This Week’s Headlines:
- Coming Soon: Fall and Summer 2021 Learning Choice Form
- And the Winners Are… Announcing our 2021 Principal, Teacher and Support Staffer of the Year!
- U.S. Secretary of Education, Virginia Governor and State Superintendent Visit ACPS
- Demolition Begins at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School
- History Made: Titans are Volleyball State Champions
- National Bike to School Day is May 5-6
- Kindergarten Registration Opens May 5!
- Alexandria PTAC Summer Camp Directory
- ACPS Needs Your Input on 2022-23 and 2023-24 School Year Calendars
- FOOD ACCESS: Distribution Hours Changing on May 5
Dear ACPS Families and Community,
In last week’s Community Sessions, we mentioned a form is coming your way about signing up for Summer Learning and choosing a Fall 2021 learning model for each child in your family. Please watch for this important Learning Choice Form email message in your inbox on May 11. The 2021-22 school year choices are attending school five days a week either in person or through the 100% Virtual Academy. We are excited about being back in the classroom five days a week! We need every family’s preference by May 24 to plan for Fall 2021 opening day appropriately. More details about these options will be included with the Learning Choice Form.
Congratulations to our Titan Volleyball Team for bringing home the state championship trophy! With a come-from-behind victory, this title is the first state volleyball championship in the school’s history. Go, Titans!
To kick off Teacher Appreciation Week, please join me in congratulating three ACPS colleagues who have earned top honors from ACPS. Our 2020-21 honorees include ACPS Francis C. Hammond Middle School Principal of the Year Pierrette Peters, T.C. Williams High School TV/Media Production Teacher of the Year Vilma Zefran and Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School Support Staffer of the Year Alex Weinard for their commitment to teaching, learning and leadership on behalf of our students and staff. As we celebrate educators next week, May 3-7, please reach out to your teachers and share what they mean to you and your family.
We officially began the first phase of the demolition and new build of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School this week. It was exciting to see this project begin and I cannot wait to see the students and staff in the new beautifully designed school facility, which is slated to open in January 2023.
On Wednesday, we were honored to host U.S. Department of Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School as part of the “Help is Here Tour.” Leaders from ACPS, Alexandria City, and Virginia, including Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane, and National Education Association President Becky Pringle came together to discuss equitable learning and resources for all students. There is no better place to see and learn about students in school and “Equity for All” than ACPS.
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Coming Soon: Fall and Summer 2021 Learning Choice Form
In two weeks, all ACPS families will receive an online form to complete and tell us your Summer Learning and Fall 2021 learning options. The Learning Choice Form will be open from May 11-24, 2021.
There are two important questions that every ACPS family must answer for each student:
- Summer 2021: Would you like for your child(ren) to participate in the Summer Learning for All program? The program will be offered July 6-July 30, with a two-week extended virtual program Aug. 2-12 for students invited to participate.
- Fall 2021: For the 2021-22 school year, would you like for your child(ren) to participate in in-person learning OR 100% virtual learning through the ACPS Virtual Academy? Both options will be five days a week. More details about these options will be provided with the Learning Choice Form.
The decision you make now is important to our comprehensive planning. The Learning Choice Form will be sent to families by email on May 11, 2021. May 24, 2021 is the last day for families to inform ACPS of your selection for the 2021-22 school year. If a family does not make a selection before the deadline, then their child will automatically be enrolled in in-person learning for the first quarter of the school year.
And the Winners Are… Announcing our 2021 Principal, Teacher and Support Staffer of the Year!
Principal of the Year: Pierrette Peters, Francis C. Hammond Middle School
The 2020-21 ACPS Principal of the Year honoree is Francis C. Hammond Middle School Principal Pierrette Peters. Peters is in her sixth year as Principal of Hammond and is known as a student-focused leader who is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and engaging school environment with high expectations for all. Hammond Student Representative Sarah Murphy said, “Ms. Peters is a great role model because she shows everyone how to behave and act in a working environment. She is very respectful to staff, students and families. Ms. Peters looks to empower others and build others’ confidence.”
Teacher of the Year: Vilma Zefran, T.C. Williams High School
The 2020-21 ACPS Teacher of the Year is Vilma Zefran, T.C. Williams High School TV/Media Production teacher. Zefran has tirelessly worked to improve and add value to the TV/Media Production program at T.C. Williams since she started it in 1999. The program began with 70 students in a two-year program. Today, the program hosts nearly 100 students in a three-year program. Since the program’s inception, many of the students have pursued related programs in college and have entered the film and media industry as award-winning professionals. Former student Cheston McGuire recalls, “…after three years under the tutelage of Ms. Zefran, I found a subject matter I was passionate about, a career I was interested in, and a college that — thanks to her advice and guidance — helped me chart a successful career…”
Support Staffer of the Year: Alex Weinard, Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School
Alex Weinard, kindergarten paraprofessional at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School, is the ACPS 2020-2021 Support Staffer of the Year.
Weinard has been invaluable in his role, while simultaneously completing his Masters in Teaching from the University of Virginia, Curry School of Education and Human Development. Before ACPS, Weinard had been mentoring and guiding youth through AmeriCorps and 4-H. Claudine Browand, kindergarten instructional assistant, said, “Alex is committed to the whole school. He helps out whenever anyone outside our kindergarten team asks for help. Also, he helped establish our Robotics Club with our Art Teacher Frank Altamirano, last school year. He traveled with the club as they made it to finals last school year. He has also worked with one of our Physical Education Teachers April Rodgers, to set up a very successful morning run club. He was getting kids moving and exercising before most teachers arrived at school. He is an asset to our school and we are very fortunate to have him on our team.”
Congratulations to our winners!
U.S. Secretary of Education, Virginia Governor and State Superintendent Visit ACPS
This Wednesday, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona continued the “Help is Here” School Reopening Tour in Alexandria, where he visited Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School. Secretary Cardona visited classrooms, spoke with students, and listened to teachers, school staff and leaders in a roundtable discussion to learn about the challenges schools have faced during the pandemic, as well as input about the challenges and opportunities as we return to in-person learning.
In addition to Sec. Cardona, special guests included Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Virginia first lady Pamela Northam, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane, National Education Association President Becky Pringle, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine Regional Representative Gaston Araoz, U.S. Congressman Representative Noah Simon, State Deputy Director of Education Kathy Burcher, City of Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, and City of Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker. The group joined Dr. Hutchings and School Board Chair Meagan L. Alderton, Vice Chair Veronica Nolan and Board members Cindy Anderson and Dr. Michelle Rief.
The visits are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader efforts to support states, schools, students, parents, and educators as they navigate returning to in-person learning and highlight how the American Rescue Plan will aid them in these efforts.
During the “Help is Here” tour, Sec. Cardona is visiting schools that have successfully reopened and stayed open to highlight best practices and discuss how schools can ensure reopening efforts are advancing educational equity. Sec. Cardona is also visiting schools that are facing challenges as they work to reopen to provide educators with encouragement, support and technical assistance. Sec. Cardona will share what he is hearing and learning on the visits with other states and districts across the nation to help more schools reopen quickly and safely and reach President Biden’s goal of reopening the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his administration.
Demolition Begins at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School
This Monday, ACPS kicked off the demolition and new building project for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. It was an exciting first step, as construction site machinery took the “first bite” out of the old building. See video of the demolition kick-off.
On hand for this momentous moment were ACPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., School Board Chair Meagan Alderton, School Board Members Dr. Michelle Rief and Jacinta Greene, City Council Member Amy Jackson, and MacArthur Principal Penny Hairston, along with executives from contractor SKANSKA and DLR Group design firm.
Douglas MacArthur Elementary School opened its doors in 1943 to accommodate the families of those recruited to work at the Naval Torpedo Factory during World War II. The school was integrated into the city’s public school system in 1947. Douglas MacArthur Elementary School is the school that President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford’s four children attended.
The new three-story school facility will include pre-K through grade five and will provide academic spaces for classrooms, art, music and physical education. Site improvements will include drop-off and pick-up areas, fields and play areas. The new building design, known as the “Forest Concept,” will be 150,000 square feet and have space for 275 more students. The classrooms will have natural light and be designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
The new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School is scheduled to open its doors in January 2023.
The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved the design of the new building for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in September 2020, allowing the construction to move ahead on schedule. The new school building will be the first school in the City of Alexandria to be net-zero energy ready, in line with the City’s green building policy. The final design will be set up ready to generate as much energy as it uses.
See more information on the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School modernization project.
History Made: Titans are Volleyball State Champions
Even with a small crowd due to COVID restrictions, the gym at T.C. Williams lit up last Friday when the Titan Volleyball Team made history. The Titans came from behind (23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19, 17-15) to secure the Virginia High School Volleyball State Championship against Kellam High School of Virginia Beach. This state title is the first for the volleyball program at T.C. Williams.
“We were down one set after the first set and again after the third set. In the fifth set, we were down 3-8 (in a game to 15). Statistically speaking, a team with that kind of lead in the fifth set will win the vast majority of the time. It was a tremendous comeback that we had to win it all,” said James Parker, T.C. Williams director of athletics and student activities.
Every player contributed to this remarkable season. In the finals, those with the highest statistical output include Milan Rex, who led the match with 30 kills, Chloe Wilmot, who played tremendous defense, led the team in aces with five, and assists with 50. Lila Randall led our defense with 20 digs, Kaitlin Peters was second on the team in kills (13) and aces (3). Jill Jones and Meaghan Wendling each contributed four blocks, while Tess Lundgren had a well-rounded game with four kills, one ace, and two blocks, including the block that put us up 14-13 in set five.
The volleyball team is excited to finally see their state championship title added to the banner in the gym. The team will be returning 11 members and only graduating four seniors. Watch out Virginia, there is more to come!
Congratulations to the team and coaching staff!
National Bike to School Day is May 5-6
Get up, get outside and get your gear on for National Bike to School Day 2021. ACPS will be celebrating and encouraging students and families to join us May 5 and 6. Students are encouraged to bike (or roll, walk, jog, hop or gallop) to their school campus or around their neighborhood.
Visit the ACPS Safe Routes to School webpage for:
- Bike safety resources
- ABC quick checks
- How to start a “bike train”
Kindergarten Registration Opens May 5!
Kindergarten registration for the 2021-22 school year opens on May 5, 2021. Find out about the registration process and get your documentation ready. Learn more about kindergarten at our schools by attending one of our school Kindergarten Open House and Webinar events.
Alexandria PTAC Summer Camp Directory
The Alexandria PTA Council (PTAC) normally conducts an annual, in-person Summer Camp Fair, but due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, they are publishing an online directory. Contact information and websites are listed so that you may reach out to individual camps for more information.
Because many camps are still uncertain as to what programs they will be able to offer this summer, this directory will be updated throughout the spring as registrations come in. ACPS and PTAC are not affiliated with and do not endorse any particular camp.
ACPS Needs Your Input on 2022-23 and 2023-24 School Year Calendars
ACPS has implemented a deliberative planning process for the school year calendar which encompasses two school years: 2022-23 and 2023-24. A two-year calendar cycle improves long-range plans for school programs, facilities projects and operational services. Likewise, families will be able to better plan and schedule family activities. ACPS is continuing the pre-Labor Day start to the school year to support student success and reduce summer learning loss while providing the most classroom time before Advanced Placement (AP) exam testing.
Two polls will be open for public comment through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 10, 2021.
Please take the opportunity to review the proposed options for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 School Year Calendars.
- Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School Modified Academic Calendar
Take the Samuel W. Tucker Poll to submit your comments on the Samuel W. Tucker Modified Academic Calendars for 2022-23 and 2023-24.
- Traditional ACPS Academic Calendar
Take the Traditional ACPS Academic Calendar Poll to identify your preferred calendar options and submit your comments for 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Once feedback has been received, the Academic Calendar Committee and ACPS administrators will evaluate the responses to determine the general sentiment to support a particular option for each school year. A calendar recommendation will be made to the superintendent.
The superintendent will present the recommended calendar to the School Board for approval at a meeting in June 2021. Once approved, the adopted calendars will be posted on the ACPS website and announced in ACPS Express, ACPS Insider and on social media.
Starting May 5, food distribution at our school sites will change to the new hours of 9 to 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two. See a map and list of food distribution locations and times.