Wednesday, February 27, 2008

HeraldTrib Today: Feb. 27, 2008

I refused to take pictures, or really even any notes, as I walked inside the new townhome at the corner of N. Henderson Road at N. George Mason Drive. This was one of the Buckingham Village 2 townhomes (the Buckingham Commons development) being erected “by right” by the Paradigm Cos.

I just did not want the coverage to feel like a sales brochure. I have to admit, though, I liked them, though at more than $900,000, the model home is pricey. The largest end units will top out at well over a million bucks.

My wife, who visited on another day, said they were just too expensive for what you get. That same money can get you a nice single-family home just about anywhere in Arlington, with a yard. Why buy a townhome on a busy intersection?

(She then proceeded to send me links to nice single family homes in Bluemont and Arlington Forest for about $730,000, the price of the smallest Buckingham Commons townhome.)

I live in an old, bomb-shelter-solid Arlington Oaks townhome, circa 1939. It has its charm, but the two-car garages that come with the Buckingham Commons townhouses(no basement, my wife pointed out) would be nice. I like the modern conveniences in the new places—a built-in multi-room stereo system, central air/heat, an open kitchen/family room with a small deck outside the sliding glass door (all this is on the second floor). The washer/dryer is on the third floor, along with two bedrooms, and the third bedroom is on the fourth floor. From the hall up there, you can step out onto a second deck.

Here again my wife pointed out, rightly I’ll say, that on the rooftop deck you are next to the heating/cooling system for your house. It’s not exactly pretty, but if you look away from it, it’s OK.

We don’t have $730,000 to spend on the smallest of these townhouses, anyway, but I think I’m with my wife—just a little too much for what you get. They say they have contracts on another two; so that’s about four sold.
Don’t forget to email me if you want to HELP with the flower garden. See the “HearaldTrib Today” post from last week for more on that. Thus far, people have had good ideas, but no one has stepped forward to offer help. I’m not doing it unless others step up.A number of good letters, including an analysis of the Bob Peck site getting redeveloped, have come in this week, see all the links below.Make sure you read the profile today of Buckinghamster Vilma Giron-Lima. She’s a remarkable young woman, the first in her family to finish high school and attend college. When I interviewed her a couple weeks ago, I was struck by how articulate she is.

I work with students like her all the time as a professor at Montgomery College, yet her thoughts tumbled from her mouth in a way I usually just don’t hear from 18-year-olds. She could hear the sentence as it spilled out and would make adjustments along the way so that it was clear and concise by the time she reached a period.

You don’t need to talk to her for long, to know that she’s smart.

That said, I’ll give you a bit of news that’s not in the story. She’s studying psychology, but only received a 3 on her Advanced Placement Psychology Exam, a score that was not good enough for credit at Trinity College. However, she said she was happy to have taken it.

“I don’t regret it. I…learned a lot actually, but I don’t regret it,” she said.

I’m bringing this up because I often cringe at the statements that Scott McCaffrey at the Sun Gazette makes regarding AP Test scores. He only likes them if test taking rates rise along with scores.

I’m more of this opinion: if the student has a shot at doing well, get them in that class. No educator wants a student in a class that is too far beyond his or her abilities. They drown before they can learn to swim.

Still, AP classes are so much more advanced, they can give students such a much deeper understanding, that I do not really care if the student does well on the exam. If she bombs the test, who cares? A year of advanced study is the important thing, which Ms. Giron-Lima seems to understand.

Leo Burnett said that if you reach for the stars you might not get them, but you won't end up with a handful of mud, either. I often keep that in mind.

My only caveat: do not require teachers to look at the official AP Exam score to give grades, especially final grades. Colleges will not look to the teacher’s grade, but only to the test grade. If a teacher knows the student is strong and has learned a lot, and is deserving of an “A,” let that teacher give the “A.” If that student then gets a 2 on the exam, oh well.

I know that leaves room for grade inflation, but that was possible anyway.Det. Katie Rounds, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department, informed me that she is leaving the Public Relations office for other duties. Buenos suerte, Detective!A couple weeks back, I posted a letter from Mick Pulliam about religion in the presidential primary race. An anonymous Mormon responded to it, and I thought you might want to check it out.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • Young Minds in Buckingham: Vilma Giron-Lima
  • Police Notes for Buckingham

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Letter: Revised GLUP Bad for Buckingham
  • Bad Accident at Pershing and Thomas
  • Police Know This “Joker”
  • Letter: Plant Milkweeds for Butterflies
  • Letter: Free Seeds May Be Available

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