Residents urge School Board against pandemic precautions
Mike Mayer of Front Royal, Va., wearing a head band but no mask, referred to the audience attending the Warren County School Board’s Wednesday, May 5 regular meeting as “fellow lowly commoners,” setting the tone for his subsequent contribution during the community participation portion of the meeting.
Mayer’s prepared statement, which he read aloud to the board members, took a meandering path to make a point, using language laced with insults that seemingly were meant to chastise local responses by Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) and the School Board, among others, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — although Mayer never mentioned the words ‘COVID-19’ or ‘pandemic.’
The Pebble Lane resident started off by saying that while he should have participated earlier in a School Board meeting, it has gotten to the point “where sitting on the sidelines and complaining about it is no longer a viable option.”
Mayer continued: “For the last year, our children have been held hostage by teachers’ unions and elected officials at every level — most of whom have shown blatant disregard for the best interests of our children at every opportunity.
“This school year has been a joke, a sham, an embarrassment, and a slap in the face all rolled into one neat package,” he read. “The damage done to our children both in terms of their education and social growth will not be fully realized for years, but hopefully it is not too late to crawl out of our hole that we’ve dug ourselves into.”
Mayer acknowledged that area schools appear to be getting ready to start the next school year with a pre-pandemic schedule, “hopefully… minus the nonsensical plexiglass paneling, the dehumanizing and misery-inducing face coverings, weird markings on floors telling you where to be, social distancing, and everything else this year has introduced that has reduced our vibrant and enthusiastic children into something more closely resembling the sheep who have implemented these theatrics into our classrooms.”
Calling the required precautions taken to reduce the spread of the pandemic “symbols of compliance, conformity and submission,” Mayer said they’ve “done nothing quantifiable to improve the lives of our children.”
And he said people are getting fed up with it.
In fact, another community member sent in correspondence that was read aloud into the record during the meeting by Robert Ballentine, WCPS finance director and clerk of the School Board.
Specifically, Billy Robinson of Front Royal, who was unable to attend the meeting, wrote the letter to express his objections to WCPS continuing to make students wear masks outside during recess.
“I think I speak for many parents when I say that it is ridiculous for our children to wear masks while having to recess outside, especially now that the temperatures go past 80 degrees on a regular basis,” Robinson wrote. “Not only is this wrong, but I think it is child abuse.”
Robinson asked School Board members to let parents have the choice to decide whether their children wear a mask. “I ask that you please exercise some commonsense and get rid of the mask mandate for our children while having recess outside,” he wrote. “Please stop this madness.”
Mayer concluded by urging board members “to consider the path forward very carefully and with laser-focused clarity.”
“If you are not willing to take the best interests of our children as your top priority and only true focus,” he said, “we will remove you from your positions and vote in people who are willing to do so.
Appreciations also noted
Kim Oakland, a music teacher at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School, also spoke during the community participation portion of the School Board’s meeting. In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, she expressed appreciation for teachers and other County employees, including the Warren County Board of Supervisors, which funds WCPS, and School Board members, whose tireless efforts helped hold together a school division that, like thousands of others across the nation, has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
“Regardless of what is on Facebook or other social media, you do put our children first,” Oakland told the board. “You can only do what the law and guidelines allow you to do.”
Oakland also reminded those in attendance that WCPS elementary students have been in school since the beginning of the pandemic, attending four days per week. “We all do the best that we can do,” she said. “It’s not just Teacher Appreciation Week. We teachers also appreciate all of you.”
WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger also acknowledged Teacher Appreciation Week during his report to the School Board and said that everyone has been through a lot during the current school year.
“I appreciate every single teacher that has been out there on the frontlines this year and making sure that our students are getting the best that they can under the circumstances that we are in,” said Ballenger, noting that teachers have “grown leaps and bounds this year,” with many having to try new ways to educate.
Ballenger also provided School Board members with an update on COVID-19 numbers in WCPS. He said that there are currently 19 active student cases, and 59 students are quarantined. There are also two active staff cases, and two staff members are quarantined.
On Wednesday, WCPS also offered a voluntary vaccination clinic at Skyline High School for students 16-years-old and up and their family members. More than 280 people signed up for the clinic, Ballenger said, adding that another clinic may be planned once new vaccines are approved and available for students ages 12 and up.
Front Royal Elk Lodge establishes scholarship fund for skilled trades
Front Royal Elk Lodge 2382 is making a significant investment in the future of the community by establishing a scholarship fund for the skilled trades. Recognizing the importance of providing opportunities for young men and women to gain assistance in learning a trade and entering the workforce, the lodge recently presented a check for $3,000.00 to Laurel Ridge Community College. This partnership marks the beginning of a long-term relationship aimed at benefiting the local community and its young workforce.
On May 30th, Jim Sheppard, the Exalted Ruler of Front Royal Elk Lodge, along with Michael Kominek (Loyal Knight) and Stan Williams (Lecturing Knight), presented the $3,000.00 check to Laurel Ridge Community College. The funds will be utilized to establish the first scholarship dedicated to supporting students pursuing skilled trades education.
The decision to focus on the skilled trades stems from a recognition within Front Royal Lodge 2382 that not all young individuals are destined for a traditional four-year college degree. The lodge understands the value and needs for skilled workers in the community and aims to provide assistance to those who choose to pursue a trade. By supporting students in gaining the necessary skills, the lodge hopes to help them enter the workforce and contribute to the local economy.
To foster a deeper understanding of the college and its programs, Elk Lodge representatives embarked on a tour of the Laurel Ridge Community College campus and facilities. Dr. Kim Blosser, President of Laurel Ridge Community College, Larry Baker, Corporate Training Manager, and Andrew Gyurisin, Foundation Development Manager, guided the representatives through the campus, showcasing the resources and opportunities available to students.
Front Royal Elk Lodge intends to establish a long-term relationship with Laurel Ridge Community College, working closely to identify and support students who show a passion for the skilled trades. Through this collaboration, the lodge aims to make a lasting impact on the community by empowering young individuals with the necessary skills and education to excel in their chosen trades.
Front Royal Rotary ending its year with major student awards
The Rotary Club of Front Royal’s president, Lori Glascock, is using the last weeks of her one-year term of office to distribute scholarship money and other awards to worthy local students. On June 23, Ken Evans will be sworn in as the 2023-24 club president.
In addition to previous student awards and recognition of local outstanding teachers, Glascock, last Friday (June 2), handed out further awards to four students from Skyline and Warren County High Schools who excelled in the arts and in the fields of sport.
Isabella Pittelli, WCHS, received the 2023 Betsy Blauvelt Student Art Award. The late Betsy Blauvelt, a past president of Front Royal Rotary, was a long-time executive director of the old Wayside Theatre in Middletown. Blauvelt’s husband, David, and their daughters attended the presentation.
Cody Henderson, Skyline, received the Kym Crump Student Art Award. Crump, also a former president of Front Royal Rotary and executive director of the Blue Ridge Arts Council, attended the presentation to Cody.
The John Marlow Male Athlete of the Year Award went to Daniel “DJ” Rizzo Jr., WCHS. The ceremony was watched by Marlow and his daughter, Emily Marlow Beck. Marlow was himself an outstanding high school and college athlete, also a past president of Front Royal Rotary and Mayor of the Town of Front Royal.
Sara Waller, WCHS, received one of two 2023 Heidi Moore Female Athletic Awards, along with Ava Bordner, Skyline, who will pick up her award later this month. She was away competing in athletics at the state level. Heidi Moore was an outstanding county athlete who tragically died from cancer shortly after completing her high school years.
WC EDA’s second ‘Open-Door Business Session’ of year leads to optimism on educational-industry employment networking
On Thursday, June 1, the still legally named, if not actually jointly overseen Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (FR-WC EDA, aka WC EDA) hosted its second “Open Door Business Session” of four scheduled for this year. This one was hosted at the Villa Avenue Community Center. The first was held at the Virginia Inland Port meeting room in northern Warren County.
As County Director of Economic Development, Joe Petty noted in announcing this Open Door session: “This event is a part of the EDA’s continuous initiative to strengthen Warren County’s workforce development and enhance the economic prosperity of the region. The two-hour session will be packed with presentations, open discussions, and plenty of networking opportunities. Participants will have a chance to engage in meaningful discussions and network with key players influencing Warren County’s economic landscape.”
Petty introduced participants, including representatives from Warren County Public Schools Blue Ridge Technical Center (Jane Baker, Heidi Rutz, and friend) and Laurel Ridge Community Colleges’ Workforce Solutions (Bill Pence). Following PowerPoint presentations by those educational representatives and a break for some face-to-face networking, the meeting moved to a panel discussion moderated by FR-WC EDA Board of Directors member Marjorie “Jori” Martin.
Royal Examiner later asked Martin for her impressions of this Open Door Business Session. “It was a very productive open-door session both in networking and workforce development,” she began enthusiastically. “Several participants connected for future endeavors. This workforce ‘open door’ built on the first one at the Inland Port, which brought together employers, developers, Port Authority, and government discussing employment and opportunity in the region.
“I, on a personal note, had not really appreciated the depth, dedication, and collaboration between the educational institutions. I look forward to further understanding the partnerships and opportunities to use these valuable resources to grow our workforce to support our existing businesses, and attract new business. The industry participants discussed changes in the workforce and companies adapting to address the needs of the company and the changing workforce. This is the second in a series of four scheduled for this year,” Martin reminded us of the County overseen
EDA’s Open Door Business Sessions. Future sessions will include a focus on small businesses in this area and their needs.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for June 5 – 9, 2023
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.
Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for vegetation management, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Thursday night.
*NEW* Mile marker 12 to 9, westbound – Alternating lane closures for paving operations, Monday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight single lane closures for equipment moving and bridge removal work, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through night of July 7.
*NEW* Route 522 (Winchester Road/Remount Road) – Northbound and southbound overnight mobile lane closures between Clarke County line and Rappahannock County line for pavement marking operations, June 7 – 11 nights from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
*NEW* Route 615 (Stokes Airport Road) – Closed between Route 619 (Rivermont Drive) and Route 618 (Ridgeway Road) for pipe replacement, Monday through Friday. Follow posted detour.
*NEW* Route 638 (Freezeland Road) – Flagger traffic control between FR-283 (Appalachian Lane/Crimson Lane) and Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) for inspection of the I-66 overpass bridge, Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
Shenandoah University recognizes outstanding achievements with Spring 2023 Dean’s List
Shenandoah University, a nationally recognized educational institution based in Winchester, Virginia, has recently announced the impressive accomplishments of 943 students who have earned a spot on the Spring 2023 Dean’s List. This distinction reflects the dedication, hard work, and academic excellence of students from various degree programs in Front Royal, Linden, and Lake Frederick. The university takes pride in recognizing these students for their outstanding achievements.
The Spring 2023 Dean’s List at Shenandoah University comprises an impressive group of students who have demonstrated exemplary academic performance. Among them are:
- Caleb Reedy – Front Royal, VA
- Valerie Cameron – Front Royal, VA
- Allison Smoot – Front Royal, VA
- Callista Mayberry – Front Royal, VA
- Aaliyah Chunn – Front Royal, VA
- Jasmine Sharp – Front Royal, VA
- Isabelle Grupac – Linden, VA
- Hannah Frost – Front Royal, VA
- David Kelly – Front Royal, VA
- Asia James – Lake Frederick, VA
- Brennan Komelasky – Front Royal, VA
- Laura Brown – Front Royal, VA
- Erika Gallagher – Front Royal, VA
- Audrey Bratcher – Linden, VA
- Crismeli Sandoval – Front Royal, VA
- Megan Vardiman – Linden, VA
- Mariah Barber – Linden, VA
- Margaret Plosch – Front Royal, VA
- Cody Crawford – Linden, VA
These students have displayed a remarkable commitment to their studies, earning them a place of distinction on the Dean’s List. Their academic achievements are a testament to their dedication and hard work throughout the semester.
To qualify for the Dean’s List, students enrolled in baccalaureate degree programs at Shenandoah University must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours and achieve a remarkable semester GPA of 3.50 or higher. This accomplishment is a reflection of the student’s academic excellence and sets them apart as exemplary scholars within the university community.
Established in 1875, Shenandoah University has become a leading educational institution known for its blend of professional career experiences and comprehensive education. With over 4,000 students enrolled in more than 200 areas of study across six different schools, Shenandoah University fosters a close-knit community that thrives on creative energy and intellectual challenges. The university’s dedicated faculty members provide personalized attention and mentorship, contributing to numerous nationally ranked programs and exceptional learning opportunities for students.
Shenandoah University takes pride in its innovative partnerships and programs at both local and global levels, allowing students to gain valuable real-world experience and expand their horizons beyond the classroom. By empowering students like Caleb Reedy, Valerie Cameron, Allison Smoot, Callista Mayberry, Aaliyah Chunn, Jasmine Sharp, Isabelle Grupac, Hannah Frost, David Kelly, Asia James, Brennan Komelasky, Laura Brown, Erika Gallagher, Audrey Bratcher, Crismeli Sandoval, Megan Vardiman, Mariah Barber, Margaret Plosch, and Cody Crawford, the university prepares them to excel in their chosen fields and make meaningful contributions to society.
Shenandoah University celebrates the remarkable achievements of the 943 students who have earned a place on the Spring 2023 Dean’s List. The university recognizes their dedication, hard work, and academic excellence. Congratulations to all the students for their outstanding accomplishments and for setting a high standard of academic achievement at Shenandoah University.
A Pledge to Excellence: Warren County Sheriff’s Office earns prestigious state accreditation
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has proudly announced that they have joined the top 100 law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth in gaining state accreditation. This achievement is significant, as state accreditation is the best measure of a law enforcement agency’s compliance with professional standards. These standards are determined by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, comprised of Virginia sheriffs and police chiefs chosen for their professional expertise and knowledge.
The accreditation process involves a thorough review of every facet of the agency’s organization, management, operations, and administration, thereby ensuring that agency resources are used in alignment with agency goals and objectives and that any internal deficiencies and inefficiencies are promptly addressed before they become public problems.
The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) jointly form the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. Active Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, who are members of the Commission, set professional standards and oversee the accreditation process. The DCJS manages the daily operations of the Commission.
Accreditation offers a range of benefits, including enhanced community understanding of the law enforcement agency and its role in the community. It also boosts public confidence in the agency’s policies and practices, fosters cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and branches of the criminal justice system, and ensures a uniform and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community.
For officers within the agency, accreditation ensures the availability of written policies and procedures at all times, provides objective measures to gauge the effectiveness of the agency’s programs and services, and increases employees’ confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of their own agency.
In essence, accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence in law enforcement. The employees of Warren County Sheriff’s Office now take pride in their agency, knowing it represents the very best in law enforcement.
Accredited Agencies in our area include:
- Berryville Police Department
- Clarke County Sheriff’s Office
- Page County Sheriff’s Office
- Winchester City Sheriff’s Office
- Winchester Police Department
- Woodstock Police Department
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