Send announcements to the Alexandria Gazette Packet, by e-mail to, by fax to 703-917-0991 or by mail to 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102. Deadline is Friday at noon for the following week’s paper. Photos are encouraged. Call Rebecca Halik at 703-917-6407 with questions.

Steve Tester earned the teaching profession's top credential by achieving National Board Certification in 2006, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Steve Tester teaches biology and chemistry at Minnie Howard. He has been a teacher for eight years and holds two degrees in biology (BS & MS) as well as post graduate certification in secondary education.

To help ease the transition as students move up through the secondary grades, Alexandria City Public Schools will hold orientation meetings for parents of rising sixth- through 12th-grade students. During these events, counselors and administrators will discuss with parents the middle- and high-school educational programs and explain the courses available at each grade level. They also will explain the course selection and registration process as it will be implemented from February through May.Course selection orientation meetings are scheduled as follows:

* Friday, Jan. 26, 11 a.m., PTA luncheon for parents of rising sixth graders at George Washington Middle School, in the school's Media Center, 1005 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria.

* Tuesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m., parents of rising ninth graders, Auditorium at Minnie Howard School, 3801 West Braddock Road, Alexandria.

* Wednesday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m., parents of sixth through eighth graders at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Hammond Auditorium, 4646 Seminary Road , Alexandria.

* Wednesday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m., parents of rising sixth through eighth graders, George Washington Middle School Auditorium.

For more information, please contact the schools' guidance department offices: T.C. Williams, 703-824-6820; Minnie Howard, 703-824-6755; Francis C. Hammond, 703-461-4117; and George Washington, 703-706-4528.

Give the gift of literacy this holiday season, by getting involved as a volunteer. The "Wright to Read" program, which is funded by the Frank and Betty Wright Foundation and administered by The Campagna Center, is always looking for individuals who wish to make a difference in a child’s life. Through its three programs, Tutor/Mentors; Book Buddies and Reach Out and Read, the Wright to Read program matches dedicated volunteers with first-fifth grade students, referred by their teachers as needing help with reading.

Volunteers meet one-on-one, for a minimum of an hour per week, at a time that’s convenient for them. Initial and ongoing training is provided. For more information and upcoming orientation dates, call Ginny Biggs at 703-549-0111, ext. 142.

Pictures taken by the T.C. Williams documentary studies advanced photography class will be featured in a 2007 T.C. Williams High School Commemorative Calendar. The calendar features 13 beautiful, duo-toned photographs -- all taken by current T.C. Williams students — of the soon to be demolished T.C. Williams building and environs. Measuring 7-by-7 inches, the calendar is the perfect size for either wall or desk. Calendars, available for $8 apiece, are being printed now and will be mailed to purchasers in mid-December.

The calendar may be purchased separately or as part of a $25 student-created publications package commemorating the building, which will be demolished in June of 2007 prior to the opening of the adjacent new high school, currently under construction. Publications can be purchased by visiting or by sending a check or money order to We Are The Titans; c/o Taki Sidley, Room D6, T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King St., Alexandria, Virginia 22302. All proceeds from pre-sales will go to the T.C. Williams High School programs that created these publications. Donations above and beyond the purchase price are appreciated. For additional information, contact Technology Teacher Taki Sidley at 703-824-6800.

The Westminster-George Mason Tutoring Program needs tutors and substitute tutors to work one-on-one with elementary school children who need extra help. Tutoring takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 2:35-3:35 p.m. in the library at George Mason Elementary School. Tutors are asked to make a commitment of one hour per week from October through May, excepting school holidays and snow days. Substitute tutors are also needed to be available once or twice a month to fill in for weekly tutors. Contact Kathy Hart at 703-706-4470 or to learn more.

A new Online Career Center, school-based community college career coach and community college outreach counselor are helping Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students plan for life after high school. An Online Career Center created for ACPS students includes sections related to career exploration, researching occupations and colleges, job search skills, employment Web sites and more. The site also features a section for employers, parents and community members who are looking for opportunities to become involved with the schools. The Online Career Center can be found at: For more information about Career Center-related opportunities at T.C. Williams, contact the school at 703-824-6800.

The Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association's Educational Outreach Committee will present the final round of the 2007 WMPA Concerto Competition on Saturday, March 17, 2007, from 10 am-3:30 p.m. at Episcopal High School, 1200 North Quaker Lane. Finalists in each division (strings, winds, percussion and piano) will perform live before a panel of expert judges. The grand prize winner will be awarded the opportunity to perform live with the WMP during the 2007-08 season. First and second place winners in each division will receive a cash prize and Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic (WMP) season tickets. Winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. the day of the performance. Open to applicants of 21 years of age or younger (there is no minimum age requirement), WMPA's Concerto Competition requires participants to submit a recording of 15 minutes of music from a concerto. Applications are due by Feb. 3, 2007, and can be found at Finalists are selected based on the recorded performance and are then invited to perform live for judges. Admission to the final round is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or contact the office directly at 703-799-8229.

George Washington Middle School will receive $6,000 from the Washington Wizards, thanks to All-Star Guard Gilbert Arenas' record-breaking scoring on Dec. 17. Arenas scored 60 points, setting a franchise record for high scoring during a game and leading the Wizards to a 147-141 overtime win against the Los Angeles Lakers. During every Wizards game this season, a school previously chosen through a random drawing receives $100 for each point Arenas scores. George Washington was the designated school for the game on Dec. 17. George Washington is the first of six Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) included in the 82 schools chosen to participate in the "Gilbert Scores for Schools" promotion. Other upcoming games in which Arenas will score for ACPS schools include:

* Feb. 7 Wizards versus San Antonio Spurs at home for Jefferson-Houston School for Arts and Academics

* Feb. 20 Wizards versus Minnesota Timberwolves at home for Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology

* Feb. 28 Wizards versus Miami Heat at home for the Secondary Training and Education Program (STEP)

* March 30 Wizards versus Toronto Raptors at home for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School

For further information about "Gilbert Scores for Schools," contact the participating schools or visit the Wizards' Web site at

Zeta Phi Beta is sponsoring an scholarship/essay contest for City of Alexandria students in grades 10-12. The deadline for the submission is Feb. 20. the topic is "What impact did Hurricane Katrina have on you or your family?" Winner will receive $1,000 and will be announced at a reception on March 24. Mail essays to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Nu Xi Zeta Chapter - Scholarship, P.O. Box 25961, Alexandria, VA 22313. For information visit or call 703-802-0621.

The Special Education Parent Resource Center of Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) announces the following events scheduled this month:

* The St. Elmo's Group, a get-together of parents of children with special needs, will meet on Monday, Jan. 22, from 8-10 p.m. at St. Elmo's Coffee Pub, 2300 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. The topic will be "News You Can Use: Hear the Latest on Time Management, ADHD, Social Skills and the Psychological Impact of Exercise," presented by Academic Coach Laurie Chester and Personal Success and ADHD Coach Kim Smith Kidd. No RSVP is necessary.

* The Support Group for Parents of Children in Special Education continues to meet every Thursday morning from 10 a.m.-noon at the Special Education Parent Resource Center. Meetings include coffee, bagels, free child care with advance notice and great support and problem-solving ideas.