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Superintendent Message January 2016

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January 12, 2016

Dear families—

Welcome back to school!  I hope you had a restful break, and that the second half of your school year is smooth and rewarding.

CLK_popcorn_machineWe’re looking ahead to the 2016-17 year, particularly its budget.  Our top priorities for next year’s budget include maintaining competitive salaries to retain our strong staff.  We’ll continue to support our also-strong STEM and arts programs.  Although it is grant-funded, we’re also excited about our plans for an extended learning day to support students who need assistance for improved literacy.

We are meeting with the School Board regularly and will host a number of forums for PTO reps and the general community to receive updates, ask questions, and offer feedback. One is this Wednesday (1/13) at the start of Buford’s PTO meeting at 6pm.  Another is Wednesday, 1/20, at CHS. Of course, parents are also encouraged to come to or speak at Board meetings (generally the first Thursday of the month beginning at the CHS media center beginning at 5pm), and you can contact your Board members directly, as well.

We are thankful for strong community support, which makes possible our strong Charlottesville City Schools!

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

Division-Wide News

Schools will be closed Monday-Tuesday, 1/18-19, for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and a teacher work day. Please check your students’ grades in PowerSchool now to settle questions before the end of the semester on 1/15.

New Board members Adam Hastings and Sherry Kraft joined the Board in January.  Thanks to outgoing members Colette Blount and Willa Neale for their service!

2016-17-calendar-alternative-2Thanks for such a strong response to our survey requesting feedback about the 2016-17 academic calendar.  Regarding winter break, there were a variety of opinions, especially given the fact that Christmas and New Year’s Day will fall on a Sunday (followed by the federal/bank holiday on Monday, 1/2).  After reviewing feedback, the City-County Calendar Committee has proposed an alternative calendar.  To see the calendar and learn more, click here.

broccoli-quoteThe Cville Weekly recently profiled area schools’ progress toward healthier and more local lunches.

Nominate a teacher for the Golden Apple Teaching Award! Applications and information are available here.  Return the forms to your principal by 2/4.

U.Va. Men’s Basketball offered an “assistant coach for the day” program to benefit the CCS Book Buddies tutoring program.  One generous fan made a significant donation to the program in exchanged for premium tickets and enhanced access at the Syracuse game on January 23.  Thanks to Associate Head Coach Ron Sanchez and the national Coaching for Literacy organization!

Congratulations to three City Schools staff members:  Aaron Eichorst (fine arts coordinator) was featured in Cville Weekly for his January art exhibition at Chroma Projects Gallery.  Anne Evans (instructional coach at Buford) recently was named one of National Geographic’s first certified educators; and Laura Thomas (orchestra director at CHS) was named the Rotary Club of Charlottesville’s Citizen of the Year.

IMG_3324Help the City of Charlottesville make our sidewalks and streets safer for students who walk or bike to school!  As part of a “Safe Routes to School” grant application, the City is offering brief parent surveys until January 15.

Books on Bikes is spreading to Williamsburg! The team of Charlottesville City Schools librarians and teachers who pedal around Charlottesville in the summer distributing books and popsicles to students is so successful and winsome that teachers in Williamsburg are establishing a chapter.

CHS News

CHS-SARA-Poster-Jan-2016_WEBCHS will host or participate in four upcoming evening events:  a curriculum fair on 1/12, a college athletics seminar on 1/20, a FAFSA workshop on 1/21, and a parenting forum (“Engaging the Instagram Generation”) on  1/27.

The once-a-month, one-hour delay for CHS was approved by the School Board.  The first delayed start is this Thursday, 1/14.  Click here for more information, or add the CHS events and Cville Schools holidays to your Google calendar!

The BACON (Best All-around Club of Nerds) Zero Robotics team qualified for the global finals for the fourth consecutive year!  See this nice profile of their work in Cville Weekly, and wish the team the best as their coding runs on the International Space Station at 4am on 1/25!

One of many nice "help portraits" at CHS!
One of many nice “help portraits” at CHS!

Inspired by a national movement, CHS photography students took “help portraits” of their peers and teachers so that they could have a nice portrait to keep or give away over the holidays.

The CHS string ensemble will perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Paramount Theater on 1/16. Click here for tickets.

Thanks to the Paramount Theater, CHS students were not only able to go see A Tale of Two Cities performed by the National Players, but some of the actors visited English and theater classes at CHS for follow-up workshops.

CHS student Nia Kitchin ’16  led an art collaboration between CHS students and regional students at Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Center.  The striking piece, on exhibition at the CHS art gallery, was profiled by Cville Weekly.

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“Art in Between:” Picasso Reimagined by CHS and BRJDC students, led by Nia Kitchin ’16.
Good luck in the global finals, BACON!
Good luck in the global finals, BACON!

The CHS (and Buford) bands had continued tremendous success at district band auditions with a combined 53 spaces earned!  From CHS, there are 21 students in the symphonic (top) band: Sharon Reitsma, 3rd Flute; Addie Brown, 8th Flute; Amanda Engel, 3rd Oboe; Caleb Rose, 1st Eb Clarinet; David Kriete, 1st Bb Clarinet; Charlotte MacDonald, 6th Clarinet; Eliot Baker, 8th Clarinet; Katherine Webber, 11th Clarinet; Margaret Fitch, 16th Clarinet; Jonathan Dameron, 2nd Tenor, Saxophone; Zofia Ferki, 2nd Bassoon; Elizabeth Kromkowski, 3rd Bassoon; Graeme Rosner, 1st Horn; Anna Bon-Harper, 3rd Horn; Francis MacCall, 4th Horn; Walker Catlett, 2nd Trumpet; Frances Newman, 10th Trumpet; Beau LeBlond, 4th Trombone; Sam Dreyfus, 2nd Euphonium; Santiago Padron, 2nd Mallets; and Max Patek, 1st Timpani.  An additional 10 students earned spots in the Concert (second) Band: Arielle Barfield, 1st flute; Maire Lee, 9th Flute; Lena Keesecker, 3rd oboe; Cheyenne Berry, 17th clarinet; Cole Fairchild, 1st Alto Saxophone; Danny Szabo, 3rd Alto Saxophone; Yakob Debaere, 3rd trumpet; James O’Brien, 1st Euphonium; Talia Wiener, 1st Tuba; and Ian Cropley, 4th tuba.  Congratulations to these students and their director, Jason Hackworth!

Caleb Gage courtesy Newsplex
Caleb Gage courtesy Newsplex

Sophomore Risa Purow-Ruderman is one of NASA’s Virginia Space Coast Scholars, which involves an online STEM curriculum and a one-week summer academy at the NASA facility at Wallop’s Island.

The CHS choirs have been active in the community and featured on the news.  The Knightengales sang at the Paramount Theater’s “Illumination of the Blade,” the T-Tones sang at U.Va.’s “Lighting of the Lawn,” and the growth of the zero-period Morning Choir was featured on NBC29.

 In athletic news:  the girls basketball team remains undefeated in Jefferson District play, and the boys are 7-1 in regular-season games.  Caleb Gage gave a free-throw tutorial on the Newsplex. Destinee McDonald was Shewels athlete of the week following a career-high 32-point game (32!).  Finally junior linebacker Sadarius Folley earned a spot on the region 4A west honorable mention defense.

Fall field trip for AP Human Geography and Girls Learn International Club to see the film, He Named Me Malala
Fall field trip for AP Human Geography and Girls Learn International Club to see the film, He Named Me Malala

Walker and Buford News

Buford winter band concert. More CCS concert pix on Facebook!
Buford winter band concert. More CCS concert pix on Facebook!

Buford Band continued its history of excellence at district band auditions. Among the 22 who earned places are:  Reid Dodson, 2nd Flute; Laurel Dent, 3rd Flute; Clare Inlow, 1st Clarinet (also the highest scoring middle-school student regardless of instrument);  Rebecca Fitch, 7th Clarinet; Archer Lyster, 9th Clarinet; Eliza Morrison, 13th Clarinet; Ama Lopez, Chair Clarinet; Charlie Burns, 16th Clarinet; Olivia Pemberton, 18th Clarinet; Max Leblang, 20th Clarinet; Ella McLaren, 1st Bassoon (this makes the 2nd year in a row that she has accomplished this); Barrett Crusse, 1st Baritone Saxophone (this makes the 3rd year in a row that he has accomplished this); Eliza Schock, 4th Trumpet; Madelyn Lindsey, 5th Trumpet; Zoe DeGuzman, 9th Trumpet; Edie Aten, 2nd Trombone; Daniel Dupes, 3rd Trombone; Sabrina Hendricks, 4th Trombone; Daniel Lightbourne, 2nd Baritone; Bob Kammauff, 2nd Tuba; Ghislain Ventre, 3rd Percussion; Cyla Kenney, 5th Percussion. Congratulations to these students and their director, Harry Farmer!

Buford-at-CATECBuford  and the National Junior Honor Society are working with the “Let Someone Fill Your Shoes” campaign that donates used, yet usable, shoes to our community. If you would like to donate any shoes, please tie them together and drop them off outside the Buford guidance office until 1/29.

Buford students visited the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC). During their visit, Buford students met with students, faculty, and even had the opportunity to try equipment and gear.

Eighth-grader Caroline McLellan won the GEAR UP poster contest, and in total, Buford students earned 5 out of the top 11 spots in the contest open to 29 Virginia schools.  GEAR UP is a college readiness emphasis for the State Council of High Education for Virginia.

Buford-at-MonticelloThe Buford chorus sang at Monticello as part of an event celebrating the City elementary schools’ Jefferson-related art exhibition.

When asked to contribute to a School Board presentation about some recent school highlights,  Buford students developed a special edition of the  Trojan News Telecast, with their self-produced “Top 5,” including AVID, clubs, engineering/making,  academics,  and college readiness. (OK, that’s 6, but they just couldn’t stop themselves!)

On the morning after Thanksgiving break, the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia visited Buford to welcome students back. Members formed a tunnel and cheered on students as they proceeded to their classes.

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U.Va. engineers at Walker

The Buford Debate Team placed seventh in a competition hosted  at the University of Virginia.

Walker students served as testers for a number of science-related games and activities developed by U.Va.’s “Introduction to Engineering” class.  Learn more in a column in Charlottesville Family Magazine.

Fifth-graders at Walker are preparing for El Espectaculo!, the capstone project of the schools’ elementary Spanish program for 1st- through 5th-graders.  El Espactaculo! will be presented at the MLPAC on April 20 at 6:30.

IMG_0946Walker 6th-graders finished up a fun kickball season this winter, for some friendly competition, exercise, and a good mid-day brain break.

Walker was one of the many City schools that participated in the national “hour of code” emphasis to make sure all students gain exposure to computer coding.

Congratulations to Jory Cardoza, Walker’s geography bee champ!

Many City and area schools enjoyed the U.Va. women’s basketball first-annual field trip day, but none was more involved than Walker.  Walker was the first school to commit, designed warm-up t-shirts worn by the players, sang the national anthem before the game, and their art was featured in an exhibition at John Paul Jones Arena!  (Oh, and they also had fun at the game.)

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Walker art exhibition and chorus singing at JPJ Arena.

Elementary News

Students in schools across the division enjoyed the U.Va. women’s basketball team’s field trip day, getting perhaps their first glimpse of college life.  Mr. Geddy’s class at Clark school even won the poster contest and earned a pizza lunch/dance party with the team in January!

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Greenbrier winter concert. Many more concert pix at @CvilleSchools on Facebook (no account needed.)

Third-graders across the City visited Monticello and participated in a Jefferson-related art show with an opening reception featuring the Buford chorus.

Over break, the Books on Bikes crew visited neighborhoods for a special winter edition called Bundle up with Books, with read-alouds, free books, and winter hats and gloves. See the Newsplex’s coverage here.

Burnley-Moran students inspired a helpful item in December’s city utility bills. If the information helps you save your ash trees, thank our students and teachers (in this case, Carole Busching). Real-life learning!

BMEtrackstarBurnley-Moran students welcomed former bobcat and 2016 Olympic track and field hopeful, Allen Dooms. He spoke about his childhood in Westhaven, his athletic experiences in high school and college, and his mentor, the late Curtis Elder, for whom the CHS track and field facilities are named.

Clark EngiMembers of Clark’s Student Council distributed “compliment post-it notes” to all their classmates on the first day back from winter break. The team thought of the project as a way to promote the school value of kindness, and students began writing the stockpile of notes back in October, working in weekly 30-minute increments.

Clark also hosted first-year engineering students from U.Va. for an engineering day.   The U.Va. students brought devices and activities that taught elementary-level science.  For more information, see the link (above) about Walker’s sister program.

JVia-coding-clubGreenbrier will have 4 teams (and Walker will have two) for the upcoming Odyssey of the Mind regional competition on March 19. Odyssey of the Mind is a challenge that fosters and rewards creativity and problem solving.

Jackson-Via’s Coding Club was recently featured in an article in December’s Charlottesville Family Magazine and they hosted a Martha Jefferson Hospital learning session about the importance of hand-washing with a glow-in-the-dark “germ” test!

JON-ReadingJohnson hosted its annual picture book day, featuring teachers and students in story-book costumes.  Older students were paired with younger buddies for read-alouds.  (And they also met their hack-a-thon goal of more than 100 hours of coding in December!)

Congratulations to Krishabh Ban (Venable) and Harper Ullrich (Jackson-Via), winners in the “Imagine a World without Water” art contest ( with almost 600 entries)! The contest was sponsored by the City of Charlottesville, the Albemarle County Service Authority, and Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority.

Venable recently hosted a talent show with more than 70 student-performers, and they celebrated their succcessful Walk-a-thon with human-scaled games of  Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Foosball, and Spirograph drawing (links go to videos, if you can stand the cuteness).

Venable Talent Show
Venable Talent Show

School Board Update

New Board Member Adam Hastings
New Board Member Adam Hastings

At their December 3 meeting, the School Board approved the 2016-17 Program of Study as well as a monthly one-hour delayed start for Charlottesville High School beginning on January 14. They recognized Willa Neale and Colette Blount for their service at their last meeting as Board members.  They discussed potential capital projects, and they heard updates about a planned swim program for Walker students as well as a University of Virginia Community Credit Union student-run branch  to be at CHS next year.

New Board Member Sherry Kraft
New Board Member Sherry Kraft

At their January 7 meeting,  the School Board welcomed Adam Hastings and Sherry Kraft as Board members and re-elected Amy Laufer, chair, and Leah Puryear, vice chair.  They heard updates about the preschool program and discussed the proposed 2016-17 academic calendar, on which they will vote in February.

As noted above, budget season is also underway, with extra Board and community meetings for discussion.

For more details or other reports, visit our electronic schoolboard, accessible via our web site.

Register here to receive notices of future Board meetings. We livestream at ustream.com (search for Charlottesville City Schools).

Upcoming Events

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CHS Symphony Concert,  February 2015

Upcoming events include:

  • January 13, Community Budget Meeting, 6pm, Buford
  • January 14, Legend of Sleepy Hollow presented at Walker Auditorium, 6:30pm (presented by Buford and Walker students in Stage Left Theater)
  • January 15, last day of 2nd quarter
  • January 16, CHS string ensemble preforms Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Paramount, 8pm
  • January 18-19, No School (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Teacher Work Day)
  • February 3,  Charlottesville High School Symphony Concert (featuring band, choir, orchestra, and visual artists!)
  • February 4, School Board Meeting at CHS Media Center, 5pm
  • February 15, No School (Professional Learning Day)

Remember that you can subscribe to our Google calendar of school holidays (division-wide) and as well as Google calendars for school-specific events. Instructions are at charlottesvilleschoools.org/calendar.