Tuesday, April 15, 2008

HeraldTrib Today: April 16, 2008

Not much on the site this week—a couple letters mainly. See them as they are very interesting (scroll down for the links).

I am working on a couple bigger stories, including one about grants funding at K.W. Barrett Elementary School. I am hoping to post that one tomorrow.

The Barrett Auction…

K.W. Barrett Elementary School PTA held its second annual auction Friday. Organizers have called it a huge success. The official tally has not been counted, but those in know (including PTA President Melanie Wilhelm) put it at over $20,000! That is not a bad haul. A huge shout-out should go to auction chair Karen Hildebrand, who is being treated to a week’s worth of home-cooked dinners for all her work.

People enjoyed food, bidding and chat at the Barrett PTA auction Friday. (Click to enlarge the image, but it really does not get any better than what you see here. Stupid cell phone.)

With that money, Principal Terry Bratt said that Barrett can buy about seven “smartboards,” interactive projector screens that allow users to operate a connected computer by touching the screen. If you have not seen them, they are cool (I am a tad jealous; we do not have those at Montgomery College as far as I know).

I thought the night was a lot of fun. My daughter Hazel gets to have a lunch date with her teacher Julie Schneider, and she’s looking forward to that.

I cannot get two things off my mind, however, and I go back and forth over them. I am one of those people who wonders about the fairness of PTA fundraising in general. I mean if we really need the smartboards, we should pay for them through taxes, right? Basically, we are taxing ourselves to pay for something we want. But is that fair? The money should go into a larger pool so that the schools and communities that need the most, get the most.

Or, to switch it around, should the people in “really north” Arlington (not us in “just-barely-north” Arlington) who probably make much more than we do in auctions be forced to help us pay for our smartboards?

As well, we all have to admit that the auction was a night of English speaking, which is not altogether Barrett. I know the argument there, too, that the purpose of an auction is not for parity in the winning, but to make the most money for the school. That money is then used to help everyone, including children in families who cannot afford to be there, or cannot afford to win a prize.

Still, there must be some way to make the auction more inclusive. When my children went to Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool, my wife and I worked on the auction there, so I know what a huge burden this event is, and Ms. Hildebrand did a stand-up job. My comments are not meant to pick at it, and I know my comments have been discussed by people more in-the-know than I.

Comments like those, though, should come with a “put-up or shut-up” clause. So I’ll put up. I’ll help work on the auction for next year, and someone else could nitpik.

Arts in the Schools…

The opera guild of Northern Virginia has arranged a public discussion of arts in the schools.
(Click to enlarge the image.)

Their release says: “Is there an arts education crisis in our own public schools? So far, Guild research has not been able to find one. Is the news all good, or should parents be concerned? What is the County’s vision? Can parents and community members help fill in any gaps? Four speakers will discuss some of the many issues involved.”

Those four speakers include: K.W. Barrett Elementary School music teacher, Ms. Mary Hanna Klontz;.Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Robert Smith; Ms. Carol Erion, APS’s supervisor of arts education; Ms. Cecelia Espenoza, CCPTA in APS.

The event is free, but the Opera Guild is asking that you bring cookies for the intermission, if you can. Contact: Contact Miriam Miller, OGNV, 703-536-7557, mcdm1@verizon.net.


The View from the Bridge Ain’t So Bad…

My wife, Cathy, and I took in A View from the Bridge at Arena Stage’sCrystal Forum.” The venue is a basement office space in Crystal City converted into a temporary theatre while Arena Stage builds a new space over the Potomac (it is set to open 2010).

The space was nice enough, and I doubt there is a really bad seat in the house. This is part of Arena’s Arthur Miller Festival. The play, which had its American debut at Arena back in 1955 according to the playbill, is in rotation with Death of a Salesman through May 18.

Really the worst part of the acting was in the accents. David Agranov as Rodolpho sounded Russian at times. Noble Shropshire (Alfieri) sounded more like a German Jew than the Italian-American lawyer he was playing. I had never read nor seen the play before and thought, until he said he was Italian, that the play was going to have some racial or ethnic strife between the Italian Catholics and the German Jews.

Turns out the play does have ethnic (or cultural) strife, but not because the Catholic Italians were going to the Jewish lawyer. All the ethnic strife revolves around settled Italian-Americans and the influence of Italian illegal immigrants.

Other than some bad accents, the acting was fine.

Delaney Williams does a nice job as Eddie, a man whose care for his niece Catherine (Virginia Kull) borders on, or teeters into, obsessive. Ms. Kull did an excellent job as a girl-turning-woman. Her girlish bopping around the apartment slowly matures into sexual tension that she does not even realize at first. Naomi Jacobson as Eddie’s wife Beatrice does an excellent job as the woman caught in the middle, who orders Catherine to empower herself and “act like a woman” even though Bea has a hard time with her own empowerment.

Before we entered the theatre one of the ushers said that the play would cover contemporary topics, especially of illegal immigration. But what my wife, who knows these things, noticed was the structure of conflict.

Brothers Rodolopho and Marco (Louis Cancelmi), the illegal immigrants who move into Eddie’s small apartment, help show how the petty wants of individuals can become part of international conflicts. The play looks at how conflict boils up between newcomers that “don’t act right” in an established society.

It’s worth the view.

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: heraldtrib@gmail.com --Steve Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • Police Notes for Buckingham, April 16, 2008

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Letter: Woodpecker Not So Dumb (I love this sort of letter when the readers are paying better attention than I am.)
  • Letter: Men Are Illegal Aliens (This one has comments already. I also do not think we have seen the last word on all this.)
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