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Morning Notes

Alexandria Symphony to provide live soundtrack for six short films — ” The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and the Alexandria Film Festival (AFF) are teaming to bring a special, immersive experience to audiences. On Saturday, Nov. 6, ASO will perform at Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center as six original films play onscreen.” [Zebra]

Local documentary explores ‘The Pits’ before it was Kingstowne — “For me, the gravel pits behind Hayfield Secondary School was the local fishing hole – at age 10, in 1972, I’d grab something out of my mom’s refrigerator to use as bait, and head on up there on foot or on bicycle and fish for hours. Usually, I’d catch a bunch of bluegill fish, maybe hook a snapping turtle or two, and head home. If I was lucky, I had some change in my pocket or find a few returnable bottles, and I’d stop at 7-11 for a Slurpee.” [Zebra]

TedXOronocoBayPark returns Oct. 2 — “This event will feature 10 speakers in the afternoon, followed by a reception and a live music event in the evening.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Partial cloudiness early, with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Gusty winds and small hail are possible. High 83F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… Scattered thunderstorms early (in the evening). Skies will become mainly clear overnight. Low 56F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New job: School crossing guard — “The Alexandria Police Department is looking for a few qualified individuals for a rewarding part time opportunity to connect with the community and provide safety to our smallest citizens. This is a great opportunity for individuals with flexible schedules including students, the stay-at-home parent and retirees.” [Indeed]

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There are dozens of volunteering opportunities in Alexandria.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s Volunteer Alexandria’s list of new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Assist with the Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day Festival — Help the Ballyshaners celebrate Irish Cultural Heritage on Saturday, September 18 with live music, Irish dancing, food and beverages. Volunteers are needed for 3-hour shifts, starting at 9am and ending around 8pm, to help with set up, entrance and exit monitoring, ID checks, and bartending (must be 21 and older). Click here to sign-up.
  • Crossing guards needed help children get to school and home safely — ACPS need your help getting our kids to and from school safely. Volunteers will control traffic at already designated crosswalks to allow families to cross streets safely to and from school. Times would be 7:15 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and 2:25 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. at various schools across the city. Click Here to sign-up.
  • Deliver Meals to ACPS School Children — Senior Services of Alexandria is looking for volunteers to support school lunch delivery to families who have children learning virtually this fall. Volunteers are needed to pick up and deliver meals on Mondays and Wednesdays. Car and valid driver’s license required. Click HERE to express interest.
  • Event support needed for Living Legends of Alexandria reception honoring volunteers — Living Legends of Alexandria is seeking volunteers for the event. Tasks may include assisting with live screening set up, crowd control, parking lot assistance for anyone needing help, and much more. The event is at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30. Click HERE to sign up.
  • Help with a 5K race — Run! Geek! Run! is a 5K race held each year with the proceeds going to the Child and Family Network Centers. Ironisitic is looking for volunteers to help our runners, assist with the water station, support the finish line, register individuals, cheer our runners along on the route, and clean-up after the race on Saturday, September 26. Click Here to sign-up.
  • Kids games and card making for first responders – Join us at Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library on Saturday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to noon to make cards for first responders, police officers, and firefighters. We will also be playing a few games to learn about fire and earthquake safety! Click HERE to sign up.
  • Prepare for a hurricane – Learn how to navigate disasters through an interactive tabletop exercise on Saturday, September 18. Join our Volunteer Reception Center core team that will organize volunteers ready to assist with community recovery efforts after a disaster. To sign up, click HERE.
  • Provide input for Dari and Pashto reading materials – Help translate common city materials and educational pamphlets for incoming Afghan refugees. During this virtual focus group on Wednesday, September 22, 7 – 8 p.m. we will discuss and identify potential needs and resources for refugees, identify reading materials that could be translated, and how to have them translated and then disseminated into
    the community. To sign up, click HERE.
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The crossing guards at Mount Vernon Community School are in love and they’re getting married.

Every school morning and afternoon, Essie Tarpley and Kalil Mason-Alphanso work their respective sections on opposite sides of the Del Ray elementary school. Each will high-five students, parents and teachers braving the early morning street crossings. Lately those early morning greetings have been congratulatory.

But that’s only because word just got out.

In fact, the couple have been engaged for about two years. Mason-Alphanso just finished his first year working as a crossing guard, while Tarpley has been a crossing guard at Mount Vernon for the last 15 years. When her fiancé moved from New York to live with her in Alexandria, she told him that there was a job opening in her unit.

“There’s a big building right between the two of us. But we work at the same place,” Mason-Alphanso told ALXnow. “It’s actually pretty awesome.”

The story goes that Tarpley and Mason-Alphanso met three years ago on the seventh day of an 11-day Carnival Journeys cruise in the Caribbean. There was a dance party that got a little rowdy for some of the aged guests trying to sleep, and it was announced that it had to be shut down. Tarpley approached the DJ to protest, since he was just starting to play the 90s music she loves, and that’s when Mason-Alphanso first saw her.

“I was just happy to see someone on the cruise that was my age,” he said. “Most of the time on those cruises it’s very young people and very old people, and no in-between. So we moved to another portion of the ship to go dancing to Latin music.”

The couple, who have not decided on a wedding date, also finish each other’s sentences.

“He asked me if I was good at dancing, and I said I was all right,” Tarpley said.

“I told her that I danced everything, and we got out there and she was more than all right,” Mason-Alphanso quickly interjected. “She shut me down.”

The pair were inseparable for the rest of the voyage.

Tarpley has a number of other jobs, including teaching Zumba at the YMCA on Monroe Avenue, and as a cafeteria hostess at Patrick Henry Elementary School.

The work can be stressful, and Tarpley takes it in stride.

“Everyone is trying to get somewhere and especially in the morning, nobody wants to start off their morning with attitude. No one wants to get yelled at first thing. So, we greet them with a smile and understand they’re trying to get somewhere,” she said. “I understand that I am stopping you… Give me a second and I’m going to get you on your way as quickly as I can while I save the lives of these children.”

“And the same thing goes for the kids,” she continued. “Sometimes the kids don’t feel like going to school and they’re just like, ‘Oh, this sucks. I have a test,’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, you woke up today, you got dressed, you’re here on time! You rock, you’re awesome, and great job mom and dad. You got the kids in school on time right before the door closed? Yes! Adulting properly is awesome. Everybody break out the confetti and just throw it. It’s a little victory.'”

Recently she was talking to some teachers at Mount Vernon about being a crossing guard.

“I’m like, ‘Well, my fiancé works on the other side,’ and it was a big shock.”

News spread and the couple soon started receiving congratulations from parents and students.

“They’re great,” said Mike Dameron, who walks his kids to Mount Vernon every school day. “It’s a perfect match. Everybody at Mount Vernon knows about them. It’s just really heartwarming when you hear of a love story in your small community.”

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