School and sports: Volleyball, band, cross-country winners

Volleyball, band, cross-country winners

Between the Panther Marching Band, the girls and boys cross country teams and both the JV and varsity volleyball teams, the trophy case in the RCHS gym will soon be considerably more crowded.

The Marching Panthers pose after their "Superior" rating at Liberty High School on Oct. 24.
The Marching Panthers pose after their “Superior” rating at Liberty High School on Oct. 24.

The Panther Marching Band was the first to earn a season-ending accolade, competing on Oct. 24 in the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association (VBODA) marching band assessment at Liberty High School. The VBODA competition is the culmination of a season’s hard work for marching bands — their “playoffs,” in effect.

The Marching Panthers performed a show entitled “The Music of Glenn Miller,” and when the last note had sounded, Rappahannock County had earned a “Superior” rating, the highest possible mark from the judges. This is the first superior rating the Marching Panthers have earned in several years and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of both the student members and of third-year band director Jason Guira and his staff, Brian Raciborski and Paul Norris.

Previous awards won this season by the marching band include first place at the Woodbridge Viking Invitational, first place at the Shenandoah Valley Marching Invitational and third place at the James Madison University Parade of Champions. Music fans have the chance to see the band at the upcoming final football game of the season, at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Friday Nov. 6) at Panther Stadium.The band will perform their show at halftime.

The band will also march in Washington’s annual Christmas parade, at the Rappahannock County High School Veteran’s Day program (next Wednesday, Nov. 11) and at the winter band concert at RCHS Dec. 10.

In cross country action the girls and boys teams competed in their first true postseason event at Lancaster High School last Wednesday (Oct. 28) in the Rappahannock River Conference Championship. Rapp standout runners Julia Wood and Gavin Jenkins took first place in their respective races, Julia successfully defending her conference title and Gavin winning his first. And when the last runner had crossed the finish line, both boys and girls teams had scored well enough to be awarded the RRC runner-up trophy and the resultant team qualification for the regional championship this week (results too late for this week’s edition).

Coaches Kenny Burt and James Sharpe reported that in addition to the first-place finishes of Wood and Jenkins, the boys side featured Sam Barnes earning a first-team all-conference medal with his fifth-place finish, and Connor Culbertson, Jake Demory, and Jordan Rector earning second-team all-conference medals with their 13th-, 14th- and 15th-place finishes. On the girls side the results were similar with Jaclyn Humphries earning a first-team medal with her seventh-place finish and then Savannah Hensley, Camryn Clark, Brooke Athelli and Danielle Fryant sweeping 12th- through 15th-place and earning second-team all-conference medals. And in the day’s concluding JV race, Rapp runner Skylar Culbertson took first place overall.

Both cross country teams competed in the Region 1A East Championship on Tuesday, November 3 at Panorama Farms outside of Charlottsville. While results are too late for this article, hopes are high that Rapp will be well represented at the State Cross Country Championship Nov. 14 at Great Meadows in Warrenton.

The Panther girls, and their fans, celebrate after Rapp takes the final point in a 3-0 win over George Mason last Thursday (Oct. 29) at home — finishing their first undefeated season in more than a decade, with a 19-0 record. The team hosts a Rappahannock River Conference semifinal playoff tonight at 7 at RCHS.

Before the varsity volleyball team completed a truly magical season last Thursday night at home., the a packed house on senior night watched the JV team grind out a nail-biting 2-1 win over a tough George Mason team. Coach Seth Wyatt’s JV team finished the season in second place in the Bull Run District, behind only undefeated Warren County.

After seniors from the cross country and volleyball teams were introduced at the beginning of the varsity game, excitement built to a fever pitch and that level was maintained throughout Rapp’s three-game sweep of a very talented Mustang squad. Mason played hard and played well, but simply could not overcome the devastating attacks and the acrobatic defense that the Rapp squad displayed. Even a mid-game injury to a Rapp starter could not slow down the Rapp attack.

When the final point was scored, Rapp’s varsity volleyball team had completed their first-ever undefeated season, finishing 19-0 and earning the team their first Bull Run District Championship in well over a decade.

Varsity coach Courtney Atkins and her team were all smiles as the game ended, with student fans flooding the court to congratulate the team and share in the joy of a championship season. The team relished their victory and their championship, but went back to work as usual the next day, practicing hard for the upcoming playoffs. Rapp volleyball fans are urged to fill the gym again for the postseason’s first playoff game — at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Nov. 5), as RCHS hosts a Rapp River Conference semifinal playoff game, with the winner advancing to the RRC championship on Saturday (Nov. 7) at Northumberland High School.

As always, the latest scores and upcoming schedules can be found online at

— Jimmy Swindler

RCPS Begins Comprehensive Planning Process

A cooperative process for the 2016-2022 Comprehensive Plan for Rappahannock County Public Schools is underway, and the school division is seeking public input as part of the process. Superintendent Donna Mathews and the school board set the direction for the process at the board’s June meeting, with a final draft of the school system’s comprehensive plan, which is expected to be available for public inspection before fiscal year 2017 begins next July.

A Comprehensive Planning Stakeholder’s Team, made up of school leaders, staff, parents and community members, was assembled in July of this year to begin the planning process. The 19-member team reviewed strengths and areas in need of improvement to aid in the development of a needs-assessment Survey for distribution to parents, staff, and the community at large.

The survey has now been posted online at and will be available for completion from today (Nov. 5) through Nov. 20. Results of the survey will be reviewed to form goals, objectives and actions for a comprehensive plan to guide the division’s objectives for the next six years.

For those without internet access, computers will be available in the libraries of the elementary and high school for survey-takers. Contact the school board office at 540-227-0023 if you need assistance or have questions.