Good things happening at high school

By Ruthann Carr

Quick. Close your eyes and think of Fluvanna County High School.

What comes to mind?

Principal Margo Bruce knows people hear a lot about what goes on at the high school, but it may not be the good stuff – and she said there’s a lot of it.

“Did you know six of our special education students have been invited to Disney World to compete in the Special Olympics in June?” Bruce said. “All expenses paid. Nick Ward, their teacher, is going with them.”

It’s not that there aren’t difficulties.

One thing Bruce is starting to focus on is attendance.

“There’s been a lot of anxiety (among students) about coming back to school,” Bruce said. “We had social isolation for a year and a half. You change. It’s taking a toll. They’re afraid of COVID. Of taking it back to a relative.”

And Bruce said some students have tried some of the TikTok monthly challenges involving bad acts in school, but she isn’t ignoring it.

One challenge was to damage bathrooms. Some students ripped soap dispensers off the walls, did nasty things to them and posted pictures.

But Bruce is letting them live with the consequences.

“I’m not putting them back up (while this continues). They have hand sanitizer (they can use),” she said.

More important to her is all the positive things:

  • Homecoming celebrations;
  • Outside pep rallies;
  • The 8th grade dance and homecoming dance outside under a big tent;
  • Student-led breast cancer walk;
  • Starting Nov. 1, each Monday and Wednesday students can attend a study hall from 3:45 – 5:30 p.m.

“We’re just trying to be creative and giving them what they need,” she said.

Bruce is also looking forward to Family Engagement night.

“We’ll bring students and parents together in a team-building effort, encouraging students to engage with parents and teachers,” she said. “And it teaches parents and teachers empathy – to see what it’s like to be in an English class – to be a student.”

Bruce said she knows teachers are struggling, too.

That’s why at a recent faculty meeting Bruce said she just let them vent – say whatever they wanted. There’s talk of starting a teacher support group.

Bruce gets in the habit of just stopping by a classroom and seeing what the teacher needs, rather than sitting in the back watching.

“It’s the little things that mean a lot.”

On the high school website there’s a parent hub and a teacher hub. That allows parents and teachers to stay informed, to ask questions and to express their concerns about things they hear.

There’s a philosophy that Bruce holds: “You can’t put children in a box. You can’t teach them in a box. You have to remove the limits you place on yourself and others.”

There’s another initiative in the high school: PRIDE, which stands for Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Determination and Expectations. Students are encouraged to strive for that in showing school pride.

And just for a few more good things to report:

  • Seniors Mackenzie Swain and Rachel Warden were name 2022 National Merit® Commended Students;
  • The cheerleading squad won the Jefferson District;
  • Emily Farist placed second in the Future Farmers of America small engine troubleshooting category;
  • New, student-initiated clubs: Modeling, bike, dance.
  • Student Diver Davis won gold in the World Union of Karate –Do Championships in Romania in September;
  • Ava Amato was the CBS19 Student Athlete of the Week.

Finally, the school’s literary magazine and yearbook won honors. FCHS received a “Superior” rating (the highest rating possible) from VHSL for the school’s 2021 Literary Magazine ( and an “Excellent” rating for our 2021 Fluvannual Yearbook.

“I’m especially proud of our 2021 journalism team for receiving these ratings in a year that was partially virtual,” said Elizabeth Pellicane, the M.A. Communication, Journalism Adviser . “The Yearbook students had to rely on crowd-sourcing for almost all of the photos, interviews, and reporting that went into creating the book, while the Literary Magazine Club created nearly all of the magazine through Google meetings.  The students involved include:

2021 Yearbook Editor: Mia Martinez;

2021 Social Media Manager: Evie Benson;

Yearbook key staffers include Ally Lounsbury, Gabrielle Etchison, Asiana Hawkins, Claire Barnett, Matt Gresham, Emma Poulin, Maya Knisley, Madison Fain, Alayna Wyche, Bobby Smith, Kaitlyn Costanzo, Sophia Harris;

2021 Literary Magazine Club – Mia Smith (editor), Mia Martinez, Kessler Potter, Haliey Leake, Riley Yowell.

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