Fluvanna Review

Fluvanna High School was named a silver medal winner in the U.S. News and World Reports 2016 ranking of the Best High Schools In America. Principal James Barlow is celebrating the win – but he is not satisfied.
“I would love to get the gold - that’s the bottom line,” said Barlow with a smile. “I want Fluvanna High School to be in the top ten schools in the state.”
“Getting a gold medal would be really difficult,” said Fluvanna Schools’ Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Gilliam, “but we are still working for it. Only 500 schools in the country earn gold medals,” she said.
The ranking is made using a complicated calculation that includes graduation rates, SOL scores, the size of the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students, and scores on AP tests. Fluvanna High School was ranked number 50 in the Commonwealth. More than half of the schools in the top 50 are located in Northern Virginia; almost all of the rest are in the Richmond and Tidewater areas. No other school in this area won a gold or silver rank.
“I’m just really proud of them,” said Gilliam. “The high school gets awards because it is the culminating thing, but this is really an award for everybody, all the way through. Once you strengthen the curriculum at the lower grades you see the results at the high school. I am just really proud of all of our students and staff.”
Gilliam said they focus on offering AP (Advanced Placement) classes. “There are AP classes in things like world geography, and statistics,” Gilliam said. “These are not easy courses.” She added that the school system has been working to make the AP classes more broadly accessible and credits that work with helping secure the silver medal.
“Taking AP classes and success in AP is not decided when they walk through the doors of the high school,” said Gilliam. “It really starts in kindergarten. That is why we are continuously looking at the curriculum in the lower grades and increasing the rigor of those courses and encouraging the students to take these more challenging classes. It takes a lot of preparation.”
Barlow credits his administrative staff, school staff, and the students themselves with the school’s success. “This is our third silver medal,” he said. “I think this one means more to me, because one year we did not get any medal. This is getting back into the ballgame.”
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Fluvanna Art Assoication members (front) Page Gifford, Maria Carter,Deborah Nixon, Gayle Bielanski (back) Loli Stams, Izzy Hickey, Mickey Meyer and Carolyn Brown.It was a long time in coming, but a small group of members from the Fluvanna Art Association finally spread their wings and traveled over to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Member Gayle Bielanski, arranged for a private tour of a couple of exhibits the members were interested in, including the late 19th century and 20th century American art. The members looked in awe at the opulence reflected in the period of the late 19th century. Pam, their guide for the tour, explained this was commonplace for wealthy individuals to display their wealth openly. Pam skillfully combined elements of these periods, to complete an interesting art history as the members toured the American wing.

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A discussion at the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday night (April 20) turned awkward as Supervisor Mozell Booker proposed changes to how the Board handles electing its chairperson.
Rather than electing the chair, which Booker said leads to what she considers harmful lobbying and soliciting of votes, Booker proposed a rotation schedule. That way all supervisors interested in serving as chair receive a chance.
After the meeting, Booker said that her proposal stemmed partially from her discontent with the way in which Chairman Mike Sheridan was elected on Jan. 6.
Last Nov. 4, Sheridan announced he would recuse himself from the controversial votes on the James River water project since part of the pipeline was slated to run through his land. Then health concerns drove him to take a leave of absence from the Board starting Dec. 2.
Sheridan attended the Board’s Jan. 6 organizational meeting at which he was elected chair, but left early due to health concerns. The water project votes were put to rest at the Board’s next meeting on Jan. 20, and Sheridan returned from his leave of absence for the following meeting on Feb. 3.
“When Mike came in and hadn’t been to a meeting in two months and then shows up at the first meeting [of the year] – I was surprised when he walked in,” said Booker. “And then he didn’t come back for the next meeting, which was a very important meeting. I chaired the meeting. And that was very strange.
“I have nothing against Mike being chair,” continued Booker. “But the night he came in for the chair position he said, ‘I would really like to try the chair. Would you support me?’ It was out of the blue.”
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Photo by Tricia JohnsonPromise of quicker alert to parents
A drug search of the Fluvanna County High School Friday (April 15) netted one misdemeanor drug charge on a juvenile, according to a press release from the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office.
Drug sniffing dog units from Albemarle, Charlottesville, and Buckingham helped with the search, which was conducted at the request of the public school system, according to the release.
The high school was locked down for the search starting at around 9:10 a.m., said Superintendent Gena Keller. Around 9:45 a.m. the school system notified parents of the situation via voice message and email. The lockdown ended around 10 a.m., Keller said.
During that half-hour gap, some parents got word that their children were locked down in the high school but didn’t know why. The news spread via social media and word of mouth. Since a lockdown can indicate the presence of an intruder, some parents expressed concern for their children’s wellbeing.
“One thing I know we would do differently next time is we would disseminate the alert to our parents within a five to 10 minute time frame versus 30 minutes,” said Keller about the delay. “The reality is the world we live in is pretty scary. We waited in order not to compromise the search. However, we definitely realize that there’s a need to disseminate that information a bit more quickly.”
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Ian Jackson, of I and J Home Builders talked to the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association Board at Thursday (June 28) night’s board meeting about more than 30 acres he hopes to buy on the Lake side of Route 618. Jackson said he plans to build homes that would cost between $190,000 and $200,000.

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