An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A CRM Perspective

My name is Jonathan Solis and I am a volunteer with the Arlington Community Role Models (CRM). I’ve been involved with CRM since its inception two years ago, when it was still one of Walter Tejada’s new and exciting initiatives. Since then, CRM has grown to almost 1,000 registered volunteers and has participated in a long list of volunteer events for various county and non-profit groups.

Eric asked me to be his guest blogger this week to discuss CRM and the Kindergarten Night event the group participated in last month. Kindergarten Night is an event organized by the county schools as an introduction/orientation/elementary school extravaganza for parents new to the school system. This event brings together under one roof hundreds of parents eager to learn about all of the wonderful educational opportunities for their little ones. Our task was to guide them around Kenmore Middle School, organize and distribute registration materials, and assist with any special needs they may have (child care, translation, etc.). I met the rest of the CRM gang about an hour before the event. The crowd showed up soon after I arrived. We greeted them, distributed the school information and sent them into the auditorium. Both levels of the auditorium quickly filled up and by the scheduled time of the schools’ presentation it was standing room only. Just as last year, when CRM was also present, there were many complaints about the parking situation at the school. The parking lot at Kenmore simply does not accommodate the amount of cars this event brings, so traffic backed up on Carlin Springs Road and even on Route 50. Cars parked on the neighborhood roads around the school and disturbed the neighbors, so much that the neighborhood watch captain came over to warn us that he would call a tow truck if the cars were not out of there soon. The principal made an announcement to that regard, and as far as I know no cars were towed. We finally got a breather and a chance to have some pizza after the presentation started. After it ended we led the crowd into the gym, where the each of the elementary schools had a stand setup. Looking around at the crowd, it struck me how diverse it was, particularly in age, though unfortunately not as diverse as Arlington was when I was a student at Kenmore. As the event closed and people were leaving, we collected all of the surveys given to the parents to evaluate the event. At this point, our work was done.

Those of us that volunteered last year were surprised that parking was a problem again this year. We thought of ways in which to hold this event in a more efficient manner. Some of the parents suggested holding the event over two nights; the school staff we talked to thought the logistics of the event are hard enough for one night, let alone two. I thought Miles had the best idea: have shuttles (school buses for a better experience) run from the Ballston station (plenty of parking there) to Kenmore to bring parents in. But most likely the problem will arise again next year, and fortunately for Arlington, the CRM volunteers will be there to handle it.



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