School & sports news for Oct. 2

The AD’s report

As autumn unfolds in Rappahannock County, Panther sports teams continue to roll through their fall season, racking up victories along the way.

Football again leads the way; both teams are still looking for that first win, but are putting up impressive performances. Varsity hosted Victory Christian last Friday (Sept. 26), falling in the end 18-9, but putting up some solid stats in the effort. Turnovers and mistakes were the bane of the Panthers’ existence, with eight turnovers and almost 100 yards in penalties stopping many drives short. The defense recorded a safety early in the game, and Jack Massie threw a late touchdown pass to Jackson Strickler, but the Panthers simply couldn’t overcome the multiple mistakes in between.

Varsity battles the Ponies of Chincoteague High School tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 3), and return to Panther Stadium next Friday (Oct. 10), when Hancock High School visits. (It’s also Senior Night, so be on hand to honor our football seniors).

On the J.P. side of the gridiron, our young squad traveled to Locust Grove last Thursday (Sept. 25), where they again came up short in the final tally — but put 20 points on the scoreboard! Michael Reid rushed for 337 total yards, including three kickoff returns for touchdowns. Elijah Johnson took over QB duties in the second half and he, along with Ethan Williams, Brandon Wood and Jeffrey Jenkins, combined for well over 100 yards of offense. Today (Thursday, Oct. 2), they traveled to Buford Middle in Charlottesville, and have their first home game Oct. 13 at 4:30, as they host Prospect Heights.

The Junior Panther volleyball team continued its undefeated season — and matched it with a top-place in the Valley Middle School Conference. Coach Mylene Whorton’s team had two home games and two away games last week, but the results were the same — overwhelming victories. Monday and Tuesday saw home victories over Front Royal Christian and United Christian, while Wednesday and Friday brought road victories over Buford Middle School and Mt. View Christian. The girls were challenged by United Christian and Mountain View this week — the two best teams they’ve faced thus far — but held on both times for straight set wins.

The team is averaging a 90-plus-percent success rate on their serves, an astonishing figure for a middle school team. In most cases, their serves are rocketing over the net in unreturnable fashion! Last Friday (Sept. 26), Hailey Whorton served 14 straight points — remarkable, but a typical accomplishment for this team.

J.P. traveled to St. Joseph’s Monday (Sept. 29) and take to the road today (Thursday, Oct. 2) to face William Monroe (results in next week’s article). Coach Whorton invites all our readers to J.P.’s Dig Pink game on Monday (Oct. 6), as our young volleyballers look to complement the J.V. and varsity fundraising efforts for the Side Out Foundation. Mark your calendars now for the VMSC playoffs (Oct. 14, 16 and 17), when Rapp expects to host — and hopes to progress to the championship on Oct. 17.

The J.V. and varsity squads played two Bull Run District games last week, with J.V. taking two wins and varsity splitting. Last Tuesday (Sept. 23), both teams traveled to Central Woodstock and clipped the Falcons’ wings in straight sets. Last Thursday (Sept. 25), they hosted George Mason. While J.V. prevailed in two (highly competitive) sets, varsity was taken to five games by the Mustangs and fell short of a match victory. Both teams traveled to Clarke on Tuesday (Sept. 30), with J.V. looking to cement their first-place status and varsity looking to avenge their earlier loss to the Eagles.

Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 2) and tomorrow (Friday, Oct 3), both teams host their “Dig Pink” games at 6 p.m. (against Manassas Park and Northumberland, respectively), when the girls will be decked out in their celebratory pink uniforms. And remember, this A.D., as promised, will be kissing a mule before Friday’s game, keeping a pledge to do so if the teams exceeded last year’s fundraising, which they have — with your support!

J.P. soccer finally returned to the pitch Monday (Sept. 29), hosting Randolph-Macon Academy at Panther Stadium (results in next week’s article). They host Front Royal Christian in a VMSC game tomorrow (Friday Oct. 3), and Fresta Valley on Tuesday (Oct. 7). Be sure to come out and support Coach Paul Paratore’s young Panther squad and monitor the athletic website for the time and location of their VMSC playoff game, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 14.

The J.P. cross country squads hosted a VMSC meet last Tuesday (Sept. 22), with both teams taking first place in strong fashion. On the boys side, Sam Barnes took first, Nick Barnes fourth and Luke Ellis sixth to give the team the winning low score of 11. On the girls’ side, our runners swept the top three spots (MacKenzie Haunold, Sklyar Culbertson and Savannah Hensley, respectively), giving the team a winning score of six — as good as it gets! This Monday (Sept. 29), our young runners traveled to R-MA for their final VMSC tune-up before Tuesday’s (Oct. 9) championship meet (first race at 4:30). Hopes are high for a repeat of the last two years’ championship performances

Panthers’ Quiz Bowl team members (from left) Henry Mason, James MacLeod and Jane Purnell came up just short in the recent trivia tournament.
Panthers’ Quiz Bowl team members (from left) Henry Mason, James MacLeod and Jane Purnell came up just short in the recent trivia tournament. Jordan Atkins

On the varsity side of XC, our squads participated in a Bull Run Meet Sept. 17 Manassas Park and Madison. Emily Allen and Gavin Jenkins took first place in their respective races, and matched that performance last week against William Monroe and George Mason. Saturday (Sept. 27), many of our runners participated in the Stonewall Invitational in New Market, Va.

Jenkins finished first among all 1A and 2A runners, and fourth overall. Julia Wood and Emily Allen took the top two spots in the 1A and 2A groups and, with two other girls — Emma Endre (10th) and Kayla McGhee (17th) — in the top 20, the girls’ team took first place in their 1A/2A group and finished in third overall. It was a very successful Saturday for cross county!

Yesterday (Oct. 1), both teams traveled to Strasburg for another conference meet, and return to the Blue Rock course next Wednesday (Sept. 8), hosting Central Woodstock and Warren County (first race is at 5).

Last but not least, varsity theater has been hard at work under the direction of Russell Paulette, rehearsing for their Rapp River Conference competition on Oct. 25. The drama begins at noon in the high school auditorium; a top two finish earns our thespians the chance to compete in the Regional event on Nov. 15 at Northumberland. This year’s play is an original work by Paulette, and hopes are high for standout performances. The public is invited to view our team (and up to four competitors from the RRC), and the athletic department hopes to see you there.

Go Rapp!

Jimmy Swindler

WCDS sports update

Varsity volleyball: The Wakefield Country Day School Lady Owls hosted Mountain View Christian Academy in a non-conference match on Sept. 22, starting the match off with Ashlyn Ramey holding her serve for five points (and two aces). Mountain View battled back to a 15-12 lead, but a Maeve Dale kill and two service points by Kendall Carroll tied it at 15-15. The teams traded leads until it Anna Clark’ serve helped tie it at 24-24; Mountain View scored the next two points for a 26-24 win.

Dale’s excellent service (12 straight points) propelled the Lady Owls to a large 17-4 second-set lead. Tatumn Vaught held her serve for another six points, and sealed the 25-11 win. Despite racing out to a 15-7 lead in set three, the girls couldn’t sustain their serve, and Mountain View battled back to a 25-23 win.

Needing to win two straight sets for the win, Ramey and Clark gave the girls much-needed kills during Dale’s serve; Clark’s eventual ace pushed the Owls’ lead to 13-7. A kill by Carroll and two aces on Ramey’s serve pushed the lead to 17-12, and the Owls took a 25-13 fourth-set win. Six straight points from Ramey in the deciding fifth set gave the Owls a commanding 12-6 lead. Josephine Burns served the match’s final two points for a 15-6 fifth-set win.

The Lady Owls, ranked 15th in the latest Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III poll, then hosted a talented team from Fresta Valley on Sept. 23. The Pioneers’ strong service gave them an early 7-2 lead. Down one starter, the girls briefly rallied before dropping the first set 25-18. They bounced back in the next game, as Carroll served nine straight (with four aces), giving the Owls an 11-2 lead. The Pioneers narrowed the lead to 21-17, but kills by Dale and Monica Marciano set up Burns, who served the match’s final point and gave WCDS a 25-19 win. Down 11-4 in the third set, the girls fell, 25-18. The Pioneers raced out to a 10-4 fourth-set lead; an ace by Brier Clough and two kills by Dale narrowed the gap to 16-12, but the Pioneers held on for a 25-13 win.

The Lady Owls traveled to rival Wakefield School for a non-conference match on Sept. 25, dropping the first set 25-18. The Owls evened the score with a 25-14 win in set two, capping the victory with 25-21 and 25-12 third and fourth-set victories. Their record is 7-3 overall.

Varsity soccer: The Owls traveled to Mountain View Christian Academy for a non-conference game on Sept. 19, playing a strong game and earning an 8-0 shutout victory. Gage Landis led all scorers with a hat trick; Tim Johns added two goals, as did Connor Glennon. Max Lilburn scored his first goal of the year.

The Owls then traveled to rival Wakefield School for a Delaney Athletic Conference game on Sept. 23. The Fighting Owls capitalized on home field advantage to score seven goals, shutting out the Owls. Their record is 1-3 in the DAC and 3-4 overall.

Democrats’ team ‘knows it all’ in trivia contest

The Rappahannock Know-it-all Quiz Bowl Competition Sept. 18 at the high school was a great success — academically and financially. While only four teams registered to challenge each other, over $600 was raised in registration fees and donations. The money will be used to cover tournament registration fees and travel expenses, and to provide meals for the students and volunteers for the two home quiz bowl events on Nov. 10 and Dec. 15.

The Rappahannock Democrats’ team — (from left) Patrick Alther, Sharon Kilpatrick, Hank Gorfein and Bob Weinberg — won the Quiz Bowl team’s recent trivia tournament.
The Rappahannock Democrats’ team — (from left) Patrick Alther, Sharon Kilpatrick, Hank Gorfein and Bob Weinberg — won the Quiz Bowl team’s recent trivia tournament. Jordan Atkins

Participants in the tournament included Belle Meade School, Rappahannock Democrats, (Re)tired teachers, and a team of parents, and past and present Rappahannock teachers called the Trivia Monsters.

In the first match, the Democrats defeated Belle Meade 135-100, while the Trivia Monsters defeated the Tired teachers (120-110) in the second match. In the first place match, the Democrats emerged victorious against the Trivia Monsters, after going to sudden death overtime and correctly answering a question about the Battle of Second Manassas.

The Democrats then faced off against the students in a hotly contested tossup and bonus match. The Democrats — Sharon Kilpatrick, Patrick Alther, Hank Gorfein and Bob Weinberg — ended up defeating the students, 175-140.

“It’s about time we won something,” quipped Gorfein after the match. (One reason for the defeat was that the questions, especially the bonus, relied heavily on knowledge of history and literature. “These people actually lived through this history and have read all of these books,” noted Panther captain James MacLeod noted.)

Donations were received from Friends of Liberty, Shaw’s Services, Dina Gold, Jon Purnell, Ramey Masonry and Ben Mason Artistic Repair, as well as through the bake sale. Everyone enjoyed the evening, and the team looks forward to another event in the spring.

Belle Meade accredited

Belle Meade students participated in last weekend’s Farm Tour, serving as sous chefs and offering pony rides.
Belle Meade students participated in last weekend’s Farm Tour, serving as sous chefs and offering pony rides. Courtesy photo

Belle Meade School has received accreditation from the Virginia Independent School Association (VISA). Belle Meade, which offers grades six through 12, combines academic excellence and sustainable living. The rigorous academic program is complemented by students developing independence and leadership through participating in the work of the farm. Experiential education that combines academics and real work outdoors is receiving attention in the press and in college admissions.

Saturday’s Farm Tour (Sept. 27) brought many visitors to the school and farm, where students offered pony rides, participated as sous chefs in the Chef Cook Off and served as ambassadors for the school in talking to visitors. For more information, visit or call 540-987-8970.

Panther Pride: the superintendent’s update

How does any organization begin the process of renewal or change? How do you get stakeholders involved in the process of improvement? Although the notion that “results speak for themselves” may apply in some cases, the road to academic success is somewhat of a twisted and unpredictable process.

During my first summer in Rappahannock — last July — I held an administrative retreat, where I shared the results of our state testing program with our staff and we began those very important discussions.

Agreement was unanimous: Rappahannock County Public Schools represent more than just test scores. We are a unique organization that has pledged to offer our students experiences that focus on career readiness, setting goals and becoming life-long learners. We wanted an instruction program that was rigorous, thought provoking and that offered authentic learning experiences for the students.

When the state accreditation scores were released last September, declaring the elementary school “accredited with warning” in mathematics, a division-wide team was established as part of the training requirement from the Virginia Department of Education.

With the first visit from the Office of School Improvement not scheduled until February, the team took it upon themselves to discuss and review our processes and programs. Meetings were held during teacher planning periods, after school and even early mornings. Teachers participated in professional development activities designed to assist in the pacing of lessons, reviewed the state “blueprints” and in the enhancement of lessons through the use of authentic activities. We developed benchmark assessments to correlate results and developed predictor tests.

The school improvement process brought additional changes such as length of class periods, lesson plan formats and additional classroom observations. The school improvement process included working closely with a school improvement contractor, assigned by the VDOE. Through their support, the administrative team was able to narrow the focus and begin the process of “alignment” at all levels of the math curriculum.

The school improvement process did not stop there. Elementary school teachers will tell you first-hand just how intense this process has been! No stone was left unturned last year and the staff gallantly rose to the challenge, implementing a vast amount of changes in very short order to support our students academically.

Though not in school improvement, accreditation and federal accountability also hinged on math scores at the high school. When professional development sessions were offered, the high school administration responded proactively by attending each of these sessions. It is this type of proactive thinking that leads a school down the road of success.

Well, the results have come in for fiscal year 2014 and our school division is very proud! The elementary school is fully accredited, having brought those math scores up and maintained proficient scores in reading. We are also very happy to report a dramatic increase in mathematics test scores, rising from 61 to 82 percent at the high school!

Yes, the road to success has been difficult, but each and every person employed at the school system had a hand in seeing these results come to fruition. It was no easy task to be among the 17 percent of school divisions making full accreditation status, but we will not stop here.

We know that as standards increase, we must accept the challenge and find yet another pathway or road to maintain success. Since the improvement process has been completed and the ground work has been laid, we hope the next road to success will be paved!

— Dr. Donna Matthews, superintendent

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