International Day

International Day at Johnson

A glimpse of International Day at Johnson, filled with traditional clothing, food, instruments, and more. More info and pix at:


Superintendent Message November 2015


November 20, 2015

Award-winning CHS yearbook and newspaper staff. Image courtesy Amanda Haynes ’16.

Dear families—

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

More from the Superintendent: Schedule for 2016-17, Snow-Day Notifications, and Possible Monthly Delayed Start at CHS

2016-17-calendar-v-1Schedule 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!

CHS Photo I Grade-12 Helen Geiger
Photo by Helen Geiger ’16; art galleries are now updated on our web site!

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 web site).  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.

High schoolers read with Venable friends
High schoolers read with Venable friends

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 web site.)

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.

Division-Wide News: 100% State Accreditation, Golden Apple Nominations, Extended Day Update, and More

edIMG_4638Schools 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.broccoli-quote

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 Selznick at the
Books on Bikes with author Brian Selznick


Congratulations 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.)

CHS News

A surprise jam session with the Stevie Wonder Band? Yes, please!

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!

BACON's ZR team: 2nd place in the world deserves a little pizza.
BACON’s ZR team: 2nd place in the world deserves a little pizza

Ranked #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
Tenth-grade English classes' gallery talks
Tenth-grade English classes’ gallery talks

The 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.

FedIMG_4481ield 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
Garden-to-market class at CHS

CATEC 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.

Walker and Buford News

Students greeting servicepeople after the Veterans Day program

Buford 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 Concert

The 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.

Wiz of OzA 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.

Walker Collage

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.

"Please and Thank You Day"
“Please and Thank You Day”

Walker 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.

Elementary News

Clark girls train for Girls on the Run 5K
Clark’s group of “Girls on the Run”

Walker 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
Burnley-Moran students visit the Newsplex
International Day at Johnson
International Day at Johnson

ESL 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!

Greenbrier Collage
Teachers’ Theatre presents Tacky the Penguin at Greenbrier
After school at Jackson-Via: Local Food Hub treats

Jackson-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
“Trick or Read… and Math” at Venable

At 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.

School Board Update

edJuan-Wade-at-VSBAAt 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).

Upcoming Events

CHS String Ensemble performing by invitation at the Virginia Music Educators Association annual meeting

Upcoming 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


Draft Calendar for 2016-17

2016-17-calendar-v-1The City-County Calendar Committee has developed a draft calendar for the 2016-17 school year.  We would like the community’s feedback about this proposed schedule and have created a very brief survey.

Since Charlottesville and Albemarle Schools share a common calendar, the committee is made up of parents, teachers, principals, and administrators from both school divisions. The committee will take your feedback into consideration before submitting a proposed calendar to the school boards.

Trick or Read

Venable Trick or Read…and Math

Venable held their 4th annual Trick or Read…and Math night on Thursday, October 29. 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. Over 20 reading and math door prizes were given away.

The children’s librarian from Gordon Avenue was there to promote the library and CHS students helped serve dinner.


Concert Calendar & Fine Arts Updates

The fine arts are always celebrated in Charlottesville Schools, but this fall, our students have been recognized in many ways.  Read here to see why, and to check out our upcoming fall & winter concerts.


Recent Highlights: Stevie Wonder Band Workshop, Regional and State Recognition, Art Awards, and More


As part of the Stevie Wonder Band’s concert in Charlottesville, their guest harmonicist Frederic Yonnet and members of the band conducted a workshop for band, choir, and orchestra students. Students were completely surprised to be invited onstage to join the Stevie Wonder Band on drums, sax, bass, keyboards, violin and more.  The students may have been surprised, but as Fred Yonnet said, “They were definitely up for the challenge.  Music is definitely in THIS school!”


The CHS Band and Orchestra are among the most decorated in the state.  Along with the choir, the three performing groups have earned the school nine blue ribbons for excellence from the Virginia Music Educators Association.  This fall, a fully 20 instrumentalists earned places in the regional orchestra, CHSO-Program-Nov-2015highcontrastier-1meaning that CHS alone occupied more than 20 percent of the available chairs. Senior Mary Stelow earned the concertmaster chair for the second consecutive year. Other qualifiers are Campbell Brickhouse, Faith Brown, Cameron Ciambotti, Randall Crittenden, Carmen Day, Micah Hunter-Chang, Claire Jenkins, Rachel Jones, Victoria Kremer, David Kriete, Saoirse Lee, Charlie Manning, Leighton Read, Bethany Reitsma, Matthew Robinson, Noah Robinson, Caleb Rose, Parker Sullivan, and D Thomas. In addition, Saoirse Lee earned a coveted spot in the all-state choir.


The CHS choir and a string quartet were invited to perform at the annual meeting of the Virginia School Boards Association, the CHS string ensemble received a sixth invitation to perform for the Virginia Music Educators Association, and the CHS and Buford bands performed at ceremonies on Veterans Day for the City of Charlottesville and Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of James Monroe.

Children-of-Eden_smTHEATRE PROPS

At the Virginia Theatre Association’s annual meeting, CHS students earned best-one act musical for their student-directed presentation of Children of Eden.  They also earned special recognition for the three directors, Emma Kessler, Saoirse Lee, and Daniel Neale, as well as awards in the “technical theatre olympics,” the “improvathon,” scenic design, and new one-act play.


In addition, our visual artists swept 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the annual Rumi Forum’s Art of Peace and Dialogue art contest, earning a combined $225 in prizes.  Sahara Clemons placed 1st, Gaia Sorensen, 2nd, and Jesus Gutierrez-Majia, 3rd.  Finally, the Piedmont Council for the Arts recognized four CHS students in various fine and performing arts as Rising Stars: Micah Hunter­-Chang, Emma Kane, Kate Kayton, and Saoirse Lee.

Congratulations to all of our fine and performing artists and their excellent teachers!

Upcoming Concerts and Performances


November 11: Buford Orchestra Fall Concert with CHS String Ensemble
November 18:  CHS Band Fall Concert, 6pm.  In addition: CHS Choir and a CHS string quartet to perform at the annual meeting of the Virginia School Boards Association
November 19: CHS String Ensemble to perform at the annual conference of the Virginia Music Educators Association



December 2:  CHS Orchestra Concert, 7:30pm
December 4-5: TheaterCHS Presents its fall play, Harvey, 7pm
December 8: Buford Band Winter Concert, 7pm
December 9: Walker Band Winter Concerts, 6:45 and 7:45pm
December 10: Walker Orchestra Winter Concert  (6pm) & CHS Holiday Pops Choir Concert (7pm)
December 14: Venable Concert, 6:30pm
December 15: Burnley-Moran, Clark, Greenbrier, Jackson-Via, and Johnson Winter Concerts, various times
December 17: Walker & Buford Choir Concert, 7pm


Extended Learning Grant: Update

Summer-ReadingInformation added 11/20/15:

Charlottesville City Schools earned a state grant to extend the school day for students who need extra assistance with literacy. The 2015-16 school year is a planning time. We will pilot the concept during summer school 2016, and we will launch the extended-day program in August 2016. Selected students in grades 1-6 will participate three afternoons a week. The plan for students in grade 1-4 is to have a half-hour after-school recess, followed by brief (20-minute) whole-group instruction and a longer (40-minute) small-group session, ending at 4pm. We are currently working with Walker staff to develop a plan that allows students to continue to participate in EDGE clubs. We will be meeting with teachers throughout December to share information and gather feedback. During the spring, we will continue planning and, later, start identifying students who would benefit. We anticipate that it might be approximately 50-60 students per school.

A timeline for implementation is as follows:

  • December 2015: Share details and gather feedback from teachers at the schools
  • January 2016: Begin application process for positions required by the program
  • March 2016: Develop an instructional template based on teacher feedback and the current instructional model at Charlottesville City Schools
  • April 2016: Train after-school instructors
  • May 2016: Select participating students
  • June/July 2016: Notify selected students and provide families with detailed information. Continue to make revisions to the instructional plan based on summer school experiences
  • September 2016: Division-wide implementation of the extended-day program for identified students

Information originally posted 10/16/15
edIMG_4310Charlottesville City Schools has received a grant from the Governor’s Office to support extended learning for our students.  The grant will provide extended learning hours for students in grades 1-6 who need extra assistance with literacy.

We will use the 2015-16 school year to plan a program that will meet our students’ needs. As we make these decisions, the School Board and administration will be in contact with teachers, parents, and experts in the field. We will pilot the concept during summer school in 2016, and then the extended hours for identified students will be part of the 2016-17 school year.

Our current plans call for students who read below their grade levels to receive after-school instruction three afternoons a week. Our draft plan draws on elements from after-school programs already in place at Clark, Greenbrier, and Venable.  It also leverages the strengths of existing partnerships.

We know that literacy is foundational to success, and this grant provides an exciting opportunity to help all of our students grow in proficiency and confidence.  Stay tuned as this planning process unfolds.

–Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

Media Coverage about the Grant




Tours for Potential Venable Students

Ven-Bldg_edVenable will be offering tours to parents on the dates listed below.  All tours take place at 9:15 a.m. and last approximately 30-45 minutes. We limit the number of participants on each tour to ensure that everyone can hear and ask questions.  Please call Ms. Lawson in the Venable office to register – 434-245-2418.

Upcoming Dates:

  • November 20
  • December 11
  • January 15
  • January 22
  • February 12
  • February 19
  • March 11
  • March 18
  • April 15

Parents should plan to arrive in the front office a few minutes early to sign in and receive visitors’ passes.  Please allot time for parking as there are typically few spots available on site and many of the neighborhood streets do not permit non-resident parking during the day.

Unfortunately, requests for tours at other dates and times cannot be honored due to the disruption to classes.

If you are an out-of-division family who would like to apply for a space at Venable next year, we begin accepting applications in April.  Click here for information about the application process. 


Possible Once-a-Month Delayed Start at CHS

CHS-PLCCHS is considering the possibility of having a delayed start for high school students approximately once a month. This would give staff members who teach the same subject a chance to meet together for planning and collaboration.

Details about the proposal:

  • Likely start date of January 2016
  • Delayed start on the 2nd Thursday of each month (1/14, 2/12, 3/10, 4/14, and 5/12)
  • Classes would start at 10:05am those days
  • No early morning/zero period classes on those days
  • Bus schedules would be delayed by one hour
  • If the pilot is successful, we would build the monthly delayed start into the school calendar for 2016-17.
  • More information is below.

We want to hear from you about this proposal. We are preparing a phone survey so that you can express your opinion. You can also complete a simple survey (see link below).


Thanks in advance for your feedback! The School Board will consider this matter at its December 3 meeting. The public is invited to attend (CHS media center, starting at 5pm).

More information:

  • CHS has time built into the calendar to allow for delayed starts. (This would not impact how we make up snow days, for instance.)
  • Scheduling conflicts (before, during, and after school) prevent teachers from collaborating as a department on a regular basis.
  • Increased collaboration would benefit students since teachers would share best practices, offer subject-specific tips, and coordinate from course to course (from English 10 to English 11, for example).
  • There would be greater consistency across sections of a single course (for instance, in geometry classes taught be different teachers).
  • Other Virginia school divisions (such as Winchester and Henrico) use delayed starts for this purpose.

Where to Find Your Student’s Grades Online?

reportcardA note from Principal Jill Dahl:

Parents, we appreciate your support as we transition to Canvas as our primary learning management system. Teachers have the option to use two different grading platforms, Canvas and PowerSchool. Regardless of whichever grading platform they use, PowerSchool grades are updated every two weeks. Please reference the below document to see which grading platform your student’s teachers prefer.