Registration for free supplies from the Back-to-School Bash partnership is now closed. If you registered, you’ll receive information about how to pick up your supplies. If you were unable to register, we will have a limited number of supplies available at the Back to School Bash on a first-come-first-served basis.
It’s official — Charlottesville High School’s “Victory Lap” was triumphant! The drive-through graduation event featured several CHS-related selfie stations (including a mural painted by CHS teacher Nathan Alexander) and a Black Knights spirit station. And it concluded with the graduates walking across the stage with their name read aloud as families watched from the car and nearby teachers and staff cheered. Cars were decorated. Balloons were filled. Cowbells were rung. And, yes, tears were shed.
You can find lovely pictures on our social media channels. You can also see it for yourself when our graduation video premieres on June 4 at 7pm (the original time for graduation) on our Facebook page or on Charlottesville’s Channel 14. Thanks to Lori Shinseki (parent of Jack Heaphy ’20) for volunteering her talents on our grad video!
And special thanks to Dr. Irizarry and his admin team, the CHS graduation team, the CHS staff at large, and several division leaders, who helped bring the Victory Lap to life. Many parents and grads said they felt the love and connection — no virus can stop that. Congrats, Class of 2020!
Dr. Rosa Atkins
More views of the Victory Lap event at CHS on May 14-15 to celebrate the Class of 2020. From social media to yard signs to this event and our upcoming grad video, we invite you to help us celebrate these students! Find details here.
NEW LEARNING: BUFORD CIVICS CLASSES CONNECT WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS Learning has changed this spring. We know there are losses, but we celebrate the gains as well, such as Buford Civic teacher Matt Resnick and his colleagues hosting class forums with politicians such as Virginia’s Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, and VA Del. Sally Hudson. Thanks to these teachers and others for finding new and creative ways to make learning connections!
UPDATES ABOUT SUMMER SCHOOL AND FALL CHS has posted information about online summer offerings in Health, PE, and Economics and Personal Finance. In addition, all schools will be offering continuing learning opportunities for selected students who have not yet been able to complete the core curriculum. And for the first time, some elementary students will take part in a free virtual “Freedom School” co-hosted by UVa’s Curry School as part of the acclaimed Freedom School program.
For the fall, our planning committees are now working on three scenarios: (1) face-to-face instruction, (2) a hybrid of face-to-face and distance learning, and (3) distance learning. The state is also developing guidelines for schools, and we are receiving health department guidance as well. Thanks for your patience — we’ll keep you posted. Regardless, it’s not too early to register your new student or re-register your returning student (see below).
TEACHER APPRECIATION: THANKS FOR SHOWING THE LOVE During Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked you to shower our staff with love, and you really delivered! On social media we posted 100+ shoutouts that included photos and words of appreciation from students, parents, and colleagues. Some PTOs and students also created chalk art, painted murals, or developed videos. And finally, thanks also for your nominations for our amazing Golden Apple award-winners (and thanks to Better Living for their continued support). This year’s winners are: Lisa Johnson Black (Hospital Ed), Kelsey Cary (Lugo-McGinnis), Mary Caitlyn Cordone (Clark), Matthew Deegan (CHS), Kavita Kumar (Greenbrier), Calder McLellan (Venable), Matt Richardson (CATEC), Kathryn Salem (Jackson-Via), Brandy Walker (Buford), Lisa Wallace (Burnley-Moran), Cianna Washburg (Walker), and Lindsay Wayland (Johnson). Congrats to these amazing teachers!
MEAL DELIVERY AND A NEW STATE BENEFIT FOR FAMILIES Continued thanks to our nutrition staff for delivering more than 7,000 meals a week to students, and thanks also to Cultivate Charlottesville (the new nonprofit home of City Schoolyard Garden) for leading the Memorial Day meal delivery to give our staff a break. You can still volunteer to help our staff with deliveries. One important update is that the state has created the Pandemic-EBT card to assist families who rely on free/reduced meals. If your child already receives free/reduced meals, you do not need to do anything to receive this benefit. But if your child does not receive free/reduced meals, you can stillapply for free/reduced meals to qualify for the new benefit.
STAYING CONNECTED: AN UPDATE In the midst of this pandemic, we have been staying connected with our families via tools such as learning books, See Saw, Canvas, social media, email, Google Meet, phone calls, and more. We have been able to connect with every single Charlottesville Schools family. For every known need, we have been able to supply a Chromebook and a WiFi hotspot. Thanks to all the teachers, counselors, principals, social workers, IT staff and more who have made this possible — and thanks for our families who are doing their part to stay connected, as well. The last day of school is June 5.
KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION AND RE-REGISTERING FOR THE FALL While our kindergarten open house is still on hold, our new student online forms are open. To orient students to their new schools, many of our schools– including Buford — are posting welcome videos. Families of returning students (including our preK students) can also complete re-registration forms by logging into PowerSchool and clicking “Re-Registration” at the left, (Repeat this process for each child.) Need help logging into PowerSchool or adding a child to your account? Call your school.
SCHOOL BOARD NOTES In May, the School Board again met virtually as a response to the closure. As we reported in a previous community email, the most important topic was adjusting the 2020-21 budget in light of the financial impact of the pandemic. All staff members whose role was impacted by cuts have been placed in new positions at Charlottesville Schools. Find more School Board information, including agendas, minutes, and livestream video. The next meeting will be held June 11, also virtually. Tune in on Facebook at @CvilleSchools.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND IMPORTANT LINKS Ongoing: Preschool applications. Find info online. Ongoing: Online registration for kindergarten See details. Also, re-registration for returning students is now open. Log into PowerSchool and click Re-Registration at left. 6/4 CHS Virtual Graduation, 7pm. Watch on Facebook or Channel 14. 6/5 Last day of school 6/11School Board Meeting (virtual), 5pm
Our art teachers continue to find meaningful ways to connect with their students — and to connect their students to the community. A partnership with Hospice of the Piedmont supplies life-affirming student art for families facing challenges during this pandemic. See NBC29’s coverage here.
We have prioritized wellness during this pandemic — and we are so glad to see teachers staying fit and connected using a program for teachers. For families, our gym teachers have been sharing physical wellness tips, and our learning page includes mental wellness resources for the family.
Find more info and events on on our website, social media, or our Google calendars!
When I first thought about a column for this month’s “News and Highlights,” I thought that it would be all news and no highlights. During this pandemic, we are focused on finding solutions and passing the information along to you. So, yes, there is a lot of news in this email.
However, I also realized that even in this challenging time, we have a lot of highlights, too! Can we give a virtual round of applause to the custodial staff who kept our students and staff safe prior to the closure? (And they continue to keep our remaining in-office staff members safe, too!) Let’s give a shout-out to our nutrition team and so many volunteers and partners for establishing fully functional neighborhood-based student meal delivery program on DAY TWO of our closure! Each week, they serve more than 7,000 meals! Let’s also recognize our IT team — they are getting our last students connected with chromebooks and connectivity. (And let’s also recognize them for putting us in such a strong position BEFORE the crisis — Cville Schools has previously won national recognition for the strength of our tech planning and execution.) And of of course, I want to thank our principals, teachers, counselors, social workers and so many more for their continued focus on students’ learning and well-being.
So read on. You’ll find “news you can use.” You’ll also find some much-needed smiles and inspiration. During this time, remember to stay safe. Stay connected. And let’s keep learning!
Dr. Rosa Atkins
Responding to the pandemic, CHS Engineering teacher Dr. Matt Shields has made protective equipment for area health professionals. Using the school’s lab and 3-D printer, Shields has made hundreds of items such as face masks and “ear savers” to make continual mask-wearing more comfortable. Students have helped tweak designs — and have seen the truth in Shields’ philosophy that “engineers make the world a better place.” Find details here.
HELPING YOUR STUDENT LEARN THIS YEAR Last week, we began teaching NEW material to our students. We have posted learning/family resources and a learning FAQ. If your family needs a chromebook or internet access, contact your principal. Learning books for Pre-K to grade 1 have been mailed — contact your school if you didn’t get one. Grades 2-4 are using Chromebooks to check SeeSaw. Grades 5-8 are working in Canvas. (Walker has a learning site set up as a gateway.) We are de-emphasizing grading, and SOLs have been cancelled. Instead, we are focused on preparing students for the fall. This video explains more.Teachers have been reaching out to families — if they haven’t been able to reach you, please contact your school!
QUESTIONS ABOUT SUMMER SCHOOL AND FALL There is still a lot up in the air, both regarding coronavirus and plans for future instruction on the local, state, and federal levels. Summer school is likely to be online, although if it is safe to go face-to-face, we will try to do so. Stay tuned also about a virtual “Freedom School” summer partnership with UVa’s Curry School for elementary students. For the fall, we are making a Plan A (for face-to-face instruction) and Plan B (for distance learning if schools are still closed). One way or another, we will be ready to help your students learn.
TAKING CARE OF OUR STAFF During the closure, we have prioritized our staff by paying all contract employees such as instructional assistants and nutrition/custodial staff. CLASS employees are being paid through the CLASS budget (which has been helped by families generously donating a month or even more of their spring payments). School bus drivers and crossing guards are being paid by the City. Hourly employees such as part-time nutrition staff are being paid as work is available. We hope to continue supporting all of these employees, but we are also aware that future budget cuts will impact our spending plans.
MORE LEARNING RESOURCES Our teachers and instructional coordinators have done a great job of pulling together distance learning curriculum. But the state is also providing options that might help your family. Working with the state, PBS stations in Virginia are showing teacher-led lessons on weekday afternoonson station 41.2 or Comcast 265 or 1146. From 1-2pm are K-3 learning segments, and from 2-3pm, episodes teach algebra and life science. Starting April 27, from 3-4pm, the network will offer an AP prep week. The public media network has also upped its educational programming in other ways.
WHAT ABOUT GRADUATION? During this disruptive season, we have a special place in our hearts for the Class of 2020. Given the continued cancellation of public events, we are brainstorming other ways to celebrate our seniors. For starters, we’ve made a CHS-themed “I ♥ a Senior” frame for your Facebook profiles, as well as some Cville Schools “In This Together” frames for all our families. (You can find these frames on our Cville Schools and CHS Facebook pages.) We’re also rolling out some other celebrations as we look ahead to more formal virtual celebrations later this spring. We’ll keep you posted!
WHAT ABOUT KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION? Another favorite event was cancelled this April — when our future K students and their families come see the school, meet the teachers, and bring required paperwork. We’re so sorry to miss this special occasion, but online forms have been posted here, and we’ll keep you updated about how to get the required documents to us. We’re also thinking about the more important part — how to connect kids and teachers.
SCHOOL BOARD NOTES The School Board held its first virtual meeting in April, as a response to the closure. Staff provided updates in all areas relating to the coronavirus closure. Find more School Board information, including agendas, minutes, and livestream video. You can find a similar update by watching the April 14 episode of Cville 360, a new government news program. The next meeting will be held May 7, also virtually. Tune in on Facebook at @CvilleSchools.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND IMPORTANT LINKS Ongoing: Preschool applications. Find info online. Coming soon: Online registration for kindergarten See details. 5/7 School Board Meeting (virtual), 5pm 6/4 CHS Virtual Graduation, 7pm
Burnley-Moran gym teacher Ernest Chambers connected with students virtually for a run-through of a school favorite, the Avocado Dance. Don’t miss the video!
In March, the girls’ indoor track team had a big day, earning two relay state championships! The 4×200 was run by E. Schock, M. Packer, E. Burns, A. Ventre. The 4×400 (shown above) was run by Packer, Ventre, L. Hoskins, and K. Van Der Pluijm. The team earned 4th overall with many students placing. We’re so proud!
Buford staff virtually teamed up to bring a smile and encourage their students to keep reading and learning. Watch the video here. For more fun videos and to see glimpses of our learning tools, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.
Find more info and events on on our website, social media, or our Google calendars!
School librarian Emily Arico recently announced the addition of 30 new ebooks to the collection including some student requests such as “Refugee,” “Ghost,” “Hunger Games Trilogy,” and “New Kid.”
Ebooks can be checked out for seven days using the Walker Upper Elementary School Online Media Center. Also, if students would like to request a book that is not currently in the library, they can make their requests using the Googe Form provided in the media center.
It’s already time to think about next year! Whether you are at CHS, Buford, or Walker Upper Elementary, school counselors are beginning to meet with students and families about course offerings for 2020-21.
Want to learn more about options available next school year? Attend any of the following upcoming events to meet administrators, counselors, teachers, and ask questions:
Buford Family Curriculum Night, TBA
CHS Curriculum Fair, February 5, 9am-2pm
Buford Engineering Expo TBA
Walker Rising 5th Grade Parent Night, TBA
CATEC Signing Day Thursday, May 20th
Have questions? Ask your teacher, counselor, or principal!
CHS Academic Advising Timeline
January 14th-January 22nd: Teachers will enter recommendations for students. It is important for students to speak with their teachers about which classes they are recommending.
January 28th & February 2nd: Grade level specific academic advising lessons from counselors to students to discuss the process and course selections.
February 5th: Virtual Curriculum Fair (9:00AM-2:00PM): Open to rising 9th-12th grade students and families. This fair will give students and families an opportunity to learn more about course offerings at CHS.
February 8th-March 19th: Individual meetings with counselors will take place with students & families to select courses for the upcoming school year.
The Walker Upper Elementary School school counselors are busy planning their annual visits to all city elementary schools to provide information and guidance to rising fifth graders. For a full calendar of related-events, see important dates below.
“We want to make the transition to a new school as seamless as possible for our current city fourth graders,” said Walker School Counselor John Kronstain. “By visiting these students in the coming weeks, we hope to make connections and put them at ease by providing useful information and answering questions they may have.”
After visiting each of the six elementary schools, Walker Upper Elementary School will invite all city fourth graders to visit the upper elementary school in the spring for Rising Fifth Grade Visit and Tour Day. This will be followed by a Rising Fifth Grade Parent Night that will include dinner, tours, and an information session for families to ask questions.
The school counselors will introduce the rising fifth graders to a variety of information including choosing electives for the 2020-21 school year. Fifth and sixth grade students at Walker can choose two electives. The first selection must be a fine arts option–band, orchestra, music and chorus, or visual arts–and the second choice can be Spanish, Pre-Engineering, or an additional fine arts option (students may not choose both band and orchestra in the same year).
For more details on elective options, view this video:
Upcoming Important Dates
January 28 Buford Curriculum Expo (for rising 7th- and 8th-graders), 5pm
January 31 School counselor visits at Jackson-Via and Greenbrier
February 4 School counselor visits at Burnley-Moran and Clark
February 5 School counselor visits at Johnson and Venable
February 10-17 Elective forms sent home with students–please discuss and make selections with your student
February 28 Completed elective forms due back to school
March 31 and April 2: Instrument Selection Nights, 5-7pm
April 14 Rising Fifth Grade Visit and Tour Day at Walker Upper Elementary (students will be brought to Walker during the school day via school buses)
April 14 Rising Fifth Grade Parent Night at Walker, 5:30-7:30pm (parents and their rising fifth grade student are invited to join us for dinner and information session)
The Walker Upper Elementary Cooking Club is an after-school activitiy option for fifth and sixth grade students who want to learn about basic food preparation and cooking skills.
Led by advisor Becky Calvert, the group meets once a week in the school kitchen for an hour and prepares a variety of recipes such as egg rolls, tomato soup, mini-quiches, mac & cheese, homemade granola, fruit and yogurt parfaits, kale chips, crepes, open face roasted veggie sandwiches, mango salsa, cranberry orange muffins and vegetable jambalaya.
“The kids love cooking and are more likely to try something new if they made it,” said Calvert. “They are learning life skills and having fun while doing it.”
At the end of each semester, Calvert said the students receive a cookbook of the recipes they made so they can show their new skills off and re-create their favorite recipes at home.
Congratulations to all of our students who participated in the 2019 Walker Spelling Bee and Geography Bee. We are proud of your efforts!
2019 Walker Geography Bee
All students at Walker participated in the preliminary 7 rounds and from there, nine students advanced to the final competition consisting of 9 rounds.
The finalists were fifth graders Hayes Connaughton, Cameron Steele, George Aten, and Caja Edwards. Sixth grade finalists were Felix Facteau, Tayah Shanks, Will Maurer, Sam Palmer and Jack Wielar.
Congratulations to our top finishers: 1st Place–Will Maurer, 2nd place–Jack Wielar, and 3rd place–Tayah Shanks.
2019 Walker Spelling Bee
10 students competed in 10 rounds in the final competition for the annual National Spelling Bee at Walker School. The finalists were students Catherine Crook, Amelia Morrison, Esme Ogden-Amt, Elaina Pierce, Kamdyn Hargrove, Anne Goodall, Griffin Lees, Caitlin King, Ryleigh Harrington, and Maya Lila S.F.
Congratulations to all who participated, especially our first place finalist, Griffin Lees, who correctly spelled the word A-B-U-N-D-A-N-C-E for the win!
Grammy-winning hip hop artist, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, dropped by Walker School to lead Ms. Bohannon’s music students in a behind-the-scenes hip hop song writing workshop.
Skidoo demonstrated some of his own rhymes and beats, and then encouraged students to write their own hip hop verses. One by one (or in some cases two by two), students mustered up courage to share their own original raps to background beats booming through the auditorium.
“Learning writing and rhyming skills through music is a perfect lesson for this age group,” said Charlottesville Schools Fine Arts Coordinator Aaron Eichorst. “Through this experience, the sixth graders are learning that their voice is important, and that they can have agency over things that matter to them through creative expression.”
The workshop is part of a larger educational experience for area youth provided by the Paramount Arts Education Program. Nearly 400 city sixth graders, along with other area youth, attended the Secret Agent 23 Skidoo performance at The Paramount. The concert was one of eleven live arts performances scheduled for area students during the 2019-20 school year. Read more about the performance at The Paramount here.
“Through our partnership with The Paramount Theater, our students are able to experience meaningful opportunities through live fine arts year after year,” said Eichorst. “For many of them, visiting the beautifully restored historic Paramount Theater with their classmates is their first experience seeing live music, dance, storytelling, or theater.”
Read more about the visit, including details from the live performance at The Paramount here.
More on Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
With sophisticated instrumental funk and positive, witty wordplay, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo has earned a loyal national following. His latest album, Wake Up The Dream is an Amazon Original Album described as a “funk-filled trip through your subconscious.” 2016’s space-themed Infinity Plus One took home music’s biggest prize at the 59th GRAMMY Awards for Best Children’s Album of the Year. Positive themes of empowerment, love, imaginations set loose, hope, ambitions, and dreams run through 23 Skidoo’s extensive catalog. For more, visit the web site.
More on The Paramount Arts Education Program
The Paramount Arts Education Program is committed to presenting the finest arts education performances for area school children. The support and generosity of their Arts Education Partners allows The Paramount to make these programs accessible to ALL children in Central Virginia by offering performances at a reduced cost or free of charge. Over 195,000 students and teachers from all over the region have attended a live performance at The Paramount since 2004. For more, visit the web site.