Meet at the Overnight Parking lot.
Ready to try backcountry camping? Spend 24 hours in nature learning backcountry skills and survival techniques with professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch. With Sky Meadows’ Backcountry Campground as the setting, participants will learn how to build a natural materials shelter, start a fire, cook over the open campfire, forage for food and medicinal plants, track animals and much more.
Meet at the overnight parking lot near the entrance of Sky Meadows State Park. Registration is $189/person (non-refundable) and includes the overnight camping fee and parking at Sky Meadows State Park. Bring water, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes.
Find out the gear requirements and register for this course at: advancedsurvivaltraining.com. Course is held rain or shine and will be limited to 15 registrants (minimum 13 years of age). For COVID safety, participants will be required to provide their own mask and wear it during the entire program, while maintaining social distancing.
Join us for more of the Earth Connection Series. Read about the series on the park’s event calendar at dcr.virginia.gov/sky-meadows. To learn more or register for these courses, visit: advancedsurvivaltraining.com.
Bridge Naming Ceremony well attended by dignitaries and community
More than 100 adults and children were present on Saturday, November 19, 2022, to witness the commemoration of the new signs at the Bridges leading into Front Royal. The turnout included county, state, and city officials. The assembly was held in the beautiful Sanctuary of the Riverton Methodist Church with Reverend Marc Roberson welcoming everyone and offering the prayer written by our Founding Father George Washington. Presiding was Pastor Alan Morrison of Christ Reigns Presbyterian Church in Winchester. Students from Dominion Ridge Academy lead the Pledge of Alliance and sang the National Anthem under the direction of Ms. Grace Morrison, music teacher. President General Bruce Myer of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution brought greetings. The event was co-hosted by Chapter President Chip Daniel of the James Wood II Chapter, the Nation’s outstanding Chapter, and the Shenandoah Christian Alliance, headed by Dale Carpenter of Front Royal, retired industrialist, inventor, and engineer who still today is designing vans for use by the physically impaired. The Alliance’s membership is comprised of business men, retired pastors, active pastors, and military personnel. They meet weekly.
Dale Corey, State SAR Color Guard Officer, gave outstanding service wards to Cheryl L. Cullers, Chair of the Warren County Board of supervisors and members Walt Mabe and Delores R. Oats. Also receiving awards were Dr. Edwin Daley, County Administrator, and Matt Wending, Zoning Administrator. Their support was essential to the success of this project. The Board cooperated with a volunteer group headed by The Rev. Larry W. Johnson. The Board’s request before the Commonwealth Transportation Board was essential to naming the bridges and erecting the signs.
The bridge signs commemorate important American Founders Major General Dr. Joseph Warren and General Daniel Morgan. The sign bearing the name of Dr. Joseph Warren, the namesake of our county, is the bridge over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Doctor Warren founded the Sons of Liberty and advocated independence while practicing medicine during the small pox epidemic in Boston. He worked to save men shot by British soldiers at the Boston Massacre and the Battle of Lexington/Concord. He ordered Paul Revere and others to warn “the British are Coming” a story hopefully that every child knows. At age 34 he was killed at Bunker/Breeds Hill in the first major battle of the American Revolution. His martyrdom was on June 17, 1775, a day of remembrance celebrated in our county. A widower, he left four children. Plaques hang in each of our public schools and government buildings commemorating his life, put there to help our students and citizens to learn of his contribution to founding our Nation.
The second bridge sign bears the name of General Daniel Morgan of Winchester. Morgan was known as “Washington’s General.” One of the greatest battle tacticians in the history of American war, Morgan’s tactics are taught today in our War Colleges. He may have saved the American Revolution at the Battle of Cowpens beating and capturing a British Army his troops opposed that day. During his career he was wounded a number of times, captured by the British and severely beaten, as well as suffering an injured back that plagued him throughout his life. He is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Winchester close to many of his men and near his home. A road in Fort Valley is named for him. Morgan’s Road, just off Route 613 at Bentonville on the Tuscarora Hiking Trail in Fort Valley, was celebrated by the Bicentennial Commissions of Warren County and Front Royal. The area his road leads to was to be fortified and serve to shelter General Washington’s Army if needed.
Additionally, the commemoration of our bridges recognizes all our U.S. veterans for their service and loyalty to our great Nation. Each sign includes the words, “Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.”
“Probably over 10,000 vehicles pass the signs each day, said The Rev. Larry W. Johnson who spearheaded the bridge naming. “That means our veterans will be remembered in our community. The approval of these signs shows that our people care. ”
Many veterans were in attendance, including the Front Royal American Legion Post Commander and his executive staff and a veteran suffering from the effects of Agent Orange from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Purcellville. All veterans in the sanctuary received standing ovation.
Others attending the commemoration were Virginia Assembly members David LaRock, 33rd District and Bill Wiley, 29th District; John Massoud, Republican Chair of the 6th Congressional District; Joel Hensly, Aid to Ben Cline, 6th District Congressional Representative; and Lori Athey Cockrell, Mayor, Front Royal.
Michael St. Jacques of Laurel Ridge Community College, and author Christian Di Spigna of New York and Williamsburg, were guest speakers. St. Jacques gave insight into General Daniel Morgan and his importance to the American Revolution, and Di Spigna gave a rousing account of the life of Dr. Joseph Warren. Di Spigna’s latest book, which was featured in the Wall Street Journal in October, “Founding Martyr—The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero” includes facts and details about Warren’s life that are largely unknown.
Following the benediction by Pastor James Simmons of Hebron Baptist Church, Gore, Virginia, those in attendance filed outside to see the Sons of the American Revolution fire a musket salute. This was followed by a Rifle Salute by the Strasburg American Legion Post Honor Guard. These salutes honored the soldiers of the past and those of today. The program ended with TAPS by a member of the Strasburg honor guard.
The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson who began this “mission” several years ago said, “I am so pleased this has come to pass. It is good for our youth and all citizens to know their history. It is good for our veterans to know they are not forgotten. It is good that our community came together to name our bridges and give a wonderful identity to our community. It is good for tourists who come to know we stand for freedom, our veterans, and our children’s heritage. And finally, that we in this community appreciate our history and know that history is the cornerstone upon which to build. A people who do not know their past will find it difficult to find its way into the future. Roots are important. We have a history in our community of the brave serving, preserving, and not giving up! Lastly, I look forward to getting back to my ‘Liberty Man’ teaching of the American Revolution, the Constitution, and what we must do to preserve our freedom. My calendar is filling, with presentations planned as far away as the fall of 2023. May God preserve us all, and may He continue to Bless our Great Land.”
Selah Theatre Project presents “A Seussariffic Christmas Carol”
In partnership with Laurel Ridge Community College, Selah Theatre Project presents A SEUSSARIFFIC CHRISTMAS CAROL, an imaginative twist of Dickens’ Christmas story classic in wacky rhymes. Will Tiny Tammy Hoo and all her Seussariffic friends be able to change the cold heart of ol’ Ebenita Scrooge? This family fun tale brings holiday cheer to every heart young and wise.
Written and under the direction of LaTasha Do’zia, A SEUSSARIFFIC CHRISTMAS CAROL comes back to Middletown making the original holiday horror story, a delightful treat for family-based audiences. The cast features Sam Brackens, Amelia Cook, Tammi Cooke, Josie Dellinger, Teah Draper, Naomi Greenwalt, Moira Hunt, Andrew Iden, Cameron Joyner, Gianna Parente, Nora Parente, Logan Ruge, Amber Shayeb, Khary-Joelle Smith-Hervo, Oliver Varela, with Sofia Carballo as Tiny Tammy Sue Hoo, Owen Uhry as Bobbie Cratchit, and Danielle Juratovac in the leading role of Ebenita Scrooge.
“It’s incredible to be back on the stage at Laurel Ridge”, says Amber Shayeb, stage manager and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. “After the success of Glory Bea last year, we cannot wait to bring the holiday season back to Middletown”, exclaims Shayeb.
Director Do’zia says, “This cast is a beautiful blend of Laurel Ridge students, teens, kids, and community actors. With such a fun script, community, and our partnership with Laurel Ridge, you cannot go wrong kicking off the holiday season with us”.
A SEUSSARIFFIC CHRISTMAS CAROL is presented on December 9-11 & 16-18. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2pm.
Laurel Ridge Community College
William H. McCoy Theatre
173 Skirmisher Lane – Middletown, VA 22645
- Friday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m.
- Saturday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m.
- Sunday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m.
- Friday, December 16 at 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday, December 17 at 2:00 p.m.
- Saturday, December 17 at 7:00 p.m.
- Sunday, December 18 at 2:00 p.m.
- General Admission: $15
- Purchase tickets:
- Online: www.selahtheatreproject.org
- Box Office: 540-684-5464
Comedy legend Bobcat Goldthwait headlines three shows at Bright Box
Bright Box Theater welcomes legendary comedian, actor, writer, director and bigfoot enthusiast Bobcat Goldthwait on December 2 and 3.
Bobcat Goldthwait is no stranger to show business. Since his first appearance at the age of 20 on the David Letterman Show in 1983, Bobcat has gone on to maintain a thriving career as a writer, director, actor, voice actor and stand-up comedian.
As a comedian, Bobcat has starred in multiple HBO and Showtime specials and has toured as an opening act for the rock band Nirvana. Well known for his roles in Scrooged with Bill Murray and as Zed in the Police Academy franchise, Goldthwait has gone on to become a well respected director and Sundance alumni. He has directed TV (Jimmy Kimmel, Chappelle’s Show, Community), feature films, (World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams, Willow Creek starring Bigfoot, God Bless America) and documentaries (Call Me Lucky, and Joy Ride). He has also directed numerous standup comedy specials (Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, Ron Funches, Iliza Shleshinger, Mo Willems).
“Bright Box is known for bringing household name comedians to the Downtown Winchester area like Gilbert Gottfried, Jimmie “JJ” Walker, Gallagher, and Dustin Diamond. We’re thrilled to be able to bring another staple in the entertainment industry like Bobcat.” – Nick Helmut, Bright Box General Manager
Bobcat Goldthwait continues to push the envelope with his unique brand of humor, headlining major comedy clubs across the country. Bright Box anticipates a full house for each of his three shows, especially after the venue recently sold out 2 upcoming shows with another legendary comedian — Pauly Shore — in under 10 hours.
Showtimes: Friday, December 2 at 7:00PM / Saturday, December 3 at 7:00PM and 9:30PM
Tickets: $30 – $40
Bright Box Theater is located at 15 N. Loudoun St. in downtown Winchester.
For tickets, please visit www.brightboxwinchester.com.
WC DECA celebrates three of its Alumni during DECA Month
Each year, during November which is National DECA Month, the Warren County DECA shares the success stories of three of their alumni. We are pleased to introduce to you three of our recent alumni and how DECA helped prepare for their post-secondary experiences.
Makayla Grant (2021). As a WCHS DECA member, Makayla competed at the district and state levels. She was the chapter’s Vice-President of Recruitment and Engagement. Makayla is also the initial recipient of the Dr. Leonard F. Maiden DECA Scholarship which is given annually to a graduating WCHS DECA senior. Makayla is currently a second-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She had this to say about her DECA experiences.
“DECA has prepared me for college primarily because I was given ample opportunities to practice professionalism, presentation skills, and interviewing skills. I was a member for three years and the VP of recruitment and engagement for one year. Today I’m a Sophomore Business Foundation’s student at Virginia Commonwealth University with projections to concentrate in Product and Brand Marketing. My time in DECA helped give me the confidence and preparation to currently become a Teaching Assistant, a member of Business Student Ambassadors (at VCU), and secure two part time jobs in the Richmond area.”
Michael Kelly (2021). As a WCHS DECA member, Michael competed at the district, state, and national levels. Michael’s greatest contribution to the chapter was serving as Co-Manager of DECA Tailgaters, one of the chapter’s School-Based Enterprise (SBE) which received a Gold standard certification from National DECA. Michael is currently a second –year student at James Madison University. He had this to say about his DECA experiences.
“DECA has helped me tremendously and the numerous skills I learned from Mr. Gardner and my advisors have really translated to life after graduation. Through DECA I have gained an immense amount of confidence that I use toward anytime I have to publicly speak, present a project, or interview for a job/internship. Not only did DECA teach me how to present myself, but it improved my critical thinking ability as well as my ability to lead. Every employer wants a leader that’s not just reactive, but proactive as well, and by the time any DECA member walks across the graduation stage they have become the embodiment of the chapter’s motto “Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.” I will continue to use the skills I learned in DECA to reach my goal of getting my Juris Doctorate and eventually working for the CIA, FBI, or DOD.”
Emily Mawson (2022). Serving as her chapter’s president during her senior year, Emily also competed at the district, state, and national levels. She was a state winner during both her junior and senior years. Emily is also a recipient of the Dr. Leonard F. Maiden DECA Scholarship Currently, Emily is a freshman at West Virginia University. She had this to say about her DECA experiences.
“Last year, I had the pleasure of serving as Warren County DECA’s chapter president. During my term, I produced one of the most successful seasons our chapter has ever seen. We broke records at the district, state, and national level. I’m incredibly proud of the work we produced as a chapter. I spent two years in DECA, and as a freshman at West Virginia University, I am a proud alumni of the organization. I’m currently studying psychology and criminology at West Virginia University, with a focus in behavioral analysis. My chapter and advisor encouraged me to chase my dreams and even provided a $1000.00 scholarship to jumpstart my education.
Without DECA, I would not be the person I am today. DECA encourages leadership, organization, team work, and professionalism. These are all qualities that employers and higher education institutions look for in students and employees. Many of the core aspects of DECA are transferable to different areas of life. I’ve used the education provided by DECA in my educational and professional life. DECA allowed me to grow as a leader, encouraging me to be an active listener and use my creative background to improve every project I worked on.
Many of the essays on college applications I filled out asked how I responded under pressure. A fair majority of the prompts asked me to describe a hardship or how I overcame a difficult decision. Application committees aren’t necessarily asking about your past, but how you respond under pressure. DECA provides instruction and opportunities to teach young adults about maintaining professionalism and overcoming adversity. That alone has helped me more than anything else.
During my first semester at West Virginia University, I was able to secure a job at Milan Puskar Stadium. During football season, I was hired to work in premium seating as part of hospitality management. The education provided by DECA allowed me to be well informed of the industry I was working in. During my senior year, I worked on a project based in project management, hospitality, and entrepreneurship. My time in DECA has served me well professionally.
DECA has allowed me to accomplish many things. I’ve secured jobs, received scholarships, and performed at a higher rate in projects because of this incredible organization. This important educational opportunity has transformed me as a person, and I cannot repay my chapter, or my advisor, Mr. Richard Gardner.”
Commentary: The parable of the Bambino
Babe Ruth’s home run record was sure to fall sooner or later. Roger Maris broke Ruth’s 60-homer single-season record with his 61st home run of the 1961 season. Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s career homer record of 714 in 1974 with his 715th career dinger. Now, those broken records have been surpassed.
Somehow, though, Ruth remains distinct and immortal. Here’s one reason why.
It was the fifth inning of game three in the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field, with the Yankees and Cubs tied 4-4. Ruth had taken two strikes, and the Chicago crowd roared as the Cubs dugout taunted him. The Babe pointed to the flagpole beyond centerfield. On the next pitch, a curveball, he hit it exactly where he had pointed – an estimated 50 feet beyond the centerfield fence 440 feet away.
Ruth made good on his gesture. The Yankees swept the series in four games.
But the Babe didn’t crawl out of the cradle, knocking baseballs out of the park. He had the physical gifts, yes, but he took the time to learn the fine points of the game and perfected his ability to terrorize pitchers on the mound 60 feet, six inches away. Maybe there’s a lesson in this for the governor, even though he’s a basketball guy.
Youngkin, a Republican, won the 2021 governor’s race by positioning himself as a solutions-oriented pragmatist, apart from the snarling nationalism that became his party’s brand during former President Donald Trump’s White House years.
He picked the perfect wedge issue, too: public education. Specifically, Youngkin promised to prioritize parents’ concerns and prerogatives among those who set public school policy and curriculum. After the profound pandemic disruptions in 2020-21 and the 2020 summer of racial tumult following George Floyd’s videotaped curbside murder by a white policeman, Youngkin’s message found resonance not only in Republican rural Virginia but also with households in the centrist suburbs that for years had decisively favored Democrats.
He accused schools of indoctrinating students with “critical race theory,” a college-level academic concept that every Virginia school division denied teaching. He sided with parents who objected to accommodations that schools were making for transgender students and books with mature themes that were in school libraries or made assigned reading for students. He criticized school district requirements that students wear masks to slow the coronavirus spread when they returned to classrooms from months of remote learning.
The afternoon he took office, Youngkin opened fire on those issues in several of the 11 executive actions he signed. He proclaimed that “woke” instruction was doomed and that teaching “inherently divisive concepts” would end once his appointees took over the State Board of Education and could promulgate new curriculum standards.
All of which His Excellency had an absolute right to do. Elections have consequences, and to the victor go the spoils. But a little humility and even more listening and learning go a long way for a layman about to swagger into a minefield as important and complex as statewide education policy.
Over the past two weeks, as the Mercury and other outlets have reported, the governor’s education team has barged into the public school policy arena with hastily drawn revisions to the state’s history/social sciences guidelines and all the grace of an agitated moose in an antique glassware boutique. It hasn’t gone well.
The backstory goes like this. Every seven years, the State Board of Education is required to update the minimum expectations for what K-12 public students should learn in documents known as the Standards of Learning. The ponderous, drawn-out process for updating the history standards, begun during the term of Democratic former Gov. Ralph Northam, yielded a 402-page tome that the board, once Youngkin’s appointees took charge, returned to state Superintendent Jillian Balow in August for additional work. That revision, guided by an outside education consultant, was just 53 pages.
All hell broke loose when it was presented to the board last week. In a long public input session during the nearly eight-hour meeting, the new Cliff’s Notes draft was pilloried by teachers, parents, community groups, and historians as a “whitewash” of history that glosses over the nation’s fraught racial past and minimizes the contributions and perspectives of marginalized and Indigenous people (euphemized as “America’s first immigrants”) and communities of color.
Conservatives and parents’ rights advocates warmed to the brief version for its promotion of free market precepts and limited government. But not even the Youngkin-friendly new board was on board.
According to the Washington Post, Youngkin appointee Andy Rotherham moved to postpone reviewing the new standards, noting apparent lapses on some historical topics, including the anti-slavery abolition movement. Two-term Democratic appointee Anne Holton, a daughter of a Republican governor and wife to a Democratic one, called the November rewrite “a disaster.” She also noted that President Ronald Reagan is referenced six times in the new draft, yet the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, is not mentioned.
“Where we sit today, we are so far away from an established process that I am concerned that we’ve lost our way — quite candidly as a board — in terms of directing what’s supposed to be going on,” Daniel Gecker, the board president, said during the meeting.
So now, the board has tasked Balow, and the Department of Education with re-revising the latest revision, restoring some content dropped from the voluminous August draft, correcting typos, omissions, and inaccuracies, and assembling a “crosswalk” document that compares and correlates competing drafts. (The Post already published such a comparison.)
Since then, the contretemps has escalated. An author of books about education who had been a College of William & Mary instructor objected so deeply to being characterized as an expert who had been consulted on the latest standards draft that she took to Twitter to warn of litigation if the claim wasn’t retracted and her very limited role clarified.
There’s a serious need for comprehensive, accurate, quality instruction in history, for thoroughgoing studies into the society we share and for baseline training in American civics – how our democratic republic works. The latest SOL scores show how far our students’ knowledge of those essential American disciplines has slid.
The number of students in the past school year who passed history and social studies SOL exams declined 14% overall from pre-pandemic levels, with steeper drops for marginalized and economically disadvantaged groups. In a nation founded on the premise of an informed, self-governing electorate, there is clear urgency behind the task of restoring comprehensive, first-rate instruction for new generations.
Governor, gaining at least a baseline awareness of what you don’t know before you go to bat can spare you a lot of embarrassment.
When the Bambino stood at the plate 90 years ago in Chicago, stared down the Cubs’ pitcher, and brazenly pointed to the centerfield flagpole, he’d been there before and knew exactly what to do. The rest is baseball lore.
But perhaps some wisdom from basketball and arguably its greatest practitioner, Bill Russell, would best serve the governor: “We overreached our decision power. Sometimes our decisions have to fit the reality of the outside world.”
by Bob Lewis, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Lennox D. Bundy (1932 – 2022)
We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Lennox “Duke” Bundy, 89, of Silver Spring, MD, on November 24, 2022. He was a beloved husband of Jo Ann Bundy; dedicated father of Demetria Julanne (Peter) Leavitt, Donna Bundy, Deborah Regina Bechard, and Lennox Duke (Lucja) Bundy II; brother of Alyce Bundy and the late Joseph Barker Jr. and Charlotte Moore; adoring grandfather of Takesha Bundy-Williams, Jasmine Hall, Erica Robidoux, Serena Leavitt, Kayla Bundy, Kelly Paschall, and Lennox D. Bundy III; proud great-grandfather of Lexi, Landon, Lincoln, Treyvanna, Brianna, and Brandon.
To honor Duke’s memory, we are holding a celebration of his life on December 3, 2022. Friends and relatives may call at Mt Nebo Church, 792 Loop Road, Front Royal, VA, beginning at 10 am, followed by Funeral Service at 11 am. We invite anyone who knew him to attend and remember his wonderful life. Interment will be held immediately after at Good Hope Cemetery, 811 Happy Creek Road, Front Royal, VA.
Memorial contributions may be made to Mount Nebo Baptist Church.