School and Sports for Sept. 17

Anti-bullying spotlight, part two: PRIDE

RCHS students hit the Panther Stadium field with their club-mates for team-building exercises as part of the PRIDE program on Sept. 4.
RCHS students hit the Panther Stadium field with their club-mates for team-building exercises as part of the PRIDE program on Sept. 4.

Anti-bullying at Rappahannock County Public Schools extends into the high school with the PRIDE program (Positive Relationships Inspire a Drive for Excellence), the centerpiece of the high school’s effort.

The premise behind the program is to build a stronger family of Panther students and faculty by getting all students and teachers involved in clubs that are meaningful and purposeful. PRIDE builds on the principles of the Olweus anti-bullying program (outlined in the Sept. 3 School and Sports News report), engaging students in a community while also improving school climate.

PRIDE helps ensure that student belongs to something, that “something” being a school-sponsored club. Research has shown that when students engage in activities they foster friendships, stay connected to their school and have a sense of belonging. All of those benefits can keep at-risk students in school and can enrich the school’s atmosphere and culture.

And all of those factors lead to decreased incidences of bullying.

PRIDE kickoff day was Sept. 4 this school year, the day for students to select their club for the year. Club sponsors set up in the gym in job-fair fashion, where students can browse the club tables, ask questions and ultimately sign up for one of the clubs, which, in Panther world, are called “prides.” All prides meet once a month during school hours for about an hour. Traditional extracurricular activities such as student government, sports and national honor society are still in place but meet after school hours. Pride clubs meet during school hours so that every student can participate.

For this year’s kickoff, once they had joined a club, all students exited to the Panther Stadium field to participate in team-building exercises, competing for prizes. All were grouped by their new clubs, building new friendships and communities from the first day. Clubs range from card playing to Disney to skateboarding to chess playing to Ultimate Frisbee to almost everything in between. Clubs are sponsored by high school faculty members.

High school guidance counselor Dani Pond has been the leading proponent and driving force behind the PRIDE program at the high school. Now in its third year, the program has grown in both offerings and popularity, and Pond says she has noticed a similar growth in positive school climate.

The PRIDE program is also a near-instant way of integrating new students, allowing them to immediately connect with like-minded peers as they become part of the high school community. As Pond watched the students compete in their team building exercises this year, the excitement and pride was visible on her face, her big smile matched by those on the faces of hundreds of students exulting in a new school year and new friendships.

— Jimmy Swindler

WCDS sports update

In WCDS red, Tyler Johnson, Lucas Dumez, Nick Leskovec lead the Owls at the start of a Quantico cross-country invitational, followed by Bernie Cieplak, Kevin He, and Gray Galeone.
In WCDS red, Tyler Johnson, Lucas Dumez, Nick Leskovec lead the Owls at the start of a Quantico cross-country invitational, followed by Bernie Cieplak, Kevin He, and Gray Galeone.

Varsity volleyball: The Lady Owls hosted Chelsea Academy in their first Delaney Athletic Conference Division II match Sept. 8. The Knights, 2-0 in early-season play, played well in their first road match, but the Lady Owls took all three games for their first conference victory.

In the first game, Alyssa Soldo and Carolina Leonard had aces in the 25-22 win.. Tatumn Vaught and Kendall Carroll each had multiple kills, with Josephine Burns adding a kill. In the second game, Vaught and Soldo each had three aces, Anna Schuster had an ace and four service points despite a Knights’ timeout in the middle of her rotation, and Carroll got a kill to give the girls game point and a hitting error by the Knights led to a 25-20 second-game win.

In the third game, a kill by Carolina Leonard gave the girls a 19-17 lead but the Knights dug deep to stay in the game and match with six points to lead 23-19 and get to the edge of winning the game. The girls deserve credit for digging deep themselves as two Sold kills help the girls pull into a 23-23 tie and force a Knights’ timeout. Leonard sealed the game and match victory with two aces on the final points of the game.

The Lady Owls hosted the Panthers from across the county in a triple-header on Sept. 9. The Panthers’ varsity squad was powerful and deep. Their strong serving and ability to put the volleyball away was a major factor in the match. The Panthers took control of the game early and scored their 14th, 15th and 16th points on consecutive aces. The Panthers drove their lead to 18 to 1. Monica Marciano did get a kill but the Panthers responded with a kill to control the game at 21-5. The girls only scored one more point the rest of the way as the Panthers finished the game with a kill and a spike kill to take the first game 25-5. In the second game, a Panther serving error led to a point for the Lady Owls, but back-to-back hitting errors by the girls finished the game in the Panthers’ favor, 25-10.

The third game was a better game with both coaches substituting and mixing up their lineups. The Lady Owls led 8-5 after an ace and serving point by Soldo. The Panthers tied the game at 11, then gained the lead and did not give it up. Five aces and a kill by the Panthers pushed their lead to 21-12 and Coach Zylonis used a timeout to try to stop the momentum. The Panthers had a hitting error following the timeout and Leonard earned a service point. The Panthers responded with a kill. Josephine Burns got the last service rotation and got an ace but her service error ended the final game and match with a Panthers’ victory 25-16.

The Lady Owls were in action the next day and played a solid match, defeating the visiting Warriors from Quantico Middle/High School, 3-0. The Warriors are the reigning DAC Division II champions

Varsity cross country: The Owls traveled to Quantico for the Marine base’s annual big invitational meet Sept. 8. There were a number of private and public schools represented from the region and areas of eastern Virginia, with more than 140 runners in the boys’ race. Lucas DuMez cracked the top 10, finishing ninth overall. Newcomer Kevin He crossed the line in 35th place. Nick Leskovec earned 49th place. Gary Galeone finished in 55th place and Bernie Cieplak crossed in 67th place.

Middle school cross country: The Owls traveled to Rappahannock County for a big invitational meet to open the season Sept. 8, with number of public and private schools from the region and more than 70 runners in in the boys’ race and 60-plus runners in the girls’ race on a hot humid day. In the girls’ race, Beverly Eborn finished 38th with a time of 21:16. Emma O’Neill crossed the line at 43rd in 23:06. Jefferson Day finished at 21:51 in the boys’ race good for 53rd place. Jack Gerard got 68th place in a time of 28:52. This is by far the largest race WCDS runners have competed in during recent years.

— Mike Costello

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