What‘s Happening at School Division News

Salt dough globes in the Burnley-Moran garden

Highlights and News | May 2017


Salt dough globes in the Burnley-Moran garden
Salt dough globes in the Burnley-Moran garden

May 9, 2017

Dear families,

Thanks to so many of you who have offered your ideas as part of our strategic planning process.  We have held more than 40 meetings in our schools and at community events with students, staff, parents, community members, and other stakeholders. Your feedback has been invaluable.

We now have a draft of the plan, focusing on academic excellence, safe and supportive schools, and organizational supports. At the heart of this plan is the idea that we are all learners — not only our students, but our teachers, staff members such as our bus drivers, and our families at home. We are growing and working together for the benefit of our community.

focus-areasWhat can you do?

This month’s newsletter focuses on the big ideas of our strategic plan and provides recent examples that support these emphases. If you see an item in this newsletter, you’ll know that our strategic plan says, “We want more of this.”

Thanks for partnering with us, today and in the future!

Rosa S. Atkins, Superintendent

Academic Excellence

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: Learning will be equitable, centered on students, and develop life-ready graduates


We want to make sure that all of our students find success and opportunities in our schools and in life after school. 

Walker 5th-graders zumba for El Espectaculo!
Walker 5th-graders Zumba for El Espectaculo!

Special events celebrate our diversity, including Buford’s recent International Night or Walker School’s recent performance of ¡El Espectáculo!, the capstone project of our Elementary Spanish program. But more than specific programs or special events, we want to build a division-wide culture that values both differences and commonalities, every day.

Leah Puryear was recently elected to the CUBE steering committee
Leah Puryear was recently elected to the CUBE steering committee.

Charlottesville City Schools has been recognized as a model of excellence and leadership in an urban school division. Congratulations to School Board member Leah Puryear, who was recently elected to the national steering committee for the Council of Urban Boards of Education.

Naia Fairchild and Francis MacCall, homecoming queen and king. Photo courtesy ScimmagePlay.
Naia Fairchild and Francis MacCall, homecoming queen and king. Photo courtesy Scrimmage Play.

Another example of our commitment to supporting all our students is helping our students with special needs meet their goals and be a full part of our schools. We are delighted that, for instance, Naia Fairchild, the CHS cheerleading manager who has Down Syndrome, was elected homecoming queen this fall. If your child receives services, consider completing the Special Education Advisory Committee’s parent survey to help us serve you better. Join the SEAC’s mailing list to learn more about workshops or other programs that might benefit your family; to join, email seacva@gmail.com.

CHS students on a trip to DC to speak with representatives
Leadership opportunities for all, in the schools and in the community.

We are committed to providing leadership opportunities for all our students. For example, this year our immigrant and refugee students have earned a number of honors and leadership roles, from School Board rep to senior class president to peer mentor to City Youth Council member, and more.

3 AVID seniors participate in college 'Decision Day'
AVID seniors getting ready for “Decision Day.”

Students are building a bridge to a bright future, including our first-generation college students. Our AVID program strengthens study skills, guides students towards college-prep classes, helps students navigate the college admissions process, and more.  At the end of the day on May 12,  the CHS senior class will celebrate “Decision Day” with a bounce house and other fun ways to celebrate 13 years of hard work.  Congrats, class of 2017!

Preschoolers solving a puzzle
Preschoolers solving a puzzle.
Torain Braxton (R) and Trevon Jackson in A Raisin in the Sun
Torain Braxton (R) and Trevon Jackson in A Raisin in the Sun. Courtesy Lamia West ’18.

Early childhood education remains a priority. Charlottesville City Schools offers high-quality preschool for qualifying 3- and 4-year-olds who face economic challenges, need to learn English, require special services, or more. This investment — funded primarily with local dollars — yields big returns. In upcoming years, our leaders will consider whether a dedicated preschool facility could help us expand services and reduce crowding at our elementary schools.

As part of its sold-out production of A Raisin in the Sun, the CHS theatre program was highlighted in the Daily Progress for its commitment to choosing plays that welcome and include all our students.

Kindergartners choosing the engineering station during center time.
Kindergartners choosing the engineering station during center time.

Centered on Students:

We want to foster the unique talents and interests of our students, and we want students to “own” their learning by setting goals, making choices, and reflecting on their progress.

Student-centered learning looks different in various schools and classrooms. It can be as small as students choosing how to start their day (reading, drawing, or journaling). In some of our engineering and other classes, students can advance through a curriculum at their own pace.

Reece McKee winning 3rd in VA at Geo Bee.
Reece McKee wins 3rd in VA at Geo Bee.

Student-centered learning connects learners with resources to advance their own passions, such as Buford student Reece McKee earning 3rd place in Virginia for the Geography Bee. (Aidan Peters of Walker also qualified for the state competition!)

2017 Governor's School participants
2017 Governor’s School honorees.

Special, competitive opportunities like the Virginia Governor’s School help our students dive deep into areas of their own interest, from the arts to environmental engineering to a special NASA program (2 out of Virginia’s 12 slots were earned by CHS students this year)!  Congratulations to our Governor’s School honorees: Anna Bon-Harper, Sophia Greenhoe (alternate), Nadiya Khaydari, Maire Lee, Sydney Lewin, Risa Purow-Ruderman, Demetrius Ragland, and Jonah Weissman!

Lucas-Higgins-NSLIYSimilarly, for a second straight year, a CHS student has earned a competitive travel fellowship to continue studying Mandarin in China through a U.S. State Department-sponsored program. This summer Lucas Higgins will travel with the  National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y); last summer it was Santiago Padrón.

Nepalese students at Walker taking a Virtual Reality tour of their home country.
Nepalese students at Walker taking a virtual reality tour of their home country.

Using tech resources can make learning personal and relevant to students. Recently, Walker ESL students “visited” their home country of Nepal with virtual reality goggles.

Hosting student-led conferences (this year at Clark and Venable) was an excellent opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and share their progress with the parents and grandparents — some of whom joined in via Skype from as far away as Jordan!

CHS students prep pitches for the TomTom Festival's 'Pitch Night'
CHS students prep pitches for the TomTom Festival’s Pitch Night.

Clubs like BACON (Best All-around Club of Nerds) or classes like AVID can connect students with projects and that are student-led and personally meaningful, including the 2nd-place-in-Virginia Avoidcopter (a drone with avoidance capabilities) or proposals for social change pitched at the  TomTom Festival.

And a tried-and-true way to help students learn with passion (and excellence) is through the arts. Both the CHS and Buford orchestras were named grand champions of their respective regional competitions this spring (and won many other awards along the way). Congratulations to both groups and their directors!

Producing Life-Ready Graduates

Virginia’s new “Profile of a Virginia Graduate” focuses on abilities and traits that will prepare our students to succeed in life. These range from communication and “soft” skills to real-world problem-solving abilities to STEM literacy to workplace experiences and industry certifications.

Greenbrier students collect data, confer, and admire their STEM projects!
Greenbrier students collect data, confer, and admire their STEM projects!

Our new, locally developed iSTEM program continues to roll out hands-on, real-life projects that cross boundaries between “sciencey” subjects and areas such as art, history, and reading.   From solar ovens to wind turbines to working models of the human respiratory system (and much, much more), our students are applying their skills to the world around them.

Dental program at CATEC
Dental program at CATEC.

CATEC students model future-readiness for us in a variety of areas, from culinary arts to our new partnership with tech leader CISCO. Students can earn college credits, industry certifications, and valuable skills such as resume-building and interviewing.

CHS students get first-hand history
CHS students learn first-hand history.

Tapping into community resources is another way to help students learn to navigate their community and their futures. Field trips and guest speakers (both live and virtual) build connections and take advantage of the real world all around us.  CHS history students recently visited the Vietnam War Foundation and Museum in Ruckersville, sitting in a  Huey helicopter and gathering the oral histories of veterans.

Senior Elizabeth Valtierra represents CCS at the Sin Barreras Help Fair.
Senior Elizabeth Valtierra represents CCS.

When Charlottesville City Schools wanted to participate in the Hispanic Help Fair organized by Sin Barreras, we turned to the experts. Junior Marisol Rodriquez translated posters into Spanish for our booth, and senior Elizabeth Valtierra spoke en español y en ingles with the public who stopped by. What a great example of how our students can build communication and soft skills for the benefit of all!

Sixth-place CHS creative writing team.
Sixth-place CHS creative writing team.

Another sign of excellent communication skills: Congratulations to Ashley Clark and the CHS creative writing team! Ashley won 1st in Virginia for her short story! She plus Rachel Beling, Thomas Butler, Helen Gehle, Audrey Miller, and Qena Taylor earned 6th in VHSL creative writing.

And still more recognition of our students’ communication skills in a variety of media…. The VR film produced this year by Theatre CHS students was screened at the San Francisco Film Festival. Aleena Haidari won the Charlottesville Area Bar Association’s essay contest on the 14th Amendment, and her sister Waheda Haidari was a finalist in the Virginia War Memorial’s World War I art contest. Congratulations to all!

Safe and Supportive Schools

Our learning communities will foster social, emotional, mental, and physical wellness

Charlottesville City Schools has made a strong commitment to healthy habits and strong communities. There’s more to be done, but here are some examples of what we’re already doing to foster a well-rounded sense of wellness.

Virginia Tiered System of Supports Graphic Showing the Relationship Between Systems, Data, and Practices
The components of Virginia Tiered Systems of Support.

Positive school culture is supported by the ongoing division-wide implementation of Virginia Tiered Systems of Support, or VTSS.  VTSS recognizes that students’ academic performance and behavior are closely aligned, and it calls for a division-wide framework for supplying quick, consistent responses to students’ academic and behavioral needs.  Within the VTSS framework,  a program called Positive Behaviorial Interventions and Supports (PBIS) promotes community, celebrates good behavior, and deepens relationships.  More information is available on our web site.

Turkeys, chicks, ducks, pigs, and Burnley-Moran bobcats.
Turkeys, chicks, ducks, pigs, and Burnley-Moran bobcats.

elementary school children doing puzzles blindfoldedOur school counselors foster social-emotional health in a variety of ways. They offer classroom lessons, such as guiding blindfolded partners to solve jigsaw puzzles at Walker. They sponsor clubs and groups such as the Walker Peace Squad or the Jackson-Via Bully-Nots. And they work with teachers to form peer mentoring groups, such as the CHS Link Crew. Wrapping up its first full year, the Link Crew trains selected CHS 10th-12th graders to help their crew of new 9th-graders have a smooth first year of high school.


Books on Bikes rode in this year's Dogwood Parade
Books on Bikes rode in this year’s Dogwood Parade.

Relationships (and reading skills) can deepen even during the summer through our teachers’ and librarians’ Books on Bikes program! The BoB team visits neighborhoods in the summer to deliver free books, popsicles, and smiles. (A therapy dog even makes the rounds!) Join them for their summer kick-off bike parade on June 10!

garden_BME_FBWhen we speak about the wellness benefits of City Schoolyard Gardens, do we mean nutrition, exercise, or the mental health benefits of working in the garden? All of the above, and much, much more.

March 2016 Harvest of the Month was local salad greens! Painting by Mackenzie Baumgarten
“Local on the Line” lunches featured local salad greens! Painting by Mackenzie Baumgarten.

Our nutrition program has won awards for its commitment to nutritious, healthy foods, but there is always room for improvement. Working with the Local Food Hub, parents, and student focus groups, Nutrition Director Carlton Jones has been making plans for the future. Our new “Local on the Line” program supplies local foods (such as strawberries or salad greens, at left) in monthly menu items.

Jackson-Via students working together on floor
Jackson-Via students working together on floor.

While gym and recess are very important, physical wellness is bigger than that. Throughout-the-day movement also comes from simple things like students working eye-to-eye on the floor or heading outside to create a calculus problem on the slope of a hill outside CHS.

Clark students getting shoes at Ragged Mountain Running Shop.
Getting new shoes (eventually) for Girls on the Run! Courtesy Ryan Kelly, Daily Progress.

Clubs and special events also support physical health, such as the family 1-mile color run that the Burnley-Moran PTO recently sponsored, or the Girls on the Run program at our schools. The Clark Girls on the Run recently got treated to running shoes at Ragged Mountain Running Shop thanks to support from Girls on the Run Board President Frank Grosch and the Piedmont Housing Alliance.

12-0 CHS boys' soccer vs Western Albemarle. Courtesy Scrimmage Play/Bart Isley.
12-0 CHS boys’ soccer vs Western Albemarle. Courtesy Scrimmage Play/Bart Isley.

Athletics is a big part of the movement and physical wellness picture. The CHS boys’ soccer team has racked up 12 wins and no losses so far(!!), but beyond wins and losses, sports build fitness, relationships, and leadership. Girls’ tennis is also having a strong season, including a quarter-final win in conference play. Go Black Knights!

Our school spaces also support safety and learning. This year, our schools have seen the installation of clear exterior door signage (to aid responders in case of emergency), front door-locking management, a visitor screening system, and more. Aside from security, we want our facilities to support creativity, teamwork, and other 21st century skills, and we’ve been working with the always-supportive City of Charlottesville  to create a funding stream for such improvements.

Organizational Supports

ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORTS: Systems and supports that enable staff and students to thrive

In many ways, these organizational supports make possible our goals for  academic excellence and safe and supportive schools.

IMG_5370-with-wordsAt the top of the list is great employees. It’s clear from our feedback groups that our community values the expertise and warmth of our teachers. Just this month, Laurel Bradley was honored as Z95’s teacher of the month (nominated by her student, at right), and CHS counselor David Wilkerson won the Colin Powell Award from Our Community Salutes! And this week, teachers from all of our schools will receive the Better Living Golden Apple Award. This year’s honorees include Melvin Grady (Buford), Jessica Powley (Burnley-Moran), Brian Kayser (CHS), Ashley Riley (Clark), Amy Jones (Greenbrier), Lisa Utz (Jackson-Via), Lorena Caballero Bower (Johnson),  Michael McCrory (Lugo-McGinness Academy), Nicole Driggs (Venable), and Samantha Pagni (Walker). Congratulations to all!

Hayley Gomez Paula Gladieux GBR
Book Buddy volunteer at Greenbrier. Courtesy Ryan M. Kelly/Daily Progress.

Of course, staff doesn’t not work alone — we’re grateful to have the support of community partners and volunteers. This year, our Book Buddies literacy tutoring program will celebrate its 25th year on May 10 at the Jefferson School City Center.  This program was created in the Charlottesville City Schools and has subsequently spread across the state and nation,  building both literacy and valuable relationships.

Kindergarten open house at Venable. Courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/Daily Progress.
Kindergarten open house at Venable. Courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/Daily Progress.

For a second year, families with children entering kindergarten were invited to complete their registrations online.  Online forms and streamlined processes help all of us focus on learning.

Digital-Schools-Award_smOur educational programs will increasingly rely on a robust network and technological supports.  This spring, Charlottesville City Schools was nationally honored for integrating technology in support of innovative curriculum and improved student learning. The Center for Digital Education (CDE) ranked Charlottesville as top-10 winner (#5 among mid-sized divisions) in its 2016-17 Digital School Districts Survey Awards.


Upcoming Events

Upcoming events include:


  • Book Buddies 25th Anniv. ReceptionMay 10, 4pm – 5pm, Jefferson School City Center
  • Walker/Buford Chorus ConcertMay 10, 7pm – 8pm, Buford Auditorium
  • Strategic Plan Community Update, May 11, 5:30pm, CHS Sigma Lab
  • 2017FestofCulturesPostcardFestival of CulturesSat, May 13, 10am – 4pm, Lee Park
  • Stage Left Theatre presents Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, May 18, 6:30pm, Buford
  • CHS Dessert TheatreMay 19-20, 7pm with Sat matinee at 3pm
  • Walker Band Spring ConcertsMay 19, 6:30pm – 9pm
  • CHS Saturday Academic InterventionMay 13, 9am – 12:30pm
  • CHS Saturday Academic Intervention for SeniorsMay 20, 9am – 12:30pm, B-Commons
  • Walker Band Instrument Selection NightMay 23 & 25, 5pm
  • CATEC Completers Ceremony, May 24, 7pm
  • No School (Memorial Day), May 29
  • Buford Band Concert, May 30, 7pm, Buford Auditorium

students in caps and gowns after graduationJune

  • School Board MeetingJune 1, 5pm
  • Minds in Motion Performance with Richmond BalletJune 1, 7pm, MLKPAC
  • 8th Grade DanceJune 2, 7pm – 10pm, Buford
  • Senior Awards CelebrationJune 7, 7pm, MLKPAC
  • CHS graduationJune 8, 7pm, John Paul Jones Arena. Free and open to the public.
  • Half-Day (Last Day of School), June 9
  • Books on Bikes Summer Bike Parade, June 10, 9:30am, Clark School (Belmont side)

Curious about next year’s calendar? Add it to your Google calendar (or find a pdf here)!

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

Strategic Planning logo

Strategic Planning for 2017-2023

Strategic Planning logoOur next community meeting about the strategic plan for Charlottesville City Schools will be Thursday, May 11 at 5:30 at CHS. Join us to help refine the document that will guide our schools through 2023.

What can you do?

Where we are now:

  • We’ll host a community-wide update on Thursday, May 11, at 5:30pm at the CHS Sigma Lab. Join us!
  • We’ve held more than 40 meetings of students, parents, staff,  community members, and groups focusing on specific topics.
  • We received a strong response to our online survey.
  • We’ve attended a number of community events to hear a variety of voices.
  • We’ve reviewed a draft with our School Board (4/20)  and will continue to work with feedback groups and the Board in the weeks to come.
  • Curious about what we’ve been hearing so far?

Related Documents and Resources:


For More Information:

Jeff Faust, faustj1@charlottesvilleschools.org
Beth Cheuk, cheukb1@charlottesvilleschools.org
(434) 245-2962

The Johnson Living History Museum

Highlights and News | April 2017


April 13, 2017

Dear families—

School Board and staff receiving a national technology award in Denver.

Welcome to the fourth quarter! It’s spring concert season, and soon it will be graduation, with honors and awards for our talented students.

Our staff and school division have won awards, too.  Our adult education director, Susan Erno, was recently honored as the runner-up for national adult education administrator of the year.  And our school division was honored for our pioneering use of technology, in which were ranked #5 nationally among mid-sized school divisions by the Center for Digital Education. We are proud of our accomplishments — and our staff and  students certainly earn plenty of honors (read on to see more!)

Even when we win awards, we’re also always eager to improve and do better in the future. Thanks to so many of you who have participated in our 2017-2023 strategic planning process.  We’ll have a public update on the emerging plan on May 11 at 5:30pm in the CHS Sigma Lab. All are invited!

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins, Superintendent

Division-Wide News

Student with bike near busSafety reminder: Please take a moment to review street safety with your children, particularly those who walk, bike, or ride the bus to and from school. For our bus-riders who need to cross a street to reach their stop, please remind your child to wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and the driver has motioned for them to cross the street. Parents of first-grade and younger students are required to escort their children to and from the bus. Thank you for partnering with us for your children’s safety.

Phone number changed? If you need to update your student’s address, phone number, emergency contacts or other basic information, you can complete this mid-year update form (marking only the child’s name and school plus any changed information) and return it to your school. Copies are also available at the school.

bbuddiesThe “Book Buddies” program of Charlottesville City Schools will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reception on May 10, at 4pm Jefferson School City Center. The Book Buddies program supplies 3,000 hours a year of individualized, volunteer reading support. Thanks to leader Jeanette Rosenberg and all who make the program possible. If you know of past volunteers or participants, spread the word about the reception!

Susan ErnoThe Adult Learning Center’s Susan Erno was honored as the national runner-up for the outstanding administrator of the year award from the Coalition of Adult Basic Education.  Only a few days prior, some of Susan’s students were invited to read essays they had written at the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center.  The reading of pieces written by adult learners is an annual event and an official part of the Virginia Festival of the Book.

The City School Board unanimously approved a balanced budget request for fiscal year 2017-18.  Read more about  this decision here.

Charlottesville City Schools was nationally honored for its pioneering use of technology by the Center for Digital Education (CDE).  The CDE ranked Charlottesville #5 among mid-sized divisions in its 2016-17 Digital School Districts Survey Awards.

VMEA 10-time Blue Ribbon School | CHS band, orchestra and choir faculty celebrate!

Congratulations to our music directors, whose performing groups have racked up another “superior” season of top assessments. The Walker Intermediate Band, the Walker Jazz Band, the Buford Orchestra, and both the Buford Concert Band and the Buford Symphonic Band all earned superior. Because the high school’s  Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble (in addition to the Concert Orchestra), and Charlottesville Singers all earned superior, CHS will earn its 10th(!) Blue Ribbon School designation from the Virginia Music Education Association.

Mentors and authors Page and Franklin
Mentors and authors Page and Franklin

The Curry School at U.Va. recently published two essays by CCS teachers who have been mentors to teachers-in-training.  CHS English teacher Gwendolyn Page discussed “Teaching as Specialized Work,” and Jackson-Via third-grade teacher Nikki Franklin explored “Excellence Every Day in Teacher Mentoring.” Thanks to both women for supporting rising professionals and for representing our schools through their work and writing.

The annual ArtConnections art exhibition featuring work from students at all our schools was another success. This year, the exhibition hosted events that also showcased our musical talents, including the Walker Jazz Band and the All-City Choral Festival.

From "Inner Outlook" by Aaron Eichorst
From “Inner Outlook” by Aaron Eichorst

Clark and Venable School Spanish teacher Carolyn Evans has been chosen as 1 of 12 U.S. teachers for a Fulbright-Hays summer program in Ecuador & Peru!

In March, the artwork of fine arts coordinator Aaron Eichorst in a solo exhibition at PVCC’s North Gallery, and Aaron, along with art teachers Melissa Combs and Jennifer Mildonian, will have works featured in the Blue Ridge Virginia Art Education Association’s exhibition at the MLKPAC.

The Charlottesville Schools community extends condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, and students of Carol Johnson, who passed away in March. Carol served as an instructional assistant at Greenbrier and an employee of the CLASS program.

Burnley-Moran veteran teacher, Ralph Taylor
Long-time Burnley-Moran CLASS  teacher, Ralph Taylor

The Newsplex ran a lovely profile of our 22-year Burnley-Moran CLASS teacher (and CHS grad) Ralph Taylor for their Feel-Good Friday series. What a model of resilience!

From pre-K through high school, our students enjoyed author visits, readings, and more as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, including the elementary headliner, poet Kwame Alexander.

Logo for STEM @ Cville SchoolsThe Charlottesville Special Education Committee (SEAC) has held several community workshops this year in support of families of individuals with disabilities.  In March, they hosted a presentation about  tax-advantaged ABLEnow accounts.

Heard about iSTEM? Our innovative new program is bringing science, technology, engineering, and math to students in all our schools — even in classes like history and art. Read an overview by Charlottesville Tomorrow, find other examples in this newsletter, or follow @CCS_iSTEM on Twitter for ongoing updates.

EdTechTeam - featuring Google for Education LogoIn March, Charlottesville City Schools hosted its 5th Annual EdTechTeam Summit  Featuring Google for Education. Teachers from Charlottesville and from across the state learned about ways to maximize the power of technology in their teaching.

CHS News

Fine Arts

CHS Technical Theatre Students Design a Set for Into The Woods
CHS technical theatre students build set for Into The Woods
Raisin in the Sun Poster
Raisin in the Sun at CHS, April 13-14

TheatreCHS has offered not one, but two spring productions. February’s musical  Into the Woods featured not only artistry but technology, as students used the school’s STEM lab to create atmospheric lighting and more. The production even featured a rotating stage!  Next up is A Raisin in the Sun (February 13-14), recently featured in a Daily Progress story exploring the school’s commitment to an inclusive theater program.

Seniors Faith Brown (music — cello), Elliot Craft (theater), and Patrick O’Shea (visual arts) were honored as Rising Stars by the Piedmont Council for the Arts, and senior  Rachel Manto received a regional honorable mention in the very competitive 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

CHS symphony concert and fine arts showcase involving more than 250 students!
CHS symphony concert and fine arts showcase involving more than 250 students!

The annual CHS symphony concert and fine arts showcase featured the combined band and orchestra, the choir, the jazz band, and a display of visual artists’ work. More than 250 students were represented! Listen to a snippet  here.

CHS "Band on the Run" 5K logoThe CHS String Ensemble and Band are busy raising the support they need as they represent us this summer in Ireland and this winter in London. Through performances, a painted violin auction, and other fundraisers, they are making good progress.  One upcoming opportunity to support the Band (as well as the cross country team) is the 2nd annual Band on the Run 5K on April 29.

All-state singers Sullivan, Ramirez, and Patek
All-state singers Sullivan, Ramirez, and Patek

Five CHS musicians earned all-state honors! Singers Parker Sullivan, Brianna Ramirez, and Leah Patek as well as clarinetists Charlotte MacDonald and Caleb Rose are representing CHS.

Cuban sculptor & painter José Bedia visits CHS AP Art students
Cuban sculptor & painter José Bedia visits CHS AP Art students

A VR film created by TheatreCHS students was one of three national winners of the Oculus 360 Filmmakers Challenge. Members of the creative team are Trevon Jackson, Julia Kenner, Chloe Koehler, Marie Lee, Francis MacCall & Emma Strock.

Internationally recognized Cuban sculptor & painter Jose Bedia conducted a workshop for CHS AP Art students in February as part of his exhibition at Second Street  Gallery.

Rachel Beling, Grace Brecht, Sarah Hale, and Bella Romberger are student winners of the Poetry & Prose Contest, reading their work at the Omni. Rachel’s piece was a finalist for the associated Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center contest!


General Updates

Friends and heros: AJ Stouffer, Jerry Harris, Trevon Jackson
Friends and heroes: AJ Stouffer, Jerry Harris, Trevon Jackson

Trevon Jackson and AJ Stouffer will be named “American Red Cross Youth Heroes” on April 20. In June, the young men used first-aid skills learned during their time at Buford Middle School to save the life of their friend and fellow CHS student, Jerry Harris. 

Junior Kiara Olatunde & senior Jasmine Hayes participated in a panel discussion with Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow, as part of the UVA Global History of Black Girlhood Conference. The conference also featured a screening of a film (Black Girlhood: Access and Assets) created by a team of CCS students that included Zyahna Bryant and Tykeisha Hill.

photo of CHS AVID students during a visit to an area college campus
AVID students visit area college campuses

The CHS AVID program, aimed at preparing first-generation college students, has enjoyed a busy season. Local documentary filmmaker Lorenzo Dickerson, who has documented the history of the area’s black schools, visited CHS, and the students in turn recently visited George Mason University, Radford, and Virginia Tech.  AVID students also recently collaborated to pitch creative solutions for social change to the TomTom Festival.

Senior Kibiriti Majuto was CHS’s winner of  the Youth Service Award at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, and he and Elizabeth Valtierra, both members of the Charlottesville Youth Council, were speakers at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in D.C.

CHS interviewers/ photographers documenting African-American leadership

A collaborative project between the CHS African-American History and photography classes highlighted African-American community leaders for Black History Month.  Featured in the Daily Progress, the project can be seen here.

Inspirational speaker Carlos Ojeda Jr. brought his special brand of enthusiasm to CHS where he spoke with 9th graders.

At a well-attended AP college night, reps from U.Va., Tech, and ODU discussed AP classes, stress and college with CHS students and families.


Destinee McDonald courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/Daily Progress
Destinee McDonald

Both basketball teams qualified for the regional quarterfinals, with the girls advancing to the state tourney. Conference 23 honors for the girls’ team included Player of the Year Destinee McDonald and Coach of the Year Jim Daly. McDonald was also named Central VA player of the year, and both she and teammate Alaijah Ragland passed the 1000-point career point mark and earned regional team honors.

Birle (at left) earning all-state honors
Birle (at left) earning all-state honors

More winter sports success: At the state swimming and indoor track championships, swimmer Cole McMahon-Gioeli  placed 6th in the 50m freestyle, and sprinter Susannah Birle  earned 5th in the 300m! Other state qualifiers were Zachary Greenhoe, Graham Keeley, Nick Sifri, Jordan Prax, & Zoe Weatherford (swimming) and Georgia Crum (indoor track).

Spring sports are off to a good start — teams with a particularly strong opening include boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ lacrosse, and girls’ and boys’ soccer.


A cold "Starry Knight": Dr. Irizarry and students at CHS telescope party
A cold “Starry Knight”

The science club BACON placed fourth  in the international Zero Robotics  finals. While at MIT, CHS students were  able to Skype with engineering students at Buford to show how their curriculum applies to MIT’s ZR lab.  (The Zero Robotics competition is sponsored by NASA, MIT, and more.) A different BACON team qualified for the FTC Robotics tournament, as well!

CHS students discussing Avoidcopter for their 2nd place in VA finish.On a cold March night, CHS partnered with the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and U.Va. to host a “Starry Knight” telescope party, complete with a nebula, friends, and hot chocolate.

Jonah Weissman, James Nachbar, & Stephen Newman (and their “Avoidcopter”) earned 2nd place in the Tech & Robotics category of the Virginia Department of Education’s championship for the “Student-Led Ideation Challenge.” Their Avoidcopter is a drone with avoidance capabilities.

Elizabeth Kromkowski won 1st in math sciences, plus the Mu Alpha Theta award, in the regional science fair!

Buford and Walker News

Springtime learning & fun in the CSG Buford Garden
Springtime learning & fun in the CSG Buford Garden

Buford Middle School students distributed more than 5,000 seedlings to sister City Schoolyard Gardens and also to area nonprofits including the International Rescue Commitee, Trinity Episcopal Church, The Haven, City of Promise, Grow 4 Change and Casa Alma.   The seedlings survived a bitter cold snap thanks to help from the Buford ESOL class, and the hoophouse and seedling planting was also aided by Ms. Thompson’s class, which is part of the weekly gardening crew.  Bravo to all for such a compelling group effort!

Buford student Caroline McLellan's winning poster design for the GEAR UP contest
Buford student Caroline McLellan’s honored poster design for the GEAR UP contest

For a second year, Buford student Caroline McLellan won or placed in the GEAR UP poster contest organized by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

City of Promise filmmaking team
City of Promise filmmaking team

Lynaisha Booker and Talejha Cowan of Buford, as well as BriAsia Booker, Mauriana Evans, and Tanjalir Howard of Walker were part of a team of CCS and City of Promise students who produced a film (Black Girlhood: Access and Assets) screened at U.Va.’s Global History of Black Girlhood Conference.

The Buford community tradition of International Night was a great success thanks to students and families who attended.  Attendees were treated to worlds foods,  dancing, and even a visit from celebrity drummer Mr. Johnson!

Aidan Walker (L) & Reece McKee (R)
Aidan Walker (L) & Reece McKee (R)

Walker student Aidan Peters, and Buford student Reece McKee qualified for the Virginia Geography Bee, where Reece placed 3rd in the state!

Ryan Doherty, Margaret Anne Doran, Eleanor Hilgart, Eliza Morrison, and Tobin Yates were student winners of the Poetry & Prose Contest and read their work at the Omni.

Latin students at Buford (stage the assassination of Julius Caesar
Latin students at Buford (with Principal Johnson) stage the assassination of Julius Caesar on the ides of March (3/15).

Latin students at  (with the help of Principal Johnson)staged the assassination of Julius Caesar to celebrate the ides of March, or March 15 on the Roman calendar!  

Susan Sutton, a national presenter on cyberbullying in schools spoke with students and parents at Buford about the realities of social media use, including its negative (and positive) impacts on young people.

Walker fifth-graders are gearing up for El Espectaculo! on April 24, showcasing what they’ve learned about Spanish culture and language in our elementary Spanish program.

The Walker Peace Squad was featured in the April Bloom Magazine. Why? Because it’s cool to be kind!

Looking for summer learning opportunities? CATEC is holding its first “Kids College at CATEC” acdemies. Rising 7-10th graders can enjoy a wide range of hands-on, skill-based STEM and technical academies. From culinary arts to IT/engineering to firefighting, these programs give a glimpse of CATEC’s offerings and are organized as part of PVCC’s Kids College summer program.


Buford MATHCOUNTS team
Buford MATHCOUNTS team

The Buford MATHCOUNTS team finished 2nd in the regional competition. David Wiles and Nikolas Dillery finished 1st and 4th, earning places in the state tourney. Good luck!

Teams from Buford, Johnson, Venable, and Walker participated in the Village School Math Tournament. Buford student Zoe DeGuzman placed 3rd in the upper division, while in the lower division, Walker student Claire DeGuzman came in first and Helen Buzzoni came in 4th. Walker teams placed 2nd and 3rd overall.
Walker students design and test cotton gins
Walker students design and test cotton gins

Walker students recently explored the connections between the humanities and STEM by designing, building, and tweaking their own cotton gins.

Walker students and families enjoyed STEM Night, featuring a wide range of hands-on activities and a photo booth.

Walker students and their families enjoy STEM Night
Walker students and their families enjoy STEM Night

Why play video games when you can design your own? The Walker coding club is leading the way, as reported by NBC29.

Buford Engineering students install a counting device to help the CCS Art Department keep track of traffic at the annual art exhibit.
Buford engineering students design and install a counter to track attendance at Art Connections.

And why attend class when you can teach it?  After seeing a presentation of the design process that Buford engineering students use, Elgin Cleckley, assistant professor in the U.Va. Architecture School, invited the Buford students to come share their experiences with his design class.

Taking on a real-world problem, Buford engineering students Quinnyah Blount, Abbie Payne, and Kori Ross designed an attendance counter used at the school division’s annual art exhibition.

Elementary News

The Johnson Living History Museum
The Johnson Living History Museum

At Johnson Elementary’s Living History Museum, students brought to life famous Americans for a hands-on (and costumes-on) learning experience.  Muhammad Ali was present, as well as Teddy Roosevelt, George Marshall, Venus Williams, Pocahontas, Sonia Sotomayor, and Willie Mays (just to name a few)!  A special thanks to the Charlottesville School Board for lending their gavel to Thurgood Marshall.

Burnley-Moran 1-mile color run on 4/15. For details, call 245-2413Let’s get moving! The Burnley-Moran PTO invites the community to its first-ever family 1-mile color run this Saturday, April 15.

Kindergarten open house is Thursday, April 20, from 3:30-6 at your local elementary school.  Even if you fill out the forms online (and we hope you will), you still need to bring documents such as proof of residency to the school. We’re looking forward to meeting a new generation of future Black Knights!

Walker Peace Squad members welcome CCS 4th graders as the tour Walker in anticipation of moving up next year.
Walker Peace Squad members welcome CCS 4th graders to Walker

Walker 5th graders hosted CCS 4th graders for a mini band/orchestra concert, school tours, & mentoring groups!  The rising elementary students were greeted by members of the Walker Peace Squad (who are featured in the April Bloom Magazine).

Johnson kindergarten students make and eat yummy sushi!
Johnson kindergarten students make and eat yummy sushi!

Kindergartners at Johnson enjoyed making and eating sushi together. Cuisine and culture are such a delicious mix!

CHS 10th grade AVID students spent time mentoring elementary students at Jackson-Via.

Burnley-Moran students raised slightly over $450 in their 2nd annual penny drive. This year, students  voted on the charity of their choice to receive $100. The Bobcats stayed true to their mascot and selected the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA!

Elementary schools received visits from a number of guest readers for Read Across America Day, including the Cat in the Hat (since it’s Dr. Seuss’s birthday). Other guest readers included U.Va. athletes from basketball, crew, soccer, and more

Visits from UVA for World Read Aloud Day!
Visits from U.Va. athletes for Read Across America!

Kindergarten students learned about community helpers in a variety of ways, from visiting the Fontaine Avenue Fire Station to using dress-up activity centers to inviting CATEC students to talk about their future careers as community helpers.

The Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia paid a visit to Jackson-Via to teach the students hand-on about early Virginia culture.  Students took turns carrying water with a yoke, using a wedge to split firewood, and practicing vital everyday tasks of frontier life.

Jackson-Via students enjoy a visit from the Virginia Frontier Culture Museum of Staunton.
Jackson-Via students enjoy a visit from the Virginia Frontier Culture Museum.


Clark put students in charge of parent-teacher conferences!
Clark put students in charge of parent-teacher conferences!

Clark and Venable recently put students in charge of parent-teacher conferences! These students shared their goals and progress, sometimes using Skype to include parents and grandparents (as far away as Jordan)!

C is for cross-curricular collaboration! Venable teachers have been developing shared library-art-classroom projects, including third graders sewing endangered species stuffed animals and 2nd graders creating famous American pop-up books.

Teachers at Greenbrier and Jackson-Via got creative (and visibly older) celebrating the 100th day of school!  Other playful teachers covered themselves in band-aids and asked for a little TLC to help them prepare for 80 more awesome days of school!

Teachers at Greenbrier and Jackson via celebrate 100 days of school with the help of band-aids and humor!

Our elementary schools held STEM Nights with the help of students from CHS’s science club, BACON (Best All-Around Club of Nerds). One popular activity was the hot wheel challenge where students adjusted mass on racing derby cars to better understand potential and kinetic energy!

School Board Update

Leah Puryear
National CUBE steering committee member Leah Puryear

Special congratulations to vice chair Leah Puryear, who was elected to the National School Board Association’s steering committee for the Council of Urban Boards of Education. Recent School Board decisions include approving the proposed 2017-18 operating budget and the fee schedule for the 2017-18 CLASS after-school program. Discussions and reports have included updates on the math and literacy program, the after-school Extending Bridges to Learning literacy program, the new iSTEM program for elementary and older students, and the forthcoming implementation of a new business system in the divisions’ offices.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events include:


  • Raisin in the Sun PosterTheatreCHS presents A Raisin in the Sun, April 13-14, 7pm, Black Box, CHS
  • Family 1-Mile Color Run at Burnley-Moran, April 15. Open to all (with registration). See info here.
  • Walker El Espectaculo Spanish Celebration, April 24, 7pm
  • Kindergarten Registration at all elementary schools, April 20, 3:30pm – 6pm. You can register online here before you go!
  • CHS Spring Choir ConcertApril 26, 7pm, MLKPAC
  • Walker Orchestra Spring ConcertApril 27, 7pm. Farewell concert for Dr. Polly Sibert!
  • CHS Band on the Run 5K, April 29, 8am. Open to all (with registration). See info here.
  • CHS PromApril 29, 7-11pm, Carver Recreation Center, $10.  See info here.


  • Buford Engineering Night, May 2, 6pm
  • Buford Spring Orchestra ConcertMay 3, 7:30pm
  • School Board Meeting, May 4, 5pm
  • CHS Band Spring Concert, May 7, 7pm, MLKPAC
  • Buford Spring Band Concert, May 9, 7pm – 8pm
  • Book Buddies 25th Anniv. ReceptionMay 10, 4pm – 5pm, Jefferson School City Center
  • Walker/Buford Chorus ConcertMay 10, 7pm – 8pm, Buford Auditorium
  • Strategic Plan Community Update, May 11, 5:30pm, CHS Sigma Lab
  • 2017FestofCulturesPostcardFestival of CulturesSat, May 13, 10am – 4pm, Lee Park
  • Stage Left Theatre presents Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, May 18, 6:30pm, Buford
  • CHS Dessert TheatreMay 19-20, 7pm with Sat maninee at 3pm
  • Walker Band Spring ConcertsMay 19, 6:30pm – 9pm
  • CHS Saturday Academic InterventionMay 13, 9am – 12:30pm
  • CHS Saturday Academic Intervention for SeniorsMay 20, 9am – 12:30pm, B-Commons
  • Walker Band Instrument Selection NightMay 23 & 25, 5pm
  • CATEC Completers Ceremony, May 24, 7pm
  • No School (Memorial Day), May 29

students in caps and gowns after graduationJune

  • School Board MeetingJune 1, 5pm
  • Minds in Motion Performance with Richmond BalletJune 1, 7pm, MLKPAC
  • 8th Grade DanceJune 2, 7pm – 10pm, Buford
  • Senior Awards CelebrationJune 7, 7pm , MLKPAC
  • CHS graduationJune 8, 7pm, John Paul Jones Arena
  • Half-Day (Last Day of School), June 9

Curious about next year’s calendar? Add it to your Google calendar (or find a pdf here)!

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


Register for the Fall CLASS Program and Summer Camp ExL

Informational Flyer for Camp ExL 2017

Registration for the fall CLASS program at the elementary schools and Walker will begin on Wednesday, May 31.

Camp ExL

Registration  is underway for Camp ExL, the summer program from CLASS.  Spaces are limited and will fill up fast!

Program dates run from June 19th—July 28th between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. with additional wraparound hours available for extra cost.  This fun summer opportunity  is open to students in pre-k—3rd grade during the 2016-2017 school year.

Click here for more information and registration forms.

Image of Susan Ermo, runner-up for the national adult education administrator of the year award from Coalition of Adult Basic Education

Susan Erno Honored as Runner-Up for U.S. Outstanding Adult Ed Administrator

Susan ErnoSusan Erno, the Director of Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education (TJACE), was honored as national runner-up for outstanding administrator of the year by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE), an organization of 15,000+ professional adult educators.

The honor was announced just days before TJACE hosts its 21st Annual Voices of Adult Learners Celebration, a reading of works written by area adult learners. Held annually as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, the reading will be Thursday, March 23, from 6-8 p.m., at Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center. It is free and open to the public, with a light reception at 5:30.

“We are so proud of Susan and her regional leadership and advocacy for our inspirational adult learners,” commented Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins. “Susan’s leadership not only benefits the City of Charlottesville, but also five surrounding counties. Our whole region should be appreciative of her leadership and inspired by the adult learners she serves.”

Press Release from COABE. Call 245-2962 for informationSince 1998, Erno has coordinated the adult education programs for Charlottesville City Schools, which in 2012 became the center of a regional network that also covers Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. In addition, she has served as the president for the Virginia Association for Adult and Career Education. For more information about her career and accomplishments, please see the release from COABE.

“I’m humbled to receive this award,” notes Erno. “It’s inspiring to work with so many talented adult educators in our area and across the nation. But quite honestly, the ones who deserve honor are our adult learners who model perseverance, who have overcome challenges, and who continue to learn and to strive for a better future. I invite the community to come on Thursday to celebrate them!”


Charlottesville City Schools Nationally Honored for Pioneering Use of Technology​

Digital-Schools-Award_smRanked #5 among Mid-Sized Divisions

Charlottesville City Schools has been nationally honored for integrating technology in support of innovative curriculum and improved student learning. The Center for Digital Education (CDE) ranked Charlottesville as top-10 winner (#5 among mid-sized divisions) in its 2016-17 Digital School Districts Survey Awards.

“We are proud to be recognized for our innovative work,” notes Dr. Rosa S. Atkins, Superintendent. “We know that the current and future marketplace will reward citizens who are adept in coding and other STEM skills. We are preparing our students for that future.”

Charlottesville City Schools takes an innovative approach to STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math). Charlottesville High School offers a wide array of STEM options, including every AP class in science, math, and computer science; a popular environmental science program; and a four-year, college-credit engineering program. Students can also earn professional IT credentials through a partnership with industry leader CISCO, based at CATEC (Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center). The acclaimed engineering program at Buford Middle School is a partnership with the University of Virginia, the Smithsonian Institution, and Albemarle County and Fluvanna County Public Schools. This year, Charlottesville schools have developed and are piloting a hands-on iSTEM curriculum to make cross-curricular connections in classes such as art or history and to build foundational STEM skills beginning in the elementary schools.

All of this learning is supported by technology, whether in recently renovated science and engineering labs at Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School, or via the Chromebook computers distributed to all students in grades 3-12.

“Even more important than our labs, computers, and course offerings are the staff members and leaders that make it happen and their commitment to continued professional learning and innovation,” states Director of Technology Jeff Faust. “Charlottesville City Schools recently hosted our fifth annual Google Summit, which supports our own teachers as well as educators from across the state who want to provide their students the best of what technology can offer for learning history, math, English, or any subject. It’s that spirit of continuing education and innovation that serves our students best.”

The honor was announced at the March 25-27 National School Boards Association annual meeting in Denver. Click here for more details in the release from the CDE.



Fine Arts in March & April

March Performances and Key Dates for Charlottesville City Schools

Spring performance and exhibition season for Charlottesville City Schools begins in March. Come join us for one of these community events:

Artwork by Charlottesville High School 12th grade student, Patrick O'Shea
Art courtesy Patrick O’Shea ’17

Piedmont Council for the Arts Rising Stars Award Ceremony

March 3, 7-9pm, The Haven (112 Market St.)

  • CHS seniors Faith Brown (music — cello), Elliot Craft (theater), and Patrick O’Shea (visual arts) are among the honorees!
  • Piedmont Council for the Arts will assemble the area’s most talented high school artists, writers, and performers for the 20th annual Arthur C. Greene Rising Stars Awards Ceremony. For more information, contact the PCA at 971-2787.


violin-collagePainted Violins Auction to Support CHS Orchestra Trip to Ireland

March 3-17 on view at Studio IX (and online)

  • Support our world-acclaimed musicians as they represent us this summer in Ireland!
  • Fourteen area artists have donated hand-painted violins to support the students
  • From March 3-17, the works can be viewed at Studio IX in the IX Building (969 2nd St. SE; gallery hours M-F 8am-5pm / Sat 9am-3pm)
  • To see photos online or bid, check out chsorchestra.org or https://chsorchestra.betterworldcollective.com/

Flyer for Art Connections exhibition, Mary 20-29. For details, call 245-2671.Art Connections 2017

March 20-29, CHS Small Gym

  • Art Connections is the annual exhibition of K-12 artwork by students at all Charlottesville City Schools.
  • Open weekdays from 9am-3:30pm in the CHS Small Gym
  • “Saturday Celebration” on March 25 from 10am-2pm with hands-on activities and the award-winning Walker Jazz Band!
  • “Open House” on Wednesday, March 29, from 4-6:30pm, just prior to “All-City Choir Festival” (see below)
  • For more information, contact Aaron Eichorst, 245-2671


Flyer for All-City Choral Festival 3/29 at 7pm. For details, call 245-2671.All-City Choral Festival

March 29, 7pm, Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center

  • Choirs from all schools will join for this special performance
  • For more information, contact Aaron Eichorst, 245-2671


Teacher Workday & Spring Break, March 31- April 7


Raisin in the Sun PosterA Raisin in the Sun

Theatre CHS, April 13-14, 7pm, Black Box Theatre at CHS

  • Tickets $10 adult/$5 student (available at theatrechs.org)
  • More info: David Becker at 245-2410


CHS Choir Spring Concert

April 26, MLKPAC, 7pm

Walker Orchestra Spring Concert

April 27, Walker Auditorium, 7pm

  • Come hear Dr. Sibert’s farewell concert to thank her for her many award-winning years of service!

CHS combined choir and Walker orchestra students

Charlottesville School Board

Statement from the School Board on our International Students

In the midst of our national conversation about immigrants and refugees, we, the Charlottesville City School Board, would like to affirm that we continue to support and value each of our students, regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or more. Although our teachers, staff, students, and families vary tremendously in culture, life experiences, and perspectives, we are united in our goals of nurturing personal and academic excellence for all and creating a learning atmosphere of mutual respect.

Charlottesville School Board

Our students from around the world – whether here as immigrants, refugees, through international exchanges, or for other reasons – enrich the learning environment for all of us. We admire their perseverance in learning a new language and culture, building new friendships, and establishing new routines. Many of our international students have become school and community leaders, and all of them are models of resilience.

In Charlottesville, our students are diverse by every measure — economically, racially, ethnically, and politically, to name just a few – and we strive to learn from one another and to celebrate both the ways that we are different and the ways that we are alike. We commend our teachers and staff for their work in supporting all of our students. We thank our community for its support of our schools and our students.

–Charlottesville City School Board, February 2, 2017

Para leer este sitio web en español, indica “Translate” (traducir) en la parte por encima de la página y escoja “Spanish.”

CHS students interviewing and photographing local African-Americans. Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Daily Progress

Highlights and News: January 24, 2017


January 24, 2017

Johnson 4th-graders participate in a strategic plan focus group.
Johnson fourth-graders participate in a strategic plan focus group.

Dear families,

As you know, we are developing the strategic plan that will guide our Charlottesville schools through the year 2023. So far, we have gotten a great response from students, staff, and parents — and we want to hear from you, too.

Three opportunities are available for staff and parents:

  • A community-wide listening session will be held this Wednesday (1/25) at CHS at 7pm. Join us!
  • An online survey is another way you can share your feedback and ideas.
  • A schedule of school-based meetings is on the web site, as well.

This monthly newsletter will reflect on some of the ideas we’ve heard so far, connecting the ideas with recent activities in our schools.
Dr. Rosa S. Atkins, Superintendent

Early Feedback from our Meetings and and Survey Responses:

More Real-World Activities, Projects, and Writing

CHS students interviewing and photographing local African-Americans. Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Daily ProgressRecent examples:

  • This month, CHS photo and African-American history students partnered on an community project in which they interviewed and photographed local black leaders to document African-American lives, leadership, and experiences.  The images and content will be presented to the CHS community during their African-American History Month assembly.
  • CHS student Saad Khaleefa more than impressed the crowd at the annual community  celebration honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he read his essay describing this experiences as a refugee from Syria.  Khaleefa won the high school writing contest (and classmate Thomas Inigo was a finalist); the contest was curated by PVCC judges and sponsored by the Albemarle County Rotary Club Foundation.
  • Walker students designing and testing toy boats in a James River experiementThanks to the school division’s new iSTEM program, fifth-graders at Walker School designed, built, and tested boats for a journey up the “James River” in a classroom simulation. In addition to the STEM skills, the project incorporated history and language arts skills. Similarly, third-graders across the division designed and built garden structures to protect the schools’ lettuce from winter, among other projects. You can catch a broader glimpse of the work of this new iSTEM program at STEM nights hosted by the elementary schools this winter.
  • Burnley-Moran students have been writing letters to (and receiving correspondence from) senior-citizen pen pals throughout the year.  This month, they’re going to meet each other face-to-face!

More Use of Community Partnerships and Resources

Ms. Ruth from Clark speaking with studentsA few recent examples:

  • Clark Elementary organized a “community helper day” for its kindergartners, inviting special guests including their own award-winning crossing guard Ms. Ruth Hill. Other guests are future and current community helpers from CATEC,  with high school students representing fields such as firefighting, dental, and medical care.
  • Images from two performances at the Paramount Theatre: Grapes of Wrath and The SnowmanCHS eleventh-grade English classes took advantage of performances of The Grapes of Wrath at the Paramount Theater offered by the National Players. Thanks to the theater, the actors visited CHS to offer related workshops with English and drama classes. Similarly, a number of our elementary school students were able to hear the Richmond Symphony accompany a screening of The Snowman, also at the Paramount.
  • CHS biology students recently partnered with UVa Health professionals to present their research at a student symposium. 
  • Buford students will soon be watching Hidden Figures, a powerful reminder that each of us can use our talents to impact our world. 
  • Our partnership with City Schoolyard Garden offers hands-on learning across the curriculum. Students, staff, and parents are pleased with these ongoing activities and are glad to see expansions, including the green roof project on the new garden shed at Greenbrier.

Putting Students at the Center: Offering Choices and Pathways

16-17 Zero Robotics programming team from CHS
CHS Zero Robotics programming team: ranked 10th in the world

Recent examples include:

  • Our strategic plan process includes focus groups with students at all our schools, including our alternative program, Lugo-McGinness Academy. Students have brought important and unique perspectives but also share many of the same educational goals and preferences as their teachers and parents.
  • The CHS science club BACON (Best All-around Club of Nerds) offers a model for how students can take ownership of their learning.  Students pick the projects they wish to focus on and work independently on their goals. As adviser Dr. Matt Shields notes, “It’s about as far away as you can get from ‘My dad did my science fair project.'”  For a fifth straight year, the students working on the Zero Robotics team qualified for the international finals in the programming competition sponsored by NASA and MIT. Good luck at the finals, BACON!
  • CATEC winners Luis and Ed
    CATEC winners Luis and Ed

    Students at CATEC also offer a model of charting their own path and exploring possible careers ranging from health care to culinary arts.  New this year is the program’s partnership with tech giant CISCO, offering industry-recognized certifications in IT. CATEC recently hosted the regional competition for Skills USA, showing the range of the program’s offerings. CHS students Luis Becerra-Vargas and Ed Pollock, respectively, earned 2nd and 3rd in Culinary Arts at the competition.  Congratulations!

  • Even younger students can take ownership of their learning.  This year, thanks to a grant from the Shannon Foundation, Venable students will lead their own parent-teacher conferences. Using portfolios of their own work, students will reflect on their growth and learning as well as articulate their goals for the future.
  • Student coding circuitry in engineering
    Student coding circuits in engineering

    While students in all curriculum areas offered specific examples of ways their teachers offer choice and independence, Buford and CHS students enrolled in engineering classes say that choice and independence are at the heart of these classes. Students are given structured expectations about what they will learn and what projects will guide them through the curriculum, but on a daily basis, students work independently and with peers to accomplish these goals.

Improving School Culture, Community, & Wellness

Students Taking a bow at a school-wide Venable meeting.
Taking a bow at a school-wide Venable meeting

Recent examples include:

  • Across our elementary schools, classrooms and even whole schools host periodic or daily “morning meetings” to celebrate successes, define goals, and build community.
  • This year’s new Link Crew program at CHS has connected upper-class mentors with ninth-graders to help younger students make a good transition, establish connections, and have fun.
  • More than wins and losses, athletics is about character.  At a recent basketball game, CHS recently honored graduate Rashard Davis, who just helped the JMU football team earn a national championship.  Davis is known for his work ethic, values, character — and setting college conference records. Similarly, girls’ basketball coach Jim Daly recently tweeted, “Our leading scorer from last night [Daeja Wade] was back in the gym by 9am to coach a 1st/2nd grade basketball team — nice reminder of what a great group of girls we have!”
  • Walker students solving puzzles blindfolded with help from friendsWalker students recently worked on some jigsaw puzzles while blindfolded! The challenge — completed with a little help from some friends — was organized by the schools’ counselors, who organize monthly lessons to build connections, character, and culture.
  • Jackson-Via recently earned a grant from Charlottesville’s “Sister Cities Commission” to support the school’s Harry-Potter-like “house” system. Connected to Charlottesville’s sister cities in Africa, Bulgaria, France, and Italy, the “houses” are student groups designed to build both interpersonal and international connections.
  • Wellness and nutrition have also received attention in the focus groups.  While Charlottesville has won national awards for its commitments to healthy activity, local foods, and more, there is always room for improvement.  New nutrition coordinator has met with a feedback group of Walker students, and a parent group focusing on fresh and healthy school meals has also been formed. Find the group on Facebook here!
  • Lugo-McGinness Academy, the school division’s alternative school for students in grades 7-12, is leading the way for us to reexamine school culture and discipline, focusing on relationships, student growth, and self-awareness.

Tapping into the Power of Play

Recent examples include:

  • Teachers at all levels incorporate learning games into their curriculum using hands-on items like dice or internet game-show-like tools like “Kahoot.”
  • Perhaps the model of “purposeful play” comes from kindergarten, including Johnson students recently choosing from a range of centers to explore “community helpers” — opting to play with a hospital-themed doll set, a child’s construction work table,  dress-up stations, and more.
  • A recent pep rally at CHS marked the semester’s end with laughs and games such as life-sized “Hungry, Hungry, Hippos.”
CHS students play "Hungry, Hungry Hippos" at pep rally.
CHS students play “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” at pep rally.
  • When possible, students prefer an atmosphere of “fun but serious.” One example they offered is their fine arts classes where it is fun to sing or draw or play an instrument, but the atmosphere is still marked by work and accomplishment.
  • Recess remains a priority for students, teachers, parents, and child-development experts, especially when recess is augmented by regular “get the wiggles out” activities such as brain breaks, mini-dance parties,  “Fun Fridays,” and other times for unstructured activities.

More Ideas

Students in Walker orchestraMore ideas….

  • First-grade teachers collaborating with bee-bot robots
    First-grade teachers collaborating

    Continue to attract and support such high-quality teachers and staff

  • Continue to support equity in achievement
  • Continue our commitment to the arts
  • Reexamine our facilities and how they will support learning
  • This is just a sampling of ideas we’ve heard. If you think one is missing, let us know by filling out the survey or attending a meeting!

School Board Update

Outgoing vice chair and chair, Leah Puryear and Amy Laufer
Outgoing vice chair and chair, Leah Puryear and Amy Laufer

At their January meeting, the Board elected Juan Wade and Sherry Kraft as chair and vice-chair, respectively.  The Board expressed its appreciation to outgoing chair and vice chair Amy Laufer and Leah Puryear (both of whom will remain on the Board). In addition, the Board voted to approve the 2017-18 Academic Calendar, the 2017-18 Program of Studies , and the tuition for the CLASS summer program. The Board also discussed the budget for 2017-18, heard updates about the “Link Crew” mentoring program at CHS,  and more.

Upcoming Events

Poster for Theatre CHS's presentation of Into the Woods. Call 245-2962 for details.
Design by Sahara Clemmons, grade 10.

Upcoming events include:

  • Stage Left Theater presents Beauty and the Beast, 1/24, 6:30pm, Walker Auditorium
  • Community Strategic Plan Listening Session (open to all), 1/25, 7pm, CHS (Click here for a list of other listening sessions).
  • Buford offers Parent University, 1/26, 6pm
  • CHS Symphony/Choir Concert with Fine Arts Showcase, 2/1, 7:30pm, MLKPAC
  • School Board Meeting, 2/2, 5:30pm, CHS Media Center
  • Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) meeting, 2/14, 8:45am, Division Annex at CHS (call 245-2400 for more information)
  • CATEC Open House, 2/16, 4-6pm
  • TheatreCHS presents In the Woods, 2/16-18 at 7:30 (also 1:00 on 2/18). MLKPAC. Tickets available here.
  • Professional Learning Day (no school for students), 2/20
  • School Board Meeting, 3/2, 5:30pm, CHS Media Center

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

Poster for "Into the Woods" on February 16-18, 7:30 pm nightly with 1pm matinee on Saturday. Call 245-2410 for information.

TheaterCHS presents “Into the Woods” February 16-18

Poster for "Into the Woods" on February 16-18, 7:30 pm nightly with 1pm matinee on Saturday. Call 245-2410 for information.Charlottesville High School presents Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center from February 16-18, 2017. The Tony Award-winning musical revisits and reimagines several well-known fairy tales.

Performances will be Thursday through Saturday, February 16-18, at 7:30pm, with an additional Saturday matinee at 1pm. Tickets, available at http://theatrechs.org/buy-tickets-here/, are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

“We’re delighted to present this popular musical here in Charlottesville. It’s a real showcase for our students, whether our actors, our tech crew, our pit orchestra, and more,” notes director David Becker. “Even the technical innovations in the set offer an opportunity for our students to learn and shine.”

Find photos, videos, and more by visiting @TheatreCHS on Twitter.

Recently made into an award-winning 2014 film, Into the Woods has remained popular with audiences since its premier in 1986. Its fresh take on familiar fairy tales and its lively music combine for a crowd-pleaser. Among the ensemble cast are seniors Francis MacCall and Julia Kenner, playing the Baker and Baker’s Wife; Cina Boutin and Corbin Staton, playing Cinderella and her father; and Holden Hays  and Helaina Stratos playing the Mysterious Man and Rapunzel. Some 80 students are involved as actors, supporters, or musicians, not counting students contributing to the production through the school’s technical theater class.

In addition, for the first time, the CHS presentation will benefit from some engineering and multi-media additions, including a rotating stage as well as digital set elements developed by students.

Directed by David Becker, TheatreCHS has won numerous Virginia High School League awards. Student leadership in directing, costuming, poster design, and more is a hallmark of the program. (The poster image was illustrated and designed by Sahara Clemons, a tenth-grader at CHS.)

“The musical explores themes of growing up, our dreams and hopes, the downside to unintended consequences, and more,” adds Becker. “These themes resonate with our young performers, and we’re confident that our audiences will agree.”

For more information, call 245-2410.