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November 2015 News & Highlights

CCS Superintendent Message HEADER- a publication from Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

November 20, 2015

Dear families—Award-winning CHS yearbook and newspaper staff. Image courtesy of Amanda Haynes '16

For my column this month, I want to invite you to give several types of feedback:

  • We’d like to hear from you about our schedule for the 2016-17 school year.
  • We invite you to customize how you receive weather notifications.
  • And we’re considering the possibility of having a once-a-month, one-hour delay at Charlottesville High School.

Read below to learn more about these topics so that we can hear from you.

As we head into Thanksgiving and the holiday season, I wish you peace and joy!

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

  • Schedule for the 2016-17 School Year

    A draft of next year’s school calendar has been posted to our web site so you can review it and submit feedback. The calendar committee is made up of representatives from parents, teachers, principals, and administrators from both the City and County, since we use a common calendar. Thanks in advance for your input!

    Pine tree with ice

    Snow-Day Notifications

    If you would like to receive notifications about early morning closings or delays, you can log in to PowerSchool to enroll (find instructions on our website).

    Choose from telephone, email, or text messages — all typically come about 5:30am when there is a weather announcement.  If you do not sign up for early morning messages, you can check our web site, social media, the phone line at 245-2401, or traditional media.

    If we are able to make a weather-related decision the evening before, all families will be notified in the same way(s) that they receive other school announcements. (To customize how you receive messages, follow those same instructions on our website.)

    High schoolers read with Venable friends


    Possible Once-a-Month Delayed Start Time at CHS

    The School Board is considering the possibility of having a once-a-month, one-hour delayed start for Charlottesville High School students. This would give staff members who teach the same subject time to meet together for planning and collaboration.  (At CHS, it is impossible to create a schedule where educators who teach the same subject have a joint planning period. Conflicts before school, during lunch, and after school make such collaboration challenging and irregular.) To learn more about this proposal or offer feedback about it, please visit the CHS web site.

  • Students working on science projectSchools will be closed from Wednesday-Friday, 11/25-28, for Thanksgiving. We hope you enjoy the holiday!

    Once again, 100 percent of Charlottesville Schools are fully accredited for the 2015-16 school year; we’re one of only 37 divisions state-wide to attain this.  We are pleased that our schools perform so well on the SOLs, but recognize that standardized testing is only one small glimpse into the good work our students and teachers do.

    Nominate a teacher for the Golden Apple Teaching Award! Applications and information are available here.  Return the forms to your principal by February 4.

    We have posted an update about our plans to extend the school day for students who need extra assistance with literacy.  In December, we will begin working with teachers to share plans and get feedback about the program. The web update provides a timeline for implementation and additional details about a typical day (for grades 1-4, ending at 4pm). To learn more, please read this update.

    Books on Bikes with author Brian SelznickCongratulations to the Books on Bikes team, who presented at the national meeting of the American Association of School Librarians. Thanks for reaching out to readers in our community, and thanks for spreading this good idea nationally! (Read their blog post about the experience here.)

  • A surprise jam session with the Stevie Wonder Band? Regional success for band and orchestra? Performing at state conferences for school boards and music professionals? Awards for both theatre and visual artists?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes. It’s been a busy & successful month for our fine & performing artists and their teachers. Find more pictures and information here!

    CHS science club BACON celebrating 2nd place in the world with pizzaRanked #2 worldwide, the CHS science club BACON (Best All-around Club of Nerds) is moving on to the next round of the Zero Robotics programming competition sponsored by MIT, NASA, the ESA, and others. When they’re not programming (virtual) satellites in space, they’re visiting nuclear power plants or just having fun with ooblek.

    The CHS debate team hosted the Virginia Catholic Forensics League’s first regional tournament of the year, attracting 150 students from public and private schools. In the “public forum” event,  Mollie Pepper and Ellen Yates finished 1st (and qualified for states), and  Caton Yang and Josh Press-Williams finished 2nd. Additionally, first-time competitors Luke Critzer and Ben Molina contributed to a 4th place overall finish!  Good luck with the rest of your season, team!

    CHS Choir takes a break while representing the school at the Virginia School Boards Association conference

    Collage of tenth-grade English classes' gallery talksThe Chain Yearbook and The Knight Time Review newspaper both won 2nd place at the VHSL Regional Publication Championships in October. (See the staff photo from the conference at the top of this page.)

    Tenth-graders at CHS gave gallery talks to teachers, administrators, School Board and City Council members, and fellow students about their proposals to change a policy at the school or in the city. The project — to research, think critically, and propose solutions for local issues– is part of CHS English classes.

    Eleven CHS students attended the Jobs for Virginia Graduates Student Leadership Conference  in Richmond, making connections with peers and hearing from state leaders.

    Student athletes being crownedField hockey player Emily Blow earned 2nd team regional honors and captain Caroline Clark was named the Newsplex’s Student Athlete of the Week. Conference 23 volleyball honors went to Grace Tanner (1st team) and Ellie Bright (2nd team) with honorable mentions for Annmarie Barfield, Jane Scott, and  Jenna Warren.  In other sports news, the planned YMCA facility at McIntire Park will be the home to the CHS swim team beginning in 2017.

    The Garden-to-Market class at CHS was featured by NBC 29 for its growing program.

    Garden-to-market class at CHS working in the gardenCATEC culinary students are completing their popular Thanksgiving fundraiser, offering pies and other seasonal side dishes.

    Students from CHS and other Cville Schools participated in the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council’s annual Tech Tour, visiting businesses and labs that showcase innovative uses of technology.

    High schoolers from the AVID program and from the alternative program at Lugo-McGinness Academy have been reading with young friends at Burnley-Moran, Clark, and Venable.

  • Students greeting servicepeople after the Veterans Day programBuford students celebrated Veterans Day two ways. The Buford Band was invited to perform in a ceremony at James Monroe’s home, Ash Lawn-Highland.  And the school hosted its annual student-led program featuring performances, readings of their own reflections, and remarks from veterans in our community.  This year, the school’s own Mr. Scott was the main speaker.

    Buford held a  “Mix-it-up Lunch” Day to encourage students to make new friends and reach beyond their current social circles.

    Buford Orchestra Fall ConcertThe Buford Orchestra — with special guests, the CHS String Ensemble– kicked off the Charlottesville Schools fall and winter concert season.

    Buford’s AVID program held an induction ceremony at which it recognized members who made the honor roll or had perfect attendance.  The AVID program teaches study skills and college prep, primarily for students who are blazing a trail for their families to attend college.

    Teachers and administrators dressing as characters from the Wizard of Oz for HalloweenA number of Buford teachers and administrators set a literary and friendly tone for Halloween by dressing as characters from the Wizard of Oz.

    Walker students will enjoy a school-wide field trip on December 8 to see a daytime game when the Virginia women’s basketball team hosts Bowling Green.

    Walker students celebrated Unity Day by wearing orange to emphasize their commitment to kindness and inclusion.  And under the leadership of the Peace Squad, they observed “Please and Thank You Day” — all week long! They expressed their appreciation to teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and possibly even their own parents.

    Collage of Fall into Reading night with students and teachers dressing up as literary characters

    Walker’s AVID program sponsored a Fall into Reading night at the end of October with costumes, activities, U.Va. women’s basketball players, and more.  At Walker, AVID is a school-wide emphasis that encourages college readiness in all students.

    Students with Please and Thank you signs for  Please and Thank You DayWalker will host an information session for the families of rising 5th-graders on December 1 from 6:30-7:30pm in the Walker auditorium.  This meeting is in addition to the spring tours and open house.

  • Clark's group of Girls on the RunWalker will host an information session for the families of current 4th-graders on December 1 from 6:30-7:30pm in the Walker auditorium.  This meeting is in addition to the spring tours and open house.

    Elementary students across the division enjoyed Read for the Record, sort of a “Big Read” little ones.  Schools hosted guest readers and special activities. Football players and basketball stars from U.Va. came out, and students from Walker Upper Elementary and Lugo-McGinness Academy spent some time reading with younger students.

    Running clubs at the elementaries participated in the Girls on the Run Celebration 5K.

    Students at many schools have also made field trips to U.Va.’s Fralin Museum of Art, to check out the exhibition of artworks featured in this year’s Writer’s Eye competition.  Other students visited the City Services Fair on the Downtown Mall to learn more about community helpers.

    Burnley-Moran students visit the Newsplex

    Students dressed up for International Day at JohnsonESL students from Burnley-Moran made a field trip to see Travis Koshco at the Newsplex.

    Clark students hosted their annual Veterans Day event, with guest veterans, poetry-writing exercises, and time to examine Civil War artifacts.

    Greenbrier has been busy, with a successful reading night (including a staff skit bringing Tacky the Penguin to life), lots of field trips, and a Thanksgiving lunch. They also surpassed their food drive goal, collecting 1,298 canned items

    Collage of Teachers' Theatre presents Tacky the Penguin at Greenbrier​​​​​​​

    After school at Jackson-Via: Local Food Hub treats- kids grabbing applesJackson-Via students enjoyed their Farm-to-School local food tastings so much that the Local Food Hub came back and visited the CLASS after-school program, bringing cider, apples, and greens with  dressings — all local!

    Johnson hosted two special events this month — one featured the Harlem Globetrotters and the other, simply globetrotters.  The school hosted its annual International Day featuring food, clothes, music, and more in displays representing the students’ heritage.

    Trick or Read... and Math at Venable- students and teachers with paper on the floorAt Venable’s fourth annual “Trick or Read…. and Math,” students and parents visited classrooms to hear staff members read stories and to play family math games.  Students had treat bags to collect reading- and math-related prizes.  The children’s librarian from Gordon Avenue was there to promote the library, and CHS students helped serve dinner.

  • Mr. Juan Wade speaking at podiumAt their November 5 meeting, the School Board recognized Dr. Rosa Atkins, superintendent, and Mr. Juan Wade, School Board member and former chair, for their statewide leadership.  Dr. Atkins is serving as president of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, and Mr. Wade is concluding a term as president of the Virginia School Boards Association.  The Board also discussed the possibility of approving a once-a-month, one-hour delayed start at CHS to facilitate teacher collaboration. (See details, above).  In addition, they discussed the draft Program of Study for 2016-17, the possibility of adding a student representative to the School Board, and the document that outlines the division’s key measures of priorities.

    • For more 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 (search for Charlottesville City Schools).

  • CHS String Ensemble performing by invitation at the Virginia Music Educators Association annual meetingUpcoming events include:

    Fall and winter performances — please join us!  A full listing is available here.

    • ​​​​​​​November 25-27, Thanksgiving Break
    • December 1, First home basketball games, 6pm (girls), and 7:30pm (boys)
    • December 3, School Board Meeting at CHS Media Center, 5pm
    • December 21-January 1, Winter Break (school resumes January 4)

    Remember that you can subscribe to our Google calendar of school holidays (division-wide) 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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