Hillsboro Charter Academy Names Interim Principal

The Hillsboro Charter Academy Board of Directors has appointed veteran educator and Middleburg resident Craig Mueller to lead the public charter elementary school through the remainder of the school year. Mueller, who has held positions as a middle school assistant principal, high school principal, and Montessori School campus director, served as educational consultant to Middleburg Community Charter School in 2014/2015.

“The board of directors is very pleased to bring Craig in to lead our faculty, staff and scholars through the end of this school year,” said Board President Rebecca Baldwin Fuller. “We are confident he will continue to build upon the strong foundation created by our outstanding team at Hillsboro Charter Academy.”

Mueller replaces Dr. Virginia Minshew, a long-time Loudoun principal who has been serving as the school’s temporary, part-time interim principal during the extended leave of absence of Principal Trisha Ybarra-Peters—who subsequently resigned her position in February. Dr. Minshew, who had a prior commitment to assume another temporary position at the end of March, will work with Mueller as he steps into the position. The Hillsboro Charter Academy Board has initiated a nationwide search for a permanent principal who will be hired before the start of the 2017/2018 school year.

Mueller, a Virginia native who grew up in Vienna, holds a Masters Degree of Education from New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University and a Bachelor’s of Arts from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He was principal at New Ipswich, New Hampshire’s Mascenic High School from 2001 to 2010 before becoming campus director at Chantilly’s Boyd Montessori School in October 2011. He has been a member of the Middleburg Community Charter School board of directors for three years.




Catoctin Elementary Students Launch Drive To Fill Care Packages for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Fourth graders from Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg are collecting care package items for Team Mathias. The care packages will be given to pediatric cancer patients and their families. The donation drive began on Monday, March 13, and will run through Thursday, April 6.
 
At the February 28 Leesburg Town Council Meeting, six students asked the Town Council for permission to place collection boxes at the Leesburg Town Hall and Ida Lee Park Recreation Center. In making their request, the students explained that the care packages cheer up kids undergoing treatment for cancer and help get their minds off their treatments. The care packages include items for all members of the family, even pets. Fourth grade teacher Sara Webber coordinated the student’s efforts.
 
The Town Council enthusiastically supported the students’ effort and praised their efforts. “I want to congratulate you and thank you for what you are doing,” said Kelly Burk, Leesburg’s Mayor. “I know it’s not easy to get up and speak.”
 
Donation boxes are located at the Leesburg Town Hall, Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building, Catoctin Elementary School, J.L. Simpson Middle School and Loudoun County High School.  Items being collected include coloring books, crayons, markers, playing cards, word puzzle books, Sudoku books, gift cards, fleece blankets, travel size games, Legos, books and toys.
 
For more information about Team Mathias and their care package program, visit www.teammathias.org.




John Champe High School Wind Ensemble Will Perform at National Festival

John Champe High School Wind Ensemble from Aldie has been invited to perform at the 2017 Music for All National Festival, the nation’s most prestigious festival for school instrumental music ensemble. The 26th annual Festival will take place in Indianapolis, March 9 through March 11 and come from 33 states.

JCHS Wind Ensemble is under the direction of Jonathan Phillip and was selected to perform by a panel of music educators by recorded audition.
Music for All is one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations advocating in support of music education. The Music for All National Festival is comprised of the National Concert Band Festival, Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival, Middle School National Music Festival, Chamber Music National Festival and three national honor ensembles: The Honor Band of America, the Jazz Band of America, and the Honor Orchestra of America.

The goal of the John Champe band is to “Build Community and Musicianship.” In five years, the band program has grown to serve 230 students at JCHS. The program supports three concert bands, percussion ensemble, Marching Knights, JCHS winter guard, the John Champe pep band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, and various small ensembles. They perform at competitions throughout Maryland and Virginia and have become a staple in the Middleburg Christmas Parade.

The concert programs have also seen great success. The JCHS Wind Ensemble was part of a performance clinic at the 2015 Virginia Music Educators Conference. This professional development conference in Norfolk helps music educators learn new techniques and focus on best practices in music education. The Knights have thrice earned Virginia Honor Band and had nineteen students successfully audition into All District Band this year.

JCHS Wind Ensemble is one of 59 high school and middle school concert band and percussion ensembles from across the nation selected to perform at the 2017 Festival. They will perform in concert, be evaluated by renowned music educators and participate in master classes and special events. Festival and tickets are available at www.musicforall.org/festival or by calling 800 848-2263.




John Champe High School Wind Ensemble Will Perform at National Festival

John Champe High School Wind Ensemble from Aldie has been invited to perform at the 2017 Music for All National Festival, the nation’s most prestigious festival for school instrumental music ensemble. The 26th annual Festival will take place in Indianapolis, March 9 through March 11 and come from 33 states.

JCHS Wind Ensemble is under the direction of Jonathan Phillip and was selected to perform by a panel of music educators by recorded audition.

Music for All is one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations advocating in support of music education. The Music for All National Festival is comprised of the National Concert Band Festival, Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival, Middle School National Music Festival, Chamber Music National Festival and three national honor ensembles: The Honor Band of America, the Jazz Band of America, and the Honor Orchestra of America.

The goal of the John Champe band is to “Build Community and Musicianship.” In five years, the band program has grown to serve 230 students at JCHS. The program supports three concert bands, percussion ensemble, Marching Knights, JCHS winter guard, the John Champe pep band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, and various small ensembles. They perform at competitions throughout Maryland and Virginia and have become a staple in the Middleburg Christmas Parade.

The concert programs have also seen great success. The JCHS Wind Ensemble was part of a performance clinic at the 2015 Virginia Music Educators Conference. This professional development conference in Norfolk helps music educators learn new techniques and focus on best practices in music education. The Knights have thrice earned Virginia Honor Band and had nineteen students successfully audition into All District Band this year.

JCHS Wind Ensemble is one of 59 high school and middle school concert band and percussion ensembles from across the nation selected to perform at the 2017 Festival. They will perform in concert, be evaluated by renowned music educators and participate in master classes and special events. Festival and tickets are available at www.musicforall.org/festival or by calling 800-848-2263.




Hillsboro Charter Academy Accepting Applicants For Board Of Directors

Hillsboro Charter Academy, Loudoun County’s new community-run, non-profit public charter school, is seeking directors to join its governing board. The tuition-free public charter elementary school, open to children from across Loudoun County, offers a hands-on learning environment where Project Base Learning focuses on the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) disciplines.

Hillsboro Charter Academy’s mission includes the commitment to “being a small community-run school of choice for the children of Loudoun County where students are nurtured as individual in a hands-on learning environment with lessons designed to enhance problem solving, critical thinking and collaborative learning.”

The school’s current all-volunteer Board of Directors is expanding from nine to 11 members. “The new members,” according to Board President Rebecca Baldwin Fuller, “will have an opportunity to help shape the exciting future of this fledgling school, which has already had a significant impact with its unique and innovative academic setting.” Fuller said the Board is seeking new members with business management skills and fundraising knowledge and experience in the area of non-profit or educational institutions.
Monthly meetings, with additional committee membership and participation in special projects are anticipated for all members of the Board of Directors.

Letters of interest with a resume should be submitted to the attention of Board President Fuller either via email at HillsboroCharter@gmail.com or by mail to:

Hillsboro Charter Academy
Board of Directors
37110 Charles Town Pike
Hillsboro, VA 20132




BRMS Brings Joseph’s Technicolor Dreams To Loudoun Audiences

What do you get when you combine a simple and timeless tale of love, betrayal and redemption … a rock legend named Elvis … a boy with the power to interpret dreams … and local children exploring their delightfully unguarded dramatic abilities under an award winning director?

Find out by attending any one of seven upcoming performances of Blue Ridge Middle School’s production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – produced by Dolly Stevens, sponsored by the BRMS PTO and running February 24 through March 5.

With captivating characters such as Joseph and brothers Reuben, Simeon and Judah – and songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber – Technicolor Dreamcoat is a drama-lover’s work of art, a concert piece that over the years has evolved into a celebrated musical.

As Stevens relates it, Webber wanted to use a lot of musical styles in Dreamcoat – including country western, calypso, rock and roll, French bistro and everything in between.

With masterful choreography, and wonderful costumes and sets, the production will be nothing if not visually stunning and thoroughly professional.  Stevens wanted a pit band, for example … and she got it, through a rare combination of professionals and student musicians.

All the children will, as always, steal the show. Hailing from Blue Ridge Middle School and four different local elementary schools, there are 48 BRMS students and 12 younger students in the production.

Stevens gives a big shout out to Jacquelyn Volker, costume designer and Greg Powell, set designer. As a parent, Powell had such positive past experiences with BRMS, that he wanted to help again, said Stevens. Gretchen Lamb is returning for her second year as the production’s choreographer. Also involved the production is Catina Anderson – photographer, part of the scenic crew and assisting with the choreography. Notably, each production crew is also staffed with parents who have volunteered to help pull the show together.

“Parents are an integral part of the process, and I could not do what I do without them,” said Stevens. “In requiring the parents to be involved behind the scenes … it becomes a shared memory.”

Including 10 National Youth Awards, accolades that recognize dramatic excellence in youth as well as the adults who work with them. In this category, Stevens shares with her students a National Youth Award for Best Ensemble, a National Youth Award for Best Leading and Supporting Actors and a National Youth Award for Outstanding Production.

“The diversity of the music, the many elements, attracted me to this show,” said Stevens. “There are some who take a simplified approach to producing a middle school musical … but I am not one of them.”

Thank you Dolly – ahead of time – for the dramatic beauty you bring to Loudoun County, and thank you, kids for the sweet star power we’ll all enjoy in your upcoming production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Performance & Admission Details: Tickets can be purchased on-line at http:/brms.ticketleap.com/joe. Or e-mail BRMSplay@gmail.com. On-line ticket sales will close at midnight the night before each show. Tickets are $10 for all ages. Fri., Feb. 24 and Sat. Feb. 25 at 7:30 PM, Sun. Feb. 26 at 2:30 PM; Fri., Mar. 3 at 7:30, Sat. Mar. 4 at 2:30 and 7:30 PM, Sun. Mar. 5 at 2:30 PM (the final show).

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Emerick Elementary Nominated As a National Blue Ribbon School

Emerick Elementary has been nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program was established in 1982 to honor America’s most successful schools. Emerick is one of seven 2017 Virginia nominees for this award. The Virginia Department of Education selects nominees based on the eligibility criteria required by the United States Department of Education. “High performing” is defined by the superintendent of each state, but at a minimum means: Performance for all tested students in both reading and mathematics must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state. For each of the school’s subgroups, the performance of all tested students in reading and mathematics must be in the top 40 percent of all schools in the state. Emerick now begins an application process that will end when the Secretary of Education announces the Blue Ribbon honorees in September.

The last Loudoun County Public Schools to receive the Blue Ribbon designation was Belmont Station Elementary in 2011. Other LCPS schools that have received this award include Meadowland Elementary (2003), Leesburg Elementary (2005) and Lincoln Elementary (2010).




Woodgrove Celebrates National Education Week

The Woodgrove High School Class Councils and Student Council sponsored various events during the week of November 14 to celebrate American Education Week.

During the week prior, the student body was invited to nominate teachers in the building to be recognized as Educator Idols. Over 1,000 students wrote positive and encouraging statements. These notes of praise and thanks were delivered to the staff members on Thursday, November 17 — Ms. Bingaman and Mr. Welsh were selected as the most popular instructors.

Adults were asked to nominate up to three students to be recognized at the first-ever Hard Work (Honor and Strive) Cafe. The efforts of over 85 students were recognized. The honored Wolverines were given the opportunity to come to the Aux Gym during DENtime on Monday, November 14 and hang out with their classmates for the block, enjoy some great 80s tunes, and get nourishment from the drinks and snacks that were provided. Each student was presented with a certificate showcasing his or her diligent efforts.

Both the students and the adults nominated songs to be played over the public-address system between classes and during lunch shifts all week long. The students heard classic rock hits from Lynyrd Skynyrd, more recent tunes from One Direction, and even some movie soundtrack clips from Star Wars. In all, Woodgrove enjoyed over three hours (62 songs!) during the week. The clear overall most-requested song of the week was “Closer” by The Chainsmokers, and the top genre was “early-90s chart toppers”.

As American Education Week continued, the school enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner for Lunch on Wednesday, November 16 with 55 adults. Faculty and staff members were invited to assist in the kitchen as Celebrity Servers throughout the week during the lunch shifts. From math and PE teachers to Special Education experts, many joined in the fun. Along the way, many things were learned, too, about the preparation of the food that’s served each day in the cafeteria. The surprise on many students’ faces was visible each day as new adults were assisting in dishing out entrees and sides.

The entire week of celebrations and recognitions was a huge success due to the planning and execution of the Community Service Committee of the Student Council, led by Director Derek Shockey, with the support of the administrative team. The week came to a close as each of the nearly 200 adults in the building were given a huge, blue foam hand and encouraged to give out as many high fives as they could before school and during class changes on Friday.




Schools Start New Year with Great Enthusiasm

Loudoun County’s public schools — approximately 90 in all – opened for the Fall 2016 semester on Aug. 29. Some 78,000 students will be in attendance this year. And, although it’s hard to give up the flip-flops for pencils and notebooks, students and teachers seem equally anxious to get the new year going.

LCPS Website: The LCPS website, www.loudoun.k12.va.us has a wealth of information on it. It includes a Student Rights & Responsibilities paper, links to the School Board’s Policy Manual, the LCPS School Profiles report, registration requirements, medical information, and more. The site also has fun feature articles and videos about students’ summer achievements, such as golf championships, conservation projects, writing campaigns, and food drives.

School holiday schedule: After Labor Day: Oct. 10, Columbus Day; Nov. 23-25, Thanksgiving; Dec. 22-Jan. 2, Winter Break; Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Day; Feb. 20, Presidents’ Day; April 10-14, Spring Break; May 29, Memorial Day; June 9, Last Day of School.

Safety First
Over the next few weeks Sheriff’s deputies will be strictly enforcing speed and other traffic regulations around local schools. Sheriff Chapman also offers these safety tips for students, parents and drivers:

  • In walk-to-school neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of kids to school. Make sure children know the route, and wear bright colored clothing. Pay attention and always use crosswalks.
  • If riding your bicycle, always wear a helmet, ride on the right (same direction as traffic), use appropriate hand signals, respect traffic lights/stop signs, wear bright colored clothing, and ditch the headphones/cell phones while riding.
  • For motorists – Make sure every passenger wears a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat, ditch the headphones/cell phones while driving, slow down and obey all traffic laws, and be alert for school zones. Watch for school buses, and stop when state law requires you to do so.

Students:

  • Always buckle up when riding in a car, remove your backpack, and take the back seat – it’s the safest place for young people.?3 If you ride a school bus, learn and practice the safety rules for waiting at the stop, getting on and off, and riding the bus. Never wait for the school bus in the roadway.
  • If you walk to school, use a sidewalk when available, look left-right-left when crossing the road, always walk facing traffic, and always obey traffic signs/lights and crossing guard instructions.?3 If you drive to school, avoid speeding and distractions such as texting, cell phones, eating, and adjusting the radio. Don’t overload your vehicle (everyone in a vehicle must use a safety belt). Be a good role model for your younger brothers, sisters, and friends by helping them learn and follow vehicle safety rules.

Locally – Woodgrove
Woodgrove is a good example of how high schools get started on the 2016–2017 school year. Over the summer, several dozen students and others took a break in their vacation to vote on a student theme for the year (“Cherish Today, Challenge Tomorrow”), hang up “Welcome Back!” signs, update bulletin boards, and paint hall directional signs. The Homecoming theme was set for 2016: “Vacations of a Lifetime,” with the four classes zeroing in on their own take on that: Seniors – Camping Adventure, Juniors – Beach Break, Sophomores – Island Getaway, and Freshmen – Cruise Excursion. Homecoming at Woodgrove is Oct. 2-8.

Education And Growth Outside Of School
Financial literacy is a big buzz word these days. The State of Virginia requires high school students to complete a financial and economic literacy course to get a Standard or Advanced Studies diploma. And, other organizations are getting into the act, too, combining financial literacy with the technological tools students and parents need to spark entrepreneurship, instill the values of saving and investing, and earn a little money in the neighborhood.

One such business is something called Leap Street of Loudoun County. With the tagline “Start earning money helping neighbors doing what you love,” the group is new, but like the students and teachers entering the new school year … it comes on the scene with lots of enthusiasm. Leap Street has 30 students signed up now – connected to and providing various services to 50 neighbors, and learning a little financial literacy along the way. Says Robin Greene, founder and managing director of Leap Street, “Success stories are already starting to come in.” For more information about Leap Street, go to www.leapstreet.org.

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Board of Education Schedules Hearings on Four Projects in Early Development

The Virginia Board of Education is seeking community input during a series of public hearings this summer as it examines how best to prepare students for academic and career success. The public hearings will focus on the following topics:

  • Development of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, including changes to high school graduation requirements;
  • Implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Virginia’s accountability system;
  • Recommendations regarding the Standards of Quality (SOQ); and
  • Identifying needs of public education for inclusion in the board’s comprehensive plan.

“Families, educators and community members have an opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions with us during several public hearings across Virginia this summer,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples. “These priority projects are still in the development stage, so input from the public will help us craft specific plans for success and accountability.”

The dates and locations of the public hearings are:

Thursday, July 14 — Manassas; 6:30 p.m.
Osbourn High School (Auditorium); 9005 Tudor Lane; Manassas, VA 20110

Tuesday, July 19 — Williamsburg-James City County; 6:30 p.m.
Lafayette High School (Auditorium; 4460 Longhill Road; Williamsburg, VA 23188

Wednesday, August 24 — Abingdon; 6:30 p.m.
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center; One Partnership Cir, Abingdon, VA 24210

Thursday, August 25 — Lynchburg; 6:30 p.m.
Heritage High School; 3020 Wards Ferry Road; Lynchburg, VA 24502

Speakers are asked to sign in upon arrival and limit comments to three minutes to allow time for the board to hear from all who wish to comment




Wilde Warfield Foundation Donates To BRMS

The Wilde Warfield Foundation, a local non-profit organization headed by Kimberly Wilde Warfield and Richard G. Wilde, recently presented the Blue Ridge Middle School Parent Teacher Organization with a donation of $2,600 to enhance technology at the local middle school. “This donation provides amazing opportunities for BRMS students and staff! We are thankful for the generosity of the Wilde Warfield Foundation,” said Principal Brion Bell.

A fundraising event sponsored by KSW Connect was in held early June at Franklin Park to raise the donated funds. Max Major, a nationally known mentalist whose performances combine magic, mentalism, and hypnosis, dazzled the near capacity. The sponsors donated 100 percent of the projects from this performance to support technology at BRMS.

Photo: Kimberly Wild Warfield & Richard Wilde of the Wilde Warfield Foundation present BRMS Principal Brion Bell with a donation to support technology at Blue Ridge. Pictured from left to right: PTO representatives Jennifer Bodamer and Jennifer Heffron, Principal Brion Bell, Kimberly Wilde Warfield and Richard Wilde.




Nature Gen Recent Trail Activities

Students from Loudoun Valley High School learned how to be Stormwater Stewards through hands-on activities in the classroom and on the Chapman DeMaryTrail, thanks in part to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  They monitored the water quality of the South Fork Catoctin Creek that runs along the trail; researched water issues, recommended a plan of action on how to improve the buffer zones along the bank, and then created informational materials to educate hikers on the trail.  Students came up with six recommendations to enhance the riparian buffer in the pollinator plot located on the trail.  One of the lead students, Jennifer Betz, presented the recommendations to the Town of Purcellville and the land owner.  They will be planting trees and shrubs to enhance the riparian buffer in the pollinator plot close to the creek.  The plants must be native, appropriate for riparian buffer zones and able to provide food and shelter for pollinators and/or be a host plant.

Thanks to a grant funded in part by the Captain Planet Foundation, The Nature Generation, along with Boy Scout Troop 961 and the Virginia Native Plant Society removed invasive plants that were choking out native plants in the pollinator habitat at the Trail and replaced them with native plants to provide food and shelter for wildlife. This also enhanced the riparian buffer at a portion of the South Fork Catoctin Creek, part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Volunteers also planted 62 shrubs and flowers. In addition to making great progress in removing and deterring invasive plants, The Nature Generation established monthly Weed Warrior maintenance days at the Trail; an effort that will continue through the years.  Go to www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a49adae28abf49-beamonthly to sign up.

More than 70 people attended the annual water quality Catch and Count Creek Creatures event at the Trail on June 4.  Residents, students, and scout troops from Purcellville, Hamilton, Round Hill, Hillsboro, and Arlington, all helped test the quality of the water in the South Fork Catoctin Creek.  Attendees also planted trees in the outdoor classroom area, enhanced the riparian buffer in the pollinator plot with over 60 new native plants, and picked up 15 pounds of trash. They also had a chance to test their water knowledge with The Nature Generation’s water trivia game.

The stream was clear and the benthic macroinvertebrate sampling results show that the ecological condition of the South Fork Catoctin Creek is within the “acceptable” range.  The discovery of small schools of darter fish was also an indicator of good stream health. The Audubon Naturalist Society used their Creek Critters app and based on different benthic macroinvertebrates and their sensitivities to pollution, the creek water quality was rated as “excellent.”  This is an improvement over last year when the samplings of benthic macroiinvertebrates didn’t yield high enough quality results to clearly indicate stream health. For more information, go to NatGen.org.




Field of Dreams Brings Inspiration and Motivation for Cancer Research

Patrick Beck, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School who will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall, has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship by the Gavin Rupp “I Promise” 15 Scholarship Fund. “Patrick said he was inspired by a casual meeting with Gavin during a baseball camp and has since determined his studies will focus on advancing treatments for pediatric cancer patients. We have since learned that Patrick and Gavin have had many teammates in common over the years,” said Chris and Sandy Rupp, Gavin’s father and mother.

Gavin passed away from brain cancer in 2013 at the age of 13. The scholarship was created to honor the spirit, courage and strength he displayed during his life both before and after being diagnosed with cancer. The scholarship fund makes awards to students in the medical profession pursuing training and degrees with a particular emphasis in oncology.

The annual scholarship was established through the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. Last year the foundation distributed over $560,000 through grants and scholarships, helping donors achieve their philanthropic goals and nonprofits carry on their good work.