Dear Western Families,
I can’t believe the holiday season is upon us. It has been a great start to the school year and now we get to balance the work at school with school breaks and colder temperatures.
I have provided information in the blog below from our staff that you may find useful.
If I don’t get a chance to see you in person before the new year, I wish you a happy and safe holiday season.
Darah Bonham, Principal
Students Represent Western in Houston Conference
Congratulations to junior Claire Aminuddin and senior Peyton Beaumont, who spoke at the National Council for Teachers of English conference in Houston last weekend. They addressed an audience of teachers and librarians as part of a panel on the topic “Natural Allies: How School and Public Libraries Support Teen Writers”. Claire and Peyton also met some amazing authors and went out to dinner with a Harper Collins publishing group, thanks to co-panelist Megan England, YA librarian at Crozet Public Library. These poised and articulate teens did a wonderful job, and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to mingle and learn with thousands of teachers, authors, and policy-makers.
Fifteen Latin students attended the Virginia Junior Classical League Conference in Richmond this weekend. They met with 1200 other Latin students from around the state, competed in academic and artistic competitions, went to lectures, and had Roman banquet. Our students did exceedingly well, with the following students receiving awards: - Caroline Teague: 1st place (IN THE WHOLE STATE!) on Roman history. - Len Egl: 4th place in roman History - Hannah Hetmanski: 3rd place in oil/acrylic painting - Carinne Adams: 9th place in mixed media art - Jane Zahorik: 7th place in impromptu art
As midterms approach, student stress levels are rising. Here are some tips for helping your student manage stress effectively:
- Promote Balance. Your student is likely balancing multiple activities year-round, while trying to fit in family, social life, homework, and basic life functions. Challenging course loads and extracurricular involvement are fantastic ways for teens to grow, but they can get overwhelming at times. Parents can help teens learn to pace themselves and find balance so they don’t get burned out. This might include modeling how to prioritize or say “no”, so students can recharge and keep giving their full effort to activities that truly matter to them.
- Teach good sleep hygiene. For many people, when our plate gets too full, sleep is the first thing that gets pushed off. However, sleep is critically important for physical and mental health. Parents can emphasize the importance of consistent sleep, and teach healthy practices like maintaining the same sleep routine (for the most part) every day of the week, rather than just school days. Other good practices include avoiding screen time and exercise for at least an hour before bed, consistent exercise, and not sleeping with their phone or other devices. Good sleep habits can go a long way to help your teen’s body handle stress more effectively.
- Model calm self-talk.Help your teen to become aware of his stressful thoughts and to practice rationalizing them. For instance, if your child tends to shut down when they feel a task is too large, help them break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. If they worry about the impact of a poor quiz grade, help them put it in context of their efforts throughout a whole quarter. Something that feels unmanageable or like the end of the world might not seem so bad once they’re able to frame it differently.
Although they don’t want to admit it, your teen is still learning from you every day. One of the best ways to teach stress management techniques is by setting a good example. Talk to your child about ways you’ve learned to cope with stress and stay healthy.
Mary Feamster, MA, Student Assistance Specialist
Congrats to Kenedi Anderson, Frannie Gibson, Olivia Malin, Ella Taylor, and Eli Thornton who were accepted into District 13 Honors Choir this year.
Also, for District Choir, we had 10 students auditioned and the following students were accepted:
Tristan Rose – First Alternate
Crozet Visual Arts Show
Visual arts show at Crozet Library. Through December 8. Over 50 pieces of artwork on display by WAHS students.
Student Caitlin Adams helped set up this show on November 7.
History Honor Society
Rho Kappa, the Social Studies Honor Society, inducted 58 new members on Monday, November 19, 2018. Congrats to our new members.
Western will host it’s first-ever Community Bingo Night on Thursday, November 29th in the Western cafe. Everyone from our Crozet community is welcome and there are no age restrictions. We ask that children 13 and under be accompanied by an adult. There is no fee to play and free food and snacks will be provided by our PTO. Come out and have some fun.
40 members of the WAHS Model UN team participated in VAMUN, the Model UN simulation held at the University of Virginia. Delegates negotiated over such topics as global water shortages, the Trojan War, the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1913, the Nixon investigation, and the rise of Voldemort. Three WAHS students were awarded Honorable Mentions for their work: Senior Thomas Jackson, in the Jefferson Committee on Diplomacy – Crisis, which was set during an attempted prison break at Alcatraz; junior Chloe Kienzle, in the JCD trial of King Leopold, and junior Ben Lenox, in the Vietnam War committee. There was rarely a dull moment at VAMUN.
The WAHS AVID program will be holding a fundraiser on Dec 11th at the Waynesboro Chick-Fil-A. We will have raffle prizes and information regarding the program. Remember to mention AVID WAHS when ordering your meal!
Faculty Focus Groups
The staff is focusing on a number of areas as part of the school improvement process this year. These “focus areas” are part of the work led by members of the Leadership Council at the school. Contributions and input to these areas are encouraged by all stakeholders including staff, parents, and students.
Below is a summary of each of the areas we are working on.
The Staff Development and Faculty Support Focus group started this year by answering the question, “Why is PD important to teacher growth?”, and has been working to establish our goals and benchmarks. Our next step is to survey the staff at WAHS to determine their needs when it comes to authentic and meaningful professional staff development. From there we hope to meet with administration to determine our next steps for implementation.
The freshman seminar group has been meeting regularly to map out and review the lessons established for the first two quarters of the year. While the program is new, we are encouraged by the engagement of our students and the student involvement in the day to day discovery activities.
The school climate team has decided to focus on decreasing student and faculty stress this year. We are currently in the process of gathering data from students through several student listening sessions that will take place following break. We are also creating a survey to gather data from faculty members. Once we have gathered information, we will meet to review the data and develop solutions.
The WAHS Technology Integration focus group will be working with teachers to help make classroom calendars and due dates more accessible to students. While we are in a transition year from Blackboard to a possible new learning management system for the 2019-2020 school year, some teachers have moved way from Blackboard as the primary source for classroom materials. Many teachers are using Google classroom in addition to Blackboard. However, students have expressed the request that all due dates of assignments still be located in Blackboard for all courses. The technology focus group will be working with teachers to push out a tutorial of how to embed their google classroom calendar into Blackboard. The technology focus group is also still looking for student volunteers interested in addressing technology needs at WAHS and attending faculty meetings to help with these topics
Culturally Responsive Teaching
The WAHS Staff is taking a deep dive into Culturally Responsive Teaching by reading Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. Teachers are engaging in reflective practices with the aim of creating more equitable learning outcomes for our students. In addition to reading the book and meeting for discussions, we have engaged in two sessions of professional development. In September, Mr. Lorenzo Dickerson educated our faculty about the history of race and education in our area with historical photographs, stories, news articles, and interview footage. Mr. Dickerson is a native of Albemarle County and attended Western feeder pattern schools. His perspective and experience was remarkably enlightening. Next steps for our committee include gathering feedback from a wide variety of student experiences to inform how to shift instruction for the benefit of all. We are hosting our first round of small group listening sessions with students after Thanksgiving break. We will also be highlighting the outstanding work of our teachers who are shifting to a culturally responsive mindset in the coming months to showcase our school’s commitment to this work.
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