School & sports: Volleyball, cross-country, community service

Kayla Robey (No. 7) sets and Julie Estes, airborne, spikes the ball Monday night (Oct. 19) at home against Bull Run District rival Clarke County, when Rappahannock County High School’s undefeated varsity volleyball team extended its record to 16-0 — and then, on Tuesday night at William Monroe, to 17-0 with another Panther win.

Last week the cross country teams came home with two champions, as defending state champ Julia Wood and hopeful state champ Gavin Jenkins brought home Bull Run District champion trophies. Running in the district championship at Central Woodstock, the team finished their final warmup before the road to states begins Oct. 28 at Lancaster High School with the Rappahannock River Conference championship.

On the volleyball court, stellar seasons continue for varsity, JV and Junior Panther teams. The JP team won the Valley Middle School Conference tournament at home last Friday, claiming both the regular season and the tournament champion trophies by virtue of their undefeated record. JV and varsity continued their torrid pace in the regular season play, with the JV team dropping just one game to Warren County, that loss sandwiched between wins against Madison and Clarke, and varsity continuing their unbeaten string, extending their record to 16-0 with wins in the past week against Madison and Clarke at home.

Junior Panther football ended their season on a successful note, closing up with two wins against Prospect Heights and the Maryland School for the Deaf. Varsity is still in search of that first win but has a few more opportunities at home, the next being on Halloween (Oct. 31, 2 p.m.) against Chincoteague High School.

As always, the most current scores and schedules can be found on online at rappahannockathletics.org.

RCHS’ students in action

With civic engagement and community service, students can become an integral part of the community. For this reason, Rappahannock County Public Schools have made a commitment to support opportunities that increase student activity in community engagement.

Graduation requirements for community service are stressed and encouraged by the teachers and the administration. High school guidance director Michelle Papa has plans to recognize students that earn 50 hours or more of community service with a civics seal on their diploma. The importance of such service has long been recommended by such organizations as the Virginia Department of Education and the National Honor Society; the NHS in fact includes community-service hours as a prerequisite for membership and continued good standing. Schools clubs, such as the Leo Club, are based on public service and volunteerism in the community.

To ensure students will have community service opportunities that meet a vast array of interests, the high school offers community service projects throughout the year. Students volunteer at the Food Pantry where they sort food donations and help pack the dozens of food bags taken home to families each Friday via the Pantry’s Backpack program. RCHS students also provide assistance at the Rappahannock Senior Center, tasks ranging from facilities cleanup to working with seniors on projects. Bilingual students volunteer their time to work with English as a Second Language (ESL) students and parents.

Volunteering at the elementary school has long been a favorite activity of RCHS students, with duties that include assisting teachers, reading with younger students and providing help at events such as the annual DARE Day field activities.

High school students are also active in the school system’s recycling efforts. Members of the high school’s service learning class ensure that recyclable materials are collected from the school board office and bus shop and school’s transition class members also provide trash pickup at Panther Stadium and the student parking lots.

Outside of the school day, RCHS students have a tradition of helping the Rappahannock Historical Society with tasks ranging from clerical work to Civil War re-enactments. Another time-honored community service is participating with many of the local volunteer fire and rescue squads. RCHS students also have served as volunteer counselors for 4-H after-school and summer activities as well as assisted at the Taste of Rappahannock.

What are the benefits of such programs? Many students’ volunteer experiences become a springboard for eventual careers. Developing young adults who recognize the need and have the desire to contribute to their community and to others is one of the best lessons of adulthood learned through public education.  Pride in community, career exploration, empathy for others and a sense of belonging are but a few of the beneficial effects that community service brings to its participants.

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