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October 2016 News & Highlights


October 24, 2016

Dear families—Naia Fairchild and Francis MacCall, homecoming queen and king

The first quarter of the year is almost over, and I hope that most of you have connected with your students’ teachers at back-to-school nights or conferences. We want to work with you to make sure we’re meeting the needs of all our students. We’ve seen a number of examples this month of ways that we challenge and encourage our students to do their best, from all-state jazz musicians to elementary STEM successes to the very special moment when Naia Fairchild was named the CHS homecoming queen.  In the arts, athletics, academics, in gardens, at camps, in labs, or in concert halls, we give our students a wide variety of opportunities to learn and grow.  You can read through this newsletter to see some examples of what we’re already doing.

Of course, we want to do even better. We will soon begin the process of creating our school division’s six-year strategic plan for 2018-2024. We want to hear from students, parents, teachers, staff, and community members as we dream and create plans to support our students even better.  If you would like to have a role in this process, please write

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

  • Remember, there will be no school for students on October 28, November 7, and November 8  for professional learning or teacher workdays.  Some schools will hold parent-teacher conferences on November 7.
    The draft calendar for the 2017-18 school year has been posted online with a request for community feedback. The calendar is drafted jointly by the Albemarle and Charlottesville schools, through the work of a committee that includes staff and parents.
    Dr. Atkins announcing the CHS String Ensembleundefineds trip to Ireland.

    Charlottesville Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins was named one of two national finalists for the Women in School Leadership Award for Superintendents, sponsored by the School Superintendents Association and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Thanks to all the United Way Day of Caring volunteers who helped in our classrooms, gardens, and more on September 21!



    Did your student enjoy Farm-to-School Week? (Thanks, City Schoolyard Garden and the Local Food Hub!) If you would like to help our schools make these sorts of efforts more of a year-round reality, consider joining a new parent group that will work with the schools as part of a grant from the health department. You can learn more by joining their Facebook group.
    Recent professional highlights for our teachers:
    One of our elementary iSTEM teachers, Liz Petry, was a presenter at VMI’s 5th annual STEM education conference last month.


    All three CHS teachers for economics & personal finance (Meagan Maynard, Deb Tewskbury,and Yumeka Webb-Jordan) earned national “gold stars” for their students’ financial literacy, given by w!se (Working in Support of Education), a nonprofit that encourages financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and workplace readiness.

    • CHS history teacher Zach Bullock was named one of 50 worldwide “flipped ambassadors” by the Flipped Learning Global Initiative.

    school panel

    • Buford engineering teacher Brendan Martin (and students) recently presented at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum to teach national leaders from education, technology, science, history, & math about the school’s innovative engineering partnership with U.Va, the Smithsonian, and other partners.
    • Nikki Franklin and Shannon Gillikin (both of Jackson-Via) served as panelists at a recent conference hosted by the Curry School of Education at U.Va., focusing on the TeachStrong effort to rethink teachers’ training and professional development.
  • CHS Marking Knights

    The CHS Marching Knights received a prestigious invitation to perform in the London London’s New Year’s Day Parade & Festival in 2018.  Schools are vetted before invitations to the largest New Year’s event in the world. It will be the band’s first international trip!

    The band is also enjoying a strong marching season, recently earning 1st place Percussion, 1st place Music, and 1st place class AAA at the Midlothian High School Showcase of Bands. On October 29 at 2pm, they will  host their annual Cavalcade  competition, a great chance to see and hear top bands from across the state.

    CHS earned top honors (again) as a w!se Blue Star school for financial literacy, and the schools’s three economics and personal finance teachers also earned top honors as Yellow Star teachers.  Congratulations to our students and teachers Meagan Maynard, Deb Tewksbury, and  Yumeka Webb-Jordan!

    Knightingales singing to support SARA

    Knightingales Brianna Ramirez, Rebecca Sutphin, Casey Casarez, and Kiana Anderson were invited to sing with the UVA Women’s Chorus in a benefit concert for SARA (the Sexual Assault Resource Agency of Charlottesville).

    CHS history teacher Zach Bullock was named one of 50 worldwide “flipped ambassadors” by the Flipped Learning Global Initiative.  In flipped classrooms (used by a number of teachers at CHS and in other Charlottesville schools), teachers typically present “lectures” via brief video presentations that students watch as homework. That leaves class time for activities, solving problems, and the opportunity to ask questions of teachers or classmates.


    Elizabeth Bambury and Rachael Inlow took advantage of a Jefferson-Madison Regional Library program, listening in English & español to acclaimed Chilean poet Christian Formoso. iMuy bien!

    Congrats to Caleb Rose and Stella Sokolowski, just named to the All-State Jazz Ensemble. Only 40 are selected from across Virginia!  And 15 CHS Orchestra members were selected for the 2015 South Central Senior Regional Orchestra!

    Latino Student Association holds salsa-tasting event during lunch

    Two signs of diversity….  Photography students have hung an exhibition of their images of CHS students and staff in the atrium.  Part of the national Inside Out project, the images showcase the beauty and diversity of our students.  In addition, a new Latino Student Association has formed and has held events at CHS to promote an appreciation for Latino cultures.

    Francis MacCall  and Naia Fairchild, who has Down syndrome, served as king and queen of homecoming. In March 2015, Naia and her mother offered the keynote address to the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.

    Art field trip to Ix Park with artist Chicho

    Art I and art II classes visited Ix Art Park to work with local artist Chicho Lorenzo. Students cut stencils and spray-painted their designs on canvas and around the Art Park.

    CHS and Buford students explored how businesses use technology in Charlottesville’s annual CBIC Tech Tour.

    Two recent evening events benefited students, a college night and  a workshop about how the latest brain research can make learning easier.

    Human anatomy students at the U.Va. Health Sciences Library learning from medical school mentors

    Students in human biology took a field trip to the U.Va. Health Sciences library, where mentors from the medical school assisted the students with research projects. The students will present their research in the spring.

    CHS students recently hosted French peers from Charlottesville’s sister city of Besançon, part of a series of exchanges between the two communities.

  • Face-painting at Buford Harvest FestivalBuford Middle School enjoyed another successful Harvest Festival, celebrating the school’s amazing garden and community. Thanks to City Schoolyard Garden for their leadership!
    Buford students and their U.Va. mentors collected more than 2,000 pounds of food for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank through their involvement with the Young Women Leaders Program.

    Young Women Leaders Program Food DriveBuford engineering students recently made a presentation at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum to teach national leaders from education, technology, science, history, & math about the school’s innovative engineering partnership with U.Va, the Smithsonian, and other partners.
    Learning by building

    CHS and Buford students explored how businesses use technology in Charlottesville’s annual CBIC Tech Tour.

    Buford history students have been doing some hands-on learning about life on the Great Plains, delivering wheat to the market and building a sod house.

    Throughout the month of October, the National Junior Honor Society at Buford Middle School, an organization of 8th graders dedicated to community service, is holding a winter hat and glove drive to help the children of Charlottesville.  Items may be dropped off in the school’s bins.

    Congratulations to Buford students Sohl Park, Pray Meh, and Maya Wilmer, who placed 1-2-3 in the Rumi Forum’s Annual Peace and Dialog Art Contest.

    Ready for fall foliage? Walker art students beat nature to the punch by creating beautiful leaf-inspired art.


    Jin Pickering Making Lemonade

    Sixth-grader Jin Pickering recently used a lemonade stand to raise money to feed the homeless through the Haven, tripling his goal!

    The Walker Upper Elementary School Family extends an invitation to all current  and future Walker students to attend Bingo Night on November 16 at 5:30pm.

    Walker CLASS students played “Human Hungry Hippos” to end a great week!

    CLASS students playing human hungry hippos

    CLASS students playing human hungry hippos

    Walker’s new swimming program for 5th-graders is off to a good start and was featured by NBC29.

    As part of our new iSTEM program to build a bride to the engineering programs at Buford and CHS, Walker students recently measured their soil components for their green roof project.


  • Nature drawing activity at Camp Albemarle

    Friday Knight Lights: Join families from all six elementary schools at the first-ever elementary tailgate party at the CHS Football game on November 4.  Festivities include face-painting and visits from the CHS football team, band, and cheerleaders. The fun starts at 6 before kick-off at 7 (see flyer in “upcoming events,” below).

    The Walker Upper Elementary School Family extends an invitation to all current 4th graders and their families (and any CCS families, for that matter) to attend Bingo Night on Wednesday, November 16 at 5:30pm.

    City fourth-graders have been on the go, between their annual science field trip to Camp Albemarle and their field trip Cabell Hall for the Charlottesville Youth Orchestra’s superhero-themed performance.

    Farm-to-School Week fun

    Thanks to the Special  Education Advisory Committee for organizing a September ice cream social to help build community and support for our families in the special education program!

    City Schools enjoyed special foods, visitors (including chickens and goats), plus time in the garden during Farm-to-School Week.  Thanks to City Schoolyard Garden and Local Food Hub for organizing, and thanks also to Casa Alma and Caromount Farms for time with feathered and furry friends!

    As you can see in the following video, fourth-grade students are enjoying their iSTEM lessons, part of a new, hands-on science, tech, engineering, and math lessons designed to build a bridge to the science and engineering programs at Buford and CHS. In the video, students find sweet success on the fifth attempt to correctly program their robot:

    Students are visiting U.Va.’s Fralin Museum to brainstorm ideas for the museum’s annual competition of writing inspired by art.

    More community helpers visit our our elementary schools! First, it’s “Lunch with a Cop,” when police officers visit schools at lunchtime, sometimes accompanied by McGruff the Crime Dog.  Now, the Charlottesville Fire Department is making visits to teach home safety tips. Sometimes they even bring a fire truck to recess for “show and tell.” Thanks to all!

    Community, four ways: undefinedLunch with Cop,undefined firefighter visits, undefinedDonuts with Dad,undefined and friends on the playground

    Burnley-Moran students responding to their senior pen pals. Photo courtesy Ryan M. Kelly/Daily ProgressYou’ve got mail! Burnley-Moran Bobcats have been writing and receiving letters from their senior pen pals at JABA’s Mary Williams Community Senior  Center. In addition, their artwork is on display at the Welcome Gallery as part of art teacher Ryan Trott’s exhibition of his works inspired by children’s art.

    Making globes at ClarkClark enjoyed its first whole-school meeting, with student leaders, dancing, book talks, awards, & singing happy 85th birthday to the school! And after reading the novel Rules, fourth-graders invited Clark’s occupational therapist, Lydia Cornejo, to answer student questions and make connections to the book.
    undefinedBook tastingundefined at GreenbrierYou’ve heard of taste-testing some new foods, but how about taste-testing some new books? Greenbrier fourth-graders rotated through stations hosted by “chef” and teacher Ms. Kumar. Second-graders spent a super-hero themed morning exploring Marvel-ous Matter! And the whole school donned orange as part of their Unity Day celebrations.

    Richmond Ballet teaching CLASS students to tap at Jackson-ViaNBC news visited Jackson-Via for the visit of Alice the Goat during Farm-to-School Week, and students, staff, and PTO volunteers are gearing up for spirit week, which concludes with their annual Rocktoberfest event, with a potluck, games, and more. And the after-school CLASS program enjoyed dance classes with the Charlottesville Ballet  in ballet, modern, tap, hip hop, and/or African dance form.

    Sink or float? Parent-led density lesson at JohnsonJohnson’s “Donuts with Dads” event overflowed from the cafeteria into the hallways with students plus their dads, uncles, friends, and grandfathers (not to mention some moms who wanted to be part of the fun, too).  In addition to breakfast, students received a book to keep. Another day, guest/mom/Walker teacher Ms. Rasnake visited the school to offer a hands-on activity exploring density.

    Scientific observation activity at VenableVenable’s back-to-school night had some new leaders in charge this year — the students. The new student-led format will also be a feature of the school’s spring parent-teacher conferences, thanks to a grant from the Shannon Foundation.

  • City Councilperson Bob Fenwick and School Board members Ned Michie, Amy Laufer, and Sherry Kraft celebrate the CHS Bandundefineds invitation to the 2018 London New Yearundefineds Day Parade with former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster (in red).

    At their October meeting, the Board approved the calendar for developing the 2017-18 budget and the membership lists of advisory committees. The Board also heard reports about the after-school CLASS program as well as the new extended day program for selected elementary students who need assistance with literacy. The Board discussed capital improvements as well as the schools’ annual indicators of success.

    • 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
  • band

    Upcoming events include:

    • Last Day of First Quarter, October 27
    • Teacher Workday (no school for students), October 28
    • Cavalcade, the CHS Marching Knights’ annual band competition, October 29, CHS Athletic Stadium, 2pm. Tickets at gate.
    • School Board Meeting, November 3, 5pm, CHS Media Center
    • Friday Knight Lights:  Elementary Tailgate Party at CHS Football, November 4, 6pm
    • Teacher Workday/Parent Conferences at some schools (no school for students), November 7
    • Professional Learning Day (no school for students), November 8
    • Bingo Night at Walker (current 4th-graders invited), November 16, 5:30pm
    • Buzz-by-Belmont Clark 5K, November 19, 9am. All families welcome! Details here.
    • CHS Band Kicks off the Schools’ Fall-Winter Concert Season, 7pm, MLKPAC
    • Thanksgiving Break, November 23-25

    Curious about next year’s calendar? Review the draft and give us your feedback!

    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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