ROTC, college-level solutions offered

A new school year began this week, and curriculum changes are underway at Rappahannock County High School, with the school board announcing at its regular meeting last night that RCHS is now offering Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) classes in a partnership with Culpeper County High School.

Rappahannock County Public Schools superintendent Donna Matthews. Photo by Matt Wingfield.
Rappahannock County Public Schools superintendent Donna Matthews. Photo by Matt Wingfield.

Currently, three RCHS students — two freshmen and a sophomore — are enrolled in military science at CCHS, who agreed to open its Marine Corps ROTC classes to “as many [Rappahannock students] as we want to send,” said high school principal Michael Tupper.

The 90-minute, year-long class, which begins Aug. 27 after Culpeper officially begins its school year, requires the students to depart from RCHS at 7 a.m. and returns them to campus in time for their second period (shortly after 10 a.m.).

At its monthly meeting Tuesday night (Aug. 13), superintendent Donna Matthews requested that the board approve the hiring of a driver to help ensure the students arrive at Culpeper in time for the class and return to RCHS in a timely manner.

The students were originally supposed to secure their own ride, but Matthews suggested that hiring a driver would help reinforce how seriously the school system was taking this responsibility. The driver could, Matthews suggested, pick the students up at their homes before driving them to Culpeper. The salary for this proposed driver would cost approximately $14,000.

Jackson district board member Amy Hitt said she was in favor of the idea, but wondered if the position should be tied to the students’ continued participation in the program. “I’d hate for us to to hire somebody and then the students decide to drop the class and then we’re out $14,000.”

Matthews agreed with Hitt, and said that the position would continue as long as it remained necessary; if all three students decide not to continue with the class, the position would be vacated, Matthews said.

The board wholeheartedly endorsed this plan, approving the new ROTC driver unanimously, 5-0.

In other curriculum-related news, Matthews informed the board that while tuition costs at Lord Fairfax Community College have indeed risen (students must now pay the full cost of $400), LFCC has continued working with Rappahannock’s school division to try and alleviate some of the burden.

Originally, Matthews said, LFCC employed an early scholar program, which offered specific classes at LFCC for $75; recently, however, that program was cancelled, resulting in a rise in class prices for Rappahannock’s students.

Recently, Matthews said, RCHS has hired a dual-enrollment teacher for English 111/112, meaning students can take a college-level course at RCHS and earn college credit for a reduced price. She said 12 students are enrolled in this program, which only costs $100.

Furthermore, Matthews said LFCC has a private organization that assists students with costs of classes for LFCC campus programs. Confidential awards, given to students who can demonstrate a degree of need, are made with the assistance of the guidance department at RCHS.

Meet the superintendent

Matthews announced three meetings, beginning next month, designed to give the community a chance to meet with her and the school system a chance to solicit feedback and suggestions. These “meet the superintendent” forums are scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 17 and 24 and Oct. 15. The forums will most likely be held at various county fire halls, including Flint Hill, Amissville and Sperryville, though Matthews and the board have not set the exact order of those appearances yet.