Graduation plans for the Class of 2020 are ongoing by Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), as are renovation costs for A.S. Rhodes Elementary School.
The Warren County School Board during its May 20 regular meeting unanimously voted to approve and provide authorization for the interim superintendent to sign an upgrade agreement with the Front Royal Electric Co. totaling $17,859.54 for labor, overhead, equipment, and materials. The work will be performed by the Town of Front Royal’s Department of Energy Services.
The renovation design for A.S. Rhodes Elementary School included the upgraded electrical service, which will support the new HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and other related building systems, according to WCPS Maintenance Director Greg Livesay.
“This requires a larger transformer, additional utility pole and the necessary underground primary conductors and wiring between the utility pole and transformer,” explained Livesay, who attended the meeting remotely. “This work can only be accomplished by the utility provider, Front Royal Electric” and was not included in the original base bid.
Fork District School Board member Catherine Bower motioned to approve the request while Happy Creek District School Board member James Wells seconded the motion, with School Board members Kristin Pence (South River District) and Ralph Rinaldi (Shenandoah District), who attended remotely, and Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr. (North River District) also voting to approve the item.
Livesay said that the estimated installation for the new services are expected to occur in early June, which would allow the electrical subcontractor to maintain its schedule for providing the new electrical.
During the work session portion of the School Board’s meeting, WCPS Interim Superintendent Melody Sheppard provided an update on commencement discussions regarding the Class of 2020, which to date has been unable to hold traditional celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheppard reported that a May 12 survey was sent to all high school seniors at both Skyline High School and Warren County High School detailing two types of graduation ceremonies being considered for the Class of 2020. According to Sheppard, the two choices were:
1. Individual Graduation Ceremony, which would be held during the first part of June and would allow a scheduled time for each senior to graduate. Each senior would wear a cap and gown and parents would be invited to attend. Seniors would walk across the stage and accept their diplomas and pose for photos. A video compilation of the individual graduation ceremonies then would be distributed to all seniors.
2. Traditional Graduation Ceremony with a contingency plan that would take place during the first weekend in August. The ceremony would be held in the football stadium at each high school. The graduates would sit in chairs spaced 6-feet apart on the field. Each graduating senior would be allowed to invite four people, who would sit in groups on both the home and visitor bleachers in each high school stadium. There would be plans in place to ensure social distancing. Part of the contingency plan would be that if a traditional graduation ceremony could not be held due to the number of people allowed in one place, WCPS would hold individual graduation ceremonies during the first part of August.
The survey, which ended on May 17, asked the high school seniors to weigh-in on which ceremony they preferred, Sheppard said, noting that almost 50 percent of them chose option #2.
Sheppard said she meets on Thursday with the Graduation Committee to continue discussing the plan and related safety protocols. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office also would be involved with the outdoor graduation ceremonies to help with crowd control, she said.
In other action items, the Warren County School Board unanimously approved a resolution regarding its need to hold closed meetings for interviewing WCPS superintendent candidates.
Section 2.2-3712 of the Code of Virginia allows public bodies to announce such closed meetings at a prior open meeting. Such announcements are good for 15 days. The School Board intends to start interviewing candidates later this month.
The School Board also unanimously approved additional teacher and instructional assistant positions to support the increase in Virginia Preschool Initiative slots awarded by the Virginia Department of Education.
“This will allow us to serve 130 students versus the 92 we are now able to serve,” said WCPS Special Services Director Michael Hirsch. “This will generate $114,000, which will cover the cost of the teacher and instructional assistant salaries and benefits at a total of $94,491.”
Additionally, the School Board unanimously voted to approve the donation of a 2003 International School bus (unit #64) to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Bus #64 is well past its service life and was removed from the fleet, WCPS Transportation Director Aaron Mitchell told School Board members on Wednesday night. “The floor needs to be replaced and the cost to replace it makes it no longer financially viable to keep it in the fleet,” he said, adding that the air conditioning units also need to be replaced.
The vehicle has been parked and was set for disposal when WCPS found out that the sheriff’s office needed a vehicle that could be transformed into an incident command unit, Mitchell explained, noting that the sheriff’s office would be responsible for the cost of converting the bus.
The School Board’s next meeting will be held on June 3. To view the entire School Board May 20 meeting, watch the Royal Examiner video below.
American Cancer Society asks for support for #GivingTuesday and beyond
In the midst of a devastating pandemic, Americans are facing unprecedented challenges. This is especially true for the 1.8 million Americans diagnosed with cancer during 2020. In addition to being especially vulnerable to coronavirus, more than one of every four cancer patients and survivors had delays in care due to COVID-19, which has upended lives and uniquely challenged cancer patients, survivors and their families. Patients have had to go through treatment alone and the need to quarantine has created isolation. To fill this void, the American Cancer Society added face-to-face video chats to its free, 24-hour cancer hotline that provides cancer support and resources at 1-800-227-2345.
COVID-19 has placed the American Cancer Society (ACS) in crisis for the first time in the Society’s 107-year history, creating a $200 million shortfall in fundraising, reducing cancer research funding by 50% this year, and challenging the Society’s ability to provide cancer patients and their caregivers support during an unprecedented time.
Nancy Marx, an American Cancer Society volunteer, has been the primary caregiver to her best friend Pat Burger, who was treated for breast cancer during COVID-19. “No one could go in with my friend to support her during her treatment. Her sister, her husband and I had to quarantine so we could safely take care of her. Other family couldn’t come visit. When she finished radiation treatment and rang the bell at the cancer center, no family or friends were with her. All her conferences with doctors and the cancer team were virtual. I was so upset for her.”
Caregivers, not only cancer patients, need support during the stress of a cancer journey. Nancy, a long-time Relay For Life participant, called the American Cancer Society’s 800 number cancer hotline for support. “The 800 number is there for everything you want to know about cancer. I didn’t understand certain medical terms and new medicines. The Society’s trained cancer specialists are there to talk and help. I felt much better after my call,” said Nancy.
On #GivingTuesday and throughout the month of December, the Society is asking for the public’s support. ACS is the largest non-profit funder of cancer research outside the federal government and provides vital services addressing health disparities and round-the-clock patient support despite the times. Due to the pandemic’s crippling impact, cancer patients, caregivers and survivors are turning to the American Cancer Society for information and resources to navigate COVID-19.
To donate to the American Cancer Society on #GivingTuesday or throughout the month of December, go to: cancer.org or go to Warren County/Front Royal Relay For Life at www.relayforlife.org/warrenva and donate locally to the American Cancer Society.
Edward Jones financial advisor Bret Hrbek receives Spirit of Caring Award
Bret Hrbek of the financial services firm Edward Jones in Front Royal recently received the firm’s exclusive Spirit of Caring Award designed to recognize those financial advisors who exemplify the values, culture and spirit of giving back.
Hrbek is a leader in the firm and an example of what a dedicated Edward Jones financial advisor can achieve. He has demonstrated unyielding dedication to giving back to his clients, community, other financial advisors, branch teams and their regional network.
Hrbek said he is honored to receive the award.
“Edward Jones is a partnership. That structure is not just financial, it’s a philosophy,” Hrbek said. “We work together, help each other and all share in the rewards of working with long-term individual investors. That brings out the best in everyone.”
Hrbek was one of only 295 of the firm’s more than 19,000 financial advisors to receive the award.
Bret Hrbek’s office is located at 986 John Marshall Highway, Front Royal, Virginia.
Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm’s business, from the investments offered to the location of branch offices, caters to individual investors. The firm’s 19,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients with a total of $1.2 trillion in client assets under care. Visit edwardjones.com or the recruiting website at careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.
Shopping Small promotion announces first winners
Shopping Small does have its rewards in Front Royal.
Sue Laurence of Key Move Properties announced the winners of the first drawing this week. Weekly winners will receive gift bags of local business donated goods including gift cards. The value of gift bags may vary.
The BIG prize goes to Bridget Barker – A gift certificate/vouchers from the following merchants – C&C Frozen Treats, Try Thai, White Picket Fence, Ole Timers Antiques, and Key Move Properties.
Joe Nelson – A gift certificate from Royal Bowling Center
Jen Avery – A gift certificate from Royal Bowling Center
Nancy Nelson – A gift certificate from Jennerations Hair Studio
Tina Paulisch – A gift certificate from The Studio
Karen Moxie – A gift certificate from Sensational Hair Cutters
VAEA recognizes Andrea Stuart as a 2020 VAEA Distinguished Fellow
Andrea Stuart, high school art educator for Warren County Public Schools in Front Royal, Virginia, has been inducted into the VAEA Distinguished Fellows, an honored group of members who have performed extraordinary service. A virtual ceremony took place during the VAEA Professional Development Conference on November 14, 2020.
Ms. Stuart has taught at Warren County High School in the Visual Arts Department since 1994 and is currently teaching photography and graphic arts. Through Advanced Placement art courses and an independent study program, she mentors students who express an interest in pursuing careers in photography or graphic design. As Art Department Chair, she has steered the art department to participate in VAEA Youth Art Month programs and local, regional, and state exhibitions. She was recognized as the VAEA Blue Ridge Region Art Teacher of the Year in 2003 and VAEA Secondary Art Educator of the Year in 2013. Ms. Stuart’s role as an adjunct professor at Lord Fairfax Community College helped lead to dual enrollment programs which enabled high school art students to earn college credit.
Ms. Stuart has spent her lengthy career enhancing the quality of Virginia art education and supporting her colleagues at the regional and state levels. A member of the VAEA Blue Ridge Region Board since 1996, Ms. Stuart has facilitated many professional development activities for the membership, participated as local chair/co-chair for state conferences, and has been a frequent presenter. She is also an avid learner, participating often in workshops, conferences, and educational travel to enhance her own knowledge and effectiveness. She is a prolific artist, exhibits regularly, and owns her own photography business. According to her nominator, Ms. Stuart is “a consummate professional, creative artist, and compassionate teacher” and the VAEA is proud to recognize her accomplishments and contributions.
Community-driven report reflects recommendations of the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group
Governor Ralph Northam has released the Administration’s report on the impact of legalizing adult-use marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The report is the final product of the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group, and it results from a diverse, stakeholder-driven process that involved community leaders, healthcare professionals, policy experts, and government officials. This month-long effort was a key part of marijuana decriminalization legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year and follows Governor Northam’s recent announcement that he intends to advance marijuana legalization in Virginia.
“We will advance new laws to make sure that our Commonwealth legalizes marijuana the right way,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia has studied the experience of other states and this report lays out a path forward that leads with social equity, public health, and public safety.”
The comprehensive report includes nearly 400 pages of meeting minutes and outlines various aspects of marijuana legalization in the Commonwealth, including taxation, banking, criminal justice, licensing and regulation, and consumer safety. It also provides additional details on the five key principles that Governor Northam wants to see in any final legalization bill:
- Social equity, racial equity, and economic equity. Marijuana prohibition historically has been based on discrimination, and criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities. Legislation should focus on undoing these harms by including initiatives such as social equity license programs, access to capital, community reinvestment, and sealing or expunging records of past marijuana-related convictions.
- Public health. Legislation should include substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and communities.
- Protections for young people. As a pediatrician, Governor Northam will require any legislation that includes protections for Virginia’s youth, including age limits, mandatory ID checks, and education campaigns.
- Upholding the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. Legislation should be aligned with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act prohibiting indoor tobacco use, which Governor Northam championed as a state Senator.
- Data collection. Legislation should ensure Virginia collects appropriate and ongoing information on safety, health, and equity.
The Virginia Marijuana Work Group consulted with dozens of subject-matter experts in compiling its recommendations, including organizations focused on ensuring social and racial equity, such as the Minority Cannabis Business Association, NoLef Turns, and Decriminalize Virginia. Health experts, including public health policy consultants and practicing physicians, were extensively involved, and the team worked closely with government officials from states that have already legalized marijuana, such as Washington, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
The Work Group was led by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security. The group held a total of 15 public meetings between July and October 2020.
Shopping Small has its rewards
Shopping Small does have its rewards in Front Royal.
Beginning on November 28, 2020, and continuing through December 20, 2020, shop ANY small business in Warren County and turn in your receipts for inclusion in a weekly gift bag drawing!
Here are the rules:
Receipts must be submitted for purchases totaling $100.00 or more and purchases must be made on the same day.
Any purchase from any Warren County small business (does not include chain stores, gas stations, or grocery stores) made on the same day will count toward your entry.
You may enter the drawings as many times as you wish.
Drawings for gift bags will be held every Monday morning and the winner will be chosen from only that week’s entries.
Receipts should be presented at Key Move Properties, 403 E Main St, for verification for drawing entry.
Weekly winners will receive gift bags of local business donated goods including gift cards. The value of gift bags may vary.