All posts by Krissy Vick

ad for Stage Left Theatre play "The Trial of Goldilocks"

Walker Stage Left Theatre presents “The Trial of Goldilocks”

ad for Stage Left Theatre play "The Trial of Goldilocks"Walker Stage Left Theatre students will present their latest play, “The Trial of Goldilocks,” on Friday, January 18, 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 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.

Advocacy in Action Award winner badge

CHS earns triple gold in 2019 Advocacy in Action Awards

Advocacy in Action Award winner badgeThe Charlottesville High School music program is a triple-gold winner in the 2019 Music for All Advocacy in Action Awards for its 2018 music collaboration with students from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Recognized for excellence in three categories, Community Service Project, Community Engagement, and Community Event, members of the CHS Orchestra and CHS Choir joined talents with the “Fab 5,” a student quintet from Pearl-Cohn Magnet High School in Nashville to perform Bebe Winans’ hit song, “Right Now (We Need One Another).”  The efforts were a direct response to the deadly events of August 11-12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA.

Under the leadership of CHS Orchestra Director Laura Mulligan Thomas and CHS Choir Director Will Cooke, the students performed the song at a school-wide assembly at Charlottesville High School followed by various locations around the city, including the street where Heather Heyer lost her life. Video footage of the collaboration was shared with the community via social media and broadcasted on a jumbotron as part of the Concert for Charlottesville featuring headlining musicians such as Dave Matthews, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder. Held at University of Virginia’s Scott Stadium, the concert was attended by over 50,000 people and live-streamed on such platforms as Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and HuffPost.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our students’ efforts for community advocacy through music,” said Cooke. “The collaboration created immeasurable positive feeling and healing within our school communities, our local communities, and beyond—including a follow-up gathering to record a second song in support of the Parkland, Florida survivors.”

Charlottesville High School’s submission will be part of the Music for All Advocacy in Action website, which is a clearinghouse of practical advocacy examples that can be adapted and replicated by programs nationwide. To read more about the project and see the video, visit

CHS musicians on stage holding hands wearing "Cville" tshirts “Building bridges between schools and communities starts with identifying what we already share,” said Thomas. “Students in a Virginia choir and orchestra were eager to collaborate with students in a Tennessee choir because we all speak the same musical language; we share the culture of rehearsals, practice, and performance. The students in Nashville recorded a video for us, we responded with an invitation, and the resulting collaboration was awe-inspiring for our students, teachers, and community!”

For more information about Music for All, please visit

Related links:

Nation at Hope report graphic

“Nation at Hope” report cites exemplary work of Cville Schools

graphic promoting Nation at Hope report

Charlottesville City Schools and its work to support the whole student is featured as an exemplary approach to supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development in a report released this week by a prestigious national commission.

The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development  published “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope”  which argues that our nation is at a turning point, understanding that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpins children’s academic learning. This breakthrough understanding about how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs, the report says.

screen shot of Aspen Report cover
Click to see full report

Charlottesville City Schools’ community-driven strategic plan with a focus on social and emotional wellness was specifically cited in the report. In addition, they note that Charlottesville Schools have begun explicitly teaching social-emotional skills and implementing related evidenced-based practices. Also highlighted was the school division’s partnership with area agencies, such as our Community Services Board, Region 10, to provide school staff training in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training program (ASIST).

“I am pleased that our school system — and our community — recognize that learning is not just about academics, but about the whole child,” noted Patrick Farrell, Intervention and Support Coordinator. “And just as we have learned from other school divisions, I’m glad that our work in this area is a resource for others.”

Charlottesville’s tiered systems of support for academic, behavior, and mental wellness have previously received state attention and recognition in a separate report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. These school-wide supports complement the division’s efforts to teach social and emotional skills, to implement trauma-responsive practices in our schools, and to promote both wellness and positive school culture.

More information about the Aspen Commissions’s report is available at

Students brainstorming with teacher during participatory budgeting exercise.

Participatory Budgeting Showcase and Voting on Wednesday at Walker

Students raising hands during participatory budgeting discussionTo conclude a semester-long participatory budgeting project, sixth grade students at Walker Upper Elementary School will host a showcase Wednesday, January 16, 2019 from 6-7 p.m. to present a variety of student proposals for school improvements.

Visitors, along with students and school staff, will vote for their favorite project, and the winning proposal will be awarded a $6000 donation to help fund the project by the CFA Institute.

“CFA Institute is excited to support the Participatory Budgeting Project to help students discover how finance can transform lives and communities” said Kelli E. Palmer, director of corporate citizenship for CFA Institute.

Participatory budgeting, a process that has gained national and local attention, engages members of a community to deliberate and make decisions on how to use resources. The entire sixth-grade class began this project in the fall with the prompt, “How might we improve the school experience at Walker?”

Students discussiong participatory budgeting ideas during brainstorming session.“What I love most about this project is that it is an activity that includes everyone,” said Principal Adam Hastings. “Oftentimes, special projects such as this are only accessible to a handful of students, but in this case, we wanted every student to have a voice.”

Serena Gruia, Walker School parent and founder of Creative Might design studio, developed the Participatory Budgeting Program (#PBatWalker) and, along with social studies teachers and volunteers, led students through a series of collaborative efforts using the framework, “Discover, Dream, Decide, Design, Do.”

“The intention behind this project is to build community, demonstrate the need for and power of student agency, and create a space for students to make a valuable impact on their environment,” said Gruia.

Proposed school improvements include a school garden, upgraded bathrooms, and offering athletic tournaments. To preview student-produced videos of all 15 proposals and learn more about #PBatWalker,  visit



Photo of sensory pathway at Jackson-Via.

New sensory pathway helps students get the wiggles out

Photo of sensory pathway at Jackson-Via. For Jackson-Via students that need a break, or just need to get the wiggles out, they can now visit our brand new indoor sensory pathway! Kindergarten teacher Meaghan Thim proposed the idea to the school Beautification Committee after seeing how a school in Mississippi created something similar for its special needs students.

Creating the pathway was a collaborative effort between staff and parents who donated time, money, and expertise. We are especially thankful to Mr. and Mrs. Hartline for working so hard to get the path ready for when students returned after winter break.

The committee hopes to create another pathway on the opposite side of the school building and possibly an outdoor version as well.


Screen shot of marketing poster for "Peter and the Wolf" performance.

Fine Arts Upcoming Events

t Charlottesville City Schools, we value the fine arts.  We invite you to come see our students’ talents this winter, whether in band, choir, dance, theater, orchestra, the visual arts or more (see calendar below).

Photo collage of fine artsPhoto collage of fine arts at Cville Schools

Upcoming Events

  • January 10, Buford Middle School student art exhibit at City Hall
  • January 18,  Walker Stage Left Theatre presents: The Trial of Goldilocks, 6:30 p.m., Walker Auditorium
  • January 20, CHS Orchestra presents Serge Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” with special guest Jamie Bernstein, 3 p.m., The Paramount Theater. (click for more info)
  • January 29, Walker School 5th grade band concert, 7pm, Walker Auditorium
  • January 30, CHS Symphony/Choir Concert, 7:30pm, MLKPAC
  • February 1, Buford Stage Left Theatre performance, 6:30 p.m., Buford Auditorium
  • February 2, Jr. Regional Orchestra Festival, 9 a.m., Jouett Middle School
  • February 8-9, All-District Chorus, Albemarle High School.
  • February 14-17, TheatreCHS presents “Mamma Mia!” 7:30 p.m., MLKPAC (click for more info)
  • February 16, District Jazz Festival, Albemarle High School
  • February 21, CHS Band Assessment Preview Concert, 7 p.m., MLKPAC
  • February 26, Buford Band Assessment Preview Concert, 7 p.m., Buford Auditorium
  • February 27, Walker Band Assessment Preview Concert, 7 p.m., Walker Auditorium
  • March 1-2, District Band Assessments, Fluvanna High School
  • March 4-13, ArtConnection Exhibit, weekdays, MLKPAC
  • March 6, ArtConnections Open House, 4-6:30pm, MLKPAC
  • March 9, ArtConnections Saturday Celebration, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., MLKPAC
  • March 9, District Orchestra Assessments
  • March 13, ArtConnections Open House, 4-6:30 p.m., MLKPAC
  • March 14, District Choir Assessments, Eastern View High School
  • March 21, All-City Chorus Festival, 7 p.m., MLKPAC
  • March 22-24, TheatreCHS New York Trip
  • March 22-23, Jr. Regional Orchestra

All-District Band selections

Congrats to the 34 students that made one of the All-District Bands! 18 students made it into the concert band. 16 students made it into the symphonic band. Out of the 16 symphonic band students, 9 CHS band members qualified to audition for the All-State ensembles in February.

Concert Band members include
Kenan McLaren 1st chair flute
Meg Gist 8th chair flute
Lena Keesecker 1st chair oboe
Yasu Shinozaki 3rd chair oboe
Claire Wilderman 3rd chair clarinet
Ellie Goluboff-Shragger 5th chair clarinet
Rowan Miller 6th chair clarinet
Max LeBlang 7th chair clarinet
Archer Lyster 1st chair Bass Clarinet
Jonah Newman 1st chair trumpet
Arianna Dieter 2nd chair trumpet
Yakob Debaere 8th chair trumpet
Sophia Payne 9th chair trumpet
Eli Chancey 1st chair trombone
Katherine ells. 2nd chair bass Trombone
Daniel Lightbourne 1st chair euphonium
Jose Ornelas 4th chair tuba
Tommy Fruscello 4th chair percussion

Symphonic Band members include
Reid Dodson 1st chair flute
Adria Cafferillo 2nd chair flute
Clare Inlow 2nd chair clarinet
Rebecca Fitch 7th chair clarinet
Eliza Morrison 11th chair clarinet
Hailey Pugh-Sellers 14th chair clarinet
Ella McLaren 1st chair bassoon
Emmelia Kromkowski 2nd chair bassoon
Walker Catlett 4th chair trumpet
Frances Newman 9th chair trumpet
Anna Bon-Harper 3rd chair horn
Connor Farrell 7th chair horn
Kaylee Folger 8th chair horn
Danny Dupes 2nd chair trombone
Aidan Miller 3rd chair euphonium
Bob Kammauff 4th chair tuba

All-state eligible members from Symphonic Band include
Reid, Adria, Clare, Rebecca, Ella, Emmelia, Walker, Anna, Danny.

Students on climbing wall at Johnson Elementary.

PE classes develop variety of cognitive, physical, and social skills

Students on climbing wall at Johnson Elementary.Lately, the Johnson gym has been all about climbing walls and overcoming obstacles. Students are building up their physical and emotional strength with fun and challenging games that build strong bodies and develop great sportsmanship, kindness, and perseverance. Students have explored ways to be active indoors during cold and wet weather and challenged themselves to eat more fruits and veggies whenever possible.

Physical Education class is an incredibly important part of school life where students learn cognitive, physical, and social skills. Thank you for encouraging and supporting your children as they continue to develop into the healthiest and strongest version of themselves. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas you’d like to share please email (, call, or come see me.

-adapted from December edition of Johnson School Specials Newsletter, written by physical education teacher Kelly Walters.

screenshot of Venable School principal's newsletter-Jan19

Latest edition of Ms. Kershner’s newsletter is published!

To find out what’s happening at Venable School in January, read the latest principal’s newsletter here.

This month’s highlights include iSTEM/Math Night on January 15. Ready to put your engineering thinking caps on? Join us for a variety of problem-solving activities and good family fun. screenshot of Venable School principal's newsletter-Jan19Learn about the kinds of inquiries students are making in the lab and different games you can play at home to reinforce foundational math concepts. With a new math curriculum this year, we hope you’ll come out to learn about the ways students are engaging with mathematical studies. We are structuring the evening a little differently this year. Stations and activities will begin at 5:30, with dinner afterwards. Thank you to the PTO for providing pizza, veggies, and paper products for this event.