Alexandria, VA

It was a cold week in Alexandria.

With bits of snow and temperatures hovering at around freezing, our top story this week was on Allison Priebe, the local business owner who was robbed while pumping gas in Old Town. Police later released suspect photos and advise anyone pumping gas to keep their keys with them and lock their vehicles.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 9,903 cases and no new deaths, which is an increase of about 150 cases since Monday’s report. Meanwhile, as the city contends with a growing vaccine waiting list, the Health Department is warning residents of COVID-19 vaccine scams.

More than 260 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about voting in the upcoming City Council and mayoral elections, and 87% plan on voting in the primary and general election; 6% only plan on voting in the primary; 5% aren’t voting and 1% will only vote in the primary.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  2. BREAKING: Large Power Outage Reported in Old Town
  3. ACPS Releases Semifinalist Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School Renaming
  4. Just In: ‘QAnon Shaman’ from Capitol Siege Transferred to Alexandria Jail
  5. Poll: What Do You Think of the Proposed Heritage Development in Old Town
  6. Mayor: Brace Yourselves, It Could be End of Summer Before City Moves into Next Vaccine Phase
  7. BREAKING: Councilman Mo Seifeldein Running for Alexandria Mayor, Hatch Act Conflict in Question
  8. Alexandria Sheriff: Jailed ‘QAnon Shaman’s’ Organic Food Request is Normal
  9. Just In: James Lewis Files Paperwork to Enter City Council Race
  10. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
  11. City Councilman’s Virtual Super Bowl Party Ambushed by Racists and Nazi Trolls

Photo via Alexandria Police

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Congressman John Lewis and 1972 Titan Petey Jones are just a few names that have made the latest cut in the rename process for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School.

The semifinalist names for the schools have been selected, and ACPS has launched another set of polls to further slim down the selection. The polls close on Feb. 19 and the top three names from each poll will be presented to the School Board for final consideration on March 4. There will be a public hearing on March 18, and then the Board will vote on the names on April 8.

T.C. Williams High School is the biggest public high school in Virginia, and is named after former ACPS Superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams, who was an avowed segregationist. Matthew Maury Elementary School is named after an oceanographer and Confederate leader.

The official names will be implemented on July 1, and ACPS estimates that it will cost $325,000 to rename T.C. and more than $5,000 to rename Maury.

Semifinalist replacement names for T.C. Williams High School:

Semifinalist replacement names for Matthew Maury Elementary School:

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ACPS has acknowledged that community feedback has generally opposed putting affordable housing at a new school development.

In a recent joint Alexandria City Public Schools and City Council meeting, ACPS Director of Capital Programs Erika Gulick said that feedback from Alexandria residents indicated that locals were not comfortable with housing, including affordable housing, being co-located at some school developments.

The acknowledgement is the latest in the debate that was ignited almost exactly a year ago when feasibility study for George Mason Elementary School included an apartment complex. ACPS apologized for the inclusion, saying the complex wasn’t planned for that site, but co-location of housing and other non-school uses at ACPS facilities has repeatedly been stated as a priority for the City Council.

Designs for the new T.C. development are scheduled to go to the City Council early in 2022.

“The co-location goals are not only trying to make sure we have complimentary uses, but increasing use of the site outside of traditional school hours,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in the meeting. “To the extend that we could have public space used for other services. I would encourage us to continue looking at those kinds of opportunities.”

Gulick said much of the community’s feedback has been negative toward housing at the planned expansion of the school formerly known as T.C. Williams High School, but more accepting of other uses.

“We did some community engagement before end of calendar year and collected feedback,” said Gulick. “In general, the community generally opposed to affordable housing or housing on a school site. There’s a concern of ‘is it appropriate to use school land or co-locate these two things.’ But [there is] support for other colocation, like a pool or teen wellness center.”

Gulick said school programming remains the highest priority in plans to add new facilities to the Minnie Howard campus, with loss of athletic fields or open space being considered unacceptable, but that development that adds additional uses to the sites would require additional density approval from the city.

A few other school districts across the country have co-located school facilities and housing, and Alexandria Living Magazine has compiled them with a look at how they compare to ACPS plans.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Urges Senate to Remove Trump After House Impeachment — “Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States, and a menace to the Constitution. The events of the past week, my conscience, my oath of office, and my duty to the people of Northern Virginia allow no other course than to vote for his impeachment. I urge the Senate to remove him from office as swiftly as possible.” [Beyer.house.gov]

Police Seeking Alexandria Man For Assaulting Woodbridge Boy — “Ian M. Simpson is wanted after police said he attempted to strangle an 8-year-old boy during after two arguments between the two relatives.” [Patch]

Police: Business Robbed on N. Quaker Lane Wednesday Morning — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a robbery from a business in the 1600 block of N. Quaker Lane. It happened around 5:45am. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

WATCH: Governor Northam Gives State of Commonwealth Speech — “My 2021 State of the Commonwealth address is starting–watch live.” [Twitter]

Poll Opens to Select New Names for T.C. Williams High and Matthew Maury Elementary Schools — “Between now and Jan. 27, we are asking everyone to help us whittle down names that have been suggested by our students over the last month. Don’t like any of the options you see? The community will also be given another chance to make suggestions at this time.” [Zebra]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Desk Donations from Building Momentum — “Casa Chirilagua, a non-profit serving the Arlandria neighborhood in northern Virginia near Reagan National Airport, has been one of the largest recipients and distributors of the desks. Adriana Gómez Schellhaas, executive director of Casa Chirilagua, said the non-profit has distributed over 50 desks to homes and learning centers in their community.” [USChamber.com]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High near 55F. Winds light and variable… A few clouds from time to time in the evening. Low 31F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Experienced Servers at Mia’s Italian Kitchen — “We are searching for Experienced Servers to join our Team at Mia’s in OLD TOWN” [Indeed]

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After receiving approval from the state, Mayor Justin Wilson announced on Twitter than Alexandria is moving into the next phase of vaccine distribution.

The new wave of distribution, listed as 1B, opens up the vaccine to several new essential professions. Healthcare workers were able to recieve the vaccine under phase 1A.

Those in groups 1B or 1C, or their employers, can register online for vaccination.

“If you are an individual employee of an essential organization, please tell your supervisor to arrange for one person to register on behalf of all staff via this link,” the state said on its website. “Your employer will then be given instructions on when and how to upload all employees for vaccine appointments.”

The first vaccinations for teachers will be given tomorrow at T.C. Williams High School.

Phase 1C will open vaccination up to at-risk adults, such as those over 65 years old or have a disease that would put them at greater risk.

Phases 1B and 1C open the vaccine to several types of essential workers, including:

  • Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff
  • Corrections and Homeless Shelters
  • Energy, Finance, Agriculture, Food Service, Grocery Store Workers
  • Housing Construction
  • Information Technology and Communication
  • Institutions of Higher Education Faculty and Staff
  • Legal, Mail Carriers (USPS and Private)
  • Manufacturing
  • Media
  • Officials Needed to Maintain Continuity of Government
  • Other Public Health Workers
  • Police, Fire, Hazmat Workers
  • Public Safety (Engineers)
  • Public Transit Workers, Transportation and Logistics, Water and Wastewater.

Wilson said on Twitter that it’s unclear when the city will move into phase 1C but said he suspects it “will be a while.”

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Health Department Holding COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for High-Risk Groups — “The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) is currently registering essential employees for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. The clinic is also open to residents with “underlying medical conditions and those over 65.” [Zebra]

New 12-Acre Park Coming to Mount Vernon Area of Fairfax — “By the end of this year, a new 12-acre park will open at the new North Hill development site. At a virtual meeting Wednesday evening, members of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) presented details on North Hill park.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Alexandria Times Podcast Celebrates One Year Anniversary — “In 2020, the Alexandria Times launched its first podcast, Speak Easy, and over the last year reporter-turned-managing-editor Cody Mello-Klein has spoken with the people who make Alexandria tick.” [Alexandria Times]

T.C. Students React to Capitol Hill Events — “Hundreds of T.C. Titans took to social media to further air out their frustrations and anger, comparing how the pro-Trump demonstrators were treated to how the Black Lives Matter demonstrators were treated a few short months ago.” [Theogony]

Visit Alexandria Capitalized on Wonder Woman Spotlight — “Calling all ‘Wonder Woman: 1984’ fans. Visit Alexandria is giving residents and tourists a look into how the film was made.” [Local DMV]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Bridgette Adu-Wadier, editor of T.C. Williams High School’s Theogony student newspaper, has selected by PBS as one of the nation’s top 20-Under-20 up and coming storytellers.

In addition to acting as editor for the school’s paper, Adu-Wadier has written about racial inequalities in the school and other controversies at the school. Adu-Wadier also produces and moderates a series of panels with local journalists called Behind the Headlines.

Abu-Wadier’s efforts were recognized by PBS in the new 20-Under-20 series, started this year, which focuses on young journalists and young storytellers.

According to PBS:

Bridgette Adu-Wadier is a senior at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Her love for books and storytelling drew her to journalism, creating an opportunity to continue exploring the power of local politics and underrepresented voices. Next fall, she will pursue broadcast journalism and social science research at Northwestern University. She dreams of becoming an investigative journalist reporting on education. She is an editor for her school newspaper, host and co-founder of the local news discussion show at her school and a reporter for several other publications. Bridgette has also helped produce several stories for SRL, as well as interviewed the NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff on preparing for presidential debates.

Photo via TCTV/Youtube

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Morning Notes

Beyer Bill Would Make Police Misconduct Allegations and Settlements Public — “The Cost of Police Misconduct Act would create a public database of all misconduct allegations and settlements.” [Vox]

Del Ray Artist Creates Tiny Fairy Homes — “Thanks to a young Del Ray artist, fairy houses and businesses are popping up all around the neighborhood. Kate Young, who is also known as the ‘fairy realtor’ first started a magical project in 2017, but it has grown a larger set of wings during the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

GW Offers Healthcare Training to T.C. Students — “Students with the  Governor’s Health Sciences Academy (GHSA) at T.C. Williams High School will soon have the opportunity to expand their career options. The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) has received a $700,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia to create a new Community Medi-Corps Program in Alexandria.” [Zebra]

Toy Giveaway Adjusts for Pandemic — “The pandemic has changed so many annual traditions this year, but it didn’t stop one organization in Alexandria, Virginia, from having its Winter Wonderland event.” [WTOP]

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With the school board voting to rename T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School, the question remains: rename them to what?

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has opened that question to students with an essay and poster campaign.

“The second phase of The Identity Project — the selection of new names — will ensure that students, staff, alumni, families, and the community are all heard,” ACPS said on the school district’s website. “Most importantly, we want to keep the next generation and our students’ voices at the heart of this process. To assist the community with suggested names for both schools, we are inviting students to participate in a student essay/poster campaign to submit names for community consideration.”

Broader community voices will be considered later in the process, ACPS said.

Each student is invited to submit one name for each school. School regulations state that schools can be named for:

  • A person — Presidents of the United States, Virginia historical figures, or specific individuals that have made a significant and extraordinary contribution to the City of Alexandria in terms of education, public service, or involvement in civic or cultural activities over an extended period of time. Active/current employees of Alexandria City Public Schools are not allowed.
  • A place — Places or events in history that are related to the school facility or its location

NOTE: School names are NOT limited to these categories and other suggestions can be submitted and will be considered. School names that could cause confusion with other public facilities in Alexandria or with other adjoining jurisdictions and other areas of the Commonwealth of Virginia should be avoided.

ACPS regulation states that schools can be renamed after individuals who have made contributions to a school, program, or the school division as a whole — provided the school is not named for an active ACPS employee. Schools may also be renamed for a place or event of historic significance related to the school

To submit a name for consideration, students can submit a 200-word or fewer essay or a poster explaining or illustrating why they believe that name is appropriate to replace T.C. Williams High School or Matthew Maury Elementary School.

“Please encourage students to research names and submit their entries through the Identity Project nomination form,” ACPS said. “Entries will be accepted starting Dec. 9, 2020 through the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2021.”

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With the Alexandria School Board approving changing the names of two Alexandria schools, the question is what to call the school formerly known as T.C. Williams High School?

Several alternatives have been raised in online forums and in meetings. Some have suggested other local figures that could replace Thomas Chambliss Williams, including longtime former principal John Porter or Petey Jones, a member of the 1971 championship team and an employee at the school who died last year.

The specter of the 1971 championship and the 2000 Disney film Remember the Titans hangs over much of the renaming discussion, with one of the more popular replacement names being Boone-Yoast High School in honor of coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast — though others are equally quick to note that movies somewhat exaggerated Boone’s role in integrating the school.

Some have suggested keeping the iconic initials T.C. in the name as a way of both distancing from the original honoring of Williams while celebrating what the high school has come to stand for, though the solution is a halfway measure that could face further pushback from those who advocated for erasing T.C. Williams from the school’s name.

Rather than naming a school after a person, the school could also revert to a more generic name, like Alexandria High School, to avoid future debate or name changes.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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