Arlington Adopts

School Calendar

The Arlington School Board has adopted a calendar for the 2003-04 academic year, which begins Sept. 2. High school students' last school day will be June 16, 2004; middle school students will finish on June 18, 2004; and elementary students complete the year on June 21, 2004. High school graduation is scheduled June 17, 2004.

The calendar includes school holidays for Veterans Day (Nov.11), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan.19, 2004), Presidents' Day (Feb.16, 2004) and Memorial Day (May 31, 2004). Schools will also be closed Nov. 26-28 for Thanksgiving break; Dec. 24 through Jan. 2 for winter break; and April 5-9, 2004, for spring break.

The approved calendar includes 182 instructional days for elementary students, 183 for middle school students and 184 for high school students. Two days are included to absorb possible class days lost because of inclement weather or other unusual circumstances.

If more than two days are lost, the next three to five days would be made up on Jan. 26 (teacher work day), Feb. 16 (Presidents' Day), and March 26 (teacher work day). The next six to 10 days lost would be made up by lengthening the school day and/or by adding one or more of the following days to the end of the year: high school, June 18, 21 and 22; middle school, June 21-23; elementary school, June 22-24.

Wife Killer Given

35 Years in Prison

Alexandria resident Ziad Bechara was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the stabbing death of his wife, Suzanna, at the couple's Parkfairfax residence last July 1.

Circuit Court Judge John Kloch imposed the sentence recommended by the jury, which found Bechara, 40, guilty of first-degree murder after a four-day trial in January. Bechara, who recently tried to kill himself at the Alexandria jail, is not eligible for parole and is to serve the sentence along with a two-year sentence imposed for a prescription fraud case in Fairfax County, which arose before the homicide, officials said.

His attorney, public defender Melinda Douglas, had urged Kloch to suspend part of the sentence, citing her client's addiction to pain medication and mental health problems. But Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel asked Kloch to impose the full term as an affirmation and remembrance of Suzanna Bechara, 38, who, "as she bled to death on her neighbor's porch, thought not of herself but only of her child and urged paramedics to make sure her daughter was safe."

The child, who had just celebrated her sixth birthday, was at a day care center at the time. She is being cared for by her uncle and his family.

Suzanna Bechara ran to her neighbor's home for help after she was stabbed 10 times by her husband, who then barricaded himself in their home.

Yard Waste Pickup

To Begin Tuesday

Arlington County will offer a four-week spring yard waste collection program for its residential refuse customers, beginning Tuesday. Collected material will be recycled for use as a soil supplement.

The program will operate similarly to the fall bag leaf program, with biodegradable bag collection the day after residents' regular refuse collection days. Residents may also place yard waste in trash cans.

Residents are encouraged to use bags left over from the fall leaf collection program or bags that will be distributed at four locations: Lee Recreation Center, 5722 N. Lee Hwy.; Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center, 3501 S. Second St.; Information Referral Desk Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.; and The Arlington Solid Waste Division, 4300 S. 29th St.

Materials accepted for collection include leaves, tree limbs and branches too small for brush collection, flowers, shrubs, weeds, bamboo, wood chips and vegetable garden waste. Grass clippings and containers contaminated with trash will not be collected.

Residents who have questions or need additional information on what can be collected should call the Solid Waste Division's customer service center at 703-228-6570.