Superintendent Message October 2015

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October 15, 2015

Dear community members,

CHS_IMG_3492I hope you’ve all gotten settled into the routines of the new school year. We continue to be pleased with our smooth start and the progress of our students.  Fall conferences have been held at some schools, but for many, they will be held on November 3.  Remember that teachers are available to answer questions and address concerns at any time of year. We want to hear from you and work with you to meet the needs of our students.

More from the Superintendent: Update on Extended Learning Program in 2016-17

JON2015LionIMG_4341I’d also like to give an update about a grant that Charlottesville City Schools received from the Governor’s Office to support extended learning for our students.  The grant will provide extended learning hours for students in grades 1-6 who need extra assistance with literacy.

We will use this year to plan a program that will meet our students’ needs. As we make these decisions, the School Board and administration will be in contact with teachers, parents, and experts in the field. We will pilot the concept during summer school in 2016, and then the extended hours for identified students will be part of the 2016-17 school year.

JON2015robotIMG_4342Our current plans call for students who read below their grade levels to receive after-school instruction three afternoons a week. Our draft plan draws on elements from after-school programs already in place at Clark, Greenbrier, and Venable.  It also leverages the strengths of existing partnerships.

We know that literacy is foundational to success, and this grant provides an exciting opportunity to help all of our students grow in proficiency and confidence.  Stay tuned as this planning process unfolds.

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

Division-Wide Updates

deberry2October 23 marks the end of the first grading period. Please check PowerSchool (or Canvas) to resolve any questions before then.

Notice that several school holidays have been consolidated on this year’s academic calendar, so students will have no school on Friday, October 30, as well as Monday and Tuesday, November 2-3. Enjoy the long weekend!

Charlottesville and Albemarle County are co-hosting a community forum on “free-range parenting” at Burley Middle School on 10/27 from 7:30-9pm. Community experts will address topics and answer audience questions about how to provide children safe opportunities to experience independence.

Bingler-Theodose2During the homecoming football game on October 23, the athletic field will be named DeBeery-Bingler Field in honor of two legendary coaches and mentors.

Raymond Dixon, one of the “Charlottesville 12” who integrated Charlottesville City Schools, passed away in September.  In the fall of 1959, when he was 9 years old, Mr. Dixon was one of the first African-American students to attend Venable School. We honor the courage and perseverance of Mr. Dixon and his classmates, who paved the way for so many to follow.

CHS News

CHS15edIMG_3854Based on their strong performance on last year’s PSAT test, 22 students earned semi-finalist or commended student status. Laura Holt is a semi-finalist who will continue to the scholarship phase. Commended students are Talis Basham, David Caraway, Nicholas Damiani, Zofia Ferki, Soren Grzegorczyk, Juliet Halvorson-Taylor, Chris Hays, Sachi Hilliard, Michael Inlow, Kellyn Kusyk, Charles Manning, Eamon O’Brien, Max Patek, Josh Press-Williams, Lucy Pugh-Sellers, Sam Rimm-Kaufman, Nathan Shuster, Ariana Smith, Mary Stelow, Hannah Winstead, and Caton Yang.  Congratulations to all!

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CHS students visiting 2nd Street Gallery.

Piedmont Council for the Arts recently recognized four CHS students as Rising Stars: Micah Hunter­-Chang, Emma Kane, Kate Kayton, & Saoirse Lee.

Caton Yang and Kibiriti Majuto recently represented Charlottesville Schools in a discussion with Governor McAuliffe and other state leaders. The roundtable focused on improving the evaluation process (de-emphasizing SOL testing) and other hallmarks of “schools of the future.”

CHS-2015IMG_3651_2CHS has several new clubs this fall. Girls Learn International raises awareness about challenges and injustices faced by young women around the world. And 9th-graders Zyahna Bryant and Keshawna Nelson recently established the Black Student Union amid broad support. The students noted that they called the club a “union” to signify that all are welcome to join the club, which will explore issues relevant to African Americans.

CHS2015Collage Hands ProjectFor the fourth year, 9th-grader Ashton Ryan organized a community coat drive, collecting more than 700 jackets for those in need.

The CHS science club BACON is participating in high-tech  service, 3-D printing prosthetic hands in a partnership with Northrop Grumman and a national group called Enabling the Future.

In athletic news, CHS golf is having another record-setting season, with four students qualifying for regionals:  Zach Russell, AJ Stouffer, Emmy Timberlake, and Banks Northington. In addition, CHS field hockey earned local attention and a national shout-out from US Field Hockey for its inclusion of male players.

A full 20 students qualified for the regional orchestra, which means that about 20 percent of the highly competitive spots are occupied by students from CHS! Senior Mary Stelow earned the concertmaster chair for the second consecutive year. Other qualifiers are Campbell Brickhouse, Faith Brown, Cameron Ciambotti, Randall Crittenden, Carmen Day, Micah Hunter-Chang, Claire Jenkins, Rachel Jones, Victoria Kremer, David Kriete, Saoirse Lee, Charlie Manning, Leighton Read, Bethany Reitsma, Matthew Robinson, Noah Robinson, Caleb Rose, Parker Sullivan, and D Thomas.

Children-of-Eden_smThis year’s competition one-act play, Children of Eden, is student-directed, with direction and choreography by Emma Kessler and Daniel Neale, and with music direction by Saoirse Lee. A free send-off performance will be 10/21 at 7pm.

Other student activities at CHS include a joint constitutional debate held with (and not against) students from St. Anne’s-Belfield. And Chinese classes recently observed the Mid-Autumn Festival by learning about the holiday—and by eating mooncakes.

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Choosing a mooncake in Chinese class.

CHS has held several successful college-prep events, including a workshop on essay-writing and a regional college fair that attracted more than 800. A college planning night will be held on 10/26.

Finally, speaking of college,  Andrew Gamma ’15 was among the graduates featured in a recent news article about our dual-degree program with PVCC. If you are interested in dual enrollment or a dual degree, ask your counselor.

Middle Grade News

Walker collageAt Walker, sixth-grade students hosted a colonial fair representing the cultures and history of the 13 colonies from New Hampshire to Georgia.

Some Walker students have gotten their hands in the goo— making “ooblek” and then making inferences about it. Others have gotten their hands in the dirt, carefully sifting through soil layers for an archaeology lab.

In response to the tragic summer drowning of their friend (Yu Be Chaw), some ESL students at Walker recently wrote a letter to and met with Dr. Atkins to explore how to expand opportunities for swimming lessons for Charlottesville students.

Walker and Greenbrier will have enhanced lighting installed this year thanks to a state security grant.WLK_IMG_4196

At Buford, French and history students enjoyed a live performance by musicians from our sister city of Besançon. The group uses songs from the past to teach French & history through music. In addition, US History II students learned about life on the prairie by working on a barbed wire fence & sod house!

As part of their fall harvest, City Schoolyard Garden aides gathered gourds to give to the school’s art students for use in still life work. Once the gourds are dry, the art students will polish and burn designs on them to convert them into artworks and bird houses.

Gourds CollageBuford students and staff represented the division at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, through a partnership that has developed ways to use historic inventions to teach science and engineering. Our students presented their work to national leaders of STEM organizations.

Elementary News

BME_IMG_9543City elementary schools have completed their visits to Camp Albemarle to learn about our watershed, and thanks to City Schoolyard Garden and the Local Food Hub, they also enjoyed a busy Farm-to-School Week.

Burnley-Moran students discovered that skills + service= acorn math. Students gathered acorns for injured bear cubs, fawns, and squirrels who can’t find their own food. The children totaled their haul and subtracted the number of acorns that didn’t meet the standards set by the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

IMG_4809It’s been a busy season for Clark Bees — they participated in a Belmont community “Yard Dreams” art project sponsored by PVCC, they hosted area beekeepers (and buzzing friends) as part of Farm-to-School Week, and they hosted their annual Buzz-by-Belmont 5K. In addition, fourth-graders completed a multi-faceted water unit, with a trip to Camp Ablemarle, a classroom visit from a student’s hydrologist father, and a service project that collected $113 to dig wells to provide clean water in South Sudan.

2 (1)Greenbrier held a spirit day with t-shirts featuring a design selected from school-wide entries. Congratulations to kindergartener Liam Yeaton, the winning artist. In addition, teacher Linda Thornton earned a Horace Mann Donors Choose grant to purchase ten stability balls for her first-graders to use (in addition to their traditional chairs). Stability balls promote active engagement and other benefits.

Jackson-Via’s computer club continues to grow, with twenty students staying after school weekly to get up to “scratch” with their coding.

dsc02763-smJohnson hosted a highly successful Donuts with Dads event, filling the cafeteria with dads, grandfathers, uncles, and friends for a morning reading event. Afterwards, the men headed to the library to learn about volunteer opportunities.

Venable will host its annual “Trick or Read” on October 29, with costumed teachers, book-based activities, read-alouds, and more.

School Board Report

SchoolBoardGroup_sm2At their October meeting, the Board approved the timeline for developing the 2016-17 budget and heard an update about the division’s recycyling and composting program. The Board also discussed the 2014-15 year-end financial report, a document for reporting key measures on CCS priorities, and a proposed change in training for our non-discrimination policy. 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

Upcoming events include:

  • October 21, TheatreCHS presents Children of Eden, Black Box Theatre, 7pm
  • October 23, CHS Homecoming and Field Dedication, kick-off at 7:30pm
  • October 26, CHS College Planning Night
  • October 29, CHS Choir Fall Concert, 7pm, MLKPAC
  • No school on Friday (10/30), Monday (11/2), or Tuesday (11/3)

To find more events or to add our division-wide or school-specific Google calendars to your own e-calendar, visit charlottesvilleschools.org/calendar.