A Word from Dr. Gurley
Dear families and staff,
Our community is going through so much right now. Between the gun violence in our community this fall, the UVA shootings last weekend, and multiple hoax 911 calls that have prompted school lockdowns, we are grieving and afraid and tired.
And yet: our schools continue to be a place of hope and growth. Pre-K teachers gather their students around them to enjoy a book. Elementary students write about what they want to be when they grow up (a few examples from Clark: a teacher, a doctor, a pizzamaker). CHS band members learn from JMU musicians. And students work for change: On Friday afternoon Buford students rallied against gun violence, calling for safety and peace while supporting one another (see photo below).
As Thanksgiving approaches, I count the many blessings of our school community. I am so grateful to each one of you for what you bring to our table. Enjoy your time off this week (no school Wednesday-Friday).
Royal A. Gurley, Jr.
“End the gun violence”: Buford students held a walkout Friday to raise awareness about gun violence and honor area victims, including the UVA students killed. Photo by Mike Kropf, Daily Progress.
[This information is now outdated. Please find the latest information here.] As a reminder, please review the draft calendar for the 23-24 school year and take a brief survey. Consider asking your student to complete the survey, as well! This calendar has some significant changes (including a proposed week off at Thanksgiving and moving start/end dates up by a week), so your input is especially welcome. In addition, the calendar committee requests feedback about how important it is for our calendar to align with Albemarle County Public Schools’. The calendar committee of teachers, parents, and administrators values your input, so please be sure to complete the survey before it closes tomorrow morning!
Later this month, we’ll celebrate the launch of a new partnership with the Chris Long Foundation to establish EdZone closets at all elementary schools. The EdZone closets will offer students essential items, such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, menstrual hygiene products, deoderant, clean socks and underwear, and seasonal items like umbrellas, hats, and gloves. Items will be distributed in a private and respectful manner by staff who already supporting students on a daily basis (such as school administrators, teachers, counselors, nurses, or social workers). Thanks to the Chris Long Foundation for its ongoing support of our students! Learn more here.
Congratulations to CHS’s first-ever golf state champion, Preston Burton! After setting many golf records and leading the team to fourth place at states, Preston recently signed to play golf and continue his studies at William & Mary. Congrats to Preston, his teammates, and Coach Josh O’Grady! In addition, ninth grader Elaina Pierce won the Jefferson District Cross Country Championship and broke the school record with a 5k time of 18:31. Senior football player Eddison Duolo earned the Falcon Player of Week honor earlier this month. Head football coach Eric Sherry, who is stepping down from the role after twelve years, mentored countless players like Eddison: Thank you, Coach Sherry. And finally, welcome to new athletic director Andy Jones, a longtime CHS employee who previously managed Buford’s athletics.
We know that shootings in our community and hoax calls in our schools have made this fall a challenging season for many of our students, families, and staff. Join us on Thursday, December 8, 5:30-7pm, to learn more about the safety efforts in place in our schools, as well as action steps for families.
CHS and Buford theater students had an impressive showing at the recent Virginia Theater Association Festival. Buford’s one-act play, “The Seussification of Romeo & Juliet,” received an Excellence in Performance & a Special Judges Award for Best Energy. Five students were selected as All Star Cast Members and Giana Bricker was named Best Actor! CHS’s one-act play, “The Book of Will,” received superior ratings. Senior Conrad Heins received 1st place for scenic design of “Hairspray” and junior Emerson Norton received second place for costume design for “Hairspray.” Additionally, at the Jefferson District One-Act festival, senior Stella Gunn’s student-written and student-directed production of “No Home But Ropes and Stakes” received 1st place, with Best Actor awarded to senior Gian Serrano. When the play moved on to regional competition, ninth grader Olivia Colvin received the actor award recognition. Congratulations to theater directors David Becker (CHS) and Paula Chanda (Buford)!
Gov. Youngkin’s administration has set aside the usual process for approving K-12 history standards developed by history teachers and historians. Instead, on Nov. 11, his administration released an alternative curriculum. Following an outcry at a public hearing on Thursday, the Virginia Board of Education has asked for a slow-down to the process. Learn more here.
It’s time to submit nominations for the 2023 Golden Apple Awards for Teaching Excellence in Charlottesville and Albemarle! The deadline to honor one of your child’s amazing educators is Monday, January 23. Winners receive a $500 grant for classroom materials or professional development. Click here for the online nomination form. Teachers who have won in the last 3 years are not eligible to win again. Thanks to Mr. Richard Nunley and Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry for their generous support of these awards!
The division’s Naming of Facilities Committee is finalizing its recommendations for the future names of Clark and Venable Elementary, which will both have new names. As one of the final steps in the process, third and fourth graders at the two schools have been holding elections about which new names the schools will have. After a final review, the committee will send recommendations to the School Board in December, with a vote in January. Learn more here.
Our Family and Community Engagement (FACE) team is hosting a coat drive through December 9 to make sure that all of our students stay warm this winter. They are accepting donations of new coats dropped off at any school (or the division annex offices behind CHS). One shopping option is Burlington Coat Factory, which just celebrated its opening in town with a $5,000 classroom supplies grant to Greenbrier Elementary. Or find wishlists at Amazon or Walmart. The FACE team is particularly looking for outwear that fits older students, who don’t always want an actual coat, instead preferring a vest or hoodie such as a sherpa-lined fleece.
Congratulations, Marching Knights, for an amazing showing at the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative Tournament of Champions: winner of first place in its class, best general effect, best music and best visuals. In addition, this week, the band received an official invitation to perform in the prestigious Rome New Year’s Eve Parade in 2023/24. Go Band and Director Jason Hackworth!
Congratulations to Lugo-McGinness Academy for securing the second year of a $45,025 Virginia Department of Education K-12 School Innovation Grant. LMA provides an alternative setting for students in grades 9-12, and the grant supports LMA’s efforts to empower students to be changemakers in their school and communities.
Find November’s “Mini-Minutes” here with updates on areas such as state-driven staff bonuses, our growing number of ESL students, and the latest on transportation, safety, literacy, strategic planning, and more. On October 20, there was a budget work session. Watch video here. To learn more about the data from our recent public budget survey, click here for video. Find the full calendar of budget meetings and input opportunities here. Interested in future meetings? Sign up to receive notices of School Board meetings.
Fourth graders from across the division visited Camp Albemarle this fall for an amazing hands-on experience learning about the Rivanna River Watershed. Similarly, Buford students conducted water-quality testing activities in the creek behind CHS.
Our students are learning the ropes, whether on the playground at Venable (left) or at a ropes course in Richmond (CHS AVID students, right).