All posts by Krissy Vick

Golden Apple Awards graphic

Annual Golden Apple Award winners announced

Golden Apple Previous Winners collage10 teachers from Charlottesville City Schools are among the outstanding recipients of the 2019 Golden Apple Awards presented by Better Living Building Supply & Cabinetry.

These awards are presented annually to nominated faculty members from the public and private schools in Albemarle County and Charlottesville City.

Award recipients receive a Golden Apple, as well as gift certificates from local businesses. As a “Golden Apple” teacher, each recipient is also eligible to receive a $1,000 Golden Apple Grant to be used for classroom materials or to support the recipient’s continued professional development.

Congratulations to the following 2019 winners: Kathy Claus- Greenbrier Elementary, Melissa Combs- Venable Elementary, Will Cooke- Charlottesville High School, Maelys Croce- Johnson Elementary, Robin Ellis- Clark Elementary, Meaghan Fenton- Jackson-Via Elementary, Chris Lorigan- Burnley-Moran Elementary, Michael McCrory- Lugo-McGinness Academy, Melissa Mitchem- Buford Middle, and Kevin Paquette- Walker Upper Elementary.


2019 Charlottesville City Schools Golden Apple Award Recipients

Click on each each portrait to hear what they had to say!



play poster

Walker Stage Left Theatre to present spring play

play posterWalker Stage Left Theatre students will present their final play of the year, Pirates! Theodore Thud and the Quest for Weird Beard, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in the Walker School auditorium.

Beginning in fifth grade, students at Walker and Buford can perform with the after-school club Stage Left Theater, which offers two free, family-friendly performances each year to packed crowds.  Recent plays include The Trial of Goldilocks, Peter PanThe Wizard of OzBeauty and the Beast, and more.

Under the direction of Rod and Kristina Durrer, the Walker Upper Elementary School and Buford Middle School programs were combined in 2014 to bring the fine art of theatre to 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in the Charlottesville City Schools.

Pirates! Theodore Thud and the Quest for Weird Beard tells the tale of a friendly game of pirates that becomes all too real when overzealous Theodore accidentally falls into a giant sinkhole and wakes up to find himself amongst real high sea swashbucklers. Before getting back to the real world, Theodore is forced on an epic journey with his companion Harriet the Ghost in a quest to find the notorious pirate Weird Beard and foil the mutinous Mr. Clunky Bones. Will Theodore be able to save Captain Cramp Hand’s ship from falling into evil clutches and return to his friends in time for ice cream?

Screenshot of Clark staff SOL video

Clark Bees are ready for testing!

“The Bees will rock that test, rock that test, no worries!” sings the Clark Elementary School staff in their annual Standards of Learning video to encourage students as they prepare for end-of-year SOL tests.

Dancing and lip syncing to the tune of singer Meghan Trainor’s pop hit  “All about that Bass,” the Clark staff aims to have a little fun while inspiring their students to do their best.

Click here to see videos from previous years!

Sophomores wearing their "You Can Talk To Me" lanyards after earning their youth Mental Health First Aid certifications.

Sophomores earn certification for teen Mental Health First Aid pilot program

Sophomores wearing their "You Can Talk To Me" lanyards after earning their youth Mental Health First Aid certifications.
Sophomores wearing their “You Can Talk To Me” lanyards after earning their youth Mental Health First Aid certifications.

This spring sophomores at CHS participated in the teen Mental Health First Aid program, a course that trains high school students how to identify and respond to developing mental health or substance abuse problems among their friends.

CHS is one of eight high schools in the nation (two from Virginia) chosen to pilot this program developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Supported by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the course specifically teaches students an action plan: Look, Ask, Listen, Help.

“We think it is really important to put the tools in the students’ hands so they know how to help a friend who is showing signs of mental illness or substance abuse,” said CHS School Counselor Sarah Elaine Hart.

Ms. Hart and Mr. Williams demonstrate how to help during a substance abuse crisis.
Ms. Hart and Mr. Williams demonstrate how to help during a substance abuse crisis.

Hart taught the three-week course along with her colleague Dominique Williams and Region Ten Prevention Director Emily Warren.

“Overall, we have found that most kids want to know what to do when a friend is struggling, even when it feels uncomfortable and hard,” said Hart. “They want to be equipped with the tools to help.”

The first national program of its kind, the course will be offered nationwide next year to students in grades 10th-12th. Students who complete the course earn Mental Health First Aid certifications.

Related Links:

Knott, Katherine. “In Mental Health Pilot Program, CHS Students Learn to Reach Out.” The Daily Progress, 24 Apr. 2019.

Graphic with live stream information and url.

Graduation is June 6

As you make plans to attend commencement exercises for the Class of 2019 in just a few weeks, please keep in mind these important details:

  • JPJ Arena Clear Bag policyWhen: June 6, 2019, 7:00 p.m. Graduates should arrive by 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: John Paul Jones Arena. Free parking is available at the arena.

A live stream of the graduation ceremony will be available at No Facebook account or password is needed to view.

Security Information: Please read the following UVA JPJ Arena security policies carefully, especially noting the bag policy.

  • Bags must be clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and cannot exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches. Clear one-gallon plastic freezer bags (Ziploc bag or similar) are also permitted.
  • Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand and no larger than 4.5 inches x 6.5 inches (with or without a handle or strap) can be taken into the arena and will be subject to search. An exception will be made for items necessary for medical reasons after proper inspections at a gate designated for this purpose.
  • Prohibited bags include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.
  • Items needed for small children must be in a clear bag that meet the stated dimensions.
  • Bags and purses that do not meet the above criteria cannot be held by staff or stored inside or around JPJ Arena. For clarity, diaper bags and backpacks are also prohibited.
  • Arrive early.  Our entrance procedures may take a few minutes and traffic is often heavy around JPJ Arena. Therefore, we request that all guests arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Please plan accordingly.
  • Wear as little metal as possible. Large metal jewelry/belt buckles, etc. are allowed, but can slow down the entrance process and/or delay your entry.
  • Understand prohibited items.  Balloons, flowers, umbrellas, outside food and beverage, artificial noise makers, and strollers are specifically prohibited inside JPJ Arena. Gifts for graduates may be presented when they meet families on the plaza after the ceremony.
Screenshot of librarians' November newsletter

CCS librarians’ spring newsletter now available

Screenshot of librarians' November newsletterThe Spring 2019 edition of the CCS elementary librarians newsletter is now available. “It’s Elementary, My Dear” provides up-to-date information about all the great things happening in our six school libraries.

Spring has brought many amazing learning experiences to our libraries throughout Charlottesville City Schools. Our students have participated in selecting their favorite book for Virginia Reader’s Choice. We have had author visits through a collaboration with the Virginia Festival of the Book. Students have written poems, participated in MakerSpace, and enjoyed checking out and reading some fabulous books.

We are looking forward to summer reading visits from librarians at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Our elementary team is creating summer reading lists for your child to bring home to help keep them excited about reading and books.

For more on what each of our libraries have been doing this month,  keep reading here!

Denise Johnson portrait

City of Promise Executive Director T. Denise Johnson to become Supervisor of Equity and Inclusion

Denise Johnson portraitCurrent City of Promise Executive Director T. Denise Johnson has accepted the new position of Supervisor of Equity and Inclusion at Charlottesville City Schools.

“As we have begun a more public and deeper dive into addressing educational inequities, it’s become apparent that we need a dedicated position to sustain this energy and momentum,” noted Dr. Rosa Atkins. “We could not ask for a more ideal person than Denise Johnson, someone who grew up in our community, who graduated from our schools, who has worked in public education, and who has been engaged locally in building relationships, promoting equity, and addressing racism.”

Ms. Johnson is a native of Charlottesville and a 1998 graduate of Charlottesville City Schools. She studied Health at Virginia State University and received her Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has twelve years of experience as a school counselor at Hermitage High School in Henrico County, where she was part of the Henrico County Coalition of Equitable and Inclusive Schools. Ms. Johnson has served as executive director of City of Promise since 2017. Her first day at Charlottesville City Schools will be May 15.

Established in 2010 as an outgrowth of the City’s Dialogue on Race, City of Promise offers supports and solutions to improve educational and other key outcomes in the Charlottesville neighborhoods of 10th and Page, Westhaven, and Star Hill.

“I am so excited about this opportunity. My years in public education and my time at City of Promise have given me a unique perspective on how the schools and the community can work together to promote positive outcomes for everyone,” noted Ms. Johnson. “I see this as an extension of the work I have loved so much at City of Promise.”

Dr. Atkins continued, “We have valued Denise as a partner in promoting equity in the past, and today we welcome her as a colleague. But we recognize that equity is not a ‘program’ and it does not fall to one person. Each of us at Charlottesville City Schools must continue to work to make sure that all our efforts and programs reflect equity. Denise will facilitate these conversations and changes.”




"Read with Us" graphic

“Read With Us” program encourages storytime at home

"Read with Us" graphicIf you haven’t discovered our nightly “Read with Us” videos yet, please be sure to check our Facebook page at!  Each evening at 7:30 p.m., our staff takes turns reading different books to our students.

Inspired by a Texas principal who reads bedtime stories to her students on the internet, our Jackson-Via staff wanted to create a similar school-wide effort to get students and families excited about reading.

Principal Justin Malone kicked off the “Read with Us” series by reading the book, “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold, a heartwarming picture book that celebrates diversity. Families can access the videos through Facebook at a time that fits their schedule best.

Related link:

Knott, Katherine. “Jackson-Via Teachers Bring Books to Students with Nightly Videos.” The Daily Progress, 20 Apr. 2019,