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September 2016 News & Highlights

Superintendent Message

Bike September 19, 2016

Dear families—

What a start we’ve had for the school year! We’ve hosted visits from the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Governor!  Our programs and teachers have already won awards and grants. We’ve opened a student-run credit union branch at CHS, and we’ve jumped  into a season of fine arts performances by both our students and visiting professionals. We’re off to a smooth start, with more exciting events to come.  Read on for practical information and for highlights from these first weeks of school.

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

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    Six Charlottesville teachers earned grants totaling $6,214 from the Edgar and Eleanor Shannon Foundation for Excellence in Public Education. The grants make possible innovative educational projects, ranging from STEM fields to therapeutic games.

    Shannon Grant winners from Charlottesville City Schools.

  • Governor Terry McAuliffe recently hosted an event at CHS, recognizing the 15th anniversary of the state’s insurance program for qualifying students.  The governor surprised the school by arriving early and staying late, squeezing in visits to orchestra and engineering classes.

    Governor McAuliffe visiting orchestra and engineering classes.

    The Knights United Credit Union Team CHS opened the newest student-run branch of the UVA Community Credit Union at the start of the year. Some students get a job, other students open an account, and all students have access to real-life financial literacy learning opportunities.

    Nearly 300 CHS students attended a showing of the documentary Freedom Riders, followed by a panel discussion with the film-maker and several of the civil rights activists featured in the movie. The session was part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ 50th anniversary conference, held in Charlottesville.

    Students gathering to greet Alice Waters at the CHS garden thanks to City Schoolyard Garden.City Schoolyard Garden hosted a reception in the CHS gardens for Alice Waters, the acclaimed chef, author, and advocate for local foods, and several CHS students attended an event with Waters and other leaders in food sustainability as part of the NEH conference.

    The CHS PTO got off to a strong start with a community presentation of Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age.  The award-winning documentary explores the potential impact of young people’s frequent use of phones and other devices.

    Renovated lab spaces at CATEC support the new IT partnership with CISCO.CATEC held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate its new partnership with IT leader CISCO and revnovated labs to support the program. Participating students can now graduate  as a Cisco Certified Network Administrator or with the CompTIA A+ credential, which is considered to be the building block of an IT certificate.


    FootballFall athletics are underway, and running back Sabias Folley was named the Schewels Athlete of the Week earlier this month. CHS football has won two big wins at the start of the season.

    CHS  received a statewide award from Jobs for Virginia Graduates in recognition of the the school’s attainment of all five of the program’s goals, including targets such as graduation and job or military placement.

    CHS engineering teacher Matthew Shields won a 2016 Yale Educator Award.  He’s one of 55 teachers across the country recognized for inspiring students to achieve excellence.

    Following a visit to Longwood University, 24 CHS AVID students earned their first college acceptance letters through the university’s instant admission program. AVID is a national program geared toward college readiness and closing the achievement gap.

    From a CHS Cybercamp to Virginia Governors School programs to U.S. State Department travel fellowships (and more), CHS students gained valuable experiences this summer. To learn more about opportunities for next year, check in with your counselor.

    CHS Cybercamp 2016 participants and leaders.

    The CHS String Ensemble recently performed on the Downtown Mall, announcing their summer 2017 tour of Ireland.  This will mark the award-winning group’s fifth European tour.

  • Kori Ross demonstrates a generator during Sec. Kingundefineds visit to Buford. Photo courtesy Daily Progress/Andrew Shurtleff.U.S. Secretary of Education John King visited Buford Middle School as one of the first stops on his Back-to-School Bus Tour, crossing the country to highlight school success stories. Past and current Buford engineering students led the visitors in engineering activities. The Buford engineering program has received international attention; it is a partnership with other area public schools, U.Va., PVCC, and the Smithsonian Institute.  Earlier in the summer, Buford staff and students presented at the International Society of Technology Education in Denver, and still other students and staff participated in a two-week engineering academy at U.Va. to continue developing the “invention kits” that are at the heart of the curriculum.

    Drawing in the garden on the second day of school.The Buford Band greeted Sec. King with Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever and earned a shout-out in the Washington Post. What other middle school band can handle a Sousa march three weeks into the school year?!

    A before-school gathering of students and families participating in AVID  came to Buford to get the year off to a good start. AVID is a national program geared toward college readiness and closing the achievement gap.  AVID students also participated in Sec. King’s visit by writing thoughtful responses to the prompt, “Opportunity is….”

    Walker friends at open house.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.

    Walker students are already celebrating the fine arts — on back-to-back days, sixth-graders attended the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival, and fifth-graders enjoyed performances by Rwandan dancers and musicians (see elementary news for more details).

    Plenty of room to learn with straw-powered rockets in the Delta Lab at Walker.The new iSTEM program designed to build a bridge to the Buford engineering program “blasted off” with straw-powered rockets in Walker’s Delta Lab.  Through the activity, students explored force, distance, mean, and measurement.

    Walker will host its second Mix-It-Up-at-Lunch event with the help of United Way volunteers on the Day of Caring. The program features events like get-to-know-you Bingo to help students meet new friends and acquaintances.

    Bingo cards for Walkerundefineds Mix-it-Up Lunch.To reinforce some positive behavior routines, Walker hosted a Jeopardy! game featuring Alec Trebec (Mr. K) and Vanna White (Mrs. Geddy).  Students had a fun time answering questions related to Walker’s resources and behavioral expectations.

  • undefinedLunch with a Copundefined at Burnley-Moran.In response to a suggestion from Burnley-Moran Elementary School, the Charlottesville Police Department is starting a “lunch with a cop” program in our elementary schools.  Police officers visit with students during lunch, answering questions, enjoying conversation, and building positive relationships.

    You’re invited to an ice cream social at Greenbrier on Sunday, September 25 from 2-4. Hosted by the Special Education Advisory Committee, the event is a casual way for parents with a child in special education to get to know each other and to build a social support network. It will also provide an opportunity for children to have fun in a safe environment.

    Rwandan and Johnson drummers making music together.City Schoolyard Garden started its “Harvest of the Month” program in September with delicious local peaches. The monthly fresh and local snack is also connected to science- and garden-related lesson plans.

    Our elementary schools have proven that it’s never too early in the year for some arts and inspiration! Rwandan brothers Patrick and Pacifique Niyosenga visited schools to perform and share their story of overcoming challengesClark students playing undefinedlongitude-latitudeundefined battleship.Pacifique founded the Niyo Cultural Centre, which is dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished Rwandan street children by teaching them drumming, dancing, and art to help them earn money to survive.

    Burnley-Moran bobcats started off the year with their annual  leave a  “Positive Footprint” emphasis, following a national project for encouraging kindness, and they’ve already pulled out the bee-bots to make the programming-math connection.

    Walking Wednesdays at Greenbrier.

    Clark bees have been busy with friction projects, community design activities, participating in the Belmont “Yard Dreams” community art project, observing the national “Dot Day” creativity project, and more!

    Greenbrier has started its “Walking Wednesdays” program and welcomed a large crowd to its Back-to-School Picnic.

    Hands-on learning at Jackson-Via.Jackson-Via will welcome a canine friend on Fridays, as a therapy dog makes regular visits with kindergartners. And the school’s annual Grandparents Day lunch attracted a great showing.

    Johnson students have been out in the garden, using their break-out boxes (and their brains), and welcoming guests to the school, including guest reader Superintendent Rosa Atkins.

    Let the art-making begin at Venable!Each morning, Venable classrooms hold morning meetings to greet one another, establish daily goals, and complete a fun activity. The school recently held its new monthly school-wide morning meeting, a community-building exercise with greetings, music, activities, and a read-aloud.

  • Mollie Pepper, Nadiya Khaydari, and Frundefined Halverson-Taylor with CHS principal Dr. Eric IrizarryAt their September meeting, the Board welcomed its new student representatives: Fré Halverson-Taylor, Nadiya Khaydari, and Mollie Pepper.  The Board also received an award on behalf of CHS from the Jobs for Virginia Graduates program (see above), heard updates about City Schoolyard Garden, the new extended-day learning program in the elementary schools, and more. The Board voted to prioritize school facilities improvements at Walker and Buford. Initial reports indicate that the division’s enrollment will be up by more than 100 students over last year. The Board moved its April Board meeting to March 30 to improve the spacing of the monthly meetings.

    • For details or other reports, visit our electronic schoolboard, accessible via our web site.
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  • Buford Harvest Fest: Students voting for Veg-Off CompetitionUpcoming events include:

    • Back-to-School Event and Fall Festivals (various)
    • September 23: Buford Fall Harvest Festival, 5:30pm
    • September 25: CHS Orchestra Performs at Foxfield Family Day, noon
    • September 25: Ice Cream Social for all families, hosted by the Special Education Advisory Committee. Greenbrier playground, 2-4pm
    • September 26: No School for Students: Professional Learning Day
    • October 6: School Board Meeting, 5pm, CHS  Media Center
    • October 14: CHS Homecoming Football Game, 7pm

    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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