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Randolph-Macon’s summer World Religion class crosses classroom boundaries

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Randolph-Macon Academy students sophomore Peter Babineau, senior Alan Williams, senior Grace Wagner, and junior Khoi Nguyen Su pose with their interlocking world religions project shortly before it is completed. (All that is missing is the crank in the center.) Courtesy Photo Celeste Brooks

Today’s education isn’t the same silo-approach that existed years ago. Cross-curricular projects encourage students to analyze a challenge, considering it in a critical manner while at the same time being creative in how to approach a solution. This philosophy was highlighted this summer at Randolph-Macon Academy when computer science instructor Stephanie Wagner approached World Religions teacher Michael Williams with the idea of doing an engineering project for his class.

To Michael, the idea sounded perfect. He uses a “jigsaw” approach to teaching, in which the students each take a section, learn about it in-depth, and teach it to their peers. This project would take that to a different level, as the students would be creating a technological piece of art that would be suitable for display.

After going through several sketches of how they might create a visual representation of each major religion and how they connect together, student Alan Williams (a rising senior at the Academy) created an engineering sample built out of small cogs used in the robotics program. With a visual sample to go off of, Michael was able to make his assignments.

Each student was responsible for designing a cog for two major religions, as well as a third cog that represented a commonality between the two. Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, are joined by a cog representing peace, while Christianity and Judaism are joined by one that tells of Moses. Smaller religions, such as Wicca, are presented by decorative pieces.

The students used a combination of Adobe Illustrator and hand-drawn artwork to design the cogs and decorative pieces. A laser cutter burned the designs into a wood piece and cut them out. The cog pieces, as well as decorative pieces were screwed onto a wooden backboard. In the center of it all is a larger cog that lists the names of the four students, and also holds an iris and a crank. Upon turning the crank, all the cogs on the board move in unity.

“We spend so much time talking about what we don’t have in common,” said Michael, “that part of the goal we had this summer is to find out what we do have in common. All we hear about what is on this board is what’s wrong with it all. We got to look at what is right. We live in a multicultural country, and one of the things this shows us is that if one of the pieces were to break down, the entire thing would cease to function. For them to see that we all need one another to make this world work, for me was pretty incredible.”

The students were enamored with the project and put in far more hours than the class had required, often staying late in the evenings to work on it. Student Grace Wagner (also a rising senior at R-MA) estimated that the cogs each took two hours to cut out, while her mother, Stephanie Wagner, estimated that from concept to completion, each cog represented closer to about twelve hours of work. Because the work included everything from art and graphic design to engineering and math, the students assisted each other and ended up learning about the religions as they were doing so.

“When students are doing and creating, they learn more,” said Stephanie. “This entire creation didn’t exist two weeks ago. These students will always remember making it, and they are much more likely to remember what they learned in doing so – not just about the different religions, but about the mathematics and engineering and the computer design work as well. This is what the world requires of our students. When you go to work, you don’t only use one skill. You need many, and you need to understand how to use them all at the same time when you’re approaching a challenge. The way we teach our students needs to reflect that.”


Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), founded in 1892, is a college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 6 through 12. Students in grades 9-12 participate in R-MA’s 91st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and have the opportunity to learn to fly through a unique flight program. The Academy also offers several summer programs. R-MA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Front Royal, VA.

By Celeste Brooks

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Crime/Court

Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit assists in arrest after driver flees vehicle

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On February 22, 2021, at approximately 06:41 PM, members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Special Problems and Drug Enforcement Unit attempted to stop a vehicle for speeding on Stonewall Jackson Highway. The suspect vehicle failed to yield leading to a pursuit that was terminated on Gooney Manor Loop. After the pursuit was terminated, the suspect vehicle continued to drive recklessly, striking a Sheriff’s Office vehicle.

Due to the reckless and dangerous disregard for persons and property, the pursuit was then reinitiated continuing onto Bentonville Road, where the suspect lost control and wrecked at 07:02 PM. The driver fled the vehicle on foot and the passenger was apprehended at the scene. Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit consisting of Master Deputy C. Anderson and M. Griffith, along with their canine partners Rooster and Gator, apprehended the driver after a short track where the driver was found hiding in a nearby creek.

Canine partners Rooster and Gator.

The driver, Garland Turner Jr., age 28 was charged with Possession of Schedule I/II, felony eluding, felony hit and run, assault on a law enforcement officer, and driving suspended.

Garland Turner Jr. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

The vehicle owner and passenger, Alicia Knott, age 21 was charged with Possession of Schedule I/II and obstruction of justice.

No one was injured during the incident.

Alicia Knott. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

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Virginia State Police investigating plane crash in Frederick County

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Virginia State Police Senior Trooper R. Riggs responded to a report of a plane crash in Frederick County. The crash occurred Wednesday, February 24, at 2:22 p.m. near the intersection of Back Mountain Road and Fishel Road.

Photos / Virginia State Police.

The preliminary investigation revealed that a Single Engine Cessna Aircraft suffered engine failure shortly after taking off from Winchester Regional Airport. The aircraft attempted to make an emergency landing in a field and impacted the ground which caused it to overturn.

The pilot, Jonathan D. Behnke, 42, of Mount Airy, MD, suffered minor injuries in the crash and was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment.

No one on the ground was injured as a result of the crash.

The FAA and NTSB were notified of the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

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New People Inc. service helps the community access internet

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People Incorporated is helping community members who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic access internet service. The agency will set up accounts and pay for six months of internet service for clients who qualify.

Clients can qualify for this service if they have been impacted by the pandemic in some way – through the loss of a job, reduction in hours, the need to school children from home or another impact. Clients must also meet income eligibility, documentation requirements and show a need for internet service.

“Access to the internet is a necessity,” said Angie Groseclose, vice president and chief operating officer at People Inc. “It’s necessary for telehealth appointments, searching for a job and for kids to attend school, and it’s an extra expense that may not be in everyone’s budget. We want to make internet service more accessible for those who need it.”

This service is funded by emergency CARES Act funding and is available to residents in Clarke County, Frederick County, Page County, Shenandoah County and Warren County.

Interested residents can call People Inc. toll-free at 833-962-2039 for more information and to verify eligibility.

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Community Events

Humane Society’s ‘Polar Plunge’ rescheduled to Saturday, March 13

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The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a “Polar Plunge” because it’ll still be winter then, though hopefully for the plungers with a continuation of the current turn toward spring-like 60 degree temperatures! In its inaugural year of 2020, the event became a popular fundraiser supporting the Humane Society’s efforts on behalf of the local animal community and the HSWC’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter.

As reported in the original press release on the event: this year’s “plunge” is made possible through the sponsorship of City National Bank, Cool Techs Heating and Air, Ellen Aders State Farm, AirPac, MDUB Chauffeur Services and Cavalier Kennels. This year’s event is expected to help raise as much as $12,000 for the Humane Society.

There were 35 plungers initially signed up to take a dip in the icy water, each working to help raise much-needed funds for homeless animals in Warren County. There are 15 new plungers, and 20 returning plungers who will all run into the Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center, followed by a warm-up at the fire pit.

Polar plungers plunge into last year’s event at the 4-H Center lake in Harmony Hollow in southern Warren County – ‘Baby, it’s cold in there’. Courtesy Photos HSWC

The event team will be ensuring that all CDC Covid-19 guidelines are followed, and masks will be required at this outdoor event.

In 2020, pre-pandemic, the top fundraiser was Molly Llewellyn, who raised over $1,000 for the shelter. There was also an award for best dressed. Both of these awards will be returning for the 2021 event.

The Humane Society of Warren County is a non-profit animal shelter that houses homeless, neglected, abused and unwanted animals. While primarily dealing with cats and dogs, the shelter has also been home to livestock, birds, reptiles and more.

Executive Director Meghan Bowers avoided taking the plunge last year, but is leading the charge into the water in 2021 dressed as a shark, so far raising about $467 from friends and family.

Hot drinks, Strites Donuts and music will keep participants warm during the run up and aftermath of the short but stimulating plunge.

For more information on this event or others, please visit HSWC Events Page.

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Governor Northam increases capacity limits for outdoor sports and entertainment venues

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On February 24, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that as COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates continue to decline and vaccinations rise in Virginia, certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Governor Northam. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends, and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy. Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant, so we can maintain our progress—the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus.”

The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued strict health and safety protocols including physical distancing, mask-wearing requirements, gathering limits, and business capacity restrictions. The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on February 28, 2021.

Governor Northam is beginning to ease public health restrictions by taking steps to increase capacity limits in outdoor settings, where evidence shows the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower. The key changes in the Third Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:

• Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings, while remaining at 10 persons for indoor settings.

• Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues may be able to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap on the number of people permitted to attend starting in April. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals.

• Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be permitted until midnight, extended from 10:00 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

• Overnight summer camps: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.

The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month and mitigation measures may be eased further if key health metrics continue to improve. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place. Individuals are strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible.

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – February 24, 2021

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Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Feb
25
Thu
6:30 pm Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
27
Sat
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Feb 27 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
Mar
1
Mon
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 1 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Mar
3
Wed
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]