School news for May 4

Rappahannock student Julia Estes named state ‘Athlete of the Year’

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time we have ever had a VHSL athlete of the year,” says Rappahannock High School Vice Principal Jimmy Swindler.

Which makes the athletic and academic accomplishments of Julia Estes even more special as she is named the Group 1A “Female Athlete of the Year.”

Julia Estes, who excels in numerous sports for RCHS, has been named VHSL Female Athlete of the Year. Photo by David Hong

The Allstate Foundation/VHSL Achievement Award is the Virginia High School League’s premier program for recognition of individual students involved in athletic and academic activities. Nineteen outstanding young people from schools across Virginia will receive the 2017 The Allstate Foundation/VHSL Achievement Award Scholarships at a luncheon on Monday, May 15 in Charlottesville.

This year, the $1,500 scholarships recognize the 19 high school seniors who have excelled in the classroom and in student activities. Awards have been presented since 1992 to outstanding male athletes, female athletes and academic activities participants.

So much welcome news is coming out of Rappahannock County High School, not the least being Personal Finance teacher Ms. Linda Petty taking a group of her students to Richmond for the Governor’s Challenge in Financial Literacy and Personal Finance. When the last presentation was over, the team from Rapp, consisting of RCHS students Mahlet Yirgu, John Paul Riedel, Bryce Jones and Savannah Stevens, took first place honors as State Champs in Personal Finance. The team and their teacher/coach will be traveling to Kansas City late this week to represent Rapp in the National competition.

As the high school teachers and students go into their final reviews before SOL testing scheduled for Wednesday, May 3rd, through Wednesday, May 10th, students are prepping for their forthcoming SOL success, evidenced through these other recent notable achievements in academic and other scholastic venues.

Several of Mr. James Sharpe’s Latin students recently took the National Latin Exam and, once again, many of our Rapp students have proven themselves to be outstanding on a national level. Receiving “With Praise” honors were Sophia Hernandez, Ninon Kirchman, Audrey Ashenfelder, Ryan Atkins, Drake Lynn, and Savannah Stevens. Receiving “With Great Praise” honors were Gabe Hernandez, Serenity Cortez, Esteban Arellano, and Kayla Compton. And receiving “With Greatest Praise” honors was Gus Garcia. Congratulations to our Latin scholars for their outstanding accomplishments on a national stage.

Not long after the Latin exams were taken, many of our students from Ms. Autumn Aceto’s Spanish class took the 2017 National Spanish Exam. And, like their Latin counterparts, many of them distinguished themselves at this national level.

On the Level 1 exam, Mary Brooke Meade received Honorable Mention recognition, Evelyn Vandry earned Bronze honors, Rachel Weghorst achieved Silver status, and Alec Petty scored top honors, earning the Gold award. For the Level 2 exam Grant PerDieu, Sam Barnes, and Sara Mayfield all earned Honorable Mention recognition, John Paul Riedel achieved Silver status, and Lauren Petty matched her brother’s accomplishments in earning the Gold award.

Two students took the Level 5 exam and both earned recognition, with Cristina Arellano earning the Bronze award and Mahlet Yirgu earning Gold. Congratulations to our Spanish scholars for their outstanding achievements, both within RCHS and on the national stage.

Last Saturday, April 29, Coach Dave Naser’s Conference and Regional Champion Quiz Bowl team took their talents to the small screen when they traveled to NBC 4 Studios in Washington, D.C., for a taping of the It’s Academic scholastic competition. The team competed against teams from Orange County and Charlottesville High Schools and finished second in the day’s contest. The event is currently schedule to be broadcast on Channel 29 from Charlottesville on Saturday May 27 or Sunday May 28.

RCHS Junior Virginia Wyatt competed in the Skills USA Prepared Speech competition this past weekend and, after the last utterances were made, her speech was judged to be the best in the state. Our newest state champ, Virginia will travel to Kentucky this summer with her Skills USA Coach and RCHS teacher Lisa Jones to compete in the National competition.

Also this past weekend the RCHS theater troupe, under the direction of RCHS teacher and Director Russell Paulette put on their spring musical, “School of Rock.” Both performances, one Saturday evening and one Sunday afternoon, played to packed houses and comments from patrons exiting were nothing short of gushing. Two thumbs up to Director Paulette and his talented cast for putting on yet another very successful production.

Congratulations to all our scholars who demonstrate the ability to succeed in the academic and competitive venues. Their experiences exemplify the RCPS mission of promoting the passion and character that leads to success and will serve them well as they take their talents out into the real world.

$120,000-plus in scholarships

In another significant recognition of the achievements of our RCHS students, on Wednesday April 26 the high school hosted the annual Scholarship Assembly, in which our college bound seniors were honored with the recognition of scholarships they have earned. Included in the assembly were scholarship presenters, the RHCS seniors who were the recipients of scholarships, and their families. And just as importantly, the RCHS Junior Class was part of the audience, giving them a glimpse of the recognition and support that can come their way this time next year, when they are seniors, and allowing them to see the results and rewards that can be gained as a result of hard work in the classroom.

The scholarship presentation ceremony lasted nearly two hours and featured the presentation of over fifty scholarships with a total value exceeding $125,000.00, easily a fifty percent increase over last year’s scholarship totals. While all of the awards and their donors were notable for their generosity and the value that they give to our students and their parents, some merit special mention as follows:

Jack Massie was awarded the Harry F. Byrd Leadership Award, the first time a student from RCHS has received this honor and an honor given to only eleven seniors in Virginia, one from each Congressional District. Entailing a rigorous process including a visit to Richmond for a final round interview, the Leadership Award comes with a $10,000.00 stipend for winners to apply to their future endeavors.

Julia Estes, as mentioned above, was awarded the All State Foundation/Virginia High School League Achievement Award, one of only three students selected from Group 1A schools across the state to receive such distinction.

The Headwaters Foundation awarded over $50,000.00 of its own and managed scholarships to over thirty RCHS students.

The Rappahannock County Lion’s Club awarded eight scholarships of a thousand dollars each to eight RCHS students.

A complete list of the scholarships awarded, and their recipients, will be posted to the RCHS website. A very special thanks goes out to each and every one of the community members and groups who so generously gave of their resources to help our students take that next step in their learning adventures.

Congratulations to all the students who received these honors and the accompanying monetary support. As evidenced by the financial awards given out at the assembly, students were shown that hard work really does pay off. But the real payoff is yet to come, given the reality that it is the community who will reap the true rewards as these students leave the RCHS hallways and use what they have been given to go out into the world and make it a better place for all of us.

Oops! Sorry S through Z

In the newspaper advertisement taken out by Union Bank last week recognizing RCHS honor roll students, apparently there was a clerical error on the school’s part that resulted in the omission of seniors whose last names ended with the letters S through Z: “The RCHS staff apologizes for a clerical error that led to the omission of the following names from the third quarter honor roll list. Congratulations to these students for their outstanding accomplishments.We apologize for the oversight.”

Without further ado, the deserving seniors are:


Samantha Sisk

Savannah Stevens

Jessica Thorne

Emily Way

Jessica Wimer

Ellie Young

Mikayla Zook


Tyler Whetzel

— Jimmy Swindler

DAR Good Citizen

Jessica Olena Thorne is awarded the DAR Good Citizen Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Courtesy photo

Jessica Olena Thorne has been awarded the DAR Good Citizen Award by the Culpeper Minute Men Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Jessica is currently a senior at Rappahannock High School and lives in Castleton. Thorne was selected for her dependability, service, leadership and patriotism. She also competed for a scholarship prize by writing an essay.

Jessica plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall.

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