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Important Updates from Charlottesville City Schools

The following message was sent to all city schools staff and families on the afternoon of March 22:

Update: Charlottesville City Schools Message to Families and Staff, March 22, 2019

Dear staff and families,


Earlier today, the Charlottesville Police arrested and charged a teenager in connection to the threat made against CHS. The suspect does NOT attend Charlottesville City Schools or live in Charlottesville. He has been charged as a juvenile with making threats to persons on school property, which is a felony, and with harassment by computer.


We appreciate the support we have received from the CPD along with state and federal agencies, who took immediate and strong action to protect our schools as soon as they learned of this posting. We also appreciate our parents and community members for being so understanding and supportive of our students, staff, and our decision to close schools. We also want to thank our principals, teachers, staff members, and parents who spent today greeting students and families, and we thank the community centers who hosted us and fed our children.


Again, I want to state in the strongest possible language that our schools will not tolerate threats or hate. For reasons such as this, last fall, our School Board passed a resolution banning clothing or items with symbols of hate as one way to make our schools safe and supportive.


I find it particularly troubling that a person who is not part of our Charlottesville City Schools community would make such a hurtful and divisive threat under the guise of being a CHS student. Since August 2017, we have made concerted efforts to have difficult conversations around race and to build trust and relationships. This comment attempted to undermine our community.


We will NOT let this divide us, either as a school or as a city or even as a region. We know that this person does not represent CHS or Charlottesville or his own county. As one way to show our solidarity, let us follow the lead of CHS teacher Pam Brown, who invites everyone to wear black or orange on Monday as a way of showing solidarity with our CHS Black Knights.


Go, Black Knights!


Dr. Rosa Atkins
Superintendent


On Friday, March 22,  teachers and staff from each of our nine city schools spent the afternoon visiting students in our community.  Staff, PTO volunteers, community partners, and others came together to be sure our students know that we have missed them the past two days, and that we love them. See the highlights here. 

 


The following message was sent to all city schools staff and families earlier this evening:

Update: Charlottesville City Schools Message to Families and Staff, March 21, 2019

Thank you for understanding our decision to close today. We heard clearly that you, too, want us to prioritize the safety of our students and staff.

The police and other state and federal authorities have told us that this remains an active investigation. We will keep you posted of developments as we learn more. Based on extensive conversations with law enforcement, we have decided to remain closed on Friday, 3/22. Police have asked anyone with information to contact 434-970-3280.

We would like to acknowledge and condemn the fact that this threat was racially charged. We do not tolerate hate or racism. The entire staff and School Board stand in solidarity with our students of color — and with people who have been singled out for reasons such as religion or ethnicity or sexual identity in other vile threats made across the country or around the world. We are in this together, and a threat against one is a threat against all.

We know that many of you have questions about how to talk to your students about why schools are closed. We suggest a brief acknowledgment of the situation. (For instance, for young students, you might say, “Someone said they wanted to hurt some students, and the people who run the schools decided that it would be safer for for students to stay home.”) Then follow your child’s lead as they ask questions or show emotions.  We have links to additional resources, below.

Have a good evening. We will give you any further updates as we learn them, but in the meanwhile, we appreciate your patience as we continue to place safety first.

Additional Resources

 


Update: Charlottesville City Schools Message to Families and Staff, March 20, 9:37 p.m.

The Charlottesville Police Department and other authorities continue to investigate the internet threat against Charlottesville High School. They have not yet determined the credibility of the threat. Consequently, we will close all Charlottesville City Schools tomorrow, Thursday, March 21. Again, the safety of our staff and students is our first priority. Have a good night, and we’ll update you tomorrow as we learn more.

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Charlottesville City Schools Message to Families and Staff, March 20, 6:38 p.m.

We wanted to make you aware of a situation that we are monitoring closely this evening. Earlier this evening, we were notified by the Charlottesvillle Police Department of an internet threat concerning Charlottesville High School for tomorrow. The CPD and other authorities are investigating this situation, and we will give you an update later tonight. CPD has cleared us to have evening activities tonight, but to allay any concerns, we will have a police presence on hand. Please know that we are working closely with CPD, and the safety of students and staff is our top priority.


City of Charlottesville Police Department Media Release, March 20, 6:35 p.m.

In the afternoon hours of Wednesday, March 20, 2019, the Charlottesville Police Department received an email from a concerned citizen regarding a possible threat that was made against Charlottesville High School.

Detectives are working with Dr. Rosa Atkins, the superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools, the Virginia State Police, and FBI to investigate the credibility of the threat.

Anyone with information about this threat is asked to contact the Charlottesville Police Department at (434) 970-3280 or CrimeStoppers at (434) 977-4000.

 

graphic with info about "The Power of WE: Community Resilience Building" speaker Rick Griffin

National speaker to offer community workshop on “The Power of WE”

Power of WE flyer with details about speaking engagementMaster Trainer Rick Griffin from The Community Resilience Initiative in Walla Walla, WA will  present “The Power of WE: Community Resilience Building” on March 28 at Charlottesville High School in the MLK PAC from    6-7:30 p.m. Parents, teachers, and other community members are welcome to attend.

WIdely-recognized for his work in trauma-informed care, Griffin will address the impact of creating a community conversation about trauma and resilience and the benefits of embedding that information into action through multiple partners, agencies, and organizations.

The public is invited to attend this free event. Please register online here.

 

Screenshot from Here/Now video

“Empowering Future Ready Students” video earns top honors

Congratulations to iSTEM teacher Teresa Amasia and Burnley-Moran Elementary, winners of the SCHOOL category in the Future Ready Schools Film Festival.

This humorous video, written, produced and directed by Amasia,  illustrates how our schools are empowering (and preparing) future ready students. Watch the video to see what happens when a teacher finds himself inexplicably in the future. Or does he? 

ArtConnections postcard

ArtConnections exhibit features student artwork and community-wide letterpress printmaking project

ArtConnections poster

Charlottesville City Schools celebrated student artistic achievement with the annual division-wide Jeff Suling Art Exhibit March 4-13 in the Charlottesville High School small gymnasium.  This year, the exhibit also included a special opportunity for City students to work with renowned letterpress artist Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.

Known as “ArtConnections,” the exhibit aims to illustrate how art relates to and connects diverse areas of school curriculum and students’ everyday lives. Selected student artwork from preschoolers through 12th graders was featured and the community was invited to three public receptions which included two evening open houses and a Saturday celebration with hands-on art activities.

More about Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. and “Finding Wisdom” letterpress printing project

photo of artist Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.Charlottesville City Schools participated in a large scale community printmaking project called “Finding Wisdom,” led by Detroit-based printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. Kennedy conducted both in-school workshops as well as created a display of original prints based on ideas generated by Albemarle County and Charlottesville City Schools students.  Earlier this year, both school divisions collected aphorisms, statements, and words of wisdom from students which Kennedy printed in his signature style from handset wood and metal type, and eco-friendly and affordable chipboard. Prints are on display at various locations including CHS, Buford and Walker Schools.

Members of the community were able to engage with Kennedy on March 9 at the “ArtConnections” celebration at CHS, where he led a printmaking workshop. This event was free and open to the public (more details about “ArtConnections” mentioned above).

Throughout the month of March, Kennedy will be conducting in-school workshops working with art students at six city schools (CHS, Buford, Walker, Burnley-Moran, Johnson, and Venable). Prints generated during the in-school workshops will also be displayed at each school.

The “Finding Wisdom” residency coincides with the VA Festival of the Book and is supported by Virginia Humanities Virginia Center for the Book. It involves many facets of the Charlottesville-Albemarle community including Boys & Girls Club, JMRL, PVCC, Jefferson School Tenants, Descendants of the enslaved at Monticello, UVA, and other local cultural organizations. 

Screenshot of flyer for Parent University

Parent University-second opportunity to attend

Screenshot of flyer for Parent University
Click to access flyer.

Charlottesville City Schools will offer a second evening of Parent University to city elementary families on March 14 at Greenbrier Elementary from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

“We are always trying to find creative ways to further connect families with resources and updates about our curricular work,” said Charlottesville City Schools Family Engagement Facilitator Velvet Coleman. “Parent University will give families an opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the classrooms in areas such as math, literacy, social emotional education and special education.”

Free and open to all preschool through fourth grade families whose children attend Charlottesville City Schools, the event will include workshops, encourage questions from families, and provide take-home materials.  Additionally, the school division is providing dinner, childcare, and transportation for participants. Assistance and translation services will also be offered to attendees who have limited English.

Click here for Bus Transportation Routes

“Because we serve such a diverse population, accessibility is important to us as we seek ways to serve all our students well,” said Coleman. “We want to make it as easy as possible for families to be able to get the support they need to help their children reach their full potential.”

A variety of community vendors will be present, including the Piedmont Family YMCA, ReadyKids, Region Ten, UVA Children’s Fitness, and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.

We hope to see you at Parent University on March 14! Please remember to RSVP.

Related links:

Elementary students work on a measuring activity.

Superintendent’s Message-February 2019

 

A Word from Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins 

Dear community members—

As you know, equity has been a priority for many years, and it has received particular attention in the last months. I’m writing with an update on our latest work to support equity, including our FY2020 proposed budget, a school reconfiguration plan, the Quest program, and our Program of Study for next year.

  • We continue to seek feedback from staff, from CHS and Buford students, and the community. Gatherings include meetings with Habitat families, Westhaven and Friendship Court community members, and churchgoers across the city.
  • We have used equity as our lens for the requested 2019-20 budget. Examples include a living wage for all annually appointed positions, another significant pay increase for instructional staff, and new positions in areas such as family engagement, the AVID college prep program, and our social-emotional learning program.
  • Our Board has endorsed a school reconfiguration plan that would create a preschool center with extended-day services and early interventions. (This center would be located on the current Walker School campus). The plan also returns 5th-graders to elementary schools and would modernize Buford Middle School to maximize opportunities for the City’s 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders. City Council has shown support for this plan by tentatively designating a $3 million allocation for planning and design. We recognize that serving our students well — in preschool, in fifth grade, in middle school, in all grades– is a true equity priority.
  • We have continued long-standing conversations about ways to diversify our Quest (gifted) program, and we have increased the program’s emphasis on push-in, whole-class teaching.
  • Our Program of Study for next year gives attention at Walker, Buford, and CHS to continue “unleveling” our instruction to promote student diversity within classrooms. Similarly, professional learning will emphasize the skills needed to support this model.
  • We are finalizing an equity committee that will guide our work on establishing a policy that will be foundational to this “equity lens.” This committee will also offer input in areas such as family engagement, instructional and professional learning practices, institutional changes in areas such as unleveled classes, alignment between grade levels, and minority HR recruitment.
  • We have posted an opening for Supervisor of Equity and Inclusion to maintain this momentum. Help us find the right person!

This is a long list, but it is merely a snapshot of the work we continue to do to promote equity. We hope it is a reminder to our community that we remain committed — in fact, we have redoubled our commitment — to every student, every day, everyone.

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

Johnson School celebrating the 100th day of school with 100-year-old students.

100-year-old students with canes, beards and baldness celebrate Johnson Elementary’s 100th day of school. To see more of what is happening in all six elementary schools, click here.

ACADEMIC ADVISING UNDERWAY AT CHS, BUFORD, AND WALKER
CHS students visit curriculum fair at lunch.Through lunchtime and evening curriculum fairs, classroom visits, and one-on-one meetings, teachers and school counselors at CHS and Buford are providing important information to students and families about academic options for 2019-2020. Meanwhile, Walker School counselors have been visiting all city fourth graders to help prepare them for their transition to a new school next year. Read more here.

MUSIC COLLABORATION EARNS TRIPLE GOLD IN MUSIC FOR ALL AWARDS
Student musicians on stage for Right Now music collaboration at CHSThe Charlottesville High School music program was recognized for excellence in three categories (Community Service Project, Community Engagement, and Community Events) by the 2019 Music for All Advocacy in Action Awards for its 2018 music collaboration with students from Metro Nashville Public Schools. Read more here.

BACON CLUB SIZZLES AT REGIONAL, STATE, AND WORLD COMPETITIONS
BACON Club members pose with medals and trophies.Congrats to CHS BACON for placing #3 in the WORLD in the Zero Robotics coding tournament sponsored by MIT and NASA. Meanwhile, the FTC Robotics team and the Science Olympiad competitors excelled in regional competitions and are heading to states! Read more here.

PARENT UNIVERSITY COMING SOON FOR ELEMENTARY FAMILIES
Parent University flyerMark your calendars now for Parent University! All PreK-Grade 4 families are welcome to attend either night for parent workshops, information booths, and a chance to connect with other families. Jackson-Via will host the first night on March 5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., or join us at Greenbrier on March 14 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.. Read more here.

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH (ALL YEAR LONG)
Christen Edwards stands by her decorated door for Black History Month.Bulletin board and classroom door decorations, Soul Feasts, Career Days, guest speakers, and film screenings are just a few of the ways we are celebrating Black History Month in February. But, we are also finding year-round ways to explore both local and diverse history– thanks to the efforts of our Coordinator of World Studies Annie Evans, our talented teachers, and our invaluable community partners. Read more here.

SCHOOL BOARD NOTES
Cville Schools official logoRecent actions from the School Board include finalizing the FY2020 budget requests, adopting a school reconfiguration plan, and approving the 2019-20 Program of Study. Board members will soon select an interim member to fill the remaining months for the term of Amy Laufer, who stepped down following a move outside the City. For the latest School Board information, including agendas, minutes, and livestream video, read more here.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT-A-GLANCE
illustration of calendar2/14 TheatreCHS presents “Mamma Mia!” though 2/17
2/15 Jackson-Via and Venable Soul Fests, 5:30pm
2/15 Burnley-Moran Family Dance, 6:30pm
2/16 District Jazz Festival, Albemarle HS
2/18 No School–Professional Learning Day for teachers
2/19 Jackson-Via PTO Meeting, 6pm
2/19 Kindness Week through 2/22, various activities at each school
2/21 Buford International Night, 5:30pm
2/21 Greenbrier Family Learning Night, 6pm
2/21 Jackson-Via 3rd/4th Grade Literacy Night, 6pm
2/21 CHS Band Assessment Preview, 7pm, MLKPAC
2/22 Burnley-Moran Black History Month Celebration and Career Fair. 8:30am
2/22 Greenbrier Winter Movie Night
2/25 Burnley-Moran Book Fair and Read Across BME through March 1
2/25 CHS Project Discovery Workshop, 4pm
2/26 Buford Band Assessment Preview, 7pm, Buford Auditorium
2/27 Walker Band Assessment Preview Concert, 7pm, Walker Auditorium
2/28 Burnley-Moran Write Night, 5:30pm
3/1 District Band Assessments through 3/2, Fluvanna HS
3/4 Art Connections Exhibit and activities through 3/13

More Looks at Cville Schools

Principal Kershner and friends on steps of Venable.

Charlottesville City Schools has earned state and national recognition for our efforts to support the whole child, which includes mental wellness, social emotional learning, and supporting students who have experienced trauma. The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development recently cited our exemplary work in its “Nation of Hope” report.  Learn more about this work here.

Tyree Carter passing basketball to teammate through arms of two Louisa opponents.

As varsity teams begin post-season play, it’s also time for spring sports tryouts. For information and winter athletics highlights, read more here.

Teacher helps students point to ABC's on chart.

It’s time to register for preschool! Applications for eligible 3- and 4-year-old children are due March 1. For more information and applications, read more here.

Find more info and events on on our website, social media, or our Google calendars!

Find us on the web at charlottesvilleschools.org

 

Black History Month decorations at Clark Elementary

Celebrating Black History Month (all year long!)

"Ladies of Soul" perform at annual Clark Elementary Soul Feast.
“Ladies of Soul” perform at annual Clark Elementary Soul Feast.

There are many activities going on this month to celebrate Black History Month ranging from classroom decorations to special morning announcements to Soul Feasts and assemblies. 

Like several of our schools, Clark Elementary held its annual  Soul Feast, which featured a full menu of fried chicken, collards, and more. This year the “Ladies of Soul” (all Clark staff members) gave a special performance.

Burnley-Moran will host a Career Day that features African-American leaders from throughout our city. Last year’s event brought more than 40 local professionals together–many of them CHS alumni.

Teacher shows her classroom door decorations for Black History Month
Jackson-Via teacher Christen Edwards decorates her classroom door to celebrate Black History Month.

CHS is hosting its annual speaker series  featuring a variety of guests like documentary photographer Ruddy Rowe. Additionally, CHS will host a film screening to tell the story of Drewary Brown to a new generation of Charlottesville residents, and CHS’s African-American history students visited Jefferson School for a special program with Monticello and other community partners. 

Meanwhile, we want to applaud the efforts of our teachers, librarians, and World History Coordinator Annie Evans for their year-round work to incorporate local and African-American history across the curriculum all year long.  From preK-12th grade, our students encounter diverse voices, stories, and experiences in classroom materials, the arts, and student activities. 

Charlottesville City Schools is one of six school systems statewide involved in Changing the Narrative, a Virginia Humanities initiative that aims to explore black history and culture in schools and encourages young people of color to explore and highlight their heritage.

Related media links:

 

 

 

 

TheatreCHS presents musical “Mamma Mia!”

The Charlottesville High School Theater Department presented the Broadway musical hit “Mamma Mia!” on Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17 at CHS in the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center.

Photo collage of scenes from "Mamma Mia!"
Photos by Laura Shinseki

Based on the songs of Swedish pop band ABBA including a top hit by the same name, “Mamma Mia” is one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. It features strong female leads with an emphasis on themes of female friendships and empowerment. In 2008, a film adaptation premiered starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried.

“This year‘s production of ‘Mamma Mia!’ promises to be a night or afternoon full of joy and happiness,” said CHS Drama Department Chair David Becker, who is in his 10th year leading TheatreCHS. “The cast, crew, and orchestra have worked tirelessly to polish all of the elements that go into a successful show.”

Mamma Mia! Poster

The Friday and Saturday evening performances and the Sunday matinee performance featured the full cast, while the Saturday matinee benefit show  featured the understudies. All proceeds from the benefit show will go toward college scholarships.

First-year parent volunteer Victoria Hamilton, whose daughter, Courtney, plays the role of Dona in the musical, said participating in theater is a valuable, multi-faceted experience for the students.  

“Through theatre, our kids use math, science, engineering, technology, design, construction, public speaking, visual arts, performing arts, all while fostering a supportive community,” said Hamilton. “I witnessed each of these real life applications and vast creativities in multitudes over the past several weeks by kids from all backgrounds and interests.  I have no doubt they will carry this with them throughout their lives.”

“Mamma Mia!” is part of the 2018-19 TheatreCHS performance season which includes: “Dreaming America,” “Arabian Nights,” “Heathers The Musical,” “The Crucible,” and the annual Dessert Theatre.

About TheatreCHS

TheatreCHS has consistently remained an important and vital fine arts force at Charlottesville High School. The Program invites students to work collaboratively, develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, and engage in creative dialogues. An array of courses is taught with the intention of providing enrichment for students interested in these skills, all of which encompass dramatic arts. Numerous students have gone on to pursue advanced studies in theater/cinema, technical theater, stage management, and lighting design at a variety of top schools including Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia College, George Mason University, James Madison University, University of Virginia, and Princeton University. For more information, visit http://theatrechs.org/.

 Related Links:

Clark classroom upgrades big hit with students

“It’s like a home away from home,” said one fourth grader, referring to her new classroom space at Clark Elementary.

Fourth grade classroom renovations at Clark Elementary School were completed this fall as the first project in a  division-wide plan to modernize facilities.  The project, completed by VMDO Architects, included upgrades to classroom furniture, lighting, and flooring, along with new cubbies,  library nooks, and shelving.

“We are so grateful to the City of Charlottesville for supporting these efforts to upgrade our schools,” said assistant superintendent Kim Powell. “As we turn our attention to the next phase of design at Jackson-Via Elementary, we are confident that next year’s project will be just a strong and impactful.”

Now that the Clark students have settled in, here is what some of them had to say about their new learning spaces.

Related links:

Coleburn, Caroline. “Students and Teachers Welcome Upgrades to Clark Elementary School.” Home – WVIR NBC29 Charlottesville News, Sports, and Weather, 29 Aug. 2018. 

Kreth, Gracie. “$1M Clark Elementary Classroom Modernization Kicking Off.” Daily Progress/Charlottesville Tomorrow. 20 Jun. 2018

Cville Schools logo

School Board announces timeline for interim appointment

On February 21, 2019, the Charlottesville City School Board will appoint an interim member of the School Board to fill the vacancy created by the January 10, 2019 resignation of Ms. Amy Laufer. The interim member will hold that office until the end of Ms. Laufer’s term on December 31, 2019.

Nominations of qualified Charlottesville City voters are sought for the interim appointment. Applications (with information about the process, qualifications, and more) can be found here and are due by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 1, 2019.

On Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 5 p.m. at CHS, the School Board will hold a public hearing to receive input from applicants. All candidates who wish to be considered must be present at the February 7 meeting. At CATEC on Thursday, February 21 at 5 p.m., the Board will vote and announce its decision.

Comments and any questions for clarification should be submitted to the Clerk of the Board, Leslie Thacker, either by emailing thackel1@charlottesvilleschools.org or by calling (434) 245-2945.