Throughout the speeches and ceremonies of the graduation season, Randolph-Macon Academy’s 45 graduating seniors and eight Falcon Scholars were challenged to hold fast to their values. With 191 acceptances to 110 different colleges and universities, the class garnered over $5.1 million in college scholarships. In addition, all eight of the Falcon Scholars earned appointments to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
During the Baccalaureate Service on Thursday, May 16th, Chaplain Josh Orndorff had challenged the class with, “Remember who you are.” His words were a foreshadowing of the messages the graduating seniors would hear throughout the weekend.
During the graduation ceremony, valedictorian Noelle Kramer told her classmates, “If you don’t understand your goal now, that’s okay. That’s what the next years of your life are for. But be sure that while you seek to know your purpose, you never forget to understand yourself. Listen to what your own interests are, and know that a change of heart is never a failure.”
Noelle recounted the difficult personal time she had had during her second semester of her senior year. Her personal struggles impacted her studies tremendously; she stopped participating in class, left assignments undone, and subsequently risked all she had worked for. “I forgot who I was and why I wanted to achieve in the first place. I didn’t care about my schoolwork, my health, my friends… All I could manage to do when I got home was sleep or watch Netflix. Naturally, my grades suffered as a consequence,” she confessed. “After running for miles and miles with the wind at my heels, I tripped and fell when I was yards away from the finish line. But it was only through the love and support that I have found here at R-MA that I was able to pick myself off the ground and make my way across at the end.” Thanks to that and the fact that she did rally to finish the year well, R-MA’s Valedictorian will head off to MIT in the fall.
Guest speaker Gen Darren McDew, USAF, Retired, gave an engaging presentation that resonated with the students. Like Noelle, Gen McDew had researched speeches, and learned he should give the students a charge–and so he did. “My charge is simply, ‘Beware, decide, be,” he said. “Your story begins again today. You don’t have to have it all figured out yet, but you’ve got to get to understand who you are now, and most importantly who you’re not. And it’s okay to play around on the edges of that. So beware of the tests. Most of you believe that your academic journey was where the tests were and where the test will be. I’m here to tell you those are the easy ones. They’re the ones that most of the time are scheduled. They’re the ones that you get a letter grade for. They’re the ones that you can recover from. It’s life’s tests that are most damaging and challenging. Be careful and beware that they’re coming. Someone will test your integrity. Someone will test your honor. Someone will test your core. Understand that test is coming and be ready for it. You’ve been given all the foundation and tools you need to deal with it.”
Gen McDew then told the story of his first sortie. As a newbie, he read the training manual to refresh himself the night before the flight. Because he was prepared, he did well, and the first block of his reputation was laid. From there, he continued to build his reputation by ensuring he was prepared.
“That’s why I say, ‘Decide.’ Decide who you are,” he explained to the soon-to-be graduates. “Not forever, but what’s in your core. Many people in the world, some of the people you admire, know what right looks like, but they can’t live it. Decide today you’re going to live it and then keep doing it. And the last part is ‘Be.’ Beware the test, decide who you want to be and then just be. And the ‘Be’ is ‘Be it every day.’ Be it when times are tough. Be it when it’s inconvenient. Every single day, be who you are at your core, and continue to get stronger.”
Woven throughout the weekend’s events were acknowledgements of the many successes of the school year, such as the Drill Team’s repeat state championship and the girls’ varsity soccer team championship. Also acknowledged was the fact that they were missing someone: the late Mr. Robert Davies, who had taught many of the graduates when they were freshmen and sophomores. Throughout the extreme ups and downs of the 2018-19 school year, the Class of 2019 bonded, and now, with a firm foundation, they move onto the next phase in life. For the eight Falcon Scholars, that is the US Air Force Academy. For one senior, that will mean enlisting in the military. The other 44 graduates will move onto colleges such as the The George Washington University, Penn State, Arizona State, Babson College, VMI, Virginia Tech, the U.S. Naval Academy, and other institutions.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office responds to incident near Target
Warren County, VA- On September 19, 2019 at approximately 2:17 pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Communications received a call about a male subject, exhibiting signs of a mental health issue, in the grassy are between Target and the south bounds lanes of Rt. 522 north.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on scene and observed a male subject, wearing only boxer shorts, walking around erratically while holding a sharp edged weapon against his torso.
Assisting deputies arrived and quickly established a perimeter, containing the male to the grassy area.
Crisis Negotiation Team members arrived on scene and established communications with the male. A short time later, the male subject dropped the weapon and was taken into custody without incident. After refusing EMS attention on scene, he was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for a mental health evaluation.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office personnel were assisted by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Warren County Fire and Rescue.
Contact for this incident is Lieutenant Bockey at 540-635-4128 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
WCHS Cross Country Teams place 2nd in Central Quad Meet
Both Warren County Girls and Boys Cross Country teams placed 2nd at the Central (Woodstock) quad meet on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019. Competing in the meet were WCHS, William Monroe, George Mason, and Central High Schools, which was held at the North Street Park in Woodstock, VA.
The top three WCHS runners in the Boys’ race from were DJ Staton, finishing 1st overall; Malachi Quinn, 5th overall; and Patrick Trautlein, 8th overall. Top runners from WCHS in the Girls’ race were Ryleigh Breeden, 2nd overall; Nicole Ranney, 4th overall; and Kiersten Tanner, 5th overall.
Both teams next compete on September 28, 2019 at the Uniontown Invitational (PA).
Warren County School Board preps for superintendent search
FRONT ROYAL — Warren County School Board members on Wednesday started to get their ducks in a row regarding the forthcoming selection process for the next school district leader to replace current Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) Superintendent Greg Drescher, 59, who announced his retirement plans earlier this month.
“We need to have a discussion about how we want this process to go,” said School Board Chairwoman Catherine Bower during the work session portion of the School Board’s September 18th meeting.
“We have two new board members coming on in January and I think it’s probably not in our best interest to go ahead and start the search now,” Bower said. “We probably ought to think about appointing an interim superintendent and begin the search in January when the new board comes on so that they have a say in the process.”
In addition to Drescher retiring at the end of the year, terms are up at year’s end for School Board members Donna McEathron, who represents the South River District, and Vice Chairman Douglas Rosen, who represents the Shenandoah District. Neither are running for re-election in November.
North River District School Board Member Arnold Williams Jr. is running for re-election in November; his term ends on December 31.
Each of the five School Board members serve four-year terms. Terms for both Bower, who represents the Fork District, and for James Wells, who represents the Happy Creek District, end on December 31, 2021.
Bower suggested that members set a March 2020 deadline to hire a new superintendent. Wells, Rosen, and Williams agreed that was a good idea. McEathron gave no input.
More discussions about the superintendent search will be had, the chairwoman added.
Drescher on September 6 released a statement announcing his retirement, effective January 1, 2020. He has clocked 37 years in education, the last five years as the WCPS superintendent.
At the same time, Drescher has been on the fringes of the local Economic Development Authority (EDA) financial scandal, finding himself included in mounting public criticism as one of the primary public officials who could have prevented the alleged fraud and embezzlement. He’s been simultaneously holding the superintendent’s position for WCPS and sitting on the EDA Board of Directors — serving as chairman in 2017-18 when years of suspected EDA wrongdoing started to unfold.
Nevertheless, Drescher denied any related burnout factor.
“This is totally about my wife — this has been on the horizon for a while,” Drescher told the Royal Examiner on Sept. 7, referring to the health challenges faced by his wife, Debbie Drescher, also a former educator.
“The stage that she is in now is accelerating my retirement plans so that we can enjoy more time together,” according to his statement. “While certainly not the exact path I would be choosing, it is the right thing to do and I have no doubt will be best for all concerned.”
In another work session item, WCPS Maintenance Director Greg Livesay provided School Board members with a cost estimate for modular classrooms that would be placed at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School while renovations are completed this school year.
“We need modular units to create that swing space, or empty space, to provide the contractor more space to work within the school,” said Livesay.
He passed out a cost estimate from Charlotte, N.C.-based Mobile Modular Management Corp., which would deliver, set up, and install decks and ramps for four 24-by-34 modular classroom units at the school for just over $46,000. The company also would remove the units for an additional $29,000, according to the estimate.
The monthly rental of each modular unit for 18 months would run another $49,920 total; the electrical would cost roughly $15,000; and the poured footers for each unit — if required by the County — would tack on another $17,550, bringing the estimated total price tag to more than $157,000.
Livesay said the modular units would be located on the pad outside the school’s gymnasium, which inside would serve as temporary space for another four or five classrooms.
“That’ll free up about 75 percent of the building for the general contractor to be able to do his work throughout the school year,” said Livesay.
Regarding the general contractor bids for the A.S. Rhodes renovations, Livesay said the original bid due date, which was September 19, has been extended one week to next Thursday, September 26. He’s given several companies a tour of the school building to explain the scope of the work and said he will provide more tours this week.
“It appears we’ve generated more interest this time with this pre-bid,” he said.
School Board members also held a closed meeting to discuss, consider or interview “prospective candidates for employment; assignment, appointment, promotion, performance, demotion, salaries, disciplining or resignation of employees of the School Board, specifically two employee personnel issues,” according to the agenda. WCPS Director of Personnel George “Buck” Smith also attended the closed session.
No announcements were made following the closed session.
To view the entire discussion of these and other meeting topics, watch the Royal Examiner video:
Virginia First Lady visits E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School
As part of her annual statewide tour of Head Start programs, child care classrooms and elementary schools, Virginia first lady Pamela Northam on September 19th included E. Wilson Elementary School as part of her tour to highlight the importance of early childhood education. Steven Schetrom, Executive Director for the United Way of Front Royal-Warren County coordinated the tour with the first lady as part of their ongoing partnership with Warren County Public Public Schools.
First Lady Pamela Northam will visit early childhood education programs and elementary schools in each of the Commonwealth’s eight Superintendent Regions, highlighting the importance of school readiness.
In July, Governor Northam signed Executive Director Four, establishing the Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness that will be responsible for developing a plan to ensure that all at-risk three and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a quality, subsidized early education option by 2025. Executive Directive Four also instructs state agencies to develop a uniform measurement and improvement system and make recommendations for streamlining early childhood governance at the state level.
This year all kindergarten teachers in Virginia public schools will be using the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) to evaluate and better support each child entering kindergarten. Through VKRP, families and educators will work together closely to build children’s literacy, math, and socio-emotional skills so they start off school fully prepared to succeed during the kindergarten year and into the future.
Before her arrival, Mike McCool, publisher of the Royal Examiner spoke with Principal Shane Goodwin, along with Jenny Dunivan, M.Ed, Family Engagement Coordinator for the Warren County Public Schools, James Wells, Warren County School Board member and Steven Schetron, Executive Director of the United Way. Donald Lambert and Rich Cooley from the Northern Virginia Daily were also present and asked several questions as well. After her visit at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, the first lady continued her tour and went to Ressie Jefferies Elementary School.
The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:
To Strengthen a Nation: The American Legion at 100
The American Legion was formed by combat troops of the American Expeditionary Forces in Paris, France, a century ago.
Weary and homesick, these American Legion founders restlessly awaited passage back to the United States and a return to their civilian lives after World War One.
As they waited, they had time to think about what they would do after discharge from service… In support of their wounded comrades.
To honor the fallen.
To care for the surviving spouses and orphans.
And to protect the democracy they pledged their lives to defend.
These troops envisioned a different kind of veterans association. It would be like none before it, nor any that would follow.
The American Legion would be built on strengthening the nation – not serving themselves – through four primary pillars of volunteer work on behalf of:
The early American Legion fought for creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau in 1921, the Veterans Administration in 1930 and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989.
Empowered by its federal charter, signed into law on Sept. 16, 1919, The American Legion organized an army of expert service officers to provide free health-care and benefits assistance to veterans and their families.
The American Legion also found jobs for hundreds of thousands of veterans in the 1920s and fed entire communities during the Depression.
Large in number and staked to thousands of local communities worldwide, The American Legion Family – which came to include an American Legion Women’s Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion – was uniquely positioned to positively impact tens of millions of lives.
The American Legion conceived, drafted and pushed to passage the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – the GI Bill of Rights.
The GI Bill not only forever fortified the “veterans” pillar of service for The American Legion, it also changed the world.
It transformed higher education and home ownership for average Americans. It built over a half-century of economic prosperity. It advanced civil rights. It created the American middle class.
And it became known as the most significant social legislation of the last century.
The American Legion’s groundbreaking research and relentless pursuit of truth later helped countless veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and health problems related to atomic radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War Illness, burn pits and other service-connected exposures.
Prior to The American Legion’s work in this area, exposed veterans received no recognition from the government they swore with their lives to defend.
The American Legion has also strengthened the nation by promoting education, good citizenship and respect for the U.S. flag, the nation’s greatest symbol of unity.
The American Legion led conferences in 1923 and 1924 that ultimately established the first-ever standard rules of respect for the U.S. flag.
By that time, The American Legion had already entered a formal relationship with the National Education Association to keep kids in school, teach good citizenship, respect law enforcement, understand the U.S. government and appreciate the Constitution.
Out of these interests arose American Legion citizenship programs for immigrants, Boys State and Boys Nation, American Legion oratorical contests based on the U.S. Constitution and Junior Law Enforcement cadet programs.
The American Legion would further strengthen the nation by its commitment to fitness, discipline and teamwork through a national youth baseball program, sponsorship of thousands of Junior ROTC programs, Boy Scouts units and Junior Shooting Sports teams.
The American Legion fought for decades for “Universal Military Training” and out of that movement came the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 – establishing the modern Reserve component of the U.S. military and a more effective National Guard, which have proven so vital to American strength, especially in the War on Terrorism.
Continuous advocacy for an effective defense system has built the strongest – and most responsible – military the world has ever known.
Legionnaires have also proven uniquely well-suited to handle life-threatening catastrophes – fires, floods, tornados, mine disasters, superstorms and even a terrorist attack.
In 1927 and 1937, two of the most devastating floods in U.S. history destroyed homes and farms, claimed hundreds of lives and left thousands homeless. The American Legion mobilized rescue crews, provided communications, found stranded families, fed and sheltered them.
In time, deadly hurricanes Camille, Hugo, Katrina, Irma, Harvey, Florence and others have devastated countless homes and lives, and The American Legion has responded quickly with tens of millions of dollars in cash grants from its National Emergency Fund.
The purposes for which The American Legion has associated together over the last century have proven timeless. At this very moment, a new American Legion post is taking shape on the campus of the University of Illinois to support student veterans using their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Like thousands of other American Legion posts around the world, it is named in honor of a fallen wartime soldier.
In this case it is National Guard Sergeant Shawna Morrison, whose life was taken by a roadside bomb in 2004 in Iraq, joins thousands of others who made the ultimate sacrifice from every war era and are now enshrined by The American Legion.
To preserve the memories and incidents of our nation’s associations in the great wars, The American Legion has stood as the conscience of a grateful nation, through honor and remembrance of all who gave their lives or were taken prisoner of war so others might live in freedom.
Among the 10 lines of The American Legion’s mission statement – the Preamble to its Constitution – only one is even loosely dedicated to self-interest – “to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.” The other nine lines speak to The American Legion’s broader purposes – to strengthen the nation.
And as new posts begin their journeys into The American Legion’s second century, they inspire a renewed vision that is equally timeless and built to serve generations of Americans yet to come.
Local business owner seeks your vote to win national contest
FRONT ROYAL, VA – Local business owner Neal Jacob is a finalist to win a new Sprinter Cargo Van from Mercedes-Benz and Inc. Magazine, and he needs your votes to help him win the grand prize.
Jacob, of Front Royal, owner of Neal Sharpens, LLC, was perusing Facebook one night when an ad caught his eye. Like most people, Jacob tends to scroll right past the ads, but this one was different. This one said that he could win a Sprinter Cargo Van. “I knew I wasn’t going to win unless I entered,” Jacob said, “so I created an entry and sent it in.” The contest entry involved answering three short essay questions. Jacob also recorded a video to prove his business’s need for the Sprinter Van. “I thought the selection period was over when I received both a phone call and an email informing me that I’m a finalist. I was driving when the notification popped up on my smartwatch and I had to find a place to stop.”
Out of the thousands of entries submitted to Inc. Magazine, Jacob is one of four finalists. The grand prize winner will be determined by a combination of votes from the public and also members of the Inc. 5000. Jacob needs your support. You can vote for him by visiting https://contests.inc.com/mbvans. You may submit an unlimited number of votes per day, beginning Monday, September 16th, and ending Friday, October 12th.
“The Van Built for Business” is a contest sponsored by Inc. Magazine and Mercedes-Benz. It’s designed to give small businesses a hand in growing their businesses and serving the community. Jacob and the other finalists will attend the Inc. 5000 Conference in Phoenix, AZ, where the winner of the Sprinter will be announced on October 12.
Neal Sharpens, LLC provides sharpening services to the Northern Shenandoah Valley and the surrounding area. Neal Sharpens, LLC is a member of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce and the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce. You can connect with Neal Sharpens, LLC on the web, or on Facebook. Call or text 540-252-0077, or email email@example.com.