First Night Volunteers Needed

First Night Alexandria seeks volunteers for two 3 1/2-hour shifts Dec. 31.

Last year, more than 125 volunteers participated in the family-oriented New Year's Eve celebration. This year, First Night Alexandria anticipates an increase in attendance, and will need more volunteers, organizers said.

Ann Dorman, executive director of First Night Alexandria, said the organization expects to have 200 volunteers this year.

"There are many ways in which people can help," Dorman said. "It is a wonderful opportunity to get more involved in the community, and also receive a free admission button to enjoy all the venues and performances we will have in Alexandria."

Volunteer forms are available at www.FirstNightAlexandria.org, or by contacting Judy Ingemunson, volunteer coordinator of First Night Alexandria, at 703-519-7962, or by e-mail at jeingemunson@aol.com.

Schools Open on Presidents' Day

Arlington County public school students will attend classes on Presidents' Day to make up a school day lost to inclement weather.

This month, Arlington students lost three school days because of the weather. The school system built two days into the school calendar for makeup days.

In addition, three holidays (Veterans Day, Presidents' Day and Memorial Day) were designated for use as makeup days, and three other days were identified for addition to the end of the school year if more makeup days are needed.

The two extra days included in this year's calendar will absorb two of the three class days lost so far. The third day will be made up on Presidents' Day, Feb. 17, according to the school year calendar approved by the Arlington School Board in March.

The school system usually does not decide to close or delay school until the morning of the school day in question. To determine whether a change in the school schedule is necessary, about 3 a.m., school transportation officials consult the latest weather updates, the Arlington County public works staff and other regional authorities.

Staff members also travel county streets early in the morning, checking bus routes, bus stops and sidewalks in Arlington neighborhoods. Their findings help Superintendent Robert G. Smith decide whether to close school, delay openings, or open on time.

News about the decision is distributed through a variety of outlets. School closings and delays are announced no later than 6 a.m., and early school dismissals usually are announced by 11 a.m.

In the case of delayed openings on scheduled early-release days, there will be no early release to ensure that students receive sufficient daily instructional time to fulfill state requirements.

Parents and students should not call schools, administrative offices or the transportation office for information.

For the most up-to-date information, check with local media, Arlington public schools' cable Channel 30, the school system Web site at www.arlington.k12.va.us, or by calling the telephone hotline at 703-228-8638. (Messages are recorded in English and Spanish.)

Parents and students should assume schools will open and close at regular times if radio or television stations do not announce schedule changes for Arlington public schools.