Skip to main content

February 2024 News & Highlights

Posted Date: 2/15/24 (2:39 PM)


Students at Venable Valenday's Day partyThursday, February 15, 2024
A Word From Dr. Gurley 

Hello and welcome to our February newsletter!  In light of Valentine’s Day yesterday, I wanted to reflect on love and connection and how I’ve been experiencing it in our schools and community. 

  • I see relationships on display when I visit our schools, whether a school-wide morning meeting at Burnley-Moran or even a lesson on fractions at Jackson-Via. And who wouldn’t smile when they see pictures of students gathered at Johnson’s Sneaker Ball Dance or this Venable Valentine's party (above).
  • I can hear the spirit from the packed student section at basketball games, whether the “Charlottesville Crazies” are cheering on our varsity girls and boys teams, or our newly created Medford League team.
  • I feel engaged with the City and community even in a challenging budget season. Even with difficult choices, I know that we all value our young people and want to see them thrive.
  • I appreciate the care behind PTOs sending Valentines treats to our hard-working staff.
  • I feel uplifted by our staff when I see them engaged in professional development so they can serve our students even better.
  • I am inspired when I meet with area partners to move forward on expanding career and technical education, deepening connections in and between our neighborhoods, and more.

Thanks for all the ways you engage with our students, staff, and community!

Dr. Gurley


📆 Upcoming Dates:
  • Monday, February 19: Schools and offices closed for Presidents Day.
  • Tuesday, March 5: No school for students (teacher workday/primary elections in schools)
  • Friday, March 15: No school for students (professional learning for staff) -- this was not included when first posted
  • Thursday, March 28: Last school day of third quarter
  • Friday, March 29, plus Monday-Friday April 1-5: No school for students (teacher workday, followed by Spring Break)

🧽 Theatre CHS Presents The SpongeBob Musical Starting Tonight! 

Looking for a fun night out? Bring the family or some friends for a fun evening celebrating our students. Plunge into this stunning all-singing, all-dancing, dynamic stage show as the citizens of Bikini Bottom protect their undersea world from a volcano. Showtimes are Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 15-17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, Feb. 18 at 3pm. Buy tickets here. Congrats to Director David Becker for leading students in another terrific production. Find more information about the show here.

🎉  Staff Celebrations

💲 Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle Awards Grants to Teachers in CCS & ACPS

Congratulations to Cville Schools teachers who won grants from the Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle!

  • Paula Chanda of Buford
  • Samantha Pagni of CHS
  • Jessica Pedersen of Jackson-Via
  • Michelle Schettler of Johnson 
  • Sabra Timmins (twice!) of Jackson-Via 
  • Amy Wissekerke of Walker 
The pix give clues about their grants -- click here to learn more. 

🎊 The Staff Celebrations Keep on Coming!
  • CHS economics and personal finance teacher and JMU alum Evaton Blackwood was the guest speaker for an event at JMU celebrating the start of Black History Month. Learn more here.

  • In the midst of a still-undefeated season for the CHS girls’ basketball team, Coach Jim Daly was honored for reaching 200 career wins. Jim also teaches economics and personal finance at CHS. Congratulations!

  • Student Activities Director Andy Jones was recently nominated for the “best male supporter” award given by HER SPORTS, which empowers, educates, and engages young women in sports. Learn more. (Our student nonimees are listed below.)

  • Cherry Stewart, ESL Special Counselor, was recently named to Charlottesville’s Sister Cities Commission (alongside our Social Studies and World Languages Coordinator, Dr. Alicen Brown). Learn more about Cherry’s many overseas adventures in the commission’s Facebook announcement. (And speaking of Sister Cities, this week CHS is hosting high schoolers from Besançon, France.)


Congratulations to the artists whose works were selected for the Virginia School Boards Association's regional art competition! Artworks are show cropped below. Well done, Lucy Benedict (Walker), Ruby Hoier (Buford), and Jinho Park(CHS)!


🔤 Time to Apply for Preschool and Childcare for Fall 2024

It's time to apply for free preschool and childcare for this fall! Programs in our schools and in our area serve qualifying children who will still be younger than 5 years old by September 30. Apply for free early childhood education through our local Go2Grow website. Learn more about preschool here!

🖤❤️💛💚 Black History Month Celebrations
From displays to living history museums to door decorations and school-wide meetings, we appreciate the ways our schools and teachers are celebrating Black History Month.  
Snowy penguin art by Mia, kindergarten, Clark School.

✍️ Take a Safety Survey to Give Feedback about 3 Possible Changes at CHS

After the Board presentation on February 1 (see Mini-MInutes, slides, or watch presentation here), a survey was opened to get feedback on three possible changes at CHS:

  1. Should the school begin using weapons detectors at sporting events, arrival, neither, or both?

  2. Should Charlottesville City Schools learn more about the partnership between the schools and police in Cambridge (MA), which uses “Youth Resource Officers” to build connections?

  3. Should we reconsider the CHS student cellphone policy, possibly allowing high school students to use phones at lunch and between classes?

Learn more and find the survey here. We are currently in feedback mode, not decision-making mode.


PDFs: English | Spanish español | Dariدری | Pashtoپښتو  | Arabic عربي | Swahili kiswahili


📅 Reminder: 2024-25 School Calendar Finalized with Start Date of August 14
In May 2023, the School Board approved the 2024-25 academic calendar. Next school year, school will start about one week early, with the first day of school on August 14, 2024. The year will also end about one week early, with the last day of school on May 30, 2025. (Quarter end dates have been adjusted.)
PDF of 2024-25 academic calendar. Click to go to PDF

📷Good News Glimpses

Johnson students review and write about books
Greenbrier friends
Walker principal visiting 4th grade Venable class

  • Left: Johnson 3rd-graders and their families at a series-book Reading Cafe.
  • Middle: Greenbrier friends at a school-wide meeting.  
  • Right: Walker Principal Summer Thompson visiting Venable 4th-graders to answer questions about next year!

Jackson-Via students and staff with 100 days of school hats

Jackson-Via students and staff celebrating 100 days of school earlier this week.

Buford students in swim competition

Buford students competing in the first swim meet of the year.


Clark students complete a rain/flood hands-on experiment
Burnley-Moran friends with snowman
Buford students collaborating in "Shark Tank"

  • Left: Clark students engaged in hands-on learning about rain vs. flooding (thanks to a Shannon Grant)!
  • Middle: Burnley-Moran students with a new (but temporary) friend.  
  • Right: A positive message on Valentine's Day (and every day) for students at Lugo-McGinness Academy and Knight School.


🎵 Music students Julia Crum (flute) and Gudron Campbell (cello) won the Youth Orchestra of Central Virginia's Concerto Competition!

🎙️ Quiz Bowl team won their first "Battle of the Brains" competition and will soon appear in a 2nd episode. Go Black Knights!

🌿 Nulia Obiorah and Nilab Sultan (shown) met with state reps to advocate for policies that promote youth health. They serve on the Y Street state leadership team, part of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. 
Nilab Sultan and Nulia Obiorah at state capitol

Green BACON group photo in front of Richmond capitol

🌎 Similarly, CHS's Green BACON environmental advocacy club (shown) met with Del. Katrina Callsen and Sen. Creigh Deeds to discuss this year's environmental bills. Del. Callsen introduced the club during the House General Session. (BACON is CHS's science and engineering club, the Best All-around Club of Nerds.)

🥓 More BACON news: At the FTC Robotics state tournament, CHS students nearly qualified for the final round amid tough competition. Upcoming competitions include the Science Olympiad team in Fredericksburg, and the Drone team in Hampton.

💲 Shrey Panicker was accepted into the 2024 Finance Career and Leadership Academy sponsored by Virginia National Bank!

📺 Media Spotlight:  CHS is hosting 23 French exchange students this week from our sister city, Besançon, showing them life at CHS from basketball to SpongeBob.

🏅CHS debate team (shown) won third in a state tournament of both public and private schools! Seven CHS students earned top-8 finishes. Ali Bird and Gabe Damiani placed 4th in Public Forum, and Lily Curtis placed 4th in Lincoln Douglas, meaning they are Virginia's "first alternates" for the National Speech and Debate Tournament. 
Debate team with bling
⚕️ February is Career and Technical Education month, and we're celebrating the programs we have to directly prepare students for careers, both at CATEC and also in our schools at CHS and Buford. CHS is looking partners and volunteers for their annual spring career fair on Wednesday, April 10 -- learn more here!

And now, for sports! Good luck to all our Black Knights as they rep us in regional or state competition.

We'll start with hoops:
  • 🏀 Our VHSL girls' basketball team just won the Jefferson District (JD) championship and remains undefeated! The boys were JD runners-up, with an also-strong record of 20-3.  UPDATE ON GAMES: The boys’ basketball game is tonight 2/16 at 7:15, but the girls’ basketball game has been postponed until Monday 2/19 at 6 (the opposing team could not travel due to the weather forecast). Get tickets.
  • 🏀 For individual hoops honors, Quels Allen and Aidan Yates notched their 1000-point marks AND both were named district players of the year! Other girls who earned district honors include: Allen and and Avery Stavitski (1st team); Kayla Drumheller, Eva Floyd, and Elaina Pierce (2nd team), and  Makiaya Brown, Kiley Jones, and Caitlin King (honorable mention). And for the boys, Luka Matic joined Yates on the 1st team; and Marjaylen Jackson and Jacoby Lynch earned honorable mention.
  • 📺 NBC29 ran a nice story about how current girls' hoops team is drawing inspiration and support from our 2001 undefeated state champs.
  • 🏀 This year, CHS joined the all-ability Medford Basketball League, and the team has qualified for the quarterfinals on 2/20!

    Medford League Team


And in other sports:

  • 🏊 The CHS swim team is sending lots of talent to the state tournament. Teddy Buckner recently broke the school record in the 100 breast stroke with a time of 1:01.63.  

  • 🤼 At least 3 CHS wrestlers will compete in the state tournament starting Friday. At regionals, Walter Pilkey won the 144lb title, Taher Amon placed 2nd at 157lb, and Adriel Pena placed 3rd at 106lb. Watch a video of them prepping. Darmal Danish finished 5th, making him a state alternate. Darmal was recently spotlighted in The Daily Progress for both his physical and personal strength.

  • 👟 Good luck to our indoor track/field athletes (too many to name) competing at regionals this Friday! Callan Smith, the defending state champ for outdoor pole vault, was recently honored as the CBS 19 student athlete of the week

  • 🏆 CHS student nominations for HER sports awards are: Samanatha Leblang (swimming), Quels Allen & Avery Stavitski (basketball), Elaina Pierce (H.U.S.T.L.E & Track & Field), Julia Singh (tennis), and varsity girls' basketball (best team).

state wrestlers

School Board Update: Mini-Minutes, Budget Updates

  • February Mini-Minutes are here.

  • As a reminder, we face a projected $3 million reduction of funding from the state (per the Governor’s draft budget). From the Mini-Minutes: we are not in a position of making cuts to any programs or staff. However, this budget season still requires difficult choices about how to meet the schools' growing needs while maintaining our commitment to providing competitive staff salaries/benefits. The budget supports: the additional 2% mid-year raise implemented on 1/1/2024, a step (base pay increase) salary action for teachers and support staff, increases to City Contracts for maintenance and pupil transportation, and 2 full-time employees to support enrollment growth.

  • Slides from last week’s budget work session with City Council

  • Next Budget Work Session: tonight, 5pm, Walker Cafeteria. Register for Zoom.

School Board Updates with Cville Schools logo

DO YOU KNOW A COMMUNITY MEMBER WHO WOULD ENJOY THIS NEWSLETTER?  Forward this email and encourage them to subscribe