What a hot week in Alexandria.

With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, the week started with a power outage at a 17-story apartment building in Landmark area. The outage lasted five days and residents had to find accommodations until the building reopened Friday afternoon.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria experienced a slight uptick, and the health department says unvaccinated residents account for a majority of new cases. There have been 39 new cases reported so far this month in the city, and 13 cases were reported on July 9. That was the biggest single-day jump since May 20, when 18 new cases were reported.

In school news, this week we spoke with Alexandria High School Principal Peter Balas, who said that his staff are ready to fully reopen for full-time in-person instruction when the 2021-2022 school year starts on August 24.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Here’s the plan for Alexandria’s birthday celebration this weekend
  2. City Council approves massive high-rise project without affordable housing near Eisenhower Metro station
  3. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  4. Del. Mark Levine raises eyebrows with letter that passes buck on constituent service
  5. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  6. Alexandria City High School is ready to reopen at full capacity next month, principal says
  7. School Board Member Jacinta Greene faces reelection, wants race relations taught in ACPS
  8. Tropical Storm Elsa’s dregs tear through southern Alexandria
  9. Poll: Do you agree with reallocation of school resource officer funding?
  10. West End high-rise apartment building evacuated after power outage
  11. The Alexandria Police, Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department all want raises

Have a safe weekend!

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A new billingual Montessori program for pre-school children could open at the First Assembly of God Church (700 W. Braddock Road) in the Rosemont area.

Owner Flor Brea has filed an application with the city to open a program called Matteo Place Montessori Bilingual Preschool. According to the application, the program will teach children ages 2-6. The program is designed to teach up to 60 children with 10 employees.

“At Matteo Place Montessori Bilingual Preschool, our educational model is truly unique,” Brea said on the school website. “We use a blended learning approach — combining Montessori pedagogy with a Creative Curriculum — while teaching our children in English and Spanish to enhance their understanding of the world.”

Matteo Place Montessori Bilingual Preschool will use the First Assembly of God Church space during the week days.

The program is connected to Luca’s Rainbow, a similar program at 6335 Little River Turnpike in Lincolnia.

“Studies have shown that blended learning, used in many classrooms across the country today, can be an engaging and effective teaching approach for students from diverse backgrounds — including English learners and students with learning challenges who benefit from having the material presented in a variety of ways,” the website said.

Via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

‘Ghost kitchen’ could be headed to Alexandria — “Commercial kitchens like the one proposed are also known as ghost kitchens and they allow restaurants and food entrepreneurs to prepare delivery orders. Ghost kitchens grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when many traditional restaurants were forced to close and the demand for take-out increased.” [Alexandria Living]

Face masks required at public and private schools until July 25 — “To address potential gaps in critical prevention measures at schools this summer, the State Health Commissioner, Dr. Norm Oliver, issued a Public Health Emergency Order effective July 1, requiring children and adults aged 5 and older to wear masks in public and private K-12 schools through July 25. The requirement applies to individuals regardless of vaccination status. The mask order also applies on school buses. Individuals are not required to wear masks when outside on school property, however the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends that unvaccinated individuals aged two and older wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings.” [City of Alexandria]

Del Ray featured in movie — “A new movie that recently premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival filmed several scenes at local businesses in Del Ray. Kringle Time, a satirical comedy film about a singing snowman ‘that has nothing to do with Christmas,”‘was written and directed by Matthew Lucas, a former American University student and Arlington resident.” [Zebra]

City Council to vote on replacement services for SRO funding Tuesday — “City Council on Tuesday evening will consider how to spend the nearly $800,000 that used to fund the School Resource Officer program.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and some clouds [during the day]. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 96F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds [in the evening]. Low 73F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Assistant teacher — “The Campagna Early Learning Center Assistant Teacher is responsible for assisting the Teacher in planning and implementing age-appropriate curriculum for the children in the classroom in accordance with the program policies, guidelines and philosophy.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria leaders have acknowledged that the city’s public school system faces major security issues with the elimination of school resource officer funding.

In a joint City Council/School Board Subcommittee Meeting Monday night, School Board Vice Chair Veronica Nolan was highly critical of Council’s 4-3 decision last month to divert the program’s nearly $800,000 in funding to Alexandria City Public Schools mental health and City health resources.

“I just want to own the fact that there is nothing that’s been happening in the school that is going to prevent… potential lives being taken if there was a violent act,” Nolan said. “I just don’t want us high-fiving each other, feeling like we did it, like we replaced what the SROs are providing, and that’s with safety.”

The decision means that SROs — police officers stationed inside T.C. Williams High School, Francis Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School — will no longer have offices in those schools. T.C. is also the largest high school in Virginia.

Nolan also cited a recent Washington Post article revealing that, with the pandemic receding, there has been an uptick in mental health-related issues and school shootings nationwide. She said she appreciated the proposed plan, but that it should not be replacing the SRO program.

“We do have situations where sexual assault happens outside of school, but a young lady feels exceptionally comfortable going up to a police officer,” Nolan said. “There’s also going to be fights that were normally deescalated by SROs that are going to take place, and we just cannot expect any of our staff to be able to deescalate those or break up fights or prevent that.”

Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow that he has concerns over security, and that Alexandria Police will incorporate the school system into their patrol operations.

“Obviously APD Patrol will continue to answer calls for service at these schools when they are called to do so,” Wilson said. “That dialogue will continue — with ACPS, APD and other entities, to ensure that we protect the safety of the students, faculty, support staff and visitors at our high school and middle schools.”

It is still unclear when APD officers will be inside of the schools, how often, or why.

“At this time, Alexandria City Public Schools is planning for the 2021-22 school year,” ACPS Chief of School and Community Relations Julia Burgos told ALXnow. “Our planning process includes working with the Alexandria Police Department to ensure there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines a framework of police services at the schools as a matter of best practice.”

The School Board passed the bi-annual MOU, which kept SROs in place, last November. Then in April, School Board members asked City Council to respect their decision.

The program was eliminated by City Councilman Mo Seiflendein’s proposal, which was backed by Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Councilman John Taylor Chapman and Councilman Canek Aguirre.

City staff also reported that the school system is anticipating a “three-fold increase” in the number of students getting mental health referrals, “particularly as students adjust to in-person learning.”

Chapman said that Council will likely not delay making a decision on the matter on July 6.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but (would be) very surprised if we had a majority that wanted to continue to push the decision down the road,” he said.

City Council will consider the following:

  • $567,000 — One therapist supervisor to the Department of Community and Human Services; two licensed mental health professionals; a human services specialist; and a licensed senior therapist for emergency services
  • $122,000 — One new public health nurse at the Minnie Howard campus
  • $101,000 — One new Alexandria Mentoring Partnership coordinator
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Morning Notes

Alexandria boxer Troy Isley to compete in Olympics — “Troy Isley, 22, is a middleweight boxer from Alexandria, a T.C. Williams High School alumnus and part of the Alexandria Boxing Club. He secured his spot on the Olympic team on June 7, USA Boxing confirmed.” [Patch]

Alexandria Police helped chase down suspect Friday — “Alert:: APD assisted PG County Police and Fairfax County Police with chasing down a suspect. The chase originated in PG County and came through our city via Fairfax County. No injuries to report. The suspect was taken into custody.” [Twitter]

Emmy Squared Opens in Old Town — “After a soft opening this weekend, Emmy Squared will open its doors Wednesday, June 30 at 124 King St., in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, near the waterfront.” [Alexandria Living]

New uses coming to original Mount Vernon High School — “The building was originally built in 1939 on land that used to be part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. It was used as a high school until 1973 and then a middle school until 1985. The building was then leased to the Islamic Saudi Academy in 1989 until that school relocated to a new building in 2016.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Sunny (during the day). Hot. High 94F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 74F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Tour guide — “Seeking a responsible, punctual, and social tour guide/driver to help with winery and brewery tours on weekends. Must be comfortable driving large groups (driving minivan or 15 passenger van). Clean driving record is a Must!” [Indeed]

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In a victory for civil rights, the marquee for Alexandria City High School was unveiled Wednesday morning, replacing the old sign bearing the name of T.C. Williams High School.

It’s been nearly a year since the effort to change the name of Virginia’s largest high school began. The new name will go into effect July 1, as will the official renaming of Matthew Maury Elementary School to Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School.

“I think this is a great step towards equity,” rising junior Miracle Gross said. “This year more than any I learned what he really stood for and why our community is against it.”

T.C. Williams High School gained international fame for the ‘Remember The Titans‘ film, which depicted the newly integrated Alexandria football players winning the 1971 state championship by bridging racial divides. Ironically, the school itself was named after a staunch racist superintendent who spent years actively working against integrating the school system.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that the day would go down in history, and that the school mascot will remain the Titans.

“Once a Titan always a Titan,” Hutchings told the audience of students, administrators, parents and former graduates. “We are proud of our diversity and we realize that that name, Thomas Chambliss Williams, did not deserve to be honored on our only high school in the city of Alexandria.”

Wednesday was also the last day of school, and for the next three months ACPS will work to replace all of the markers with the name T.C. Williams.

“We already started to order the uniforms,” Hutchings said. “It’s going to take us some time to get through all of our marquees as well as all of the signage within the school building.”

School Board Vice Chair Veronica Nolan said that it’s also a somber day.

“Systemic racism is something that was created with purpose and with resources attached to it,” she said. “And the staff at T.C. Williams fights it every single day.”

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The Alexandria City Council tonight will consider the official reallocation of nearly $800,000 in funding previously meant for the School Resource Officer program.

Council voted 4-3 in May to move the SRO funding to add mental health resources to ACPS, support staff to the Teen Wellness Center, hire an additional Behavioral Health Specialist to the Alexandria Crisis Intervention CoResponding Program Pilot. The SROs stationed inside T.C. Williams High School, Francis Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School have been reassigned to patrol.

City staff are recommending that the funds be used to add the following:

  • $567,000 — One therapist supervisor to the Department of Community and Human Services; two licensed mental health professionals; a human services specialist; and a licensed senior therapist for emergency services
  • $122,000 — One new public health nurse at the Minnie Howard campus
  • $101,000 — One new Alexandria Mentoring Partnership coordinator

Students who are involved in gangs also have to wait up to a month before seeing one of two counselors with the City’s Court Services Unit.

Staff also reported that the school system is anticipating a “three-fold increase” in the number of students getting mental health referrals, “particularly as students adjust to in-person learning.”

“Each year ACPS Student Support Services requests that CFBHS (Child and Family Behavioral Health Services) provides more clinicians in schools than DCHS has capacity to provide,” City staff reported. “If CFBHS had more capacity, this program would provide considerably more outreach, group therapy, and consultation.”

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Morning Notes

ACPS wants input on how to spend COVID relief funds — “Feedback on use of the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief can be provided through June 18, while the Equity for All Climate Survey is open through June 20.” [Patch]

Memorial bike ride Sunday at for bicyclist killed — “Join FABB’s memorial ride in honor of Fatima Del Carmen Alvarez Romero this Sunday, June 13, at 10:00 am at Huntington Metro kiss and ride lot. Ride to crash site for a moment of remembrance and to call for much-needed safety measures. Please wear white and bring signs.” [Twitter]

Karma Modern Indian Eyes Expansion into Old Town — “Karma Modern Indian, a Michelin-recognized destination for fine Indian cuisine in downtown Washington, D.C., is opening a sister restaurant in Alexandria. Dubbed Kismet Modern Indian, the restaurant will be at 111 N. Pitt St. and is set for a fall opening. The location was formerly home, for a short time, to BurgerFi and before that, Ireland’s Own. The late Pat Troy presided over the legendary spot for more than three decades.” [Alexandria Living]

Mayor Wilson named president of Virginia Transit Association — “VTA is a nonprofit corporation of transit professionals from public and private organizations; it includes transit systems from across the state, businesses that serve transit systems and local government officials and organizations concerned about transportation, mobility, affordable access to employment and quality of life issues.” [Zebra]

Alexandria to start nominating committee for collective bargaining labor relations administrator — “The City has been notified that each of the following groups are interested in having a representative on the nominating committee: American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); International Union of Police Associations (IUPA); and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (PBA). To participate on the nominating committee, any employee organization interested in representing a bargaining unit must notify the City Manager by email at [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16.” [City of Alexandria]

West End Business Association hosting COVID meeting for restaurants — The Alexandria Health Department will update restaurant owners on how to open post-COVID. Homegrown Restaurant Group’s “Mango” Mike Anderson will also speak at the event, which will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, at Glory Days Grill. [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Rain (during the day). High near 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a half an inch. Locally heavy rainfall possible… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low around 65F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Dog daycare playroom attendant — “If you are a hard and reliable worker looking for a fun and rewarding job, we encourage you to apply. We are also offering a limited-time signing bonus to those who can reliably commit to the job for at least 4 months.” [Indeed]

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The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria gave away a record $525,000 in college scholarships this year to 183 graduating seniors from T.C. Williams High School.

The nonprofit made the announcement this week after conducting a virtual ceremony to congratulate the awardees.

“We are so very proud of the next generation of nurses, doctors, business leaders, computer scientists, biologists, and professors who are heading off to college this fall thanks to the generosity of this community,”said SFA Executive Director Beth Lovain. “What I want to convey most is that in a year wrought with challenges, our Class of 2021 SFA Scholars have not only endured, but they have triumphed. They are truly ‘Generation Resilient.’ Through all of the adversity and through all of the challenges of COVID and 2021 they have remained poised and focused; their college dreams would not be pushed aside.”

SFA will also award $550,000 in renewal scholarships to help previous recipients from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 graduates who are now in college.

“I am so grateful and so honored to have been awarded a scholarship and I’m so proud of each and every one of you for being awarded one as well,” said Karam Burjas, T.C. senior class president. “I also want to give a big thank you to all of the donors and people who supported the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria this past year; without your gracious support none of this would’ve been possible.”

The nonprofit has awarded $17 million in scholarships since it was founded in 1986. Last year, SFA awarded $504,000 in scholarships to 181 graduating seniors, in addition to the $550,000 in renewal scholarships.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria announces modified out of school time school year recreation program — “The City of Alexandria will offer a modified Out of School Time Program (OSTP) for elementary school aged children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade for the 2021-22 school year. The after-school recreation program is scheduled for August 23, 2021 through June 10, 2022, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Charles Barrett; Charles Houston; Mount Vernon; Leonard “Chick” Armstrong; Nannie J. Lee; Patrick Henry; and William Ramsay recreation centers, and at the Ferdinand T. Day; John Adams; and Douglas MacArthur elementary schools.” [City of Alexandria]

Council candidate Patrick Moran testifies for bringing back School Resource Officer funding — “Moran calls for the full implementation of body cameras for Alexandria Police Department (APD) officers and for corrective action to protect Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students’ safety in 2021-22 School Year.” [YouTube]

Senior center gets upgrade — “St. Martin de Porres Senior Center on Taney Ave. has served Alexandria’s seniors for 45 years. During the pandemic, the site has been closed. This provided HomeAid Northern Virginia (HANV) with an opportunity to undertake a $44,000 upgrade of the facility.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies (during the day). High near 80F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 61F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Floral clerk at Balducci’s — “As a Floral Clerk, some of your duties will include stocking the department with fresh flowers, potted plants, balloons, and other floral merchandise. You will design and create custom floral arrangements and make product recommendations for our customers’ special occasions. Your job will be to provide customers with exceptional customer service.” [Indeed]

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