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Schools March 15-22

Send announcements to the Alexandria Gazette Packet, by e-mail to gazette@connectionnewspapers.com. Deadline is Friday at noon for the following week’s paper. Photos are encouraged. Call Rebecca Halik at 703-917-6407 with questions.

Several Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) elementary schools will host open houses and tours geared primarily toward parents of prospective kindergartners. Here is a schedule of upcoming events:

* Charles Barrett Elementary School, 1115 Martha Custis Dr., 703-824-6960. A kindergarten children's visit is set for 12:45 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. Tours are available by appointment at 9 a.m. on Thursdays.

* George Mason Elementary School, 2601 Cameron Mills Road, 703-706-4470. An open house for kindergartners registered at George Mason takes place from 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 29. School tours, by appointment, begin at 10 a.m. every Tuesday.

* William Ramsay Elementary School, 5700 Sanger Ave., 703-824-6950. No open house is scheduled, but parents of prospective kindergartners can call the school to arrange individual tours.

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

* 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.

The T.C. Williams High School girls' and boys' lacrosse teams are selling bags of mulch as a fundraiser. Each 3-cubic feet, 40-pound bag costs $4.75. Orders must be received by March 17, with checks made out to T.C. Williams Lacrosse Boosters, c/o Linda Davenport, 206 Elm St., Alexandria, Va. 22301. Pick-up will take place from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, at George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria . Delivery is available, in City of Alexandria limits only, for a $20 additional fee and minimum 10-bag order. Order forms may be obtained at www.acps.k12.va.us/tcw/mulchsale.pdf or by contacting Bill Garrahan at 703-926-0919 (work) or william.garrahan@xo.com; or Mark Fitzsimmons at 202-429-8068 (work) or mfitzsimmons@steptoe.com .

T.C. Williams High School drama students won third place at the Patriot District One-Act Festival Competition held Jan. 30 at South County High School. Performing a comedy titled "Jimmy the Antichrist" by Keith J. Powell, the students tied for second place with Lake Braddock Secondary School, but lost a tie-breaker by three points. West Springfield High School won the competition. Morgan Grady was voted by the judges as the best actor to perform at the competition. Maggie Rosenblatt and Alina Collins received All Star Awards for being among the top 12 actors picked by the theatre directors who were present. Rosenblatt, Collins and Grady received three out of the five top awards given to the actors by the judges. Other participating students included actors Biana Lipford, Agatha Aramayo and Anil Kenkeremath and Student Director Beth Wherry.

Six T.C. Williams High School TV Production students received awards in the recent Pre-Produced One-Minute Video Production category of the District 14 SkillsUSA Competition. The team of Tyler DeCourt, Taylor Pearson and John Wilson IV received first place for a piece titled Extreme Skipping, and the team of Brooks Eaton, Reid Scholar and Will Shankles earned second place for an entry called US Bowling. All students will advance to the state-level competition in Richmond in April.

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Alexandria Sunrise Optimist Club honored three winners of its tenth annual Optimist International Essay Contest. Three students read their essays at the club's meeting on this year's topic, "I Want to Make a Difference Because…" The first place winner was Lauren Ellis of Falls Church, a student at Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School, second place winner was Chris Timmons of Alexandria, a student at T. C. Williams High School, and the third place winner was Mia (Marie) Brown of Alexandria, a student at T. C. Williams High School. Each of the winning students received a medallion, a participation certificate and a U.S. Savings Bond.

Fresh from his appearance in the NBA All-Star Game, the Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas scored 38 points, earning $3,800 for Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. Nearly 200 Cora Kelly staff, students and families traveled by school bus to the game to cheer on Arenas, who earned $100 for Cora Kelly with each point scored.

Alexandria City Public Schools will offer four informative and instructional "Get More Out of Life" sessions from February to May for students in grades nine through 12, parents and teachers who wish to obtain creative tools and techniques for greater life balance, easier social interactions and improved time management and personal organization. The free workshops will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. March 22, April 10 and May 8 in the Media Center at Minnie Howard School, 3801 West Braddock Road, Alexandria. E-mail karen.parker.thompson@acps.k12.va.us or call 703-824-6639. Register on line at www.acps.k12.va.us. The sessions, each of which focuses on a different book, include the following:

* Thursday, March 22, Session 2: "The Price Of Privilege" by Madeline Levine explores the effect of material possessions on our lives.

* Tuesday, April 10, Session 3: "Crazy Busy" by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. deals with time management skills in a hectic world.

* Tuesday, May 8, Session 4: "It's So Much Work To Be Your Friend" by Richard Lavoie looks at the importance of social skills in our lives.

Awards went to four units representing Alexandria City Public Schools in the 2007 George Washington Birthday Parade, held in Old Town Alexandria on Monday, Feb. 19. In the Youth Bands category, first place went to the T.C. Williams High School Titans Marching Band, second place went to Francis C. Hammond Middle School's Marching Admirals and third place went to George Washington Middle School's Presidents Band. In the Youth Military Units and Drill Teams category, the T.C. Williams High School Jr. ROTC and Color Guard received third place.

Fifth-grade students at Patrick Henry Elementary School are learning ballroom dancing during a 12-week extracurricular program taught by a professional teacher from the Alliance Dance Institute in Alexandria. The 24 students enrolled in the program, spearheaded by fifth-grade teacher Eileen Greenberg, are learning such dances as the Fox Trot, Salsa, Waltz and Rumba. The culminating project will be a formal ballroom dance as part of the Fifth Grade Graduation Celebration for the entire fifth-grade class.

The professional book club at Francis C. Hammond Middle School is accepting donations of new and used elementary- and middle-school-level books from now until the end of March. Convenient drop-off boxes are available in the main office and in all grade-level offices at the school, 4646 Seminary Road, Alexandria. Community members and businesses may arrange for pick up of their donated books. Contact Jodie Peters at 703-461-6559.

We Are the Titans: A Profile of Diversity at One American High School can be ordered now for a presale price of $15. Created by T.C. Williams High School photography students, the book will feature approximately 100 fine art documentary portraits of current T.C. students, each accompanied by a quote or some text about the student pictured. The book showcases the school's rich diversity and the students many unique stories and talents. Once the book is published in May, the price will be $20, but the book can be ordered at the presale price through PayPal at the Web site www.wearethetitans.com or by sending a check made out to "We Are the Titans book" to T.C. Williams High School, care of Taki Sidley, Room D6, 3330 King St., Alexandria, Va. 22302.

Saint Rita School in Alexandria, was selected from more than 650 kidsÌ gardening programs nationwide to receive a 2007 Youth Garden Grant from the National Gardening Association. This award-winning youth gardening program will receive an assortment of books donated by the National Gardening Association and a $250 gift card from the Home Depot.

Nine Bishop Ireton High School students were selected by competitive audition to participate in this year's All-District Concerts held at local high schools in January and February. Andrew Hickman (baritone), Audrey Hueg (clarinet), Zachary Martini (clarinet), and Cassandra Poulos (percussion) performed with the 57-member 2007 Wind Ensemble. Amanda Howells (clarinet), Ben Martini (percussion) and Saznin Mehta (clarinet) performed with the 104-member 2007 Senior Symphonic Band under the direction of Mr. Denton Stokes.

The All District Jazz Band Concert was held at Episcopal High School on Saturday, Jan. 27. Jack Tierney (guitar) was the sole Bishop Ireton representative, having been selected by competitive audition from approximately 100 students from District Ten schools.

The All District Orchestra performed at West Potomac High School on Jan. 6 and included Bishop Ireton's Tim O'Brien (bass) in the Senior Honors Orchestra.

Terrell LeVaughn "Vaughn" Ambrose, T.C. Williams High School music department chair and band director, recently received a 2006 Yale Teaching Award, sponsored by Yale University's Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Tsegazeab Bekele, a 2006 T.C. Williams graduate, nominated Ambrose, who teaches Symphonic Bands I and II, Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Combo and Jazz Ensemble. Ambrose is one of only 36 winners selected by the award committee. An Alexandria City Public Schools instrumental music teacher since 1999, Ambrose last year received an Excellence in Education Award from the Alexandria Education Partnership (AEP). He is known for making sure all of his students receive equal opportunities and individual attention.

Catherine Addington attends St. Rita School and is currently in the seventh grade. She has qualified for the state level Geographic Bee due to winning the competition held at St. Rita School. She competed against top students from grades fourth through eighth. Catherine also completed a written exam in order to qualify at the state level.

The Frances C. Hammond Middle School Library and Club BILI (Boys in Literacy Initiative) will host a visit from author Gordon Korman on Tuesday, March 20. He will present two seminars for all Hammond students and a special workshop for members of Club BILI. Korman also will hold a book signing for students who purchased his books in advance. Korman is the award-winning author of several books for children and young adults, including "No More Dead Dogs," "Son of the Mob" and "Born to Rock."

T.C. Williams High School senior art student M.K. Cosier won this year's Earth Day Logo Design Competition sponsored by the City of Alexandria. Cosier received $250 for her winning design, which will be seen on Earth Day posters throughout the city, as well as on advertising, fliers and Earth Day festival T-shirts.

T.C. Williams art students Tommy Carroll and Emma Gisiger each received a $50 honorable mention award in the contest, which was open to students at T.C. Williams and Minnie Howard School. Participants created works based on the theme "Eco-City: Urban Going Green."

The winning design features a watercolor painting of the George Washington Masonic Memorial (from a "worm's eye" view, using exaggerated three-point perspective) surrounded by a curved road, trees and greenery with an eco-friendly Dash Bus driving by in front.

Alexandria Country Day School 8th Grader Claire Neimann provided a spirited argument supporting the United States during a Model UN Program in Mexico City this weekend, and was the only native English speaker to receive an honorable mention in her committee. Niemann was one of 19 ACDS Students who participated in a week-long exchange program with students from Mexico City that culminated in participation in the annual international Model UN program for middle school students.