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Morning Notes

Two ARHA residents receive $6,000 college scholarships — “Two Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) residents have been awarded $6,000 scholarships for the upcoming school year, thanks to the Resident Scholarship Program from the Housing Authority Insurance (HAI) Group. This is the second consecutive year Natasha Cross has been selected for the funding… Yonael Tekleberhan, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in Business is the second awardee.” [ARHA]

The Italian Place is opening a location in Fairfax — “We are getting closer and closer to the grand opening on July 24th of the new Mosaic District location. 🤩 If you haven’t registered yet, head over to our website to do so! We hope to see you all there!” [Facebook]

Del Ray Citizens Association hosting community pizza party Thursday — Come on out and join us this Thursday July 22 from 5 – 7pm at Del Ray Pizzeria, where the DRCA will be hosting a Del Ray Citizens Association Meet & Greet Pizza Party! Hang out with your fellow Del Ray superfans and enjoy some pizza, salad, tots, fries, and special happy hour pricing. DRP has set us up in the bar space, so we can enjoy some much-needed air conditioning. For those who may feel more comfortable socializing outdoors, we’re also working to set up a ‘spillover’ table in the Lot behind the restaurant.” [DRCA]

Park and recreation center signs replaced — “The signs at Ruby Tucker Park, Fort Williams Park, and Mt. Vernon Recreation Center were replaced with City standard signs last week. The signs were replaced to update addresses or broken and missing signs. Look out for new signs coming to Shirley Tyler Unity Park and William Ramsay Recreation Center coming this fall.” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and some clouds (during the day). High 92F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph… Considerable clouds early (in the evening). Some decrease in clouds late. Low 72F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Package delivery driver — “UPS is accepting applications for temporary, seasonal full-time Package Delivery Drivers. This is a physical, fast-paced, outdoor position that involves continual lifting, lowering and carrying packages that typically weigh 25 – 35 lbs. and may weigh up to 70 lbs. A DOT physical exam is required. Package Delivery Drivers must have excellent customer contact and driving skills.” [Indeed]

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The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has done it again. On Saturday, the nonprofit raised more than $450,000 for college-bound Alexandria students at its annual gala, which was held virtually for the second year in a row.

The gala was held this year at Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota, which also raffled off a $25,000 Toyota RAV-4 to T.C. Williams High School biology teacher Jennifer Darque. More than 400 dinners and deals were also auctioned off in the event, which was attended in-person by Mayor Justin Wilson and his wife, Alex Crawford-Batt, who received a SFA scholarship when she was a student.

“The need for scholarships in this community is great,” said SFA Director Beth Lovain. “Each year we have to turn kids away because we simply do not have the funds to help all of our students in need, especially this year with the economic fallout from COVID wreaking havoc on families that already struggle financially. But what I want to convey most is my overwhelming pride in our 2021 scholarship recipients. They are truly Generation Resilient. Through all of the adversity and through all of the challenges of COVID and 2020, they have remained poised and focused, their college dreams will not be pushed aside”

The Scholarship Fund awarded $525,000 in scholarships to 180 students from the class of 2021. Last year, SFA awarded $507,000  to 181 students, and the nonprofit has given $17 million to more than 5,000 students since its founding in 1986.

“I couldn’t be more grateful,” said T.C. senior Mikias Elias after receiving the $40,000 SFA Collis Warner Scholarship. “This scholarship brings great relief to my family knowing that college won’t be a financial struggle for us.”

Elias was recently accepted into the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

“This scholarship will make my education at Virginia Tech possible,” he said. “On behalf of the Class of 2021 Scholarship awardees, I’d also like to say we are all relieved to know that we have financial support, and we are so proud that you believe in us.”

Photo via Scholarship Fund of Alexandria/Twitter

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Alexandria’s Bridgette Adu-Wadier has a soft spot in her heart for Black female investigative journalists.

At the top of the 17-year-old’s list of favorites are Gwen Ifill, Yamiche Alcindor and Ida B Wells, and this fall she will get her chance to study journalism at Northwestern University.

“We need young people to be investigating, and to be curious, and to be challenging,” Adu-Wadier told ALXnow.

Adu-Wadier, who is an editor for the T.C. Williams High School newspaper Theogony, was recently named one of 1,464 students (out of 18,500 applicants) around the country to be awarded the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. She was also recently honored as one of the country’s up-and-coming storytellers by PBS.

A first generation daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, she’s the eldest of four kids, and, while born in New York, has spent most of her life in Alexandria. She attended John Adams Elementary School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

ALXnow: How did you get the scholarship? Did you write a good essay? 

Adu-Wadier: I do believe I wrote a really good essay, I spent a lot of time. Just trying to make it reflect me and my personal journey and how I developed my writing and how I blossomed as a writer. I talked a lot about how I started out doing a lot of creative writing and writing short stories and how I kind of wanted to tell stories and write about things that I observed in the world and elevate the voices of my generation.

It’s a four year scholarship, which I’m really excited about. It covers tuition, it covers room and board, transportation, my textbooks and my living expenses. Questbridge is just a really comprehensive scholarship and I’m really grateful to have that, especially given that, in school, I can just focus on my degree.

ALXnow: What inspired you to be a journalist? 

Adu-Wadier: It’s really been inspiring to see so many journalists challenge modern institutions throughout (the last) four years… In my view, this is kind of a reiteration of the Watergate era in many ways, especially given a lot of the 2018 impeachment trial proceedings and a lot of the journalism that was coming out about the transparency of the federal government.

I did a lot of work for my school TV media program, and I would interview students on video as well, and it was just really eye opening seeing that my generation notices a lot of things and they take on a lot of what’s going on a lot more than adults understand. The peers I’ve interviewed are just really frustrated that adults don’t get that they’re not too young to understand and have a voice on a lot of issues that are going on, and to be curious and to want to investigate. We need young people to be investigating and to be curious and to be challenging.

ALXnow: What’s it been like doing all of your reporting and schoolwork and applications from home during the pandemic?

Adu-Wadier: I’ve had story deadlines on the same day as my college applications and that was a big mess. There’s been a lot of things that have been interesting that I’ve had to adapt to, and, having a noisy house and trying to do interviews from my closet since it’s the only quiet place.

ALXnow: What kind of stories do you envision yourself telling down the road?

Adu-Wadier: I really like doing stories on education to report on. People don’t really invest that much in public education, and I have that personal experience in public education and the policies and legislation passed, as well as talking to students about their high school and college admissions experiences. A lot of those stories are really under told.

Soon, I’ll be reporting on college administrators and what they’re doing, and I’m really excited to do that. Another thing that I’m really really excited to report on is just civil rights… And just seeing how societal inequities affect different racial demographics, especially regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and how Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by exposure to the virus. That’s really fascinating.

ALXnow: Which journalists do you admire? 

Adu-Wadier: I really appreciate Gwen Ifill and Yamiche Alcindor for everything that they’re doing, and especially on the ocean how she keeps her head out, especially with everything that she went through with the Trump administration and her trying to just do her job and what happened with her. Also, Gwen Ifil,… She comes from a similar background as me in that she was starting off with local newspapers and she experienced a lot of challenges and racism, and then she went on to host Washington Week and co-anchor PBS NewsHour and work with Judy Woodruff. I really really appreciate those two.

I also really look up to Ida B. Wells in how she really challenged institutions and launched this crusade against lynching and how she very much risked her life in doing so.

Overall, I just have a really soft spot for Black female journalists in general, so those are my top three. I also really really like Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and I try to emulate them and how rigorous and relentless they were and their investigative pieces of Watergate. And, you know, I love All The President’s Men. I read the book, and I watched the movie and I just think it’s admirable what they did and just what they took on and the risks that they were taking and challenging directly.

Photo via ACPS

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Morning Notes

Photos: Beyer Attends Presidential Inauguration — “It was a thrill for Megan and me to be at the inauguration of Pres. @JoeBiden and Vice Pres. @KamalaHarris.” [Twitter]

Former Beyer Chief Of Staff To Begin Job In Biden Administration — “(Tanya) Bradsher will take on the new role as the senior director for partnerships and global engagement. Previously, she served as the National Security Agency lead for the Biden-Harris Transition Team.” [Patch]

Mayor Tweets Excitement After Biden Inauguration — “‘My whole soul is in it!’ So excited for the era of @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris to get started. Let’s do this.” [Twitter]

Propane Cylinder Catches Fire in Old Town North — “Units operating in the 600 block of E Abington for a damaged propane cylinder that caught fire earlier this afternoon. Units from station 204 and Hazmat station 209 quickly assessed and handled the incident. No injuries reported. An AFD fire marshal conducted the investigation.” [Twitter]

Free Online Job Training Courses Available — “The SkillUp® Alexandria City & Arlington County initiative is available to help residents take charge of their futures and get back to work. Designed with input from regional employers, the initiative provides recently laid-off workers as well as those who are employed and looking to change or advance in their careers free and unlimited access to more than 5,000 high-quality, Skillsoft online training courses for 180 days; the courses, used by many Fortune 500 companies, are presented in English and Spanish. The initiative enables workers to demonstrate the kind of initiative employers are looking for by upgrading their skills during this challenging time even while most bricks-and-mortar education and training providers remain closed.” [City of Alexandria]

College Loans Available for Immigrants — “Paying for college can be expensive, especially for DACA or TPS recipients, asylum seekers or undocumented. Learn about two renewable scholarship opportunities ranging from $2,000 to $33,000 for eligible immigrant students–first deadline Feb 1.” [Twitter]

Torpedo Factory Artists’ Work To Be Recognized in International Exhibition — “Ruth Gowell and Alison Sigethy are two glass artists who have studios at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. A new museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, Imagine Museum, showcases works made of glass. The work of these two artists has been selected for the museum’s upcoming exhibition, OpART/Glass. The honor is especially significant for two reasons. First, the museum hosts only one exhibition per year. Second, it is open to glass artists from around the world.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Sun and a few passing clouds (during the day). High 53F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 33F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Team Member — “Toastique is a rapidly growing company looking for passionate new talent to help create smoothies, gourmet toast & juice while giving the customers an incredible experience the minute they walk through the door. Employees will be joining a team to attain a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in the new SW waterfront area. We are focused on our unique concept that combines great taste, responsibly sourced ingredients, and a welcoming environment.” [Indeed]

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Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria is planning to once again host what is says is the largest Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Festival in the country this weekend.

The event is organized by the church but held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center (201 Waterfront St.), across the Potomac in National Harbor. It is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The event brings together high school students and over 70 HBCUs, according to the website, and many of the schools offer on-site admissions, interviews, and auditions with some application fees waived.

The festival “originated with humble beginnings of 150 attendees in 2003 and matured to 11,000 attendees in 2019 — making us the largest HBCU Festival in the nation,” the website says.

The festival also serves to help connect students with potential scholarship programs. To date, the organization says $20 million in scholarships have been awarded at the festival.

HBCUs scheduled to attend range from nearby institutions, like Howard University, to schools in places like Texas and Ohio.

“We offer 11 seminars packed with impactful information to prepare students and parents for a successful college tenure,” the church said on the event website, “from securing financial aid to finding your ideal career path.”

In addition to academic opportunities, planned programs include a drum line and step show.

Tickets to the festival are $5 per person or $50 for a group of 10 or more. While there are special passes for applicants, general attendees can come to enjoy seminars and talk to school recruiters.

Image via Alfred Street Baptist Church/Facebook

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