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December 2016 News & Highlights

CCS Superintendent Message

December 8, 2016

Dear families

Walker StudentsOn the radio this month, you can hear students from Walker School thanking community partners for the special programs they make possible. One student chose to thank City Schoolyard Garden for creating and supporting our garden classrooms, and for working with the Local Food Hub to support our “Harvest of the Month” fresh and local snack.  Another spoke about her swimming lessons at Walker, made possible by the City’s Parks and Recreation department and the Ben Hair -Just Swim for Life Foundation. Two students spoke about U.Va., the first thanking engineering students who helped Walker students learn to code and the second recognizing the university’s Fralin Museum of Art for sponsoring the Writer’s Eye competition. These are just a few of the partners that our students thanked, and the list goes on well beyond those they mentioned, from business and nonprofit partnerships to  extensive relationships with U.Va. and PVCC and other area school divisions.

We’re thankful for these partnerships.  We also recognize that our most important relationship is with you, the families of our students.  As we start the process of creating the strategic plan that will guide our schools for the next six years, we want to hear from you.  We’ll have one community-wide listening session on Wednesday, January 25, at 7pm at CHS.  We’d love to see you there.  We’ll also have smaller, school-based sessions for more in-depth conversations. If you’d like to be part of those groups, please contact your principal or write If you only have time for a quick survey, click here.  However you participate, thank you!

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.  We’ll see your students back in school on Tuesday, January 3.

  • Remember, following winter break (12/19-12/30), there is a teacher workday on Monday, January 2, 2017.  Students return to school on Tuesday, January 3.

    The draft calendar for the 2017-18 school year has been posted onlineThe calendar is developed jointly by the Albemarle and Charlottesville schools, through the work of a committee that includes staff and parents. The School Board will vote on this calendar at its January meeting.

    Communications New this year for winter closing notifications: This year, all families will receive emails and calls at all times (including early morning) unless families customize their settings via PowerSchool. Find instructions here.  If you have not yet set up your PowerSchool account, call 245-2943.

    The division will be holding a number of events to gather feedback and input for our 2017-2023 Strategic Plan. A community-wide listening session will be held at CHS on Wednesday, January 25 at 7pm — come join us! Or if you wish to participate in a smaller, school-based session on another day, please contact your principal or write Learn more or take a brief survey here.

    Sibert and ThomasA big congratulations to Dr. Polly Sibert of Walker and Laura Mulligan Thomas of CHS. These two orchestra directors received statewide recognition this week for their continued excellence and leadership. Dr. Sibert won the JMU Outstanding Music Educator Award, given to one alum annually. Laura Thomas won the Philip Fuller Award from the VA Band/Orchestra Directors Association. Details are here.

    The Charlottesville Schools community extends condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, and students of Patricia Stanton, who taught Latin at CHS for more than 40 years until her passing in November.

    Five of  our teachers were honored at the 2016 Chamber of Commerce dinner, serving as the guests of Bill Kehoe, recipient of the 2016 Chamber Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award. The outstanding teachers honored from Charlottesville City Schools were Michael Keller and Brendan Martin of Buford Middle School, Michel Ann Sizemore of Jackson Via Elementary, and Sarah Gallagher and Rachel Rasnake of Walker Upper Elementary.

    Mr. ChambersMr. Ernest Chambers, physical education teacher at Burnley-Moran Elementary, was profiled in the Virginia Education Association’s Journal of Education.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave a shout-out to the schools’ partnership with City Schoolyard Garden and Local Food Hub, which supports innovating programs such as as our Harvest of the Month program, our extensive Farm-to-School Week offerings, and our year-round commitment to fresh, local foods and garden classrooms.  Thanks to both organizations for your support!

    CHS teachers Josh O’Grady and Zachary Bullock were able to present their experiences on the teaching  the “History of Sports in America” and implementing the “flipped classroom” at the annual conference of the National Council of Social Studies in DC.

    NCSS Conference

    Rodney ReddRodney Redd was named athletic director at Charlottesville High School, bringing broad experience as an athletic director, coach, and teacher.  Welcome!

    Our adult education programs were featured in a nice piece in the latest edition of the Virgnia Foundation for the Humanities’ magazine

    In November, the Special Education Advisory Committee hosted a community discussion about how to prepare your child for “Life After High School, Now.”

    Hour of CodeAcross the division, Charlottesville Schools participated in the international Hour of Code, a event designed to expose students to computer programming. Charlottesville Schools has extensive and growing support to help students learn to code.

    At its fall conference, the Virginia Board of Education honored Charlottesville City Schools for receiving a 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Award.

  • The Zero Robotics programming team of the CHS BACON science club has coded their way to the top (again). At the end of round three of the competition, the team finished #2 (US) and #4 (world). For round four, they are partnered with teams from the UK and Australia. Good luck!

    CHS’s pilot of a “double robot” allows student Ashton Ryan to attend his math class from home. Thanks to Ashton for working with us to see if this technology would be a good solution for students in the hospital or with other situations that keep them out of school. In addition to Charlottesville Tomorrow (see first link), NBC29 featured the story.

    BasketballBasketball season’s underway, and the boys’ and girls’ teams are off to a strong start. In the first game of the season, Alaijah Ragland reached the rare milestone of scoring more than 1000 points in her high school career; she was also named Schewels Athlete of the Week.

    Signs of unity and appreciation:  Link Crew, the CHS mentoring program, created a “Wall of Thanks” for students & staff. Click here to see a few of their notes.  And the “Becoming a Global Citizen” class created a unity display of posters reminding students that “we are black, white, Muslim, Christian,” (and more), and “we are unified, Americans, together, Black Knights.”

    Piano StudentsPiano students enjoyed a workshop with sixteen-year-old prodigy Matt Savage. Savage, who is on the autism spectrum, has toured the world and performed for heads of state. Thanks to the Charlottesville Jazz Society for the opportunity!

    The CHS marketing and finance department hosted a panel discussion with Union Bank reps to discuss financial planning as part of their EverFi programs. Students Maia Shortridge and Dyshe Smith and spoke as part of the event.

    Literacy Conference

    At this year’s one-act play conference and Virginia Theatre Association conference, Theatre CHS earned a variety of awards. Emma Strock was honored as “best actress” at the former, and at the latter, Elliot Craft got a nod for best actor, Patrick O’Shea earned 1st and 2nd in costume and scene design. CHS earned a shout-out for sound/music design, placed 2nd in Improvathon, and won an honorable mention for best one-act play for “The 39 Steps.” Finally, all six seniors earned college callbacks. You can see “The 39 Steps” at CHS from 12/9-11.

    Congratulations to the CHS football team, who ended their season in the regional semi-finals, after earning their first home play-off game in more than a decade.  Sabias Folley (for both offense and defense), Trejon Bryant,  Rakeem Davis, Larry Henderson,  Lorenzo Louderback, and Shandon Pritchett earned first-team all-conference honors. Davis was also named Falcon Club Player of the Week in November.

    Senior NightThe volleyball team also qualified for the play-offs, and both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams qualified for regionals.


    Environmental ScienceEnvironmental science students at CHS have been busy, whether they are heading outside to do water testing in McIntire Park or analyzing the data of for the energy gained from the school’s solar panels.

    Mr. Bullock’s history students “visited” the Great Wall of China thanks to Google Virtual Reality, while Mr. Deegan’s students explored history by way of Broadway, examining lyrics from Hamilton.


    Coding ArtistsArt students have been using scratch programming to add sound  to their art.  Does that maken them enginartists?

    Kibiriti Majuto ’17 was featured in an article in The Atlantic, titled “The Refugee who Became Class President.” Kibiriti is a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and serves as the CHS senior class president, among other leadership roles in the school and community.

    The CHS choir sang the national anthem at the last home (regular season) football game, and the Sirens (an all-female a cappella group) sang at U.Va.’s annual Lighting of the Lawn. In addition, the band performed at the City’s Veterans Day celebration.

    Writing Lab

    Need help writing a paper?  You’re in luck, because there is now a student-run CHS writing lab operating during lunch hours.

    CATEC students continue their successful launch of their new CISCO partnership for IT certification. Culinary students also held their annual Thanksgiving fundraiser, offering pies and other holiday dishes, and nursing students hosted a blood drive.

  • Award Winning ArtEighth-grader Marco Lopez won the middle-school category of the Charlottesville Public Works’ “Imagine a Day without Water” art contest. Congratulations!

    Seventh-graders were able to enjoy a performance “Black Angels Over Tuskegee” at the Paramount Theatre, telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.

    Volunteering at Johnson ElementaryThe waiting list is long for Buford students who want to spend their lunch going to neighboring Johnson Elementary to help young friends read. The weekly program is so popular that a once-per-quarter limit has been implemented for Buford students.

    Buford students explored a wide variety of futures on career day, with visits from more than 20 professionals ranging from video game programmer, radio talk host, police officer, lawyers, real estate agent, human resource officer, public relations staffer, UVA softball coach, former pro athlete, ACAC fitness trainer, and even a UVA scientist who brought in some human brains!  Thanks to all who offered their time.

    Career Day

    Veteran's DayBuford students celebrated Veterans Day three ways. Civics students attend Veterans’ Day events at the Jefferson School African American History Center.  The school held a program with area vets who shared their stories of military service. And the band performed in the celebrations at Highland.

    The National Junior Honor Society was able to attend the Charlottesville TedEx program in November, exploring the “Power of One,” which happens to be the Buford group’s theme, as well.  How will you be the one to stand up for others?

    Walker and Buford students in the schools’ Stage Left Theatre are preparing for their family-friendly winter production of Beauty & the Beast, which has been rescheduled for January 24 at 6:30pm at Walker.  Break a leg!

    Colonial DayHistory students in sixth grade enjoyed a colonial market activity.  As seen in the photo, Connecticut offered maple syrup, apple cider, and smiles.

    Walker teachers prove that it’s not all-work-and-no-play. Prior to the Thanksgiving Break, they offered a staff talent show for students, ranging from music to comedy. Outside, the students showed their own talents by conquering some obstacle course-like challenges set up by the Charlottesville Police Department.

    Peace SquadThe Walker Peace Squad hit the road to all six Charlottesville elementary schools, presenting their own adaptation of the award-winning picture book One.  After their play, Walker students led their elementary friends in a discussion of the book and ways to stand up for kindness in their schools. Continuing the theme of kindness, back at Walker, students and teachers celebrated a wacky, tacky dress-up day to show that it’s wacky to be mean.

    Walker School’s annual Bingo Night included some new faces — the school invited future Walker families to join in the fun.

    Functional Skills Winter ProjectStudents in the functional skills classroom have started a small business called Hands-On greeting cards. They make and sell cards for holidays, birthdays, and general notes.

    Green-Roof Design

    Walker students have been hanging out with U.Va. athletes lately, including tickets to the November 21  women’s basketball game, for which Walker students designed the team’s warm-up gear and participated in half-time activities.

  • Future CheerleadersThe first-ever all-elementary tailgate was a success.  Their cuteness and cheers propelled the CHS football team to a big win. Thanks to the Burnley-Moran PTO for organizing the event.

    Second-graders across the division enjoyed their annual field trip to Monticello, filled with history, beauty, gardens, and even math.  Visiting Monticello’s “edible laboratory,” students guessed the weights of pumpkins, recorded weather, and tasted fennel.


    Monticello Magic

    Thanks to a partnership with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, students in the after-school CLASS program have new, fun options for staying on the move and healthy, as profiled by the Newsplex.

    Lettuce Science ExperimentAs part of the new iSTEM program, third-grade engineers in every school designed, built, and are testing frost-covers for their schools’ lettuce plants. Who can keep their lettuce healthy this winter?

    Students from Burnley-Moran, Johnson, and Venable went to see a national production of “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” at the Paramount Theater.

    Garden Experiment at BMEBurnley-Moran students used their garden for both history and science this fall. Kindergartners studied “long ago” by “hunting” with arrows made with the garden’s corn cobs (using baskets as targets).  First graders boiled cabbage leaves to see how adding either a base or an acid will change the color of the purple cabbage water to either blue or red.

    Cookie MulitplicationClark third-grade bakers practiced their math skills twice, by measuring ingredients and then laying out the cookies in even rows for multiplication practice.  Students also held their own Thanksgiving Day parade (with floats) after reading Balloons Over Broadway.


    Food DriveGreenbrier students collected 1,199 cans of food for the Salvation Army, and students have been watching the progress of their new garden shed’s living roof.  All that’s left is the planting! Thanks to City Schoolyard Garden and volunteers!

    Jackson-Via welcomed Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe to lunch in recognition its school-wide free & reduced lunch program.  And the school celebrated  “Family Harvest Day,” sharing fifteen pounds of kale, lettuce, and baby spinach from their garden with families, students, and teachers.

    International DayJohnson hosted a number of special events, from an art workshop hosted by the Embassy of Oman, to their annual International Day celebration honoring their students’ varied backgrounds, to a kindergarten and pre-k soup supper, and a Thanksgiving pow-wow with kindergarten-aged native Americans.  Plus, the students earned a school-wide dance party by earning so many compliments!

    Working TogetherAs part of their celebration of International Education Week, Venable students practiced saying hello non-verbally in the style of different cultures.  And then they made a mannequin challenge to document those greeting poses! Venable students have also been using their voices (singing the national anthem for UVA women’s soccer), their hands (making useful objects out of gourds from the garden), and their ears and eyes (finding matches during bingo night).

  • Double Robot DemonstrationAt their November meeting, the Board voted to renew Dr. Atkins’ contract as superintendent.  They heard updates on the long-term facilities planning, reviewed key measures of academic success, and learned about the process for developing the school division’s 2017-2023 strategic plan (see Superintendent’s letter, above for ways to get involved).  They also participated in a demo of the school division’s piloting of a “double robot” system to allow students to attend class virtually.  In their December meeting, the Board discussed a possible raise to the rates of the CLASS program’s summer program, possible new course additions at CHS for 2017-18, a draft of the 2017-18 school calendar, and more.

    • 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
  • CATEC New LabsUpcoming events include:

    • CHS Holiday Pops Concert, 12/8, 7pm, MLKPAC
    • Multiple elementary concerts, 12/13 (Burnley-Moran’s is on 12/15)
    • CATEC Open House, 12/14, 5pm
    • Multi-School (Walker, Buford, CHS) Band Concert, 12/14. Walker beginner band at Walker at 6:30pm; the other Walker, Buford, CHS bands will be at MLKPAC at 7:30pm
    • Engineering Expo at Buford (for current and future students & families), 12/15, 6pm
    • Winter Break and Teacher Workday, 12/19 through Monday, 1/2
    • Classes resume, Tuesday, 1/3
    • School Board Meeting, 1/5, 5pm, CHS Media Center
    • CHS Curriculum Fair, 1/10,  5-7, CHS Atrium
    • Community Budget Presentation, 1/10, 5:30pm, CHS Media Center
    • No School for Martin Luther King Day, 1/16
    • End of 2nd Quarter, 1/20
    • CHS Orchestra presents Peter and the Wolf, 1/21,  3pm, MLKPAC
    • No School for Teacher Workday, 1/23
    • Stage Left Theater presents Beauty and the Beast, 1/24, 6:30pm, Walker Auditorium
    • Community Strategic Plan Listening Session (open to all), 1/25, 7pm, CHS
    • Buford offers Parent University, 1/26, 6pm

    Curious about next year’s calendar? Review the draft!

    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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