A high five from senior Dane Wellemeyer. A shout of enthusiasm from varsity soccer star Austin Burnett. Then the rest of the Advanced Placement English class — and most of the school — mobbed seniors Justin Fitzmorris and Gary White, prompted by the exciting announcement surging through Rappahannock High School’s public-address system: The fourth day of the school week was now — officially — RCHS Casual Button-Up Thursday.
From the first week in March, Fitzmorris and White had been encouraging their peers to join them in wearing the semi-formal attire to class, promoting their idea as “casual button-down Thursday.” By March 12, an entire lunch table had joined the trend, and the boys began to reconsider the name of their scheme.
Since (they reasoned) the shirts button from the bottom to the top — and since button-down seemed to refer to dressier, buttoned-down collars (merely an option on more casual and colorful button-up shirts) — the name should be altered to reflect the shirt, not the collar. Casual Button-Up Thursday was born.
Girls and boys alike were arriving to school in button-up shirts. Some paired them with jeans; others with khakis or skirts. Despite all of the variety, however, the shirts had made an undeniable impression. By the end of the month, members of every class in the school were sporting casual button-up attire on Thursdays. Sophomore Tessa Crews made a statement with a narwhal-inspired version of the shirt, while her classmate Bryn Sonnett paired hers with gray sweatpants. Teachers decided to forgo their everyday attire in favor of button-up shirts. The school had been transformed.
“It’s about time a senior class left a legacy around here,” said Fitzmorris. “This isn’t something that will die out.”
English teacher Melissa Delcour made sure of that. Soon after hearing mention of Button-Up Thursday from senior class president Tyler Crews, Delcour took action. Remembering that her Cambridge English 10 class would soon need an opportunity to present its research reports, she suggested a button-up/potluck/paper presentation day, to be held on Thursday, April 1. The class responded with a plethora of variations on the classic cotton shirt, and Delcour herself came clad in a spirited “RCHS Panthers” button-up. The day was a massive success.
“It’s good to know we still have good-humored administration,” said White, with a raised eyebrow. “The fact that they were willing to include it in the afternoon announcements . . . that says a lot about the people we answer to around here.”
Throughout history, Rappahannock County High School has adopted many traditions. RCHS Casual Button-Up Thursday will undoubtedly become one of these customs. Students from every class were inspired by the success of these two courageous seniors.
Two men and a dream — that’s all it took to change RCHS history. Two men, a dream . . . and seven well-placed buttons on a classy cotton shirt. — Taylor Light, RCHS senior
Quiz Team is ‘Academic!’
On March 27, the Rappahannock County Quiz Bowl team travelled to Channel 4 television’s studios in Washington to compete in the Central Virginia Tournament of “It’s Academic!,” and for the second year in a row returned with second place. While the Panther Band was unable to make the trip, the team was accompanied by the Panther mascot, played by Austen Cloud, and a cadre of supportive parents to cheer on the team. Last year the Rapp team consisted of A.J. Collins as captain, Tyler Crews and Steven Nelson, while this year’s team consisted of Crews (as captain) Nelson and Malcolm Perry, a junior with three years of experience on the team.
In the first round, Rappahannock competed against Covenant School of Orange County and Wilson Memorial High School from Staunton. The final score was Rapp 470, Covenant 430 and Wilson 290, which allowed the Panthers to advance to the championship match. The winner of that match would advance to the It’s Academic! Superbowl and play against the top teams from Baltimore and the national capital area.
After a short lunch break, Rapp returned to compete against Charlottesville High School, the AA VHSL Quiz Bowl State Champion for four of the last nine years, and Louisa County. In this match, despite a great last-minute effort by Steven Nelson, Rappahannock fell to Charlottesville and took second place. The final score was Charlottesville 605, Rappahannock 360 and Louisa 290.
The team showed some great spirit, cheered on by the Panther mascot who took on the Louisa County mascot, a lion, in an all-feline battle. Despite a spirited struggle between the panther and the lion, the panther came out the winner, and the two mascots ended up shaking hands/paws and making friends. Even though Rapp did not take first place, the students received some great recognition and the team will receive a plaque and a $500 check from Giant Foods, the sponsor of “It’s Academic!”
The first match airs on WVII-Charlottesville May 29, and the championship match June 5. The high school will also later receive the matches on a DVD, and the team hopes to have a public showing at RCHS at a later date. — David Naser
Wakefield students raise funds, consciousness
The study of habitats in Science class at Wakefield Country Day School came to life recently when the concluding project of one of the students got the whole class involved in service projects. Jefferson Day, a second grader, was studying the rainforest and decided to share his concern for the endangered clouded leopard with the class. He showed a PowerPoint presentation to the class and asked if they would like to help him raise $200 for the Front Royal Conservation Center’s new home for the clouded leopard.
A plan for a bake sale was formed and second grade students and parents got involved. Meanwhile, baby clouded leopards were born on Valentine’s Day at the Conservation Center; students were thrilled to watch the babies, which they hoped to help, on a webcam.
Another second grade student, Hannah Thede, had been talking during character education classes about her ongoing project to make and sell bookmarks to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. It was decided that the class would also help Hannah in her project by selling her handmade bookmarks.
On a Thursday in March, students from my second grade class helped set up and sell their baked goods, fruit and bookmarks during the lunch periods of both the lower and upper schools. The sale brought in a total of $162.50 for Jefferson’s effort. When added to the more than $150 he had raised on his own, this meant a gift of more than $300 to the Front Royal center. This will entitle Wakefield’s students to a commemorative “brick” in the entryway when the clouded leopard’s new habitat is built.
Hannah sold many bookmarks and raised nearly $23. With the money that she raised by herself, she will send a check for nearly $60 to the St. Jude’s Hospital. The students had the additional benefit of practicing their mathematics skills and learning to work together for a service goal. — April Heddleston