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Warren County Educational Endowment awards $65,225 in grants to Warren County Public Schools



The Warren County Educational Endowment awarded eighteen (18) grants for 2022 totaling $65,225 to the Warren County Public Schools system.

Endowment President George Karnes stated, “The Warren County Educational Endowment was formed in 1996 to provide seed money for creative learning ideas brought forth by Warren County teachers and staff. Since our inception, we have awarded 196 grants totaling $693,770.97 and are pleased to continue to support Warren County Public Schools for the 2022-2023 school year with grant awards totaling $65,225.”

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 for our students may not be possible. 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 the vision and the desire to see our schools succeed. The Endowment’s direct impact on our division is immeasurable. We are thankful for their support.”

The following pages detail the grant programs/projects approved for funding in 2022:

  • Electric Go-Kart Design and Build Project – Russell Sears/BRTC – $3,600 – The project goal is to give the students in various disciplines at Blue Ridge Technical Center a challenge in designing, building, and evaluating the performance of an electrical go-kart to be raced against various schools in the region. Blue Ridge Technical Center engineering students will design an electrical go-kart with the input from the teachers in the technical center. The design will then be passed to the welding students who will have to use the provided blueprints to form and weld the frame. The automotive students will add the mechanical features, and the electricity students will get additional exposure as they wire the 48V electrical system. The engineering students will act as the project managers and serve as the collaborators for this real world, multi-disciplined challenge.
  • Hands-On Learning through Composting and Raised Beds – Katharine Lee Meadows/WCHS – $2,500 – The goal of this program is to create an outdoor learning lab for all WCHS students, which will provide hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math through construction and implementation of a composting system and raised garden beds, extending educational opportunities for high schoolers to share with the community and lower grade levels. The Applied Agriculture classes & FFA members will collaborate with Environmental Science classes to build compost bins, compost collection containers, and raised beds for the initial phase of the project. Once those items are constructed, students will collect compost from lunches and the grounds for breakdown in the bins and create signage explaining the decomposition processes used. In the second phase, the organic material produced will be added as soil amendment to the raised beds, which will be planted by students with a variety of crops for eventual harvest. Students involved in this phase will learn to calculate nutrient, space, and water requirements for the crops and plan for planting, amendment, and maintenance through the growing season.
  • Wobble to Learn – Refa Blakely/RJES – $1,000 – The goal of this project is to place wobble stools for flexible seating into my Kindergarten Classroom to help students to focus and be able to learn in the classroom environment. The project will place wobble stools at each student’s seat to allow them to move, while paying attention to their lessons. By having enough seats for the entire class, it will not pinpoint out students that need these seating arrangements, and all children will be able to benefit from them.
  • Recycling Carts – Jen Davis/WCMS – $600 – In 2021, the Endowment provided a grant to the newly created Recycling Club at Warren County Middle School, allowing them to purchase two carts. They started with a recycling club of 7 members, one cart (that was broken), and only recycled paper from classrooms. As students became accustomed to recycling, interest grew, and club membership has expanded 25 members with a waitlist. With the two carts purchased through last year’s grant, WCMS recycles paper, cardboard, and plastic. The WCMS Cafeteria has its own cart and recycles cardboard boxes (which easily adds up to 50- 70 boxes a week). This program will allow the club to purchase two more carts to make recycling all of these items less time-consuming.
  • Bringing Life to Brighten our School – Kara Lewallen/Diversified Minds –$2,000 – The goal of this program is to get Diversified Minds/Brighter Futures’ indoor and outdoor gardening spaces thriving again. Indoors, they have two of the original tower gardens the County purchased years back. They are in need of supplies to get them running again. The ballasts on the fluorescent lighting systems are dying, and they do not have the net pots or rockwool needed to run the machines. The funds will go towards the purchasing of supplies for the indoor tower gardens, the outdoor garden, and greenhouse supply needs.
  • Personality and Power – Michael Williams/EWM – $6,250 – The goal of this program is to assist underserved 4th and 5th Grade students throughout the 2022-23 School Year to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and to promote trust among these students with one another, while tracking their success as they progress throughout the school year and onto the next grade level. The ethos behind this program is to target/help 4th and 5th grade students, specifically at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, in the areas of growth, maturity and leadership, while identifying their personality strengths and weaknesses. This targeted group (approximately 50 students) will engage in weekly activities to enhance and maximize their maturity, growth, and ability to empathize with others, and the process will better help provide a rubric for each student to see where they can positively affect their own lives as they progress through school and life.
  • Outdoor Environmental Learning Stations – Faith Falkenstein and Justyne Louk/WCPS – $5,000 – The goal of this program is to create environmental outdoor learning labs in order to spark scientific curiosity and offer opportunities for scientific exploration and discovery for students. Getting out of the classroom to work in the areas of STEM/STEAM helps to foster students’ abilities to be curious and ask questions. Taking care of our environment tomorrow means instilling a love of nature in today’s students. The project will help to foster growth in science and math achievement by:
    • Developing higher-level thinking skills
    • Developing creative thinking and problem-solving skills
    • Developing effective and advanced communication skills
  • Floral Coolers – Grace Bucklen/SHS – $4,475 – The goal of this program is to have a floral design cooler in the agriculture department at Skyline High School to be able to offer hands on floral design opportunities to students. Activities using the floral cooler would include, but are not limited to, staff make-and-take workshops, community make-and-take workshops, floral design services for SHS sports and other feeder schools of SHS, floral design services for County events, floral design services to community members, etc.
  • Community Teamwork – Holly Deaner/WCMS – $1,800 – The project goal is to build communication and collaboration skills within students and surrounding community members with teamwork. In a world where technology dominates society, we find our community of students struggling with basic communication and collaboration skills. As educators we have found that this issue continues to add to behavioral problems. Students struggle with the vocabulary that enables them to build teams and networks that produce success. A Gaga Pit provides an activity that is unique and safe, and it promotes teamwork through the communication and collaboration skills needed to win; Gaga Ball is a kinder, gentler version of dodgeball played in a large octagon with a soft playground ball. This activity would be placed by the playground, where surrounding communities can reap the benefits as well. It enables children to teach their families a new activity, thus building on the desired skills.
  • Zooming In for a New Perspective – Randa Vernazza/Brighter Futures – $1,300 – The project will purchase functional microscopes for the students of Diversified Minds/Brighter Futures. Students will be able to gain a new perspective on life by seeing things they did not know were there. Activities will include zooming in to observe both living and nonliving things.
  • Unplug, Unwind, and Unite – Pam Waters/WCMS – $3,500 – In an effort to support families of students with disabilities and also work towards the Warren County Public Schools’ theme of Engaging Every Family, this grant will set up a family game night in which families will play board and card games together with other families of students in their child’s class. Family Game Night will be an unplugged event (no video games or internet required); board and card games will be used. Students can work on their social skills of turn taking, being a good sport and using appropriate conversations while families and parents can network and get to know the families of students in their child’s class (often there is a gap in these relationships and this grant would help bridge this gap). With grant money, the event can begin as an activity that occurs at least once per quarter, with the possibility of increasing the event to every other month for multiple years. As part of the funding, families who participate will be offered a new game to take home to continue the fun at home.
  • Positivity Rooms – Emily Whitacre and Joey Adams/SMS – $5,000 – This project will create two separate environments within the school to foster a sense of safety and expression among students whose behavior exhibits school-related stress. Sensory Rooms create an environment which positively impacts various types of students, including students with disabilities, students who are overstimulated, as well as students who are in need of an unscheduled time to work on de-escalation techniques.
  • Steel Drum Class – David Dingess/WCHS – $10,000 – The goal of this program is to create a Steel Pan Band Class in order to increase the opportunities for all students who are in the high school to learn and enrich their lives in music. In high school, many of the music classes that are offered follow up on knowledge and skills already learned at the middle school in band and choir classes. Other classes are offered for students who did not take a music class early, but they are often steeped in the traditional methods of western music. This program would expand opportunities for the community’s increasingly diverse student population who may not have had those opportunities in middle school to be a part of the band. Steel Pans were originated in Trinidad and have a unique African/Latino mix of culture and music that can not only increase the opportunities for students who are looking for additional musical options in high school, but may be a place for members of minority populations to experience music of their own heritage and history.
  • Soar Shop: A Skyline School Store – Megan Moore/SMS – $4,000 – This program has two connected goals. First, students will learn responsibility, the value of work, and financial literacy skills by operating and shopping at the store. Second, the store’s earnings will be used to fund reading programs and the purchase of student-requested library books. The grant will be used to fund the start-up materials for a school store operated by members of the Student Government Association (SGA). It will offer general school supplies, stress-reducing fidgets, school spirit materials, vinyl stickers, and Chromebook accessories. These SGA members will learn business skills that will prepare them to be community leaders in the future. The proceeds of this store will help fund the library in uncertain times. Skyline Middle School also lacks a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) that would help subsidize these books. The school store would allow students to help fund the books they want most, helping to pull in reluctant readers. Sadly, we also realize that many of our students come from low-income households. By seeking grant money to fund the start-up of our school store, we would be able to distribute shopping vouchers to students with the most need. Students could earn vouchers through working in the library, teaching students the value of their work.
  • STEAM Lab – Holly Deaner/WCMS – $2,000 – The project goal is to promote critical thinking skills and creativity within our students by integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Building a STEAM Lab in WCMS for student and teachers to utilize will enable students to build upon and create connections across all content areas. STEAM also builds teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, which are all necessary in today’s age where students are dominated by technology and limited in these areas. STEAM education is an approach to learning that builds on teamwork, collaboration, and creativity connecting across curriculum. Students apply content learned within the classroom through exploration, building, innovative thinking, and reflective opportunities to enhance designs in order to produce a greater result.
  • Pathways and Connections Classroom Necessities and Improvements – Penny Cook/WCMS – $4,200 – This project’s goal is to update and supply the Pathways and Connections’ kitchen and classroom with much-needed equipment, cookware, bakeware, dinnerware, utensils, and a rolling cart/bar in order to store and sell products as students go around the school. This gives students an opportunity to learn, practice, and perform daily life skill goals per their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). It is vital that these students learn to do as much as they can for themselves, on their own. The ultimate goal is for the students to learn how to perform everyday life skills and to be as independent as possible as adults. The Pathways and Connections classroom is self-contained, serving multiple-disabled students. In the classroom, it is an important goal for students to learn and practice everyday living skills such as cooking, baking, running the dishwasher, running the washing machine and dryer, and folding the laundry. These students are the school’s community helpers, so they go around and gather up any towels, washcloths, or rags that teachers have, and the students take care of the items weekly; then they return the clean items back to the staff. These students are young entrepreneurs; on Fridays they operate a mobile coffee and snack cart to each grade level hallway to sell their products to the staff. This task gives them knowledge of dealing with the public, customer service, and what it means to provide a good or product to someone for payment to earn money.
  • Classroom Book a Day – Rita Werner/LFK – $6,500 – The goal of the project is to inspire everyone to read more and to find joy in books. Exposure to various types of texts will help young learners connect texts to themselves, to other texts, and to the world, deepening their understanding and helping them to grow as readers. The Book A Day project is to promote reading and engage our young readers every day with a new book. Being exposed to all types of books is important for building background knowledge which lends itself to better understanding. The Classroom Book A Day Project gives teachers the needed resources to read books to their students and be the role model for reading. This Books A Day Project would provide teachers with newest books available as well as incorporate content specific books along with the classics that we all know and love. There is no greater joy for a teacher than to see a student be engaged and intrigued by a book that is being read to them. This project would allow teachers to have access to more books and to expose their students to books they may not have access to at home.
  • Pathways and Connections Transition Workboxes – Jessica Kelly/WCHS –$1,500 – The goal of this project is to provide functional activities to guide students with disabilities toward functional job and community interactions by using tools in the classroom to prepare them. Student-centered workboxes will be created that promote independence and foster abilities that will carry to the home and community. Task lists, materials, organizational spaces, printing, and lamination will all be used toward creating these special boxes. Students will have simulated real-life goals such as putting the correct batteries in the correct flashlight and making it work. They will also count money using the dollar up system, roll coins, take orders, provide change, and so much more. Students will have opportunities to sort, stock, and organize materials such as they would at a job site.

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.

Persons interested in supporting the Endowment can contact the Endowment or make a donation by visiting

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Virginia patriots remembered in historic grave marking ceremony



The echoes of the past reverberated through the hallowed ground of McIlhaney Family Cemetery as descendants and societies dedicated to the memory of the Revolutionary War united in a poignant ceremony. The Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), along with other participating SAR chapters and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) societies, marked the graves of Rev War patriots James McIlhaney and William H. Parker.

James McIlhaney, a Loudoun County native born in 1749, served valiantly during the Revolutionary War. His commission as Lieutenant in the 10th Virginia Regiment came in March 1776, with a subsequent promotion to Captain. McIlhaney demonstrated his courage in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown before resigning from service in June 1778.

William H. Parker, born in Westmoreland County in 1752, etched his name in the annals of history as a midshipman on the Virginia State Ship (VSS) Tartar, later advancing to the rank of Lieutenant and taking command of the vessel. Parker’s bravery was evident during the Battle of Osborne’s Landing when he defied surrender, swimming ashore to join the Virginia militia. He would later play an integral role in the Battle of Green Spring and the Siege of Yorktown.

Ken Bonner, President of the Sgt Maj John Champe SAR Chapter, led the ceremony, which included six SAR chapters, three DAR chapters, two Children of the American Revolution (CAR) societies, and direct descendants of the patriots.

During the event, attendees were graced by the Virginia State Color Guard, commanded by Barry Schwoerer. The pledge of allegiance, led by Rand Pixa, President of the George Washington SAR Chapter, was a resounding testament to the ongoing commitment of Americans to their historic roots.

The graves of the two patriots were vigilantly guarded by sentries Gary Dunaway and John Lynch, both from the Williamsburg SAR chapter, who later unveiled the grave markers during the dedication ceremony. Numerous wreaths were presented by participants, symbolic of the respect and reverence held for these revolutionary heroes.

Musket squad l. to r. Sean Carrigan, Thomas “Chip” Daniel, Kelly Ford, Paul Christensen, Brett Osborn, Mark Sink. Photo courtesy of Dale Corey.


A heartfelt tribute came in the form of a three-round musket salute delivered by the combined Virginia SAR firelock squad. This salute was followed by the stirring notes of a bagpipe played by MacPhearson Strassberg from the Rev John Marks Society CAR, underlining the solemnity of the occasion.

Those present to pay their respects included a host of participants from various SAR and DAR chapters, offering a visual representation of unity and shared purpose in the ceremony. The SAR participants, as well as the musket squad, gathered for a group photograph, capturing this significant moment for posterity.

Photo courtesy of Chip Daniels.


The ceremony served as a timeless tribute to McIlhaney and Parker, embodying the enduring respect and appreciation for the patriots who shaped America’s early days of freedom. This event reinforced the importance of such commemorations in reminding current and future generations of the sacrifices made in pursuit of liberty and independence.

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An emotional and educational Dogs of War service kicks off Memorial Day weekend in Front Royal



Saturday, May 27, was no ordinary day in Front Royal. As the sun shone brightly on a beautiful late spring afternoon, the melodic sounds of Jim Lundt’s bagpipe ushered in a crowd of about 60 spectators and participants to the Humane Society of Warren County’s (HSWC) Julia Wagner Animal Shelter for the second annual Dogs of War and Law Enforcement K-9 team Memorial Day weekend event.

The Dogs of War Garden of Remembrance, a tranquil space nestled within the shelter grounds, was the hub of this heartwarming celebration. At its center stands a statue of a German Shepherd – a poignant representation of war dogs and law enforcement canines’ loyal service throughout history. Accompanied by a heartfelt dedication note, this statue embodies the community’s profound gratitude toward these unsung heroes.

Prior to the start of Saturday’s event, FRPD K-9 Marley shoved Dogs of War Memorial Garden German Shepherd statue ‘Ben’ into the ‘back row’ shadows as she prepared for her role in the day’s ceremony. Below, HSWC Executive Director Meghan Bowers kicks off the second annual Memorial Day weekend ceremony at the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter grounds. – Royal Examiner Still Photos Roger Bianchini, Video Mike McCool

Meghan Bowers, HSWC Executive Director, kick-started the event by introducing the man behind the memorial garden’s creation – Malcolm Barr Sr. As a lifelong animal advocate and former HSWC Board President, Barr’s passion led to the inception of the War Dog and Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial Garden. His efforts have not only shaped this Memorial Day weekend celebration but also ensured a year-round tribute to these canine heroes.

Bowers emphasized the appropriateness of Front Royal as the event’s location, noting the deep historical connection it shares with war dogs. It was here in Front Royal at the Remount Training Center that the first U.S. dogs trained for combat in World War II were prepared, a fact that Barr highlighted, adding significance to the ceremony.

The event was graced by the participation of various local authorities and services. A Color Guard was provided by the Front Royal Police Department, with FRPD Officer Olivia Meadows in attendance with her K-9 partner Marley. Representatives from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Front Royal Fire Department also lent their support.

The Flag Detail, including FRPD Officer Olivia Meadows and her not-quite-2-year-old K-9 Marley, present the colors.

In his address, Barr gratefully acknowledged the HSWC for dedicating a section of the animal shelter property to the memorial garden, which was inaugurated on this date last year.

Keynote speaker Steve Herman, chief national correspondent for Voice Of America and Barr’s former colleague at the Associated Press offered a detailed account of the history of dogs in warfare dating from the 7th century B.C. through World War II into modern times. Upon learning about this memorial service, Herman eagerly expressed interest in participating in the event.

Voice of America chief national correspondent Steve Herman gives the keynote address, tracing the history of dog use in warfare in a variety of ways from the 7th century B.C. into WW II and modern times. As Herman noted, while dogs don’t know why they are in a war zone, they know to protect and serve their human companions with a selfless devotion characteristic of their species.

During his address, he acknowledged his friend Barr Sr.’s efforts dating to the Vietnam era in having an overgrown war dog cemetery Barr had come across while on a reporting assignment on the Pacific Island of Guam, a major battlefield of the Second World War, rehabilitated. That site later became recognized as a national War Dog Cemetery.

Following Herman’s keynote address, Barr introduced Front Royal Councilman Skip Rogers, himself a former military dog handler, to lead the local law enforcement and K-9 contingent in the solemn act of laying a wreath at the Wagner Shelter Memorial Garden site.

Able Forces veterans assistance group principal and Front Royal Town Councilman ‘Skip’ Rogers, once himself a military dog handler, leads the memorial wreath-laying ceremony.

The Valley Chorale, renowned for its exceptional talent, provided a melodic backdrop to the event. They performed both the opening and closing songs at the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter, adding a unique warmth to the proceedings.

This year’s celebration served as a poignant tribute to the enduring partnership between man and his canine companions in both wartime and on the domestic law enforcement front. It paid a well-deserved homage to the invaluable service dogs who have, and continue to, serve valiantly in times of peace and conflict.

Members of the Valley Chorale opened and closed the Dogs of War Memorial Day weekend event with stirring renditions of ‘The National Anthem’ and ‘America the Beautiful’. Below, post-closing rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ event organizer Malcolm Barr Sr. wraps up the event with a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all participants and attendees, as ‘Ben’ gets back in the ‘front row’.

Watch the Royal Examiner’s exclusive video of the Dogs of War and Service Memorial Day event.

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for May 29 – June 2, 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 the night of June 8.
*NEW* Mile marker 5 to 13, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures, including along Exits 6 and 13 off-ramps for sign work, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for vegetation management, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Tuesday night.
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 the night of July 7.

*NEW* Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) – Shoulder closures near Route 638 (Fiery Run Road/Freezeland Road) intersection for sign work, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*NEW* Route 79 (Apple Mountain Road) – Shoulder closures between Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) and I-66 on-ramp for sign work, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No lane closures were reported.

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

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County overseen FR-WC EDA reviews committee reports, finances, and development of MOU with County at May meeting



The Front Royal-Warren County EDA held its monthly meeting on Friday, May 19, 2023, at 8:30 AM. All seven Board members, legal counsel, and the County Director of Economic Development were present; Board Members Rob MacDougall and Hayden Ashworth participated remotely.

The regular meeting began with committee reports. Board Chairman Scott Jenkins mentioned the next Open-Door Business Session on June 1, which will focus on Workforce, and provided updates on recent meetings. The Board also provided updates on the Avtex Conservancy Property progress.

Treasurer Jim Wolfe and County Director of Economic Development Joe Petty provided an update on the EDA financial statements. Mr. Wolfe also gave an update on the Small Business Loan Committee and proposed the next steps for the committee.

Board Chairman Jenkins and Mr. Petty gave updates on the draft EDA & County MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) and support agreements that should be ready by June.

WC Director of Economic Development Joe Petty, speaking, and FR-WC EDA Chairman Scott Jenkins in Royal Examiner File Photo


The Board concluded the meeting with a closed session to discuss potential disposition of real property to business prospects and legal consultation on active litigation. No new business followed the closed session.

The next regular monthly EDA Board meeting will be held on Friday, June 23, 2023, at 8:30 AM, at the Warren County Government Center.

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Laurel Ridge drones program comes first in international award category



Laurel Ridge Community College’s drones program has been named a first-place winner in the Workforce Development category of the XCELLENCE Awards by the Association for Uncrewed Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI). Laurel Ridge was selected from a pool of accomplished applicants for their work in uncrewed systems technology. Winners were publicly congratulated during the XCELLENCE awards ceremony during AUVSI XPONENTIAL on May 9 in Denver, Colo. This year’s 50th-anniversary event was co-hosted by Messe Düsseldorf North America.

“This year, XPONENTIAL is all about designing a shared plan for the future of autonomy,” said Keely Griffith, Vice President of Strategic Programs at AUVSI. “There’s no better place to announce the 2023 XCELLENCE award finalists. Together, they are redefining what’s possible with uncrewed and robotic technology.”

The “Laurels Take Flight” initiative, under the leadership of Professor Melissa Stange, brought this new and exciting career field to life beyond Laurel Ridge through webinars, camps, classes, workshops, and trainings for community members, from kindergarteners to those in the workforce. The college began offering new drone courses last fall. These classes include a mix of face-to-face and online instruction, as well as plenty of time flying a variety of enterprise-level drones.

In January, two career studies certificates were approved by regional accreditors, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Flight Operator certificate teaches students the fundamentals of sUAS operations. It aligns with the aeronautical knowledge required for FAA-approved commercial operations as a remote pilot and prepares students to sit for the FAA part 107 exam.

The more advanced small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Flight Technician certificate provides both theory and hands-on experience with mission planning, ground control, emergency procedures, drone programming, and training on using geospatial data for analysis, presentation and decision making.

The AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards honor innovators with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading, and promoting safe adoption of uncrewed systems and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.

“It’s really an honor to receive an international award in workforce development for our uncrewed aircraft systems program, and it’s a testament to the work that program lead Dr. Stange has done to advance awareness of uncrewed systems and advanced air mobility as a career in our region,” said Dr. Craig Santicola, dean of Laurel Ridge’s School of Professional Programs. “While our Laurels Take Flight initiative is still new, we have held quite a few events and courses and have more planned for the coming year. Thanks to a GoVirginia grant, we will also be able to grow UAS training into Fauquier and Rappahannock counties by offering drone academies to the counties’ high school students this fall.

“As the industry for uncrewed systems and advanced air mobility grows, it’s imperative that our region meet industry demand through a trained workforce that can operate these systems safely in the national airspace system. Our program focuses on safety and providing students time flying a variety of enterprise-level drones, but we also do a lot of community outreach to provide education on the new and rapidly expanding career opportunities that UAS can provide. Winning this award affirms that we are on the right track with our innovative programs, and we can’t wait to unveil our other new certificate programs in the coming months.”

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s drones program at For more information about AUVSI, visit For more information about the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards and XPONENTIAL 2023, visit

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Melissa Ichiuji Gallery Grand Opening – Studio Gallery unveils vibrant creativity in downtown Front Royal



American artist Melissa Ichiuji is thrilled to announce the opening of her anticipated Studio Gallery located in the heart of the lovely Shenandoah Valley on Saturday, June 10th, 2023, from 11:00 to 6:00 pm.  The studio is located at 223 E. Main Street in Front Royal, and gallery hours will be each Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Melissa Ichiuji

To mark its opening, Melissa Ichiuji Studio Gallery will exhibit a collection of work that reflects the essence of Ichiuji’s artistic experience. The exhibition will include pieces crafted from a variety of mediums, including both sculptures and paintings, to showcase Ichiuji’s range of talents.

Melissa Ichiuji’s works are bold and provocative, many times delving into themes of ecstasy, metamorphosis, and transcendence and sometimes incorporating hints of surrealism and sexual puns.

She is fearless in her creativity and draws inspiration from a rich array of materials, including welded steel, ceramics, textiles, and found objects, all of which allow her to express meaning through form, color, and texture.

The gallery serves as a dynamic setting for Ichiuji to display her works, allowing viewers to engage with her talent in a space that is as captivating as the art itself. The gallery will also function as an innovative hub for other creatives to share their passions and talents through exhibits, concerts, lectures, and classes, an addition that will aim to foster a thriving community of creators.

Melissa Ichiuji Studio Gallery invites the public to experience the artwork firsthand every Friday and Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM, and via private viewings by appointment, allowing for a more intimate and personalized experience.

For more information, visit Melissa Ichiuji Studio Gallery’s website at

To schedule an appointment, contact or call 540-252-4570

About The Artist
Melissa Ichiuji is an American artist based in Virginia. Her artistic vision is characterized by its bold and original voice, resulting in pieces that encapsulate confidence and playful vibrance. Ichiuji’s captivating talent has earned her international acclaim, with exhibitions featured in museums and galleries in Paris, Brussels, Munich, Berlin, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Her pieces have been featured in renowned publications such as Art in America, Modern Luxury, Art Investor, NYART, Textiel Plus, The Washington Post, and 100 Artists of Washington, D.C.

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Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Mountain Creative Consulting

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Jamboree LLC

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Independent Business Alliance

Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Treatment Center

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jean’s Jewelers

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Arc of Warren County

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
5:50 am8:29 pm EDT
Feels like: 66°F
Wind: 3mph N
Humidity: 63%
Pressure: 30"Hg
UV index: 0

Upcoming Events

10:00 am A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 28 @ 10:00 am – May 29 @ 11:00 am
A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Explore the rich natural history of trees guided by a Virginia Master Naturalist. Discover the tips and tricks of basic tree identification and the tree-mendous roles that trees play in our environment.[...]
7:00 pm Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
May 29 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
Memorial Day Band Concert at Gazebo Plaza on Main Street, presented by Front Royal American Legion Community Band.
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
May 31 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
10:00 am Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 3 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Boston Mill Road Trail near the Park Office. Learn how fences and tree plantings improve water quality at Sky Meadows State Park with a special Explorer Outpost. Stop by our station along Boston Mill Road[...]
10:00 am National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 3 @ 10:00 am – Jun 4 @ 1:00 pm
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Picnic Area. Join park trailblazers and get your hands dirty as we work to enhance the trail surface on Hadow Trail. All ages are welcome and no experience is required. Round trip hike to the[...]
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 3 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Log Cabin in the Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log Cabin to see what is cooking on the hearth. Immerse yourself within the 19th century enslaved culture and its foods. Explore the taste[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 3 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work showing off their skills. Members of The Blacksmiths’ Guild of the Potomac have set up shop in the forge, located behind[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Jun 3 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 3 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah (BONS – online at and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jun 7 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]