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April 2017 News & Highlights

CCS Superintendent Message

April 13, 2017

Dear families—

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

  • Bike SafetySafety 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.

    Book Buddies, building a community of readersThe “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!

    Photo of Susan EmoThe 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.

    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.

    Headshots of Mentors and authors Gwendolyn Page and Nikki FranklinThe 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 undefinedInner Outlookundefined by Aaron EichorstClark 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.

    Ralph TaylorThe 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.

    The 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.CCS Stem

    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.

    EdTechTeamIn 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.

  • Fine Arts

    CHS technical theatre students build set for Into The WoodsPoster for the production Raisin in the SunTheatreCHS 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.

    Flyer for Band on the Run 5K Charlottesville High SchoolThe 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 PatekFive 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.

    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.

     Cuban sculptor & painter Josundefined Bedia visits CHS AP Art studentsInternationally 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 heroes: AJ Stouffer, Jerry Harris, Trevon JacksonTrevon 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.

    undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedphoto of CHS AVID students during a visit to an area college campusThe 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 leadershipA 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.

    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 ProgressBoth 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 honorsMore 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.


    Photo of people bundled up at the Starry Knight telescope partyThe 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!

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

    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 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.

  • The Johnson Living History MuseumAt 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.

    Let’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 toundefinedWalkerWalker 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!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 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


    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!

  • Photo of Leah PuryearSpecial 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 include:


    • Flyer for TheatreCHS production, A Raisin in the Sun​​​​​​​TheatreCHS 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 Concert, April 26, 7pm, MLKPAC
    • Walker Orchestra Spring Concert, April 27, 7pm. Farewell concert for Dr. Polly Sibert!
    • CHS Band on the Run 5K, April 29, 8am. Open to all (with registration).
    • CHS Prom, April 29, 7-11pm, Carver Recreation Center, $10.


    • Buford Engineering Night, May 2, 6pm
    • Buford Spring Orchestra Concert, May 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. Reception, May 10, 4pm – 5pm, Jefferson School City Center
    • Walker/Buford Chorus Concert, May 10, 7pm – 8pm, Buford Auditorium
    • Strategic Plan Community Update, May 11, 5:30pm, CHS Sigma Lab
    • 2017 Festival of Cultures, Sat, May 13, 10am undefined 4pm, Lee ParkFestival of Cultures, Sat, May 13, 10am – 4pm, Lee Park
    • Stage Left Theatre presents Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, May 18, 6:30pm, Buford
    • CHS Dessert Theatre, May 19-20, 7pm with Sat maninee at 3pm
    • Walker Band Spring Concerts, May 19, 6:30pm – 9pm
    • CHS Saturday Academic Intervention, May 13, 9am – 12:30pm
    • CHS Saturday Academic Intervention for Seniors, May 20, 9am – 12:30pm, B-Commons
    • Walker Band Instrument Selection Night, May 23 & 25, 5pm
    • CATEC Completers Ceremony, May 24, 7pm
    • No School (Memorial Day), May 29

    Three students in caps and gowns after graduation​​​​​​​June

    • ​​​​​​​School Board Meeting, June 1, 5pm
    • Minds in Motion Performance with Richmond Ballet, June 1, 7pm, MLKPAC
    • 8th Grade Dance, June 2, 7pm – 10pm, Buford
    • Senior Awards Celebration, June 7, 7pm , MLKPAC
    • CHS graduation, June 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!

    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

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