School News: Russo is U.Va. honors grad

Allison Russo of Flint Hill is an honors graduate of the University of Virginia. Photo by Andrew Glass.

From contributed reports
Allison Elizabeth Russo of Flint Hill graduated summa cum laude from the University of Virginia on Sunday, earning a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a minor in foreign affairs. Russo was also inducted into U.Va.’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the country’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization. The society was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, and its members include U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices and Nobel laureates.

While pursuing her degree, Russo had the opportunity to study abroad at Great Britain’s Oxford University, where she spent four weeks in a program at University College that combined academic studies with cultural and social opportunities both at Oxford and in the surrounding community.

An accomplished horse woman, Russo has for the past eight years hunted with Rappahannock County’s Old Dominion Hounds Hunt. This spring through U.Va.’s Madison House, where students volunteer their time and energy serving the community, she worked as a riding instructor at the Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy in a program designed to help children with disabilities improve their physical, mental, and emotional skills.

In 2006, she graduated from Wakefield Country Day School in Huntly. During her senior year at Wakefield, she was student body president and class valedictorian.

Mountain Laurel Montessori Farm School students and director Susan Holmes pause at the peak of Signal Knob.

Mountain Laurel peaks

Students and staff of Mountain Laurel Montessori Farm School recently backpacked over three days across the Fort Valley with Brandon McCrary, former owner of Weasel Creek Outfitters. “The goal of the trip,” says Susan Holmes, director of the Flint Hill school, “was to work together to accomplish a challenge that none of us could have accomplished alone.”

The cooperative physical challenge that was chosen was a 21-mile hike, combining portions of the Massanutten, Tuscarora and Buzzard Rock Trails in the George Washington National Forest. Students ascended 4,000 feet and descended 5,000. Among other skills utilized, they filtered water from streams and springs and learned to build a one-match fire.

Participants were in a living classroom as they learned about the region’s social, geological and economic history. Through hands-on experience, they studied how the Massanutten range was formed and identified various types of rocks and geologic formations. They gained an understanding of the relationship between geography and economy through the history of Elizabeth’s Furnace and the impact of iron production on the local economy.

McCrary, also a Civil War historian and re-enactor, shared his knowledge of two military campaigns impacted by, Virginia’s geography. He enthralled the students with a vivid retelling of both campaigns, the 1862 Valley Campaign and the 1864 Cedar Creek Campaign, outlining the strategies dictated by geography. As students stood atop Signal Knob, they were able to see why this geographic point more than 2,000 ft. high was so important to Civil War strategists and to the famous topographer Jedediah Hotchkiss.

“The students rose to the challenge, supporting one another and celebrating their accomplishments. The success of the backpacking trip demonstrated, once again, the compassionate community that is Mountain Laurel Montessori Farm School,” says Holmes.

College students, stay fit

In an offer good through Aug. 30, college students home for the summer can join the Rapp-Fit fitness center at Rappahanock County High School (RCHS) for just $20.

Hours at the center are 4 to 7 Monday-Thursday (subject to change), with member rates as follows: $120 a year, $14 a month or $7 a day for county residents ($180/$23/$10 non- residents); $60 a year or $7 a month for ages 62 and older as well as fire and rescue personnel, part-time school and county employees, school volunteers, college students and state employees who work in the county.

Membership is free for full-time school and county employees and K-12 students who live in Rappahannock County (regardless of where they go to school).

A successful ‘Brawl’

The Panther wrestling team hosted the Panther Brawl on Saturday, May 15. RCHS welcomed a large number of individual wrestlers. Athletes came from Jefferson County and Keyser in West Virginia and from Warren County, Fauquier County, Colonial Forge and the Richmond area in Virginia.

The Rappahannock Rage celebrated the following placewinners:

First place: Amber Smoot, David Smoot, Ethan Foley, Amrit Tamang and Channing Vonsteinner.

Second place: Cameron MacArthur, John Leidenheimer, Jason Settle and Laykin Nash.

Third place: Isaac Harris.

Fourth place: Preston Harris.

Event coordinator and Rapp Rage coach Jamie Harris said: “I was pleased with the turnout and the help. Special thanks to Hodge and Kay Miller. I was proud of our Rage kids. They did a great job!” — Melissa Delcour

Racer signs with Bluefield

Jacob Racer recently signed his letter of intent to play soccer for Bluefield College in southwestern Virginia in the fall of 2010.
Racer, a Rappahannock High School senior and son of James and Camille Racer of Amissville, has been captain of the high school soccer team as well as of the several clubs he’s played for over the years, which includes the Fauquier County Soccer Club (FCSC) team Fauquier Fusion, the Soccer Organization Charlottesville Albemarle (SOCA) team Metro, and the Culpeper Comets. Most recently Racer has played for the SOCA Lightning in the Virginia Champions League.

“I have had the privilege to coach him for his senior year. Jacob shows tremendous leadership and skill on and off the soccer field. I am very proud to have coached him. I look forward to his success in the future athletically and academically,” said RCHS soccer coach Matt Gillispie.

Your local WordMaster

A student representing Rappahannock County Elementary School recently won highest honors in this year’s WordMasters Challenge – a national language arts competition entered by some 220,000 students annually consisting of three separate meets held at intervals during the school year.

Competing in the difficult Blue Division of the competition, fifth-grader John Riedel earned a perfect score in the year’s third meet, held in April. Riedel was coached by Amy Wayland and Dawn Phillips. In the entire country, just 140 fifth-graders achieved perfect results. Sixth-grader Julia Wood, coached by Shannon Grimsley, also earned outstanding results in the seventh-grade meet.

WordMasters is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students to become familiar with a set of interesting new words (considerably harder than grade level), and then challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressing various kinds of logical relationships. Solving the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.

Mary Washington grads

The following local students were among the 1,201 graduating from the University of Mary Washington earlier this month:
Brandon James McCool of Amissville graduated with distinction with a BPS degree, professional studies.

Devin Day of Woodville graduated with a B.A. in theatre.

James Forrest Marquisee, Washington, graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree, environmental science and music.

Kathleen A. L. Hutcheson of Amissville graduated with a BLS degree, English.

Matthew Lawrey of Washington graduated with a B.A. degree, history.

Payne makes Dean’s list

The Dean’s List for the spring semester at Bridgewater College includes Kat Payne, a senior majoring in psychology and sociology, from Amissville.

Students on Bridgewater’s Dean’s List have attained a 3.4 or better grade point average of a possible 4.0 for the 15-week semester. The private, four-year liberal arts college enrolls more than 1,500 students in the central Shenandoah Valley.

Wakefield athletics roundup

Wakefield Country Day School has announced awards for its standout athletes during the spring season.

Middle school girls soccer:
Most valuable player: Maeve Dale

Most improved player: Rachel Paulisch

Coaches’ award: Kimberly Pankow

Varsity Girls Soccer:
Most valuable player: Abigael Whitaker

Most improved player: Hannah Tufts

Coach’s Award: Brittany Spence

Varsity boys lacrosse:
Most valuable player: Adrian Wassel

Coach’s award: Hunter Kapp

Varsity tennis:
Most valuable player: Harper Van Ness

Most improved player: Jonathan Leskovec

Coach’s award: Michael Pearson

Leonard Cowherd Award winners for 2009-2010:
Female: Abigael Whitaker

Male: Andrew Smith

Girl’s Soccer:

All-DAC Division 2:

Abby Whitaker


Abby Whitaker

Brittany Spence


All-DAC Division 2:

Adrian Wassell- Player of the Year

Pat Brown

Alex Hernandez

Hunter Kapp

Ian McCool

Athletes of the month:
Wakefield’s athletes of the month of April and May are:

Male: Ian McCool (Amissville)-Varsity Lacrosse

Ian has been named to the All-DAC team for his quality play as a goalie. He helped lead the team to a state tournament bid and the VISAA state tournament semifinals. Ian finished the season as the top-ranked goalie in the state in VISAA Division 3, having allowed fewer goals than any other goalie in his division. He did this in his rookie season in lacrosse. His serious attitude at practice, intensity during games, and unmatched determination made him an invaluable part of the team.

Female: Abigael Whitaker (Front Royal, VA)-Varsity Soccer

Abby led her team to the semifinals in both the DAC and CAC. She led the team in scoring including a hat trick, with three goals against Emmanuel Christian in early April. Her high level of play led to her being named first team All-DAC this spring and to the
All-CAC team. — Mike Costello

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