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26th District candidate April Moore worries over the direction of her former party

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April Moore lauds Front Royal’s Vigil for Democracy’s two-year commitment to political dissent. Photos/Roger Bianchini

As mentioned in Royal Examiner’s lead story on the launch of the third year of Vigil for Democracy demonstrations against the political agenda and lack of transparency of the Trump Administration, April Moore is positioning herself for a Democratic challenge of 26th District State Senate Republican incumbent Mark Obenshain in the upcoming election.

Vigil for Democracy launches into 3rd year in the populist political trenches

In the above linked story we alluded to a concern Moore shared with vigil participant and former Republican Jorge Amselle over what both see as disturbing trends in the Republican base and that base’s elected representatives.

Moore said it is personally painful to witness what she considers a Republican abandonment of inclusive and constructive conservatism in favor of bigotry-tinged extremism because like Amselle, she too has Republican roots.

“I used to be a Republican; I grew up Republican. My parents, I am sure, would just roll over in their graves if they could see what their party has become. And I am trying to help Republicans who don’t like what their party has become to see it and reject it, so they can get to work building a decent, constructive conservative party. Because I think American needs a conservative party that’s constructive.”

Or as conservative columnist George Will has observed, “The American Eagle needs a healthy left and right wing to fly.” But a healthy, constructive conservative voice is not what Moore sees in the current Republican Party, either in Congress, State Legislatures or at its base.

“We’ve all watched what the Republican Party has become right in front of our eyes – and the nomination and election of Trump are just the most visible symbol of that. I mean, this has been building for a generation. We’ve had people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity with this kind of drum beat poisoning people’s minds and getting people to believe things that just aren’t true – getting them to think Democrats are their enemies instead of just people who care about their country and might have different ideas,” Moore observed.

Moore addresses her own concerns about the current political climate to those present to launch the third year of weekly Vigil for Democracy demonstrations against the Trump Administration agenda.

“And a lot of people fall for it. They believe what he or they are saying. It’s very dangerous to our democracy that we have something like 40% of our fellow citizens liking what they see when they watch Trump. I mean okay, maybe people voted for him because they thought ‘Oh okay, let’s have a change’. Now we’ve had three years to watch him tell all these lies and threaten our national security by not even believing his own intelligence agencies – he’ll believe Putin or North Korea’s Kim Jung Un instead of what his own intelligence agencies are telling him. I mean, this is very dangerous. And we have to fight it and try to help people see that even after Trump leaves if you have 40% of our citizens liking what he did it will be an ongoing problem.”

Asked if the primary ongoing problem would be a significant, if at this point minority portion of the American public favoring a move toward authoritarianism based on cults of personality, Moore upped the ante on potential consequences.

“That’s very dangerous, yes,” she said of a rising tide of blind-faith political allegiance steeped in a vilification of enemies, real or imagined. “But even more dangerous than that is the threat of nuclear war. Because Trump has pulled us out of the intermediate-range nuclear missile treaty,” she noted of an agreement between the U.S. and Russia dating to the Reagan era that has kept mid-range nuclear weapons out of Europe on Russia’s western frontier.

It is a frontier many political and military analysts believe current Russian leadership, and we all know who that is, would like to see re-drawn toward former Soviet Union parameters across Eastern Europe.

Asked if a military, perhaps even nuclear, conflict broke out between Russia and the EU or NATO, which side she thought a Trump-led America might throw in with, Moore laughed nervously and moved on to another pending crisis – climate change.

“Climate change is really the biggest challenge confronting humanity. And the president pulled out of the (climate) treaty and he’s saying it’s fake news and fake science – and it’s so harmful. It’s at a time when we’re in great danger and we need to be moving full speed ahead (to correct things). What we really need on climate is a World War II-type effort. We need that big a mobilization; and meanwhile he’s dragging us in the opposite direction.”

We pointed to the negative Republican reaction and vilification of freshmen Democratic House membership rolling out the idea of a “Green New Deal” similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic New Deal that created jobs and helped push America out of the Great Depression.

“Yea, that it’s socialism or what is it going to cost,” Moore responded, adding, “Why don’t they consider the cost of doing nothing about climate change, with all the dramatic weather which is only going to get worse; creating many more refugees?”

So one underlying question for many, including former Republicans like Moore and Amselle, at the current political divide across Chester Street in Front Royal on Wednesday afternoons, as well as across Main Street America on any given day, is whether the Republican Party can regain a more moderate philosophical center or will continue a flirtation with political, social and economic extremism.

Ultimately it is a question only those choosing to remain Republican will be able to answer.

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WCHS Cross Country teams race in state meet

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Wildcat Senior DJ Staton placed 12th in Class 3 VA State Meet. Photo by Sean Bordner

The WCHS Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team raced in the Class 3 Virginia Cross Country Meet at Green Hill Park, in Salem, Virginia, on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Wildcats’ DJ Staton finished the race in 12th place overall and earning All-State honors. Warren County girls Kiersten Tanner, Ryleigh Breeden, and Leah Webster also competed and placed in the top 50 finishers in the state meet on Saturday.

Kiersten Tanner, a senior at WCHS, competed in her last high school cross country race. “The saying, ‘struggle well’, is a good quote for the State Meet, stated Tanner. “I might not have had the best race like I wanted, but I struggled and I struggled well. I gave it my everything, knowing it was my last race and knowing I worked hard to get there. It was a great experience. I am so blessed to have fun and get the experience one last time. I wouldn’t be where I am in my running career today without my dad and coach, Mike Tanner. He has pushed me and taught me to struggle well. To fight and to be tough.”

Isaac Bragg, WCHS Sports Marketing student, also contributed to this article.

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School board approves two awards for A.S. Rhodes renovations

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A. S. Rhodes Elementary School

The Warren County School Board on Tuesday, November 19, unanimously approved two awards for the 21,070-square-feet of renovations planned for A.S. Rhodes Elementary School that will include new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The board members voted 4-0, with school board member Donna McEathron absent, to award an almost $3.1 million contract to Lantz Construction Company of Winchester Inc. (LCW) for the renovation of A. S. Rhodes Elementary School.

LCW in September originally submitted a total $5.26 million project bid, which included a $3.38 million base bid to create a secure front entrance to the building; move the main office to the front of the building; make the restrooms ADA-compliant; put in new floors and a new ceiling; and provide ductwork for the HVAC units.

In addition to the base bid, the LCW project bid also included 13 alternate bid items totaling almost $1.9 million for replacing the flat roof system; providing and installing casework and sinks in several classrooms; constructing new columns on the front of the building; and providing and installing six HVAC units, among other items, according to the Winchester, Va.-based company’s bid tabulation sheet.

Melody Sheppard discusses A.S. Rhodes renovation project with the board. Photos and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Melody Sheppard, the Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) Assistant Superintendent for Administration, told School Board members that the district currently has approximately $3.51 million available for the school’s renovation — $2.27 million from a Warren County Middle School project; $119,915 from WCPS capital improvement funds; and roughly $1.12 million from Warren County capital funding.

“These funds are available to complete the work included in the base bid of the renovation project and to temporarily place modular classrooms on the property to be used as classroom space,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard said WCPS “worked with LCW to value engineer the base bid and have negotiated a cost of $3,096,300,” down from LCW’s original base bid of $3.38 million.

Sheppard also told School Board members that the Warren County Board of Supervisors tonight would consider allotting WCPS another $600,000 for the renovation project that would be used for the new HVAC units.

Following the board’s approval of the contract award to LCW, Sheppard called the forthcoming project “exciting.”

In related action, the School Board members voted 4-0 to award a $102,226 contract to Modular Genius of Joppa, Md., for four temporary modular classrooms that will be placed at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School during the renovation.

Greg Livesay, WCPS maintenance director.

Greg Livesay, WCPS maintenance director, told members that the four modular classrooms will be under one roof with fully ADA-compliant steps and ramps for access, and located on the asphalt play court adjacent to the school’s multi-purpose gymnasium building.

The modular classrooms are set for a January 1, 2020 delivery date, said Livesay, who added that based on the construction schedule, the temporary classrooms would be needed for a period of six months and would be removed before the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

It will likely take almost the entire month of January 2020 to then get the classrooms set up, he said, noting that new electrical also must be installed because the gym doesn’t have the additional capacity to serve the modular classrooms.

WCPS on October 11 received four solicited proposals to provide and erect the four modular classrooms as part of the A.S. Rhodes renovation project. The temporary classrooms are needed to create the necessary swing or empty space within the main school building that will allow the general contractor to complete the renovations in two separate phases, said Livesay.

Voting tonight were School Board members Chairwoman Catherine Bower; Arnold Williams, Jr.; C. Douglas Rosen; and James Wells. The next Warren County School Board meeting is scheduled for Wed., December 4 at 7 p.m.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, the board approved all funding requests for the A.S. Rhodes project.

Royal Examiner covered the Tuesday night meeting. Watch the entire video below.

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Truss’D – The “hidden gem” of Front Royal

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On November 6, the Warren County High School DECA Chapter conducted a “Job Shadowing Day” with local businesses in Front Royal. Twenty-six students shadowed owners, managers, and employees in twelve locally owned businesses. During this week, “Global Entrepreneurship Week”, we will be spotlighting some of our successful local business entrepreneurs.

Businesses participating in this job shadowing activity included:

  • Blake & Co.
  • C & C Frozen Treats
  • Down Home Comfort Bakery
  • Jack Evans Chevrolet
  • Main Street Daily Grind
  • National Media Services
  • Ramsey Hardware
  • Royal Auto Works
  • Royal Comfort Shoe Center
  • Truss’D
  • United Bank
  • White Pickett Fence

Meet Katie Teague and Alan Brown, co-owners of Truss’D Restaurant at 117 Main Street in Front Royal. Photo by Levi Catalani, WCHS Marketing student

The owners of the local restaurant Truss’d, on Main Street, started up their business in January of 2019. Being a fairly new business in town, Allan Brown and Katie Teague have made an impact with their food. It started in 2014, when Allan decided to go to culinary school. Alan claims he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he knew he had an interest in food and business, and that’s what his motivation was for going to school and starting a business.

Alan and Katie run the restaurant by themselves, cooking and serving all of the food.

It’s a lot of hard work, but they work like a dream team to get it all done. They serve brunch items that they say have “a creative American twist.” With five stars on Yelp, Truss’d is considered the “hidden gem” in Front Royal. All of their food is served fresh and prepared to order. Their motto, “food as it should be”, could not be any more appropriate.

Being very energetic and open minded towards each other and their customers, Alan and Katie began their business within a two to three week “launch” window. An initial hurdle that they had to overcome was when their cooking stove broke down within three weeks of their business opening. Since then, they’ve been serving up brunch every Wednesday – Sunday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. They advised entrepreneurs to be very ready for anything and everything, and to remember that customer satisfaction comes first.

They attribute the success of their business towards providing excellent customer service and having their business’s existence help build a “Main Street Community”. Before opening Truss’D, Alan was a mechanic for six years. He stated that “before opening a business, be prepared for anything because something can change just like that”. Some additional advice he gave us was to make sure you are willing to invest your time and money into helping the business succeed.


Levi Catalani, WCHS Marketing student also contributed to this story

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Local teens achieve Emergency Medical Technician-Basic credential

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Two local teens have achieved certification as Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B). Ashley Foster completed the traditional course of study offered through Shenandoah County Fire & Rescue, while Seth Mills obtained his training through Blue Ridge Technical Center’s cooperative program with Lord Fairfax Community College and Warren County Fire and Rescue. Both teens are seniors at Skyline High School and volunteer at area fire and rescue stations.

Ms. Foster has grown up around the Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, recalling that there are photographs of her there with her parents while still in a stroller. Mr. Mills joined South Warren Volunteer Fire and Rescue in March 2018.

The timing of their achievements during high school is excellent because they now have the skills to find employment after graduation, whether they pursue their post-secondary education or start their emergency response careers. The 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections estimate that by the year 2026, fire and rescue jobs may grow by 219,936 nationally, and another 509,500 nurses and other selected medical technicians will be needed in the labor force over that same period.*

Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Brenda Diehl noted, “Virtually every career Firefighter/EMT in Warren County began as a volunteer. It is also quite common for nursing students and other medical personnel to launch their careers as volunteer emergency responders with fire and rescue departments.” Given the amount of intelligence, time, and commitment it takes to achieve this certification, Ms. Foster and Mr. Mills have demonstrated they are well on their way to success.

Teens who are interested in gaining important practical experience and education through volunteering with Warren County Fire and Rescue may start the application process by visiting warrencountyfire.com/join-us, or calling Recruitment and Retention at (540) 636-3830.


* Source: US Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/occupational-projections-and-characteristics.htm

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Chronic absenteeism impacts accreditation at Skyline High School

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Efforts to improve school attendance and reduce dropout rates are part of the larger effort to increase achievement and close performance gaps between student subgroups. Safe and healthy schools – ones that employ a challenging curriculum and reinforce high expectations for academics, behavior, and social responsibility – are schools that motivate students to attend.

Dr. Michael Smith, Principle of Skyline High School in Front Royal, discusses the importance of school attendance with our publisher Mike McCool. Dr. Smith ask that we all work together to reduce chronic absenteeism. Your child needs to be in school. It is difficult to teach students who are absent. If you have concerns or questions, please reach out to Dr. Smith at 540-631-0366 or by email.

The Virginia Board of Education is revising its accreditation standards to provide a more comprehensive view of school quality while encouraging continuous improvement for all schools and placing increased emphasis on closing achievement gaps. The revised accreditation standards measure performance on multiple school-quality indicators, not just on overall student achievement on state tests.

Elementary and middle schools are evaluated on the following indicators:

  • Overall proficiency and growth in English reading/writing achievement (including progress of English learners toward English-language proficiency)
  • Overall proficiency and growth in mathematics
  • Overall proficiency in science
  • English achievement gaps among student groups
  • Mathematics achievement gaps among student groups
  • Absenteeism

High schools are evaluated on the following school-quality indicators:

  • Overall proficiency in English reading/ writing and progress of English learners toward English-language proficiency
  • Overall proficiency in mathematics
  • Overall proficiency in science
  • English achievement gaps among student groups
  • Mathematics achievement gaps among student groups
  • Graduation and completion
  • Dropout rate
  • Absenteeism
  • College, career and civic readiness

Click here to read the Virginia code that provides details.

“Truancy” means unexcused absence from school. However, there is an important distinction between truants and chronic truants. A student displays truant behavior with a single unexcused absence from school, but a student needs to reach or surpass a certain number of unexcused absences to be considered a chronic truant. Virginia law does not define a truant specifically but does define a child who is habitually and without justification absent from school as a “child in need of supervision” when certain other conditions are met.

Chronic absenteeism, on the other hand, incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused and suspensions. The focus is on the academic consequences of this lost instructional time and on preventing absences before students miss so much school that they fall behind. It recognizes that students miss school for many understandable issues such as asthma or homelessness or unreliable transportation, for which a punitive response is not appropriate. But what helps is working with families to share the importance of attendance and to fix the underlying problems that lead to absenteeism.

Given this broader focus, addressing chronic absenteeism becomes an issue for the entire community. Medical providers can help address health challenges; transit and housing agencies can resolve other barriers to attendance; volunteers from businesses and faith communities can mentor students and support families. These approaches can also reduce truancy.

Like truancy, chronic absence has no common definition, though many researchers and schools monitor how many students are missing 10 percent or more of the school year. That’s about two days a month, or 18 days in most school districts.

Frequent absences from school can be devastating to a child’s future. The effects start early and spiral dramatically over time.

Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read on grade level by the third grade.

Students who can’t read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

By high school, regular attendance is a better dropout indicator than test scores.

A student who is chronically absent in any year between the eighth and twelfth grade is seven times more likely to drop out of school.

Despite record high school graduation rates, too many of our nation’s young people—particularly students who are low-income, of color, homeless, highly mobile, with disabilities, and/or juvenile justice-involved—still do not graduate from high school or are off-track toward that important goal. While every child and family grapples with challenges from time to time, such as an illness or unexpected family emergency, the growing research on absenteeism is clear and shows that chronic absence from school is not only a primary cause of low academic achievement but also a powerful predictor of which students are at a higher risk for dropping out.

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Meet Blake Pierpoint, owner of Blake & Company in Front Royal

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On November 6, the Warren County High School DECA Chapter conducted a “Job Shadowing Day” with local businesses in Front Royal. Twenty-six students shadowed owners, managers, and employees in twelve locally owned businesses. During this week, “Global Entrepreneurship Week”, we will be spotlighting some of our successful local business entrepreneurs.

Businesses participating in this job shadowing activity included:

  • Blake & Co.
  • C & C Frozen Treats
  • Down Home Comfort Bakery
  • Jack Evans Chevrolet
  • Main Street Daily Grind
  • National Media Services
  • Ramsey Hardware
  • Royal Auto Works
  • Royal Comfort Shoe Center
  • Truss’D
  • United Bank
  • White Pickett Fence

Blake Pierpoint, owner of Blake & Co., welcomed two WCHS DECA students recently during Job Shadowing Day on November 6.

Blake Pierpoint, the owner of Blake and Company, provides a multitude of hair services, spa services, and makeup sessions out of her shop at 1201 N Shenandoah Avenue, Front Royal, VA 22630. She decided to open her own business, primarily in hair, because it’s her passion, and she wanted to create a business that she could make her own. Blake chartered her own business as soon as she possibly could in 2008 when she found her dream venue; Blake admired the open space and elegant windows, which both add to the upscale ambiance. She says her mission at the outset for her business was to make sure her business was unique. What makes her business so unique is the ambiance, friendliness of her staff, and the high standards she holds for her business.

Blake attributes her success to her husband, because he’s been a big supporter throughout the whole process of creating her business. When asked what she would recommend to someone who’s starting out their own business, she says that they should make sure they have professional help from an attorney and an accountant from the start. Blake also suggests to make sure you have a business plan established from the start. If you’re interested in Blake and Company’s services, call 540-635-4033, or visit their shop Tuesday through Friday from 9am-7pm, or Saturday from 9am-5pm.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
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Sunny
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Feels like: 50°F
Wind: 4mph S
Humidity: 51%
Pressure: 30.22"Hg
UV index: 2
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Upcoming Events

Nov
21
Thu
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
Nov
22
Fri
9:00 am Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Nov 22 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Able Forces will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia this Friday 22 November from 9AM to Noon. As[...]
Nov
23
Sat
10:30 am Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 23 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Children's Class: Drawing A Self Portrait @ Art in the Valley
In this class students will learn how to draw facial features and the proportions used for placement of features on a face.  They will complete a self portrait using graphite. Classes are designed for the[...]
2:30 pm The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 23 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Lyla sees no purpose to princes. They’re ugly, stupid—and obnoxious! Why can’t Hagabah see that, and why must the master insist that she keep the prince around three more days? The world would be a[...]
4:00 pm Grounding & Gratitude: A restora... @ Strokes of Creativity
Grounding & Gratitude: A restora... @ Strokes of Creativity
Nov 23 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Grounding & Gratitude: A restorative yoga workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Whether you have family visiting or the stress of a shortened work week, the week of Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. This gentle, all-levels, restorative yoga class is designed to help you calm anxiety and restore[...]
Nov
26
Tue
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 26 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in Color @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in colored pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four week course will focus on continuing to build drawing skills as applied to botanicals: students[...]
Nov
27
Wed
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Nov 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes,[...]
Nov
29
Fri
10:00 am Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Nov 29 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Join us for our Holiday Studio Sale and Community Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy a free hot chocolate or a glass of wine (while supplies[...]
Nov
30
Sat
10:00 am Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Nov 30 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Join us for our Holiday Studio Sale and Community Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy a free hot chocolate or a glass of wine (while supplies[...]
2:00 pm Chess and More @ Samuels Public Library
Chess and More @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 30 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Chess and More @ Samuels Public Library
Meet other kids and teens who enjoy the challenge of a good chess or other board game. For ages 6 and up. Registration begins October 30.