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Percentage of Fluvanna school-aged children not in public school lower than national average

One School Board candidate intimated students are leaving Fluvanna County Public Schools (FCPS) in droves.

Is that true?

Like most things, there are no simple answers.  Multiple factors go into a parent’s choice to homeschool or send a child to private school.

Six Fluvanna families agreed to tell their stories of why they don’t send their children to public schools. While each story is unique, most had two things in common: a dissatisfaction with their public school experience and a desire for more control over what their child learned and how it was taught.

Here are some facts:

FCPS are one of only 22 Virginia districts fully accredited four years in a row.

The FCPS on-time, overall graduation rate in 2017 was 97.4 percent, placing it fourth out of 132 districts. FCPS students categorized as disadvantaged graduated at 98.7 percent; black students graduated at 100 percent.
There are 169 Fluvanna school-aged students going to five private schools in Fluvanna: Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA), Effort Christian School, Open Door Christian School, The Light Academy and Saint Nicholas Learning Center.

There are 228 students who are homeschooled and 55 who have a religious exemption from attending public school.

All told, there are 452 school-aged children in Fluvanna who are either homeschooled or attend a private school in Fluvanna.

Nationally in 2016, 10 percent of school-aged children attended private schools and 3.4 percent were homeschooled – totaling 13.4 percent of children who don’t attend public schools. That’s according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Add a comment

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Now that the dust has settled over the Nov. 7 election, political junkies can enjoy poring over data reflecting how Fluvanna County voted.

The best approximation of voter turnout in Fluvanna is probably the governor’s race, which generated the most votes cast county-wide. About 51 percent of the county’s nearly 18,000 registered voters chose to cast a ballot for governor.

Joyce Pace, Fluvanna registrar, said that voter turnout in 2015, the last non-presidential election year, was 29 percent. In general, however, this year’s turnout was fairly typical for a non-presidential election with several local races.

Fluvanna voted Republican in all five non-local races: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, 58th District delegate and 65th District delegate. Statewide, Democrats prevailed in the first three races, but Fluvanna’s two incumbent Republican delegates retained their seats.

State races
Fluvanna went for Ed Gillespie, Republican candidate for governor, by 52.7 percent. Democrat Ralph Northam, who took the race statewide with 53.9 percent of the vote, won only 46.3 percent of Fluvanna voters. Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra earned less than 1 percent of Fluvanna’s vote.

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SigningThe words “signing day” are music to the ears of many athletes, especially one of Fluvanna’s seniors.

Baseball player and Fluvanna County High School senior Shaun Holyfield signed with George Washington University Nov. 8 at the high school.

Holyfield had been offered spots at other schools, but ultimately decided that George Washington University was the best choice for him academically and athletically, he said.

Baseball was Holyfield’s first sport, and he’s been in love with it since he was four years old. In addition to his time playing for Fluvanna, Holyfield has also played travel baseball for the Mid-Atlantic Orioles.

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Painting by WeidenheimerMany artists enjoy painting landscapes for a variety of reasons, often thinking they are easier than painting the human form, but are unaware of the pitfalls in landscapes. Clouds can be horrendous to master and amateur clouds look like suspended cotton balls in a massive swath of blue. Skies are challenging and whether artists who attempt a landscape realize it or not, trees are just as challenging. They can, however, be mastered with practice and good technique, according to artist Troy Weidenheimer. At a packed monthly Fluvanna Art Association workshop, members learned new skills about painting autumn trees.

“Children paint lollipop trees or something resembling a power plant,” he said, then discussed the shapes of trees and why they form the way they do. Those who are learning art sometimes fail to understand the science behind what they see. Weidenheimer often cautions members about the pitfalls of not looking at the shapes and perspective of objects, especially in landscapes.

“Amateurs paint flat trees, ignoring light and shadows,” he said. “We don’t seem to appreciate that it is a large three-dimensional object and for the sake of perspective, it is rounded rather than flat.”

Paintbrushes are key to recreating realistic trees.

“There is no brush that can replicate every branch and twig of a bare tree; artists give the illusion,” he said. “The Chinese use the armpit hair of a mouse.” The members laughed. He said he uses a small half-size paintbrush, which is not always easy to find. Weidenheimer said a rigger makes “clunky branches but is great for grass.” He did not recommend the stencil brush either, because it is too hard. His favorite is an oriental brush that can sweep a line easily from thick to wispy. Add a comment

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Jeffrey BlandJeffrey Bland is one of those people whom one might call a modern day Renaissance man. As an architectural designer and draftsman, Bland looks around in his environment for ideas on style and improvement. For example, he didn’t buy bamboo brushes to do his Sumi-e Japanese ink painting, he crafted his own bamboo brushes using deer and elk hair. He pursues his curiosity.

Born in Queens, N.Y., Bland showed design talent at an early age and in high school, his art teacher influenced him with her encouragement.

“She pushed me to draw objects and subjects I was uncomfortable with or felt I couldn’t do,” he said. “I have always had an interest in art and that led me into architecture.”

He received an associate’s degree in architectural design and engineering theory and ended up working for a mechanical, architectural, consulting and engineering firm as a mechanical designer and draftsman.

“After school there were positions open in the architectural and mechanical disciplines. The salary for the mechanical position was paying more than the architectural position so being young and single I went the mechanical route, but always maintained my love for art and would draw, paint and sculpt as a hobby,” he said.

As a mechanical designer he became part of the design team for new work and renovations of HVAC systems for commercial and federal buildings, including the United Nations building and World Trade Center in New York, the patent and trademark office complex in Alexandria, the Forensic Medical Center of Maryland, air traffic control towers, and renovation of the Pentagon.

He said the most challenging part of what he does is finding resources to help him figure out something he wants to do but has no idea where to begin. Add a comment

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