School news for March 21

Hearthstone students share Puerto Rico relief experience

The public is invited to a performance at Hearthstone School in Sperryville — “After the Storm: Kindness, Creativity and Courage in Puerto Rico and Madison” — to be held Friday, March 29th, at 7 p.m.

Hearthstone’s middle school students will use drama, photography and art to share stories of kindness, creativity and courage from their March 6th service trip to Puerto Rico.

Hearthstone School students traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this month to help residents still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. By Jane Mullan

Guest artist and former Rappahannock resident Laurie Marshall will come from California to help the students weave their experiences into an informative and imaginative piece. It will be designed to help children and adults be resilient in the face of massive weather events.

On the Puerto Rico trip, Hearthstone middle school students helped renovate an abandoned school which currently houses ten families who lost their homes in the storms. Hearthstone parents and grandparents restored the building’s solar power system. The students learned directly about the impact of severe weather while helping victims with repairs.

Those middle school students who did not go on the trip researched acts of kindness and community spirit related to flooding in Madison County. Both of these field trips are part of Hearthstone’s Main Lesson Block on Maps, Tides and Weather.

The research of both groups of students will be shared with the public at the March 29th presentation. Making a performance about a community hit by big weather events builds on Hearthstone’s play last year — “The Flood of Kindness-Inspired by Hurricane Katrina.” The play was based on the book of the same title by child author De’Ante Webster of Indianapolis, which was produced and illustrated by Laurie Marshall.

“After the Storm” will be videotaped and sent to the Department of Education in Puerto Rico, and will also be available for schools in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Prom safety

With prom being held at the end of the week, Rappahannock County High School, in collaboration with the Youth of the Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office, and the Virginia State Police, hosted an interactive traffic safety event for the student body on Monday, March 18th.

While accompanied by a Virginia State Police trooper, students had the opportunity to drive a State Police golf-cart simulator through an obstacle course of cones. Students had to safely maneuver through the course while being exposed to a variety of distractions. The exercise was designed to show the dangers of distracted driving. In addition, the use of “DUI goggles” allowed the students to safely experience the dangers of driving while impaired.

RCHS students wore “DUI goggles” while driving through a Virginia State Police obstacle course Monday, allowing them to safely experience the dangers of driving while impaired. By Holly Jenkins

In a recent press release, Mary King, Program Manager for YOVASO, explained the benefits of the simulator exercise. “The simulator shows teens the consequences of risky driving behaviors. It creates a unique opportunity for students to talk with each other and law enforcement about driver and passenger safety.” The YOVASO program is funded by a grant provided by State Farm.

According to RCHS Senior, MacKensie Clark, “It (the simulator) was really helpful because it shows you how easily you can get distracted and hit something or someone.”

Fellow senior, Serenity Cortez added, “It was a great experience. It reminded me that driving is a privilege and you have to stay safe on the road.”

Later in the afternoon, the RCHS student body heard from Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. Colonel Settle, an RCHS alumni and Rappahannock native, spoke to the students about the importance of traffic safety. During the moving presentation, he shared a handful of tragic stories of young lives lost due to distracted driving or driving under the influence. At the conclusion, Colonel Settle stressed to the students the simple motto “Be smart- Be safe- Be sober.”

— Holly Jenkins

Commit to Be Fit goes bicoastal

Thursday, March 14th, was an incredibly productive day for the Commit to Be Fit (C2BF) Team. While C2BF team members typically present and attend conferences together, the theme of the day was “divide and conquer.” Between the team members, the Commit to Be Fit program was represented at three separate conferences in a single day.

Dr. Shannon Grimsley and Jackie Tederick presented at the Women Education Leaders in Virginia (WELV) 20th Annual Conference in Charlottesville. The duo presented “Commit to Be Fit: A Three-Pronged Approach to Creating a Culture of Wellness” and shared budget friendly tips for easy replication in other school divisions across the state of Virginia. According to Tederick, “It was an honor to present at the Women Education Leaders in Virginia Conference on behalf of the C2BF team.  Sharing ideas and the important message of creating a culture of wellness in the school community with other educators was amazing and fulfilling.”

Amanda Butler attended the VA Farm to School Conference presented by the Virginia Department of Education in Hampton. The conference was designed to help Virginia’s expanding Farm to School network increase procurement of local foods and educational opportunities in school gardens, cafeterias, and classrooms across the state.  Following the conference Butler stated, “I was able to network with other school districts about best practices and am coming back to RCPS inspired with new ideas!”

Commit to Be Fit’s Amanda Butler attended the VA Farm to School Conference in Hampton, designed to help Virginia’s expanding Farm to School network increase procurement of local foods in cafeterias across the state. Luke Christopher | Rappahannock News

Over on the West Coast, Holly Jenkins presented at the 2019 Napa Valley Student Wellness Conference. Like her teammates in Charlottesville, she presented each of the program’s three key areas: cafeteria, classroom, and community. In addition, she shared budget friendly tips for participants to implement in their own schools. Jenkins believed the experience was well worth the trip across the country: “This national conference was an invaluable opportunity to hear about other schools’ wellness initiatives while sharing all of the exciting things that C2BF is doing in Rappahannock. I’m grateful and honored to have had this experience to collaborate with so many inspiring wellness professionals.”

Commit to Be Fit is a school sponsored, grant funded program. Through the generosity of the PATH Foundation, Commit to Be Fit was created to promote healthier lifestyles for students, staff, and community residents and employees.

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