A Word from the School Board
At Thursday’s School Board meeting, Chairperson Lisa Larson-Torres read the following statement about the pending adoption of Virginia’s K-12 history standards. This statement will be sent to the State Board of Education and key staff members at the Virginia Department of Education:
We, the members of the Charlottesville School Board, are writing to request that the Board return to its usual process of consideration and approval of the state’s K-12 history standards as developed and recommended in August 2022 by history educators, professors, historians, parents, and others. We strongly encourage the VDOE to stay the course on its longstanding commitment to developing a more inclusive and honest curriculum.
The “August” Revisions
Throughout 2020-22, our Commonwealth trusted a committee of history educators, historians, museum professionals, parents, and community groups to conduct the scheduled seven-year revision of our state history standards. Over the course of two years, in a very public fashion, this committee made thoughtful and informed decisions. In addition, this work built upon the efforts and recommendations of Virginia’s 2020 African American History Education Commission. We would like the Board to follow its usual procedures to consider and then adopt these standards.
Fourth graders at Greenbrier recently hosted Dr. Gurley and the School Board for a “Writers Feast,” where students shared their biographical writing about famous African Americans.
Thanks to all the people (more than 1200!) who filled out the recent calendar survey. We received divided feedback about the various elements of the draft calendar, including the idea of starting a week earlier, having a week off at Thanksgiving, and how important it is to mirror Albemarle County Public Schools’ calendar. As a result, we are going to hit “pause” on the bigger changes and put forward a more traditional calendar that is similar but not identical to one that ACPS is considering. Learn more and give your feedback on the more traditional calendar! One theme of the community feedback was “If you’re going to make these larger changes to the calendar, we’d need more advanced notice.” Therefore, our calendar committee will resume work this spring to gather feedback about options for the 2024-25 school year.
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.
Shown at left are the combined choirs of CHS, directed by Will Cooke, singing at the Charlottesville Grand Illumination downtown on Friday night. Come out to see the choir at their winter concert this Thursday, December 8, 7 pm. Other upcoming winter concerts include CHS Orchestra, Tuesday, December 6, 7:30 pm, and the All-City Band Concert (Walker, Buford and CHS), Wednesday, December 7, 7 pm. All concerts are at the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Gina Proulx).
At the School Board meeting, the division’s Naming of Facilities Committee recommended new names for Venable (Trailblazers Elementary, selected by a wide margin) and Friendship Elementary (selected by just 5 votes over the second-place choice, Summit Elementary). The Board questioned the small margin of student voting between Clark’s two names. They requested the community’s feedback on the selection of “Friendship” or “Summit” for Clark. To express your opinion, email email@example.com prior to the January 5 meeting. Learn more here.
Buford students will perform “The Candy Cane Catastrophe,” a play written by director Paula Chanda and eighth grader Jaxon Scott for many of our CCS elementary schools this week. Congrats, Jaxon and Ms. Chanda!
Four winners have been selected for the Greg and Elizabeth Allen Opportunity Scholarship, a prize of $10,000 a year for 4 years of college: Diavian Thompson, Aniyah Moore, Je’Saun Johnson, and Robel Gabramedhin. CHS also nominates students for consideration for several additional major scholarships: UVA Jefferson Scholar Nominee: William Keenan; UVA Walentes Scholar Nominee: My’Nique Jones (Information about these UVA scholarships here); Emily Couric Scholarship Nominee: Ella Farina (Information here). Congratulations to these students and all those who support them!
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!
As we head into the season of winter weather, please keep tuned in for updates. If we need to change our schedule, we will contact you via SchoolMessenger. You can also check our website, social media channels, and local media. (If you’re not getting SchoolMessenger phone or email updates, contact your school.) Missing some messages? We’ve been having some issues this fall, and are considering a change to a new provider that combines the functions of School Messenger and Remind. And speaking of closings, remember Winter Break starts Monday, December 19, and kids return to school on Tuesday, January 3.
Find December’s “Mini-Minutes” here with updates on several areas reported in this newsletter. Next meeting is January 5. Find the full calendar of budget meetings and input opportunities here. Interested in future meetings? Sign up to receive notices of School Board meetings.
Giving back: Charlottesville City Schools students are big fans of NFL veteran Chris Long, and it’s not just because he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion. Thanks to the Chris Long Foundation, our division now has an EdZone Essential Needs Closet in all six of our elementaries. On Wednesday morning Long came to Venable to launch the initiative and hang out with some young fans. Photo by Jack Looney.
Strengthening community bonds: Thank you to the more than 40 people who came to the Black Men Meet-up at CHS last week to meet students and discuss ways to support our schools. The diverse group of Black men included political leaders, community advocates, Cville Schools staff, members of the military, and more. Thanks to the Alliance for Black Male Achievement for their partnership! To get connected with this effort, contact Denise Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s eat! Food is about nourishment, culture and community. At Lugo-McGinness Academy (left), students plan and prepare special meals for their classmates and teachers in their Neighborhood Kitchen program. Through our partnership with Cultivate Charlottesville, students enjoy local produce every month: December was spinach (right)! And, this Wednesday, all cafeterias will be serving a halal chicken sandwich (as always there will also be a vegetarian option as well).