Fluvanna Review

Jane SmithLet’s admit it, when students know that they have a substitute teacher, they assume they have a day off.  That would not be the case for a very special substitute teacher named Jane Smith.

Smith may be the oldest active substitute teacher in Virginia. Subbing for Buckingham County Public Schools for almost 20 years, Smith, at the age of 86, reports to the school division’s classrooms on a fairly consistent basis; she’s a regular at Buckingham Middle School.

Why would an 86-year-old go into the classroom when she could be doing most anything else? Because of her love for children and the joy of teaching.
Originally from Page County, Smith attended Radford University (nee College). Because her husband was a forester, the family moved to a number of locations in Virginia. While living in Charlotte County, Smith taught at Randolph Henry High School – she recalls teaching Gene Dixon, Jr. and Patrick Henry’s great-great grandson – where she also ran the debate team. “Those were wonderful years,” said Smith.

Sadly, those wonderful years ended when Smith and her husband had to deal with the death of their college-aged son at the hands of a drunk driver. “That destroyed our marriage,” said Smith. “My husband was angry and could not get over our son’s death.”

Smith, now a single woman, entered Union Seminary in Richmond to earn a master’s in religious education. “Those four years in Richmond were enriching,” she said. “I went into very depressed areas of the city to assist in feeding the poor. I found out what life was really about. It allowed my life to broaden and see across cultural and economic lines.” Add a comment


AthletesAt the end of each sports season, Fluvanna County High School holds an awards banquet for the athletes who have participated in the school’s various athletic activities in that season. The fall banquet for 2017 was held Monday, Nov. 20 in the high school cafeteria. With athletes, coaches, parents, grandparents and siblings in attendance, the cafeteria was quite full.

Scott Morris, high school activities director, was the master of ceremonies as usual. After everyone had been through the food lines, Morris began the ritual of calling on each of the coaches to come to the microphone and give a brief summary of their team’s season and to acknowledge the athletes who achieved District, Region and sometimes State honors.

First to the microphone was volleyball Coach Christi Harlowe-Garrett, who said that her team had a great season. She reported that All-District honors were won by Katie Morris, honorable mention, and by Christi Walker, second team. First team selections were Abby Sherman and Candice Shaheen. At the Regional level, Walker was an honorable mention selection, while Sherman made the second team.

Shaheen was named to the Regional first team as the top libero in the Region. The libero is a defensive player who is expected to “dig” out the other team’s intended kill shots and thus keep the ball in play. Shaheen was tremendous at this task. This season she set the Fluvanna school record for most digs in a match, most digs in a season, and most digs in a career.

Golf Coach Bryan Searcy was next up and he noted that his squad had a nice season, recording consistently improving scores. The highlight of the golf team’s season was a victory over Charlottesville. Searcy noted that all his players will return next season.  Add a comment


The Fourth of July this year was dreary and overcast with frequent periods of drizzle and some short bursts of heavy rain. Athletes at Lake Monticello were undeterred.

The annual Spirit 5K run came off on schedule at 7 a.m. Although it drizzled before the start, the runners were mostly dry during the event. The threatening weather did reduce the number of participants this year, but a substantial 164 athletes participated.


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Diana PickralDiana Pickral earned her degree in history from Roanoke College, though she was interested in English, but none of that mattered when her boss got one of the first PCs and together they figured out how it worked. Pickral volunteered to take on the task.

“I learned the computer from scratch and then I learned about graphics, databases and marketing. I got excited about computers,” she said. “It kept my mind alive and to keep those skills strong I applied them to my volunteer work.”

For Pickral, the ‘60s were still a struggle for women getting an education and pursuing a career other than teaching or nursing. Her father, a professor, was a shining example to Pickral of what education could do in life, and she admired that.

Pickral’s duties took her in a direction she never expected, yet enjoyed. She learned about computers and finance at a time when women didn’t have much involvement in those areas. Like her mother, Pickral was a maverick. She recalled her mother’s contributions as a volunteer.

Her mother raised funds for Rockbridge Mental Health and was conservation chair for the Garden Club of Virginia, but Pickral remembered her mother being an environmentalist before it was trendy. Her mother fought alongside others and with the Perry Foundation to stop the taking down of trees in Goshen Pass.

“For years many of us would go there to our favorite swimming hole,” she said. Her mother and the others were successful in defeating those who were bent on destroying a natural area special to those in nearby communities. To this day, Pickral still visits that area from time to time, remembering her mother sticking to her convictions and taking the time to make a difference and change lives. Add a comment


A debate which has dogged the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors since early spring was finally put to rest at its meeting Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 7) when a majority of supervisors voted to retain land use in its current form.

The 3-2 vote (Supervisors Tony O’Brien and Mozell Booker dissenting) came after heated discussion in which O’Brien, the only supervisor without land in the program, pointed to what he saw as conflicts of interest among other supervisors and suggested some of them recuse themselves from the vote.
Land use, a program conceived in the 1970s, gives substantial tax breaks to landowners who keep their property rural through agricultural, forestal, or open space uses. But it comes at a price. During the most recent budget season, county staff said that the land use program had cost Fluvanna $2.7 million in uncollected revenue the preceding year.

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