Fluvanna Review

Maria Carter won first place in the oil/acrylic category for Field of Flowers Photo by Page H. GiffordTrilbie Knap, a watercolorist from Charlottesville was the judge for the Fluvanna Art Association’s annual juried show. The show, currently at the Fluvanna County Library through December, features some striking works by members.

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Photo by Christina Dimeo Guseman

Tucked away in Fluvanna County is one of the nation’s top 10 private special needs schools.
Oakland School, located on Rt. 616 in Keswick, was just ranked #9 in the country by Master’s in Special Education Program Guide, a website dedicated to providing “high-quality, well-researched education and career resources for individuals considering a master’s in special education or a related field.”
Of all the private special needs schools in the United States, Oakland School made the cut because of its rich curriculum, low student-teacher ratio, and “unique programs which transcend the basic academic curricula,” as the Master’s website put it.
One of those programs is found in the school’s horse stables. Each student at Oakland can choose to spend an hour every other day horseback riding, and then do barn work like mucking stalls, sweeping, and grooming horses. “A lot of the kids choose to do it,” said Jamie Cato, admissions director at Oakland. “It teaches them responsibility.”
During the last weekend of summer camp, the school hosts a horse show. “All the families come and get to see their kids ride,” Cato said. “They have a picnic lunch and a summer showcase in which all their work is displayed from their classes.”
The equestrian program has been a big success in connecting with Oakland’s students. “A lot of students come to Oakland and have struggled in their previous schools,” Cato said. “They have low self-esteem. When they get to take care of a horse, this large animal, it really helps build their confidence.”
Students who struggle in a traditional classroom often find themselves at home at Oakland, Cato said. As its website states, Oakland School “is a small co-ed boarding and day school that enables bright children who benefit from a small class size and individualized programs to reach their academic and personal potential.” Oakland focuses on helping students learn, instilling them with confidence, and then – perhaps surprisingly – sending them back to a traditional classroom at their appropriate grade level.
“We see ourselves as working hand-in-hand with the public schools,” said Head of School Carol Williams. “They do a great job but they can’t do everything. A lot of the kids that come in the summer are coming for a boost to help them have more of a productive year in their own classroom in the fall.”
Part of what sets Oakland apart, said Williams, is how individualized it is. “We look at the strengths and weaknesses of each student,” she explained. “We’re not bound by grade levels and what those particular grades need to do, so we teach individually to every student.”

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Debra Lucado, Renny Megahan, Jeff Craig and Joe Chesser cut the ribbon. Photo by Page H. Gifford Attracting shoppers locally and supporting the newly stocked Fluvanna Ace Hardware (formerly Do It Best) was Joe Chesser’s message to the group of well-wishers gathered at Friday’s (Sept. 12) ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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This FlucoFinder column’s goal is to share with the community, information about the schools. Here you will find news of events and activities of public interest, with details and contact information. The FlucoFinder logo was designed by Brendan Murray, a 2013 Fluvanna County High School graduate.
Fluvanna High School
• Ongoing: Mr. David Small’s TV production group will be producing and taping sporting events at School Board meetings for viewing on Charlottesville public access channel 14 and on Lake Monticello’s channel 977.

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A strange series of events unfolded in just the wrong way to cause Brandon Chad Bruce’s accidental death in a July 3 car fire, Fluvanna County investigators have determined.
Their conclusions are based on their own investigative work, the findings of arson investigators, the findings of the medical examiners’ office in Richmond and some educated guesses.
According to investigators:
In the wee hours of July 3, Bruce headed to his Rising Sun Road home from a neighbor’s house, in his grandmother’s car. But in the course of navigating the winding road in the dark, two of the car’s tires ran off the side, causing the vehicle to jump a driveway, strike a metal culvert, snap a mailbox post, and plow through a ditch.
He was able to spin the car’s tire enough to get out of the ditch and make it home – only 350 yards away – and park the car exactly where his grandmother had left it.
Though the damage to the 1995 Lexus looked minor, it was in fact deadly.
The bottom of the car was banged up by the accident. The exhaust system was damaged. Some wiring under the car was broken and later showed signs of an electrical short. Even the fuel line was damaged. It’s possible that something in the car began to smolder before Bruce even made it home.
“If hot fuel or hot brake fluid spatters on a hot object, like the exhaust system, it will ignite,” said Lt. David R. Wells, who investigated the case. “We’ve even seen weeds catch fire during a spin-out.”
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