On Tuesday, January 21st, Rodney Smith, Jr., of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, arrived at Randolph-Macon Academy after traveling up the East Coast from Huntsville, AL.
Mr. Smith was invited and hosted by R-MA parent Cheryl Williams, who had been inspired by his story. “After doing some research, I too was inspired by his commitment to give back to others,” said R-MA Middle School Principal Tony Ballard, who introduced Mr. Smith to the students. “Community service and giving back are a big part of what we value here at R-MA, so I hope that hearing his story will motivate you to do more in your community here in Front Royal, or in the community that you call home.”
Mr. Smith gave a brief bio of his life to start. He was originally from Bermuda, and later attended a boarding school in upstate New York. He started at ITT Tech, but disliked being in Florida by himself. He returned home and considered becoming a police officer. Finally, his father told him to go to Huntsville, AL, to be with family. He was there for 10 years, completing his associate’s degree and working on his bachelor’s degree.
“In my senior year, I came across this elderly man outside mowing his lawn. It looked like he was struggling, so I pulled over to help him,” he said. “At that moment, I decided I would start mowing lawns for free for the elderly, disabled, single parents and veterans in Huntsville, AL. That one small act of kindness would change my life forever.”
On July 25, 2015, Mr. Smith posted what he had done and what he wanted to do onto his Facebook account and offered up his services. He had a goal of mowing 40 lawns by the end of winter; a month and a half later, he had already hit his goal. He upped his goal to 100, which he hit two months later.
People were quick to get involved. When he went to purchase a lawn mower for $100, he shared his story, and the man gave him the lawn mower for free.
As he reached his second goal, Mr. Smith came up with the idea for Raising Men Lawn Care Service. He would still mow lawns himself, but now he wanted to inspire kids ages 7-17 to mow lawns and give back to their communities. The organization was officially founded in January 2016.
As his story spread, Mr. Smith was contacted by teenagers who wanted to participate, and the idea for the 50 Yard Challenge was born. “The 50 Yard Challenge is a challenge that we have issued to kids nationwide and even worldwide to mow 50 yards [for] free in their community for the elderly, disabled, single parents and veterans.”
When children sign up, they receive a white “Raising Men” or “Raising Women” shirt, shades, and ear protection. For every ten yards they mow, rake, or even snow shovel, they receive another T-shirt, each a different color. Getting children and teens to complete the 50 Yard Challenge is still rare enough that when a student completes it, Mr. Smith drives to them and presents them with their black T-shirt as well as a brand-new lawn mower, weedeater, and blower. More than 600 kids have completed the 50 Yard Challenge.
Mr. Smith has completed five tours of all 50 states and hopes to take an international tour soon. His tours have each had a different focus: he took one with Spider Man, visiting hospitals to bring cheer to terminally ill children; for another he dressed as Santa and brought blankets and goods to those in need. His fifth tour honored veterans. His sixth was the “cop tour,” which encouraged police officers to mow lawns in their communities and build relationships; this tour prompted Toro to create mowers decked out in police car colors and lights. Mr. Smith has even dressed in pink, painted his mower pink, and mowed lawns to help raise funds in the fight against breast cancer.
At the end of his presentation, 24 Randolph-Macon Academy students stood up and accepted the 50 Yard Challenge, a number which brought a big smile to Mr. Smith’s face. To top it off, he got to meet a child from the local community who had already accepted his challenge and came to the presentation just to meet him.
It was indeed an inspiring afternoon for all-even for the presenter.
This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of February 27th
Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Thursday, February 27:
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $9
- Child (under 12): $6
- Military: $7
- Student (college): $7
- Senior: $7
- Matinees, All Seating: $6
Other movies coming soon to Royal Cinemas:
- “Onward” – PREMIERES THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH
- “A Quiet Place Part II”
- “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”
- “No Time to Die”
Veterans Service Announcement
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America on Friday, February 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to noon.
As the VA does not have an office here any longer, Able Forces is making space available each month so that local veterans and their families have local access to VA representatives regarding claims, forms, or any other matter related to Veteran issues.
If you are interested in meeting with Andre or Danielle, please call our office at 540-631-9600 to make an appointment, or just come by 115 Chester Street, Suite B.
Conversation of Hope is Tuesday, February 25th
The WHAT MATTERS community meeting space, “Open House: Meet in the Middle” (213 E. Main Street next to the Daily Grind) serves as a meeting place for community members seeking positivity in this time of controversy for our town and county. At 7 pm on the 4th Tuesday of each month, community leaders and citizens gather to engage in one hour of positive reflections and hope.
This month’s conversation is on Tuesday, 2/25 from 7-8 pm. Check our Facebook page.
During the first “Conversation of Hope” in June, Chief Kahle Magalis shared a fitting quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Comments shared throughout our times reflecting have included positive feedback about the school system, about the giving & caring individuals in our community, encouragement to focus on the positive and move forward without delay (by sharing concern but finding solutions and moving on), the acknowledgment that we have a strong sense of community that’s full of characters and memories and that we have so much potential and good energy. It has been expressed that this is a good time to be forced to confront what we love and value and to picture the past and what’s good about the area.
“This too shall pass” is often uttered as well as the fact that our community has so much to offer as a busy, active and unique area (full of outdoor assets and beauty) where people care about each other and don’t let tragedy define us. Niki Foster of the FR/WC Chamber of Commerce encouraged everyone to share the wonderful things we see and be louder than the ugly noise. Representatives of area clergy have been in attendance and said they want to support and serve, especially in these times we are facing.
Please join us on the 4th Tuesday at 7 pm at 213 E. Main Street- OPEN HOUSE, to share and witness more encouraging conversations. You are guaranteed to enjoy the hour spent with a wide range of citizens, public officials, volunteers, and kind souls!
*Please note that these gatherings are ones of positivity, not negativity. Politics and current events will not be discussed—instead, we will remind ourselves why we love our community and provide an opportunity to briefly join together those who care together in the spirit of hope…
Samuels Public Library and Valley Disability Support Group co-sponsor Brain Injury Awareness
The community is invited to join the Valley Disability Support Group’s first annual Brain Injury Awareness and Education event for Brain Injury Awareness Month. Teaming up with Samuels Public Library, Valley Disability Support Group brings an author presentation and book signing by Brian and Sheila Lloyd, authors of “It’s OK, I had a Stroke.” The couple shares their faith journey in Brian’s recovery from a massive stroke.
“Positive stories of how survivors cope, live their daily lives and persevere with an Acquired Brain Injury is how we wanted to kick-off our first Brain Injury Awareness Month,” says an enthusiastic Victoria Newman, PhD, Founder of Valley Disability Support Group.
Dr. Newman is more than a host of this interactive informational session, she returns to her native Front Royal as a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor and Advocate for individuals and families cross-disabilities. Since the launch of Valley Disability Support Group in November 2019, Dr. Newman has offered monthly information sessions to support individuals and families living with disabilities.
“Counselors agree that scientific statistics prove that belief in something greater than ourselves can improve outcomes. As with the Lloyd’s,” Newman continues, “there can be something very beautiful awaiting us at the end recovery. Healing can manifest in mysterious ways.” A Psychology Today blog post by Nigel Barber, PhD, explains it this way – From a scientific perspective, faith healing is unexplained, incomprehensible, and should not work. Yet it does work.
The event will be held at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal, Virginia, on Saturday, March 7th, from 1:30pm to 3:00pm. Visit www.valleydisabilitysupport.com for more details.
Watch: 44th Military School Band & Festival Concert
On February 23, 2020, the 44th Annual Military School Band and Choir Festival performed their culminating concert in the Melton Gymnasium on the R-MA campus.
The students have spent hours in clinics and rehearsing to bring this concert together. The Festival Concert Band Conductor was Lieutenant (junior grade) Joel Thiesfeldt of the U.S. Navy and the Festival Choir Conductor was Master Sergeant Kerry Wilkerson, USA, Retired.
The festival brought together the top musicians from eight military schools and colleges across the country, including bandsmen and singers from Army & Navy Academy in Carlsbad, CA; Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA; Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX; Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, MO; New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM; Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, VA; Saint John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, WI; and the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.
Watch and enjoy this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Military schools from around nation gather at Randolph-Macon Academy for Drum Major Competition
On February 21-23, 2020, Randolph-Macon Academy hosted the 44th Military School Band & Chorus Festival. The annual Military School Band & Choir Festival is a three-day clinic for the top musicians from military secondary schools and colleges from across the nation.
Growing from its roots as a festival attended only by bandsmen from the military schools located in Virginia, The Military School Band & Choir Festival has grown into a national event, drawing schools and colleges from across the United States. This year’s festival roster includes more than 100 cadets and bandmasters, choir directors and chaperones from eight military academies. This year’s festival participants are from schools in California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas, Connecticut, and Virginia.
Each festival is structured to include a festival concert band conducted by a noted current, or former, military conductor, and a drum major clinic instructed by an active duty military drum major. A recent addition, now in its third consecutive year, is a festival choir conducted by a noted military choral conductor.
The drum major competition was held on February 22nd in the Melton Gymnasium on the R-MA campus. This was an opportunity for the drum majors to show off what they had learned in the clinics and compete for the Gold Medal: Outstanding Drum Major.
Watch the competition on the exclusive Royal Examiner video and an interview with Senior Chief Musician Michael Bayes from the U.S Navy Band. MUCS Bayes is also the drum major for the Navy Band and conducted the clinic.
Drum Majors and links to the participating schools:
James Bongard – U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Jonathan Kattnig – U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Gavin McGahey – U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Dylan DeViney – Marine Military Academy, Harlingen, TX
Tristyn Gavulic – Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, VA
Liam Griffin – Saint John’s Northwestern Military Academy, Delafield, WI
Devonte Knight – Missouri Military Academy, Mexico, MO
Diego Lopez – Missouri Military Academy, Mexico, MO
Yuqi Liu – Army & Navy Academy, Carlsbad, CA
DonDiego Rains – New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, NM
Barry Zhu – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA
Austin Johnson – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA
Sean Loeber – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA
Jacob Gehly – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA