The Warren County Educational Endowment awarded 11 grants for 2020 totaling $36,534.56 to the Warren County Public School System.
Grants were awarded for the following projects:
- Mindfulness Journaling – Jamie Dusing/WCMS – $770 – The goal of this program is to integrate mindfulness into the daily writing practice of students. Now, more than ever, students are struggling with social and emotional behaviors. Many do not have the resources or the strategies to deal with their new “norm”. As an English teacher, Ms. Dusing has been trying to incorporate daily writing into the students’ routines. A mindfulness journal for each student would allow for students, both hybrid and virtual, to have access to a resource that would teach them strategies for coping, while also practicing their writing skills. Students would write in their mindfulness journal daily and share submissions (on a volunteer basis) in the writing community, which has been built as a classroom.
- STEM Exploration – Michelle Edwards/SMS – $1,869.56 – The goal of this program is to increase the rigor for the Gifted and Talented students and provide them with STEM activities. This project includes creating take-home STEM packets, if needed,
due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as offer differentiation of instruction to multiple levels of sixth through eighth grades.
- The Drum Circle Project – Sally Meredith/SHS – $700 – This program seeks to improve students’ physical health through cardio exercise while also adding in social and emotional learning. Research shows that cardio drumming not only provides students with a unique form of physical activity, but also helps students access their right brain which controls emotions and relaxation, which can lead to better self-regulation, improved focus, and a reduction in anxiety. Studies have shown that students with disabilities benefit from the use of percussion equipment showing improvement in both fine and gross motor skills, communication skills, social skills, ability to relax, creativity, focus, self-regulation and lowered aggressive behaviors. Additionally, drumming provides physical exercise that is available to all students of all physical ability levels.
- Instrumental Music Classes – Pam Dyke/SMS and WCMS – $5,000 – The goal of this program is to improve students’ playing skills by bringing in professional musicians to offer master classes in person and/or online. Teaching instrumental music virtually and with a COVID-19 mitigation plan in place is extremely challenging. Band directors are looking for any method which will give student musicians more instructional time and more specialized instruction on their instrument. The plan is to use an updated Master Class format, due to the hybrid schedule. Professional musicians from the local area will be brought in for each of these instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, baritone/tuba, and percussion. When possible, these classes would occur in person at each school, with any virtual students participating via Google Meet. Each session would be recorded for future use.
- STEM Kits for Gifted and Talented Students – Denise Walton and Lisa Rudacille/School Board – $1,800 – The project goal is to provide enrichment activities for identified elementary gifted and talented students throughout the division. In order to meet the needs of gifted students, whether they receive instruction in person or virtually, gifted-endorsed teachers will be planning monthly enrichment activities to meet their unique learning needs. STEM kits will be created to provide gifted students the opportunity to engage in STEM-focused projects remotely. Kits will go home monthly, each with a different STEM focus. The kits will contain materials to be used in open-ended projects and investigations.
- Generation Genius Web-Based Science Program – Missy Johnson/HJBES – $995 – Generation Genius provides access to science lessons, unit vocabulary, quizzes, science reading materials, DIY activities, discussion questions, teacher guides and exit tickets. Each lesson provides videos and hands on activities. This year, teachers are searching for high quality resources that can help students regardless of their mode of instruction. While nothing replaces hands-on experiments, Generation Genius will help all of the students of Hilda J. Barbour experience science in a format that is conducive to this year’s learning environment. In fifth grade, students will not only use the videos and exit tickets in their daily lessons, but some of the hands-on activities will be implemented within the classroom whenever possible, given the current COVID-19 restrictions. Discussion questions will be posted on Schoology as often as possible to spark investigative learning. Reading materials provided by Generation Genius will be used to integrate language arts into the science curriculum whenever appropriate.
- Skyline High School Robotics Club – Stephanie Scriva/ SHS – $5,000 – The goal of this project is to foster the imaginations and curiosity of Club members and build a community of creativity, cooperation, and collaboration with a STEM focus. Front Royal isn’t known for its technology industries. Students at SHS do not have the same opportunities as students in Northern Virginia when it comes to easy access to industry engineers and internships. The SHS Robotics Club gives students that opportunity. It allows students from this rural community to have hands-on engineering, coding, and robotics experiences in a dynamic and challenging environment. Students learn to be a part of a team and develop problem solving skills that will be used for the rest of their lives. An additional goal of the team is to increase robotics awareness in the community to inspire future generations to get into the diverse and evolving field of robotics.
- Brain Breaks for Kids – Grace Croson/SMS – $800 – This program will provide stimulating games and activities for students. Students need small breaks during the school day in ways that engage them and allow them to do hands on activities. The grant will be used to purchase STEM activities, educational toys and games, puzzles, and other items to keep students engaged.
- Emergency STAT Packs and Equipment – Whitney Ulibarri/WCHS – $2,600 – The goal of this project is the education and application of proper injury treatment and lifesaving equipment. The emergency STAT Pack and equipment that will be purchased include rapid form vacuum splints, a red emergency medical “STAT Pack” bag, and lifesaving items to fill the bag including, but not limited to, an oxygen tank, pulse oximeter, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, cervical collar, and various airway and respiratory kits. All of the above-mentioned items are already part of, or would become part of, the class curriculum and clinical usage.
- HALO (Helping All Little Ones Read) – Bryan Mosher/ WCMS – $10,000 – It is the overall project goal to provide books to all Warren County children from birth to their sixth birthday. Research overwhelming indicates that children who are exposed to books and reading at an early age (0 to 5) are more likely to be successful in school and in life. This program is a partnership between the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, The Warren Coalition, What Matters, and Warren County Public Schools. Each month HALO will mail a high quality, age appropriate book to all registered children (addressed to them) at no cost to the child’s family. Children will receive an award winning book each month until they turn six years old.
- Community STEM Outreach – Jennifer Davis/WCMS – $7,000 – This program will provide WCMS families an opportunity to connect with their family and other WCMS families while participating in engaging STEM challenges. This year, families will register for a WCMS Virtual Family STEM Night through online registration and receive a STEM challenge supply kit. The kit will contain all the supplies needed to participate in the STEM challenge. Families will have a certain amount of time to complete the challenge and upload a video of their finished project to the WCMS Facebook page. Families who participate will be entered in a drawing to win STEM related prizes. Leftover funds from the virtual STEM night will be used to purchase STEM kits and supplies for our science classrooms and for future hands-on Family STEM Nights.
The Endowment is a catalyst for improving the education and learning environment in Warren County Public Schools. Sometimes it takes private support of public efforts to incubate an idea or a new approach that helps students compete in a global marketplace, instills passion for life-long learning, and sparks a vision to strive for success. Programs funded by the Endowment are sponsored by our school system and are consistent with its mission and direction. They are intended to initiate sustained improvement in the fundamental capability of the school system and enhance the attractiveness of the community through the promotion of educational excellence.
Endowment President Doug Stanley stated, “The Warren County Educational Endowment maintains its commitment to its mission of helping the local school system support high level and creative programs for our children. The Board was again extremely excited to see the cooperation shown by the teachers in developing the grant proposals, many with cross collaboration of disciplines. It was an even more difficult task this year with the impacts of COVID-19. With these eleven grant awards, we feel that the Endowment has been able to provide additional tools to our dedicated teachers to continue to push innovation for our students in their Trek-to-Excellence.”
According to School Superintendent Dr. Chris Ballenger, “The Warren County Educational Endowment continues to be a great partner of Warren County Public Schools. Without this partnership, many programs and opportunities may be pushed to the wayside. The funding provided by the Endowment enables our school system to create exciting learning opportunities, develops strong community-based programs, and creates a supportive learning environment. I am excited to partner with such a dedicated group that has a vision and desire to see our schools succeed. This year, the Endowment is funding projects related to health sciences, performing arts, entrepreneurship, social-emotional learning, environmental stewardship, and accessibility. The Endowment’s direct impact on our division is immeasurable. We are thankful for their support.”
Since 1996, the Endowment has awarded 167 grants totaling $581,824.97. Persons interested in supporting the Endowment can contact the Endowment or make a donation at wceducationalendowment.org.
COVID-19 Updates for County, Health District, State, Nation and Global
Since our last update at the end of January, in the first three weeks of February 2021, Warren County has reported 236 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths, to 41 from 37, attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic. Twelve more people, to 88 from 76 were hospitalized here due to the viral infection.
And unhappily, as pointed out by reader Kelli Hart in an Open Letter to our county and town elected officials reprinted in our OPINION section, Warren County, including the Town of Front Royal, continues to report a higher death rate per reported cases (1.82%) than both the Commonwealth of Virginia (1.32%) and the nation (1.78%), as well as carrying the third highest deaths per cases ratio in the Northern Shenandoah Valley region, including our five fellow Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) communities.
In the past four months since late October through the predicted Phase 3 and holiday COVID surge, Warren County has recorded 29 of its 41 fatalities. But as Warren County Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Farrall noted in his introduction to the February 21 numbers tabulated the following morning: “Good News: LFHD reports that both the COVID-19 case rate and associated death rate is finally declining in the District.”
We can only hope that trend continues as vaccine distribution becomes more available across the health district, state and nation.
A check of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website on February 22, at 6:30 p.m. indicated 111,434,130 reported cases and 2,467,481 deaths globally. The U.S. cases (28,409,397) and deaths climbing over half million at 504,012, continue to account for about 25% to 20% of the global cases and deaths, with the U.S.’s 4% of the world population. Note: local vaccination information will be reported in a companion report.
Below, see the full comparative COVID-19 statistics in several week increments as reported by County Emergency Services since the turn of the year:
- COVID-19 Information (Current Data, as of 2/22 at 8:56 AM):
- Good News: LFHD reports that both the COVID-19 case rate and associated death rate is finally declining in the District.
- Lord Fairfax Health District: As of today (per the VDH website), the number of total COVID-19 cases per locality are: Clarke 749, Frederick 6,673, Page 1,809, Shenandoah 3,669, Warren 2,249 (88 are/were hospitalized, 41 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 1.82% total cases), Winchester 2,447; the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
- Commonwealth: 5,762,389 total people tested (PCR only); 565,270 total cases [8.3% positive rate (PCR only)]; 23,530 total hospitalized; 7,486 total deaths (1.32%total cases).
- United States: As of February 21, 2021, there are 27,882,557 total cases and 496,112 total deaths (1.78%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.
- Current CDC Guidance Regarding When to Quarantine/Options to Reduce Quarantine
- Updated CDC guidance as of February 11, 2020.
- Recommend everyone familiarize themselves with the updated guidance. See attached and website link below for details.
- COVID-19 Information (Feb. 1, 2021):
- Lord Fairfax Health District: As of today (per the VDH website), the number of total COVID-19 cases per locality are: Clarke 677, Frederick 6,023, Page 1,660, Shenandoah 3,417, Warren 2,013 (76 are/were hospitalized, 37 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 1.84% total cases), Winchester 2,301; the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
- Commonwealth: 5,261,801 total people tested (PCR only); 507,640 total cases [11.7% positive rate (PCR only)]; 21,444 total hospitalized; 6,474 total deaths (1.28%total cases).
- United States: As of January 31, 2021 at 12:26 PM, there are 25,921,703 total cases and 438,035 total deaths (1.69%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Information (January 15, 2021):
- Lord Fairfax Health District: As of today (per the VDH website), there are 12,733 confirmed COVID-19 cases (Clarke 491, Frederick 4,661, Page 1,289, Shenandoah 2,756, Warren 1,633 (71 are/were hospitalized, 36 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 2.20% total cases), Winchester 1,903); the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
- Commonwealth: 4,730,680 total people tested (PCR only); 422,634 total cases [15.2% positive rate (PCR only)]; 19,741 total hospitalized; 5,656 total deaths (1.34%total cases).
- United States: As of January 14, 2021 at 12:16 PM, there are 22,965,957 total cases and 383,351 total deaths (1.67%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Information (December 30, 2020):
- Lord Fairfax Health District: As of today (per the VDH website), there are 9,877 confirmed COVID-19 cases (Clarke 385, Frederick 3,703, Page 1,015, Shenandoah 2,186, Warren 1,321 (69 are/were hospitalized, 33 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 2.50% total cases), Winchester 1,637); the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
- Commonwealth: 4,220,943 total people tested (PCR only); 344,345 total cases [12.7% positive rate (PCR only)]; 17,910 total hospitalized; 4,984 total deaths (1.45%total cases).
- United States: As of December 29, 2020 at 2:25 PM, there are 19,232,843 total cases and 334,029 total deaths (1.74%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.
Sheriff’s Office investigates virtual student threat to WCMS
The Royal Examiner received this press release on February 26, 2021.
On February 24, 2021, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received information referencing threats to Warren County Middle school by a virtual student.
The threats were immediately investigated and Warren County School Administration notified. Through investigation and consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, it was determined the threats were not creditable.
At no time was the safety of staff and students at Warren County Middle School at risk. Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Warren County School Administration staff and Warren County Middle School staff for their assistance throughout the investigation.
Summary of the Warren County EDA Board meeting of Friday, February 26
The EDA Board of Directors conducted their regular monthly board meeting this morning, February 26, via Zoom. The Board welcomed Front Royal Town Manager Steven Hicks prior to going into Closed Session. Mr. Hicks noted that the Town’s budget proposal for the fiscal year 2022 was being prepared. A summary overview was included in the board packet and digital copies of the 32-page presentation are available from the EDA office. Please contact Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson at 635-2182.
Board Chair Jeff Browne congratulated Mr. Hicks on his appointment to Executive Director of the Front Royal EDA and stated that the Board of the Front Royal Warren County EDA is looking for working with him.
Following an approximately 30-minuted Closed Meeting, the Board approved a motion on the disposition of McKay Springs. In order to facilitate and expedite the sale of parcels at the McKay Springs location, the Board approved transferring the parcels deeded in the name of the EDA to Warren County.
Continuing in Open Session, Jeff Browne gave a report from the Executive Committee. He advised the Board and the public that Warren County will be designated as a Spotted Lanternfly quarantine locality in mid-March, along with Clarke and Frederick counties, and the City of Winchester. This will impact businesses located in and doing business in Warren County. For more information please visit www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plan-industry-services.shtml
Director Jim Wolfe shared information on the progress of the EDA Strategic Plan updates. He’s looking forward to feedback on the working document and completing a final draft for review.
Asset Committee Chair Greg Harold discussed a new development that will have an impact on the EDA-owned property on Royal Lane. He shared the news that the Town of Front Royal is considering updating the Town Code to allow a Conditional Use Permit to be bonded with the property rather than the owner. With this change, Harold expects to improve the successful marketing of this property for a developer of multi-family workforce housing. The EDA is very interested in selling this property and supports the Town Planning Department in its efforts.
EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons had several items of interest to share, including the launch of the renovated EDA website at www.wceda.com, and that the auditors are finalizing their report. Additionally, he reported that the proceeds of $323,179.18 from the sale of the Afton Inn have paid down the principal on the First Bank & Trust Line of Credit. This lowered the payment, saving the taxpayers $1,242.70 per month, or $14,912.40 per year.
Shower Trailer update for Warren County’s Thermal Shelter guests
The shower trailer will be available to the guests of our local Thermal Shelter during the winter. It will also be available in case of disaster and for emergency personnel. In the past we have borrowed shower trailers from other counties. We are finally filling a high demand need!
The goal is to have three separate shower stalls installed. The trailer will be complete with hot water heaters and toiletries. Each stall will have it’s own door for privacy and convenience.
In the links below, there are items that are needed for purchase if you would like to help in lieu of a cash donation. Links provided by Robert Hupman, the man with the plan!
- 275 Gallon Water Tank
- Fold Up Step for 30″ Door
- Roll A Ramp – portable ramp 16ft L x 26″W – Fill your cart with this item: A12615A19 ($1,469.99)
Story provided to you by the Rotary Club of Warren County. To learn more about Rotary visit our website!
United Way following through on $5,500 pledge to Blue Ridge Legal Services
The United Way of Front Royal-Warren County is making good on its promise to support Blue Ridge Legal Services with $5,500 in grant funding for this fiscal year. Many positive results have been achieved from the $46,052 given by the United Way to Blue Ridge Legal Services over the past seven years, and the community has benefited from this partnership. The United way hopes to renew and increase its commitment to this organization in the coming years.
According to Jennifer Locke, the Managing Attorney for Blue Ridge Legal Services serving Front Royal-Warren County, COVID-19 forced some changes for the organization in 2020. For example, the legal clinic is no longer accepting in-person applications. Additionally, since June 2020, the clinic has experienced an increase in demand for services.
The three biggest issues that the clinic works with clients to resolve are Domestic Violence (45%), Evictions (30%), and Bankruptcy (20%). The clinic closed 41 cases in Front Royal-Warren County in 2020, aiding 121 residents during this process. They achieved $500 in lump-sum judgments, $800 in monthly benefits, and $97,293 in avoidance of claims/liability for the clients they serve. Additionally, they achieved three bankruptcy discharges, three prevented evictions, and two delayed evictions.
In working to increase its efforts in the community, the clinic has has hired an additional attorney to help serve Front Royal-Warren County. They were able to accomplish this using a grant from IKEA and a dollar-for-dollar match from the Virginia Governor’s Office.
If you would like to partner with the United Way as we work to support our partner agencies, please visit the DONATE page on our website. Since 1950, the United Way has worked to advance the common good in Front Royal-Warren County. The community wins when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy. The United Way’s goal is to create long-lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of the challenges we face. Living United means being part of the change!
To reach the United Way offices in Front Royal-Warren County (134-B Peyton Street, Front Royal, VA, 22630), please email email@example.com or call 540-635-3636.
Valley Conservation Council helps protect land & expand the Shenandoah National Park
Valley Conservation Council (VCC), a Staunton-based nonprofit that preserves and protects the natural resources of the greater Shenandoah Valley region, recently aimed its conservation expertise to help bring protection to almost 1,000 acres of mountain land adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park that will eventually become part of its borders.
Throughout late 2020, VCC assisted the Shenandoah National Park Trust (SNPT) in the acquisition of 967 acres of land on Tanner’s Ridge in Page County in the largest land acquisition of its kind in decades that will eventually expand the Park into mountain land it currently borders.
SNPT, who had the necessary funds and a group of willing sellers, was looking for a land trust and called upon VCC for assistance last summer. In the months that followed, VCC assisted SNPT through the process of acquiring three properties totaling 967 acres.
The acquired land will eventually be conveyed to the Shenandoah National Park to provide public access for all to enjoy the breathtaking mountaintop views, strenuous hikes, and pure clean water. In the meantime, VCC has also accepted a conservation easement on the property and with it has taken on the responsibility for ensuring the land remains intact and unchanged until it is transferred to the care of the National Park.
By protecting this land, VCC is protecting the headwaters of Naked Creek, ensuring pristine water quality in the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The waters of Naked Creek flow from this newly protected mountain land into Hawksbill Creek, then to the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, running through Page and Warren counties to join the main stem of the Shenandoah at Front Royal and on to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. Along the way, these streams and the groundwater that connects them provide drinking water to millions of people, from the town of Luray all the way to the DC metro area.
SNPT purchased the land with funds from a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that resulted from a settlement with a DuPont manufacturing plant in Waynesboro that was dumping waste into the South River, an upstream tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The suit yielded a number of public benefits to make up for the damage, including $20 million to buy and protect land that would ensure better water quality in the future.