Samuels Public Library will launch a new StoryWalk® program on Wednesday, December 15th, at Eastham Park in Warren County. Funded by the Rotary Club of Front Royal and partnering with Warren County Parks and Recreation, the new Warren County StoryWalk® supports literacy, family fun and outdoor adventure.
StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and features single laminated pages from a children’s book, attached to weatherproof wooden frames which are installed along an outdoor path. As you stroll down a trail, you are presented with the next page in the story. StoryWalk® programs have been installed in 50 states and 13 countries.
“We are always looking for new ways to expand our library services outside of our building and the StoryWalk® program is a fun way to get children and parents reading while also enjoying outdoor activities,” said Michelle Ross, Director of Samuels Public Library. “The partnership with the Rotary Club of Front Royal and Warren County Parks and Recreation is an excellent example of local organizations working together to bring engaging family programs, education and outdoor physical fitness opportunities to local families.”
The first Book featured in the Warren County StoryWalk® is A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. “Our first StoryWalk® book features a favorite wintery children’s tale, perfect for this time of year,” said Ross. “We plan to change out the StoryWalk® books four times a year to keep the walk fresh and keep families coming back for more.”
“The Rotary Club of Front Royal is thrilled to be able to support this interactive literacy program with support from the Rotary District Grant,” said Katie Tewell, President of the Rotary Club of Front Royal. “What a great opportunity to get families reading and enjoying the wonderful outdoor spaces in our beautiful community. We know children and families will enjoy this new program.”
The Warren County StoryWalk® will open with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, December 15th, at 3:30 p.m. at Eastham park. “We are planning a grand opening to celebrate our new StoryWalk® with family activities in January after the holidays, but wanted everyone to know the walk is available to start enjoying now,” added Ross.
About Samuels Public Library
Samuels Public Library brings people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. A 501(c)(3) organization, last year the library added more than 10,000 new books, media and digital resources including Laptops and mobile Hotspots for lending, checked out nearly 350,000 books, electronic and digital services and answered 13,433 questions while continuing to provide essential computer access, wireless service and public meeting spaces for the community. To learn more, visit www.samuelslibrary.net or by calling (540) 635-3153.
Front Royal Welcomes the New Chapter of ‘Play Favorites’ Toy Store
A Fresh Start for a Beloved Local Business.
Play Favorites, a cherished local toy store in Front Royal celebrated its grand re-opening under new ownership. The event was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by community leaders and enthusiastic locals.
Nike Foster Cales, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, opened the ceremony, expressing excitement about the store’s future under the stewardship of Brett and Hannah Bement. Josh Ingram, a Town Council member, emphasized the store’s unique role in the community, highlighting its appeal to kids and adults.
Warren County Supervisor Walt Mabe praised Play Favorites for its blend of educational and fun offerings. The new owners, Brett and Hannah, shared their journey to acquiring the store, driven by a passion for preserving a local toy store in their community.
In an interview with publisher Mike McCool, Brett Bement discussed their unexpected journey into the board game business. Hannah Beeman, a teacher and local craftsman, continues her educational role while contributing to the store’s new look and product offerings.
Play Favorites stands out for its welcoming atmosphere and community engagement. The store offers game nights, collaborates with local game designers, and maintains a focus on educational toys. Under the new management, Play Favorites promises to be more than just a store; it’s a community hub that celebrates the joy of play across all ages.
Warren County High School Buzzing with Holiday Activities and Achievements
From Parades to Pancakes: A Community Engaged in Celebration and Success.
The festive spirit is in full swing at Warren County High School, as highlighted in a recent discussion with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner’s studio. The school, under the leadership of Ken Kneash, the principal, and the energetic efforts of secretary Nora McMackin, is bustling with a series of events and accomplishments that showcase the vibrant school community and its commitment to student involvement and success.
A Parade of Pride and Pancakes
The excitement kicks off on December 2nd with the much-anticipated Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast hosted at the high school from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., a beloved event that brings together community members and students in a festive setting. This will be followed by the participation of both Warren County and Skyline High School bands in the local Christmas Parade at 4 p.m., a sign of the school’s revitalized involvement in community activities.
Third Annual Holiday Bazaar: A Community Hub
On December 9th, the school will host its third annual Holiday Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event, expected to be bigger than ever, will feature over 30 local vendors, making it an ideal spot for holiday shopping. The inclusion of unique offerings and the visit from Santa Claus adds a special touch to the event. DECA students, showcasing their entrepreneurial skills, will manage food services, offering breakfast and lunch and supporting the Toys for Tots campaign.
Student Achievements in the Spotlight
Beyond the festivities, the school is also celebrating significant student achievements. The band, having won second place in a recent competition, exhibits high talent and dedication among the students. Similarly, the theater group’s victory at the Region 3B Super Regional competition, earning them a spot at the state level, is a testament to their hard work and creativity.
Building a Strong School Community
These events and achievements are part of a broader effort to build a strong sense of community within the school. Initiatives like the Teachers for Tomorrow program address the national issue of teacher shortages by encouraging students to pursue careers in education. The program’s success is evident in its growth and the positive response it has received from the community.
Warren County High School is a hive of activity and achievement as it heads into the holiday season. From engaging in community events like the Christmas Parade and Pancake Breakfast to celebrating student successes in music and theater, the school exemplifies a strong, inclusive, and vibrant educational community. These efforts enrich the student’s learning experience and strengthen the bonds between the school and the wider community.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
The Blue Ridge Arts Council launches its ‘Deck the Halls’ Christmas Tree and Festive Decorations sale Thursday and Friday
Blue Ridge Arts Council’s annual “Deck the Halls” — now in place in downtown Front Royal for almost two decades — opens today, Thursday, November 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and extends tomorrow, Friday Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the BRAC headquarters, 305 East Main Street, several doors west up East Main from the Gazebo.
A variety of decorated Christmas trees, holiday wreaths, and other seasonal items will be on sale throughout the month. Proceeds support ongoing programs of the arts council. For the first two days, refreshments will be offered.
This year the “Deck the Halls” display features an in-place art exhibit of the work of former Warren Sentinel Editor Kevin Seabrooke, “Browntown and Beyond”, that opened at the BRAC center October 14, running through January 12, 2024.
St. Michael Dojo Young Karate Stars Shine at National Tournament
Impressive Medal Wins for Local Dojo at Prestigious Karate Championship.
In a remarkable display of skill and discipline, fifteen members of the St. Michael Dojo, including a spirited group of fourteen youth, made their mark at the 43rd International Shotokan Karate Federation / US National Karate Championship Tournament. Held in Columbus, Ohio, from November 10-12, 2023, this event drew 180 karate enthusiasts from across the nation, spotlighting the rising talent of the local dojo.
The tournament kicked off with an impressive start for St. Michael Dojo, particularly through the performances of William and Warren Dooley, ages eight and eleven, respectively. These young brothers set a high bar, each securing gold medals in both Kata (form) and Kumite (sparring) events, showcasing the effective training and dedication nurtured at St. Michael Dojo.
While competing in intermediate categories, Fiona Riccio and Joseph Spiering continued this winning streak. Riccio’s grace in Kata and Spiering’s prowess in Kumite earned them gold, further cementing the dojo’s reputation for excellence.
Overall, the young participants from St. Michael Dojo bagged an impressive total of twenty medals, a tally that included six golds, eight silvers, and six bronzes across individual and team events. This demonstrates the breadth of talent at the dojo and the effectiveness of their training regimen.
Notably, silver medals were claimed by Samuel Fidero, Fiona Riccio, Joseph Spiering, and Agnes Cammack in various age and belt divisions. Additionally, bronze medals were earned by Dominic and Jonny Fidero, Isabella Fidero, Joseph Spiering, and Jacob Carlson, showcasing depth in both skill and competitive spirit.
The youth kata team, representing the East Coast Region and led by black belts Agnes Cammack, Gianna Parente, and Margaret Carlson, with Jacob Carlson as an alternate, battled against numerous teams from around the country, ultimately securing a well-deserved silver medal.
Behind these remarkable achievements is the guiding hand of Majal Colon-Cammack Sensei, who operates St. Michael Shotokan Karate with dojo locations in Front Royal and Fort Valley. Their affiliation with the International Shotokan Karate Federation, under the leadership of Shihan Hiroyoshi Okazaki, has been instrumental since 2007 in nurturing these young talents.
The national tournament’s success is a testament to the individual skills of these young karatekas and the community and support system built around them. St. Michael Dojo’s philosophy of fostering discipline, skill, and a competitive spirit shines through in these remarkable achievements. As these young athletes continue to train and compete, they raise the bar for themselves and set an inspiring example for their peers and the wider community.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Eastern Gray Squirrel
Cue the Jaws theme for a squirrel with a shark fin-shaped bandage! This young male Eastern Gray Squirrel was brought into care after the finder noticed him limping on the front right leg. Radiographs revealed a broken radius (one of the forearm bones) most likely due to a cat attack, given the cat-sized puncture wound over the fracture site.
Fractured limbs can be difficult to treat in most wild mammals, especially smaller ones with sharp teeth and claws to rip off bandages, their e-collars (“cones”), or even surgical hardware. It’s especially tough when the injury occurs in a species that is highly mobile and all about climbing.
To combat some of these factors, our vet team placed a sling to immobilize the affected limb (they had to get a bit creative and fashioned a padded “shark-fin” vest to prevent him from chewing it off). After recovering from anesthesia, we are happy to report that he wasted no time in figuring out how to continue his squirrely antics with the remaining three limbs.
We will be tracking his progress closely over the next few months as the bone heals by performing regular physical therapy and monitoring his bandage site for complications.
These creative solutions are common in wildlife medicine where you are dealing with hundreds of different species, all with different illnesses and injuries, and at every stage of life. Help us continue to create creative solutions and provide high-quality medical care to 3,500+ patients annually, covering over 165 different species, by donating to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.
To learn more about the incredible work at BRWC, we invite you to watch this video:
Virginia Colleges Launch Innovative Program to Address Teacher Shortage
Lab Schools to Train High School Students as Future Educators.
Virginia is taking a significant step towards addressing its teacher shortage with the launch of a groundbreaking partnership between Laurel Ridge Community College, Germanna Community College, and James Madison University. This initiative, part of the state’s broader College Partnership Laboratory Fund, is not just a solution to a critical issue but a beacon of hope for future educators.
The Virginia General Assembly established the College Partnership Laboratory Fund in 2022, committing $100 million to this cause. Following the success of the first lab school associated with Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Board of Education recently approved two more lab schools, including the Future Educators Academy.
Dr. Kim Blosser, President of Laurel Ridge, expressed excitement about collaborating with Germanna to operate the lab school at the Middletown and Fauquier campuses. “Our public school divisions, especially rural areas, face acute teacher shortages. This program is a step towards addressing that need, focusing on educating high school students who will eventually serve their local communities,” said Dr. Blosser.
The Future Educators Academy is a unique approach designed to bridge the gap in the teaching workforce. Students enrolled in this program will simultaneously work towards an associate degree and a high school advanced studies diploma. Moreover, they will receive guaranteed admission into JMU’s College of Education, potentially earning their bachelor’s degree in education within two years.
This accelerated and rigorous program is inclusive, targeting all students with a passion for teaching, including at-risk groups and those who have experienced pandemic-related learning setbacks. Governor Glenn Youngkin, who prioritizes establishing lab schools, highlights the program’s accessibility and commitment to educational recovery.
Dr. Janet Gullickson, president of Germanna, explained the vision behind the Future Educators Academy. “Our goal is to create a no-cost, accelerated path for students to fill teaching positions quickly. The idea is to nurture our K-12 teachers who will contribute to their home communities,” she stated.
The initiative is timely, considering the current challenges in the education sector. It offers a sustainable solution by empowering young aspirants to step into the teaching profession equipped with early training and a sense of community responsibility.
Germanna’s lab school students will begin in fall 2023, while Laurel Ridge will welcome its first cohort in fall 2025. This strategic timeline ensures a steady flow of trained educators into Virginia’s school system in the coming years.
The Future Educators Academy is a testament to Virginia’s commitment to resolving the immediate teacher shortage and fostering a new generation of educators equipped to face the challenges of modern education.