first speed cameras in school zones later this month.

The conversation over a speed limit reduction and cameras installation began after a nine-year-old girl was hit by a car and seriously injured just outside Jefferson-Houston Elementary School in March.

The scene of a crash outside Jefferson Houston Elementary School, March 29, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)
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Noah Lyles comes home to Alexandria City High School, Tuesday, September 7, 2021. (Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.)

Alexandrian Olympic medalist Noah Lyles and his brother Josephus are among the 24 athletes set to be inducted into Alexandria City Public Schools’ (ACPS) Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend.

The Alexandria City School Board is scheduled to host the 2022 Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. The ceremony will be held at Alexandria City High School (3330 King Street).

The full list of inductees — announced back in May — includes educator and basketball player Naomi L. Brooks (for whom the school is named) and Shirley Marshall-Lee, the world’s first African American female scuba diver.

The ceremony will also honor the 1945 and 1977 High School Boys Basketball Teams.

The full list of honorees from earlier this year:

The 2022 ACPS Athletic Hall of Fame

  • 1945 George Washington High School Boys Basketball Team — State champions
  • 1977 T.C. Williams High School Boys Basketballs Team — State champions
  • DeArcey “Dee” Campbell, George Washington High School Class of 1944, Crew Coach 1975-2005
  • Robert Garda, George Washington High School Class of 1957 — Football, Basketball, Track
  • Joe Hensley, George Washington High School Class of 1944 — Basketball
  • Bobby Jones, George Washington High School Class of 1949 — Track
  • Naomi Lewis-Brooks, Parker-Gray High School Class of 1951 — Basketball
  • Shirley Marshall-Lee, Parker-Gray High School Class of 1956 — Scuba Diving
  • Doug Yates, George Washington High School Class of 1955 — Basketball, Track
  • Fred Borchelt, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1972 — Crew
  • Yolanda Brown, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1994 — Track/Field
  • Lesa Diggs-Moore, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1981 — Track
  • Sherri Funn, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1978 — Track
  • John Johnson, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1973 — Track/ Field
  • Rodney Johnson, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1997 — Football, Track/Field, Track Coach
  • Missy Anne Kilkpatrick, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1991 — Track
  • Kathy James Lorton, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2000 — Cheerleading
  • Josephus Lyles, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2016 — Track/ Field
  • Noah Lyles, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2016 — Track/ Field
  • Marie McKeon Zack, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1983 — Soccer/Field Hockey
  • Barry Mountain, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1979 — Track/Field
  • Stephanie O’Toole Whalen, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1990 — Field Hockey, Basketball, Softball
  • Lydell Scott, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1987 — Football
  • Carl Turner, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1974 — Football, Basketball
  • Ezra Whorley, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1992 — Track/Field, Football
  • Eryk Williamson, T.C. Williams High School Class of 2015 — Soccer
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