Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Details Emerge in New Landmark Mall Plan — “Construction will happen over several years, likely starting with the demolition of the Landmark Mall building as early as 2022.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Office of Historic Alexandria Debuts Parker-Gray Commemorative Website — “Today the Office of Historic Alexandria launched a website to honor the opening of Parker-Gray High School in 1920. The page provides a wealth of history, including information about alumni, staff, and faculty.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Health Department Vaccinates Healthcare Workers — “Between December 24 and January 4, AHD administered 1,032 doses of vaccine, over the course of three vaccination events.” [City of Alexandria]

Bishop Ireton Seeking New Principal — “Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia seeks candidates for the position of Principal, with an official start date of July 1, 2021” [National Board for Professional Teacher Standards]

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This was a big week for Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the Alexandria School Board’s decision to reopen schools for students with disabilities, while the future reopening of school for elementary, middle and high schoolers remains in doubt.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that the only feasible option for reopening schools — based on distancing and staffing constraints — would be for students to rotate to in-person schooling only one day per week. Hutchings also appeared on CNN and said that ACPS is not likely to fully reopen until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

We also reported that the Alexandria City Council approved plans for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and the North Potomac Yard development plan, virtually paving the way for the college to open its doors to hundreds of students by 2024.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 75 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,100 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in the city on Monday to unveil a team of new zero emission DASH electric buses.

We also reported that the City Council unanimously approved naming the 1000 block of Montgomery Street in Old Town “Earl F. Lloyd Way” in honor of the first Black man to ever play in the National Basketball Association.

Restaurant-wise, we spoke with one of the owners of a pizza and burger joint that is taking over the former location of Pizzeria Paradiso on lower King Street. The Chewish Deli is also now open in Old Town, and the owner of Del Ray Boccato says that his gelato shop will soon open.

Additionally, more than 175 people participated in our weekly poll. With the November 3 election around the corner, this week we asked about voting plans, and 65% of respondents voted by mail/absentee, 31% plan to vote on election day, and 4% are not voting.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  2. City Releasing Torpedo Factory Draft Action Plan Today
  3. City Council Approves Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and North Potomac Yard Development Plan
  4. Alexandria Student Called N-Word in Online Forum, and Not By Another Student
  5. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  6. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  7. One Arrested After Attempted Armed Robbery in Alexandria’s West End
  8. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  9. Female Suspect Flees, Nothing Taken in Attempted Old Town Bank Robbery
  10. Alexandria and Arlington Want a New Future for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  11. Alexandria Courthouse Deep Cleaned After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Right now, Alexandria high schools are coordinating how sports are going to work for teams of students who are champing at the bit to get back into their respective games.

“We have a plan,” Jim Harris, the T.C. Williams High School coordinator of student activities, said in a recent Zoom call with the Alexandria Sportsmen’s Club. “We’re just waiting for approval to get on the field and actually start conditioning.”

T.C. Williams High School is gearing up for cheerleading and basketball to start on December 7, followed by winter sports (indoor track, wrestling and swimming) starting on December 14. The Virginia High School League schedule for public schools also has football games set for February and spring sports (soccer, tennis, baseball, softball, outdoor track and lacrosse) will start in April.

Harris said that students will self-report on a student medical database, and that coaches immediately get that spreadsheet.

Bishop Ireton High School is offering a hybrid model that allows in-person instruction. Student athletes aren’t competing, but they’re working out on campus with coaches and teammates.

“I think our parents are more happy than anything because they got happy kids that are coming home tired, they have kids who are emotionally and mentally happy to be physically doing things,” Dwayne Bryant, the BI athletic director and boys varsity basketball coach.

St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School has a staggered schedule bringing kids back into classrooms. The school and broke up its athletic season into three five-week sessions and just wrapped up fall sports. They are and are now in their second five week session with winter sports.

“We decided that we would take things slow,” said Jeff Walrich, the SSSAS athletic director for the boys. “We’ve brought kids back onto campus to do some training and to be with their coaches. The kids have been missing is that relationship. So, while they’re training, our focus has been Monday team bonding with their peers and also with their coaches, which is a huge deal.”

Bryant said the latest approval by the NCAA allowing all college athletes to play an extra year presents problems for his students.

“A lot of these seniors, normally at this time would be getting prepared to do their signing celebrations in November, are now scrambling to actually find schools, or even get a chance to be seen,” Bryant said. “We were fortunate enough out there with 10 girls from my lacrosse team that have actually committed to play college next year. And with football being put on hold, a lot of those guys… are working hard trying to put together whatever film they can, but it’s pretty difficult.”

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What a week it’s been in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the report that Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. sends one of his children to Bishop Ireton High School. In case you missed it, the story first broke in Theogony, the T.C. Williams High School newspaper.

Hutchings also presented his plan for a phased reopening of ACPS starting next month. The results of a survey over virtual schooling were also released, revealing that screen time and childcare were among the top concerns of students, staff and families.

On the health front, Alexandria exceeded 4,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the first case was reported on March 11.

Additionally, more than 200 people participated in our weekly poll on traveling this holiday season, and 56% reported they will not travel, 27% still plan on traveling, and 17% still haven’t decided.

Crime-wise, we reported that a woman was assaulted in Arlandria on October 11; an arrest was made after an attempted armed robbery in the West End; a West End gas station was robbed of $1,700 in tobacco products; a woman ended up not being charged after firing a warning shot at a man in the 4300 block of Duke Street; and the mother of a man whose truck was stolen in Del Ray received an unexpected phone call from the thief.

There was some good news.

The southern entrance of the Potomac Yard Metro station is really taking shape, at least on paper. This week, the final plans going to the city were made public. The Board of Architectural Review will look at them at their meeting on Wednesday, October 21.

And in recognition of Oyster Week, ALXnow on Thursday emceed the first-ever “Pearl of Alexandria Oyster Eating Contest” between rival Del Ray and Old Town business owners.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  2. Police: Illegal Drugs Sold in West End Via Snapchat During Pandemic
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. BREAKING: Suspect Arrested for West End Murder
  5. ISIS ‘Beatles’ Held in Alexandria Jail, Charged with American Murders in Syria
  6. Here’s What the Potomac Yard Metro Station’s Southern Entrance Will Look Like
  7. Superintendent Proposing Phased Reopening of Alexandria City Public Schools Starting in November
  8. A Dozen Restaurants are Participating in Old Town Oyster Week
  9. VIDEO: West End Murder Victim Identified
  10. ‘Brewski’s Barkhaus’ is Opening This Saturday
  11. Old Virginia Tobacco Co. Moves Directly Across Street from Longtime Old Town Tobacconist

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. confirmed today that one of his two children is attending Bishop Ireton High School.

Hutchings confirmed the news to Nikki Harris, a reporter for Theogony, the T.C. Williams High School newspaper.

“I can confirm that our family made a decision to change my daughter’s school this school year,” Hutchings told Theogony. “Decisions like these are very personal family decisions and are not taken lightly. This in no way impacts my absolute lifelong, commitment to public education, to which I remain as personally dedicated as ever.”

After Theogony started asking questions, Hutchings’ ACPS bio was amended to simply say that he has two children, instead of stating that both of them attend ACPS. His Twitter profile was also changed to say that he has two kids, instead of “two ACPS kids.”

“Everyone has to do what is best for their kids, but it is concerning that the superintendent doesn’t have confidence in our public school system,” an ACPS parent told ALXnow.

Bishop Ireton High School opened the school year in August with a mix of in-person and at-home learning. All ACPS students are currently studying at home, and the school system on October 15 will consider a phased reentry plan to allow students back in classrooms.

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A 30-year-old Alexandria man has been arrested on two counts of public indecency and is being held without bond in the city jail.

Harry Ross, who is a convicted sex offender, was arrested at around 4 p.m. on August 22 for allegedly exposing himself and masturbating in public in the area of Quaker Hill Court, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

The incident occurred in a residential neighborhood, which is near Bishop Ireton High School and the Alexandria Commons shopping center.

Police determined Ross was the same suspect who committed the same very act in the area on the previous day, according to police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.

However, Ross was not charged with an incident that occurred last week near the Giant in the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center. A 15-year-old girl was allegedly approached by the suspect to help her with her bicycle, and he touched her hand, she later told her parents. The girl fled the area and her parents contacted police, but they decided not to press charges.

Map via Google Maps

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We made it to Friday in Alexandria! That was some week.

With the end of summer approaching, Alexandria City Public Schools are gearing up for virtual-only classes this fall, although a number of the city’s private schools are reopening. This week, however, Bishop Ireton High School resumed in-person classes.

A number of other private schools in the city are also reopening, including Episcopal High School (in October), Alexandria Country Day School and Immanuel Lutheran School.

ALIVE!, which has given away hundreds of thousands of pounds of food during the pandemic, announced it was making its annual walkathon a virtual experience next month. The nonprofit also needs volunteers as needs are increasing, according to Executive Director Jennifer Ayers.

Not included in this week’s list is Thursday’s story about a pilgrimage for racial healing from Charlottesville to D.C., which stopped in Alexandria. The group made it in time to D.C. today to recognize the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. City Issues Self-Quarantine Advisory After COVID Outbreak at West End Church
  2. Alexandria Police Increase Presence to Stem Uptick of Violent Crime in Parker Gray/Old Town
  3. Alexandria Needs Help Running the November Election
  4. Demonstrations Continue at Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf’s Alexandria Home
  5. City Updates Zoning Ordinance to Allow Density Boost for Schools
  6. Man Injured in Violent West End Carjacking Last Month
  7. King Street Metro Improvement Project Pushed Back to Spring 2021
  8. New Restaurant Concept Opens Next Month in Old Town Hotel
  9. Proposed Regulatory Changes Cut Back Red Tape for Alexandria Businesses
  10. What Does Southern Towers’ Acquisition by CIM Group Mean for Alexandria Affordable Housing?
  11. Saunas and Ice Baths: A New Coworking Office Focusing on Wellness Opens in Old Town

Have a safe weekend!

Image via Kidane Mehret Church/Facebook

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Even as Alexandria City Public Schools is preparing for an online start to the school year at T.C. Williams High School, nearby private school started in-person classes again today (Wednesday).

Bishop Ireton High School (201 Cambridge Road) is a private Catholic high school that is reopening today with a mix of in-person classes and online participation.

The school is using a hybrid model similar to the one considered by ACPS before the school decided on an entirely virtual approach. In part, the hybrid model was dismissed due to logistical concerns. This is less of a problem at the Bishop Ireton — which is only 1/5 the size of T.C. Williams High School.

The new structure includes both in-person classes and synchronous remote learning. According to the school’s phased plan document, half the student body will be at school in-person on a rotating schedule of alphabetically grouped students. The students will be at the school for in-person instruction for 2 consecutive week days, while the other half of the student body will be onsite the other two consecutive days.

“This schedule rotation will continue according to the school calendar for as long as we must operate on a reduced number of people onsite,” the school said. “Student groups are determined alphabetically by last name (A-K Group 1, L-Z Group 2). Conditions allowing, three lunch periods will be provided each day in the cafeteria with cleaning and sanitizing in between lunch sessions.”

While ACPS has pursued an option that includes asynchronous learning, Bishop Ireton will require all students to attend classes in real-time whether in-person or working remotely. Read More

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Morning Notes

Longtime Bishop Ireton Teacher Dies — “It is with sadness but also with great faith in our Lord that we share that Mr. Ron Umbeck, a beloved faculty member at Bishop Ireton for more than 50 years, passed away earlier this evening. He is now at peace in Heaven and we are sure that he met St. Peter with a math book, a crossword puzzle, an It’s Academic prep sheet and a Bishop Ireton pin. He loved this school, but more importantly, he loved his students and his Bishop Ireton family.” [Facebook]

Mayor Talks About Coronavirus on PBS — “My thanks to ⁦@AlexandriaVAGov⁩ Mayor ⁦@justindotnet⁩ for spending time with us to talk #Virginia re-opening, concerns about virus spread, and how he’s balancing the two. Our report, produced by ⁦@courtneyknorris, on ⁦@NewsHour⁩ tonight…” [Twitter]

NVTA Provides $195 Million to Duke Street, Richmond Highway Projects — “Two major roadway projects in the Alexandria region received funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The Duke Street Transitway received $75 million, which completes its funding request.” [Alexandria Living]

Fairlington United Methodist Church Warns of Scammers — “Scammers are out in full this summer. Please either a) ignore emails like this or b) report it to your email provider. This is not Janine’s email address, nor does she sign her emails Rev Janine Howard (nor does she break all sorts of grammar rules…) [Facebook]

Photographer Helps Unemployed Residents With Headshots — “Alexandria photographer Sam Fatima wants to do his part to help turn things around. He has partnered with Headshot Booker and Brookfield Properties for a new initiative aimed at helping the unemployed have a fresh start.” [Zebra]

Virtual Pub Craw Starts Wednesday — “In 2020 the 7th Annual Port City Old Town Pub Crawl is going virtual! Throughout July join Port City and our friends in Old Town as we celebrate good food and beer all month long.” [Facebook]

DASH Installing Digital Displays — “We’re busy installing new digital displays that show bus arrival info and alerts. We’ve installed more than 30 so far.” [Facebook]

New Job: Server — “Chadwicks Restaurant is currently looking to fill FULL- and PART-TIME server positions. Must be honest, hardworking, and capable of working well with others. Experience not a priority.” [Indeed]

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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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