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May 2016 News & Highlights

Superintendent Message

May 19, 2016

Dear families—

The school year is drawing to a close! I’m so proud of our students, teachers, and staff for what they’ve accomplished this year.  Among many other highlights, in April Charlottesville City Schools earned national recognition for our environmental stewardship, our health and wellness programs for students and staff, and our sustainability education. These are all areas in which we excel and set a standard for others. 

Perhaps I’m most proud of the fact that these are all projects built on partnership.  That partnership begins with the City of Charlottesville and their various public works departments that make our buildings greener and our routes to school safer.  That partnership continues with non-profits who work with us to teach healthy habits and get our students’ minds and bodies moving, such as City Schoolyard Garden, the Richmond Ballet, and our local hospitals.  That partnership reflects businesses who work with us to compost our lunch scraps, to minimize the use of chemicals in our cleaning and pest management, and to make possible our employees’ gym benefit.

I am proud of this award because it’s evidence that in so many areas, Charlottesville City Schools takes good advantage of the many resources in our community and leverages them for the benefit of our students.

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

  • Calendar updates:
    • The last day of school will be Friday, June 3.  It will be a half-day (elementary ends at noon; grades 5-8, 12:45pm; CHS, 1:30pm)
    • Looking ahead to August, the first day of school will be Tuesday, August 23.  Except for CHS, our open houses will be Monday, August 22.  CHS will hold a freshman orientation on August 12, and their open house for all grades will be Thursday, August 18. See our calendar for times.  As a reminder, you can subscribe to our Google academic calendar to add school holidays to your personal device!
    • Fall sports try-out information is on our web site, as well.

    On Earth Day, the Charlottesville City School division received a 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Award, recognizing the schools’ leadership in environmental stewardship, in promoting health and wellness among students and staff, and in offering effective sustainability programs.

    City Schoolyard Garden is the nonprofit that hosts gardens and garden programming in partnership with Charlottesville City Schools. Please take a minute to complete this short online survey about their work in our schools.  You can also sign up for a raffle to win a CSG tote and Harvest of the Month greeting cards.

    Clark School

    Summer is Books on Bikes season! This team of Charlottesville teachers and librarians makes regular book-and-popsicle runs into several city neighborhoods to build relationships & make sure our students have some good summer reads. Books on Bikes has earned international attention (most recently, they were profiled in the journal School Library Connection). They’ll kick off their season with a bike/walk parade on Saturday, June 4, at 10am. The parade starts at Clark and finishes at the downtown branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Bring the family!

    Clark administrators Daphne Keiser, Ann Isley, & Linda Humphries published an article in the American School Board’s June journal. Kudos!

    Charlottesville City Schoolsundefined Golden Apple Award-Winning Teachers

    Congratulations to all our great teachers honored as this year’s winners of the ‪Golden Apple‬ awards. (And thanks to Better Living Building Supply for making them possible!) This year’s Charlottesville City Schools honorees are: Cindy Cartwright (Venable), Mary Craig (Clark), Shannon Gillikin (Jackson-Via), Ron Green (Greenbrier), Jenn Horne (CHS), Patricia Luke (Buford), Alex Piedra (Walker), Leslie Scalley (Johnson), and Tracy Weaver (Burnley-Moran).

    This year, the Charlottesville Scholarship Program provided financial assistance and mentors to 10 CHS graduates.  Since 2001, the program has helped nearly 100 students to afford higher education.

  • CHS Students Travel

    Four CHS students have earned international travel fellowships through highly competitive programs sponsored by the U.S. State Department.  Santiago Padron will spend the summer in China with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). Matthew Robinson and Elsa Schenck will spend next year in Turkey with the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad) program, and Fré Halvorson-Taylor is actually completing a year in Morocco with the YES Abroad program. Congratulations and best wishes to these young ambassadors as they represent our community and our country!

    Also relating to world languages and travel, Noah Robinson was accepted to the STARTALK Chinese program at U.Va., part of a national network of programs sponsored by the National Security Agency to train teachers and students in critical languages.  And Katie Stadler will spent her junior year in Beijing through a private exchange program.

    Congratulations to the new Student Investment Group, which came in 4th in a global competition sponsored by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Earlier, the team placed 3rd in a state competition sponsored by U.Va. 10th-grader Lucas Higgins established the club this fall; other members of the Wharton team were Caroline Clark, Thomas Inigo, Maggie Randle, and William Werner.

    A number of CHS students have earned competitive spots in the Virginia Governor’s School: Clair Jenkins (Math, Science, Technology), Julia Kenner (Visual & Performing Arts —Theater), Charlotte MacDonald  (Visual & Performing Arts—Music); Rachel Manto (Visual & Performing Arts—Visual Arts); Santiago Padrón (Humanities), and Ellen Yates (Humanities).

    9th-grader Chloe Landry tied for 1st in a national art competition in honor of National Dance Week. Her work will be featured in a number of dance magazines.

    A number of theater students have earned spots in competitive summer drama programs in Virginia and across the country: Mila Cesaretti, Julia Kenner, Maire Lee, Francis MacCall, Carter Mace, Evelyn McKenney, Brianna Ramirez, and William Schuyler.

    In a three-state competition, the CHS Orchestra placed first not only among all orchestras, but among all performing groups at the Nashville Fiesta-Val. Soloist awards went to Micah Hunter-Chang, Towns Josey, Charlie Manning, Bethany Reitsma, and Mary Stelow. Laura Mulligan Thomas received the Award of Distinction for Director.

    Senior first/third baseman Banks Northington was the Daily Progress’s athlete of the week, with a batting average of .618! And lacrosse player Tommy Stadler got a shout-out from for his 10 goals scored against Powhatan. Among spring sports, the team highlights are boys’ soccer  (8-1-1), and boys’ tennis (8-2), and girls’ soccer (6-3).  Good luck in post-season play!

    Congrats to the winners of the UVA Future Medical Leaders Research Poster Symposium. Actually, all the students were winners since they received mentoring from UVA Health System researchers, doctors & librarians. But the ones with medals around their necks are Omar Sekkarie & Andrew Ntenda (who researched refugee health care in the US), Georgia Crum & Molly Irving (3D printing of human tissues), and Ahyana Calloway & Emily Robinson (negative effects of irregular sleep cycles). Thanks to the UVA organizers and mentors!

    CHS students at Battelleundefineds Women in STEM conference

    Eleven students participated in a Women in STEM forum sponsored by Battelle featuring hands-on activities.

    CHS is gearing up for its first-ever CyberCamp, made possible by a state grant with the goal of introducing students to skills and careers in the fast-growing field of cybersecurity.

    learningNinth-grade students in honors English recently presented their year-long research project, ranging from the creation of a portable library, the development of an extensive blog about African-American issues, research about — and the creation — of a graphic novel, and research on a local issue, the possible redevelopment of the CHS track.

    The CHS Choir and Band have been busy. The choir performed at the Heritage Festival of Music in San Francisco, and the morning choir (students who come to school early to start their day off with music) sang the national anthem to open the Central Little League’s season. And the band made a spring trip to Tennessee to perform in the Smoky Mountain Music Festival.

    Band in Tennessee and Choir in California

    CATEC and CHS hosted peers from Charlottesville’s sister city of Besançon, France, part of an ongoing exchange between the two communities.

    For a third year, CHS is the only school in our region to appear on The Washington Post’s list of America’s “Most Challenging High Schools,” which highlights schools that encourage a wide variety of students to take college-level AP classes and tests.Americas Most Challenging High Schools 2016

    Political Correctness The “Becoming a Global Citizen” class at CHS has made a number of presentations at U.Va. and the Tom-Tom Festival, where their idea earned a $250 award. After students Kibiriti Majuto, Kunga Deyang, Damara Knight, Aujha Washington, and Chyna Murphy served on a panel at U.Va’s Curry School, teacher  Tina Vasquez received a letter describing the students as “sharp, humorous, and insightful” and making a lasting impact.

    Congratulations to Saoirse Lee (CHS ’16), who was 1 of 6 national finalists in the The Bill of Rights Institute’s debate competition about whether political correctness has gone too far on college campuses.

  • 100As the school year draws to a close, let’s congratulate our Buford students on a year marked by award-winning excellence in art, athletics, debate, engineering, history, math, music, science, writing, and more! Buford Greatness is more than just a motto!

    Caroline McLellan placed third in her category at the History Day state competition.  In addition, her documentary won the Sons of the American Revolution Award.

    Buford at USA Science and Engineering FestivalBuford students and teacher Brendan Martin made a presentation a the USA Science & Engineering Festival in DC. Way to represent!

    Hands-on learning activities abound at Buford, whether it’s history students acting like spies with a Cold War break-out box, English students bringing myths, fables, legends and tales to life in their literary circles, or science students doing hands-on frog examinations.

    Cold War Break-Out Box ActivityAt the May ceremony at UVA, Buford students Eleanor Brown, Ella Harrigan, and Margaret Folger earned 1st, 2nd, and honorable mention in the poetry and prose categories of the Writer’s Eye competition sponsored by the Fralin Museum of Art.

    A large crowd of 7th and 8th-grade families came for Buford’s spring AVID banquet to celebrate how our students are on track to achieve their long-term educational dreams. This year’s AVID graduates at CHS plan to attend U.Va., JMU, VCU, ODU, Mary Washington and others. Coming up next, the 8th-grade AVID class will travel to North Carolina for a four-school college tour.

    AVID Family Night at Buford.

    Children Congratulations to Zach Drumheller, Santos Franco, and Josh Nocks for representing Buford at the Little Feet Meet, which offered games and activities for students from the area.

    As part of the TomTom festival, Buford students heard an powerful presentation from Emmanuel Jal, a former boy soldier from Sudan who is now a poet, rapper, humanitarian, and inspirational speaker.

    Showing that they are not “all work and no play,” Buford staff and students created a video as part of the Running Man Challenge.  It proved so popular that the Newsplex featured the project.

    Two Grand Champions! With a near-perfect score of 99, the Buford Orchestra was named Best Orchestra and Grand Champion of the Musicale Festival in Williamsburg.  At the same event, the Buford chorus also did well, earning third place and a rating of Excellent. And at the Kings Dominion Festival of Music, the Buford Band was named Best Band and Grand Champion. Congratulations on such outstanding performances!

    Walker Team XXl Dancers and Friends Coached by the Richmond Ballet, the Walker and Buford dance group, Team XXL, performed in the pavilion as part of Fridays After Five.  The group is preparing for the upcoming Minds In Motion performance.

    Eleven Buford and Walker students were accepted to Reflections, the Summer Regional Governor’s School Program for Middle School Students Gifted in the Visual Arts: Arianna Deiter, Belaynesh Downs-Reeve, Meg Gist, Eleanor Hilgart, Chu Keyer, Nora Liang, Anna Meyer, Emily Morris, Kyle O’Shea, Sohl Park, Yasu Shinozak, and Georgia Trainum. In addition, CHS 9th-grader Sahara Clemons was selected as one of two student assistants for the program.

    On May 21, Buford’s engineering students are hosting a “STEM Saturday” for Walker students, with workshops on Lego Robotics, Squishy Circuits, and 2-D design using FableVision’s MakerStudio.  The event is made possible as part of a grant from the Noyce Foundation.

    Congratulations to Walker students Batta Al-Doori, Katherine McGrath, and Jose Aparicio, winners in the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library 2016 Big Read Art Contest. The contest asked for artworks exploring the themes of loneliness and isolation in the novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

    Walkerundefineds winners in the JMRL photo competition.

    park benches On May 20, Walker School will dedicate its new outdoor classroom in memory of its beloved science teacher, Leslie Diehl. The new learning space is made possible through the generosity of the Diehl family and the Prana Fund at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. The space will be used by gym, science, and art classes, and more.

    Walker’s El Espectáculo  was spectacular!  The evening not only highlighted the school division’s elementary Spanish program, but it featured Spanish-infused contributions from every element of the school, from Zumba-dancing gym classes to stage backdrop featuring art done by Walker students in the style of traditional Mexican amate paintings.

    Spectacular studentsundefined Walker jazz band, dancers, and chorus.

    Walker’s bands and chorus performed at  Musicale in Williamsburg.  Competing against 8th-grade bands, the Intermediate Band and the Jazz Band each earned 3rd place and a rating of Excellent. The Jazz Band’s rhythm section won the Outstanding Rhythm Section Award.  The Beginning Band and the Walker Chorus both received a rating of Superior and took first place in the elementary division!

    Congratulations to Aly Seidman, who completed the competitive Duke University Talent Identification Program!

  • Thanks for a magnetic experience, Ash Lawn!Registration is open for the summer’s Camp ExL through the Charlottesville Schools’ CLASS program.

    Students at all elementary schools recently enjoyed visits from  the Kennedy Center courtesy of Ash Lawn Opera. Guests came to dance and offer a child’s introduction to the opera.

    Our fourth-graders at all elementary schools are preparing for their annual “Minds in Motion” performance with the Richmond Ballet. This year’s performance has an ecological theme, with a monarch butterfly guiding a boy and girl to a greater understanding of the world around them.

    We Love Johnson TeachersThanks to all our students, parents, PTOs, and community members who showed some love during teacher appreciation week and an administrative professionals day! Johnson PTO held a series of events based on the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. “If you give a bus driver a muffin,” “If you give a teacher lunch,” and other efforts  were all appreciated.

    Which school will win this year’s “First Peas to the Table?” competition?  In a friendly contest that dates back to Thomas Jefferson, our first-graders have planted peas in their gardens to see who can be the first to get them ready to eat.  Thanks for the cross-curricular learning, City Schoolyard Garden!


    It’s spring, and at our elementary schools, that means it’s time for a picnic! Classes have also been making field trips to the zoo, the strawberry patch, or the library.  And some of classes have been watching butterflies and chicks hatch in their classrooms.

    Second-graders enjoyed a concert from world-renowned cellist Amit Peled & pianist Noreen Polera as part of the Tuesday Evening Concert Series.

    Children laughing Charlotteville City Schools is pleased to announce the appointment of Pat Cuomo as principal at Greenbrier Elementary and Summerlyn Thompson as principal of Johnson Elementary.  Mr. Cuomo formerly served as assistant principal at Jackson-Via, and Ms. Thompson has been AP at Johnson.

    Burnley-Moran students have gotten outside in the garden. One recent example is a visit from the head vegetable gardener at Monticello, who demonstrated how natural dyes can be used on wool.  The school also enjoyed a dress-up day featuring favorite fictional characters.

    CLASS after-school program at Greenbrier.Our older students across the division have begun their state testing season, but our teachers and classmates have been busy reminding out test-takers that they’ve already learned what they need to know.  At Clark, younger students made cards and banners to remind their older schoolmates that they are smart cookies.  Pre-K even hosted a milk and cookie party, inviting fourth-grade friends to come read to them.  Finally, staff and teachers made their annual “you got this” video.

    TeachersGreenbrier is planning their annual international picnic for May 20.  They’re also getting ready for summer by holding a school-wide book swap to make sure that all students have some new summer reads. And Frances Reynolds earned honorable mention in the Village School’s area short-story contest!

    Jackson-Via’s got talent! Students and staff pulled out all the stops for a fun evening. Plus, they proved they had soul when they got a visit from the SOL king to remind students that they’re ready for the SOL tests.

    Children in classroom

    From kindergarten through fourth grade, Johnson students have been putting their learning into action.  Kindergartners concluded their patriotism unit with an adorable Fourth of July parade featuring little American eagles, Abraham Lincolns, Statues of Liberty, and more.  And fourth-graders opened a famous Americans living wax museum, filled with pioneering women, space explorers, and other figures from sports, public service, exploration, history, and more.

    fish drawing Venable’s been enjoying some spring fun, including an April Fool’s Day joke that turned the school into Burnely-Moran for the day. Recent student honors include the selection of Iker Imaz’s artwork for the cover of the journal of the Virginia State Reading Association (see artwork at right), and the selection of  five students for the All-Virginia Chorus!

  • Charlottesville City Schools received a 2016 US Department of Education Green Ribbon District Sustainability Award.At their April meeting, the Board voted to adopt a new health text, one that has online supports and maximizes hands-on, active learning. It also approved the addition of American Sign Language as a class at CHS. In addition, the Board adopted a budget of $78,520,419 for fiscal year 2016-2017. Finally, they passed a resolution requesting that the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) research funding formulas between all Virginia school divisions and their local governing bodies. At their May meeting, the Board approved two educational plans for the year, adopted a policy creating student representation on the Board beginning in August, and OKed the use of $500,000 from the fund balance to pay for the purchase and implementation of the school division’s new legacy business system.

    • For details or other reports, visit our electronic schoolboard, accessible via our web site.
    • Register here to receive notices of future Board meetings. We livestream at
  • CHS OrchestraUpcoming events include:

    • May 19: Buford and Walker’s “Stage Left Theatre” presents Fractured at Buford, 6pm
    • May 20: Walker Band concert, 6pm
    • May 20-21: Theatre CHS’s annual Dessert Theater performances (Fri 7pm, Sat 3 &7pm)
    • May 22: CHS Orchestra spring concert, 7:30pm, MLKPAC
    • May 26: Minds in Motion Performance at MLKPAC (4th graders, some 5th-8th graders performing with the Richmond Ballet), 7pm, MLKPAC
    • June 2: CHS Graduation, 7pm, JPJ Arena
    • June 3: Last day of school (half day:  elementary ends at noon; grades 5-8, 12:45pm; CHS, 1:30pm)
    • June 9: School Board Meeting, 5pm, 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

Find more info and events on on our website, social media, or our Google calendars!

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