Mountaineer Notes, Thursday, March 23, 2017

Teacher Patrick Jennings With Afterschool Camp Unakite Students

Camp Unakite.  Unakite Adventures, an afterschool program, has been a great addition to our summer Unakite Program.  Students are excited to see what each session will bring and can’t wait to gather with their team! Elementary sessions are being lead by Martha Clements, Kayla Davis and Patrick Jennings. Attendance has been outstanding and students are learning to be great teammates (listening and sharing ideas). Each session begins with a quick snack / group talk, then moves to a physical activity or game, followed by a team challenge and concluding with teams working on designs for many different projects.  Engagement, encouragement, effort and sharing have helped teams grow stronger each session.

In its sixth year, Elementary Camp Unakite is a grant-funded STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educational opportunity for rising third through sixth grade students.  Middle Camp Unakite was added in 2015 with students in rising grades 7-9. Held at historic Graves Mountain Lodge, students explore our natural world through STEM.  Activities include:

  •       Animal Studies
  •       Geospatial Navigation
  •       Mineral Understanding
  •       Natural Environs
  •       Physical Movement
  •       Physics
  •       Soil Investigations
  •       Volcanic Eruptions
  •       Water Cleanliness
  •       Water Movement

This semester, 2016 summer Unakite attendees were invited back for monthly meetings and teacher supervision.  This opportunity is made available by a grant.

Since 2011, Camp Unakite is headed up by teacher Ben Breeden.

Waverly Yowell instructional coach, Jennifer Rehm, will be holding SOL question and answer sessions in the Waverly Yowell library this Thursday, March 23 during parent-teacher conferences.  Parents and guardians will also be able to view sample questions from TestNav 8 to better educate them on what to expect this spring during testing.

Students and Staff Listening to Curtis Blues

On Monday, March 20, Curtis Blues with Young Audiences of Virginia presented “The Multicultural Roots of Rock and Rap” to pre-k-2nd graders at MPS. The Multicultural Roots of Rock and Rap American popular music has roots in many different cultures. The American banjo comes from Mali, Africa; the guitar comes from Spain; and, many percussion rhythms can be traced to Latin influences from Cuba and South America. Multi-instrumentalist Curtis Blues brings history to life by performing with musical instruments from all over the world in this interactive assembly show. Students learned how different cultures approached building instruments from their unique environments and how their choices still influence the music we listen to today. GradeS: K-5, 6-8, 9-12  SOL Highlights: History: Community, Neighbor, Slavery, Post Civil War, Civics, Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights, West Africa, VS: Compare and Contrast, USII.4-8: Pre-Post WWII, Great Migration North Music: Music Theory, Rhythmic Patterns, Improvisation, Call & Response, Sung Pitches, Music History, Jazz, Polyrhythm.

Students and Staff Listening to Curtis Blues

Hannah Davis with Assistant Principal Tori Gelbert After Receiving a Pie in the Face

Sixth grader Hannah Davis recited 171 digits of Pi for Pi day.  For this achievement, Hannah had the opportunity “to pie” Assistant Principal Tori Gelbert in the face during lunch. The students enjoyed the event.

Hannah memorized:







Picture of National Speaker Ron Nash

Ron Nash, a nationally-recognized student engagement guru, will provide a workshop to all MCPS employees on March 24. Teachers will hone their student engagement techniques including communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. Ron has been in education for over 40 years, and we welcome him to Madison. March 24 is a student holiday.


Noel Guarino’s 7th grade class presented poems about themselves in Spanish. Students’ poems were funny and informative about likes and dislikes.

Madison Students on a JMU Campus Tour with Statue of James Madison

After a private clinic with jazz musician and music educator, Marlon Foster offered to travel to Madison County in the future to work with our students further.  He said, “I’d drive an hour and a half to work with kids like that!”  This was part of a March 18, when the MCPS Jazz Band traveled to JMU where they performed as part of the JMU George West Jazz Festival. The students attended masterclasses run by JMU faculty and guest artists including John D’earth who runs the Jazz program at UVA.  They attended a concert by the JMU Jazz Ensemble and met up with MCPS alumnus, Summer Davis, for a campus tour.

Madison Jazz Band at the Friends of the Library Dinner

Previously on March 17, the MCPS Jazz Band provided dinner music at the Friends of the Library chili dinner fundraiser at the Madison Presbyterian Church.





MCPS Jazz Band Students Warming Up with Director Alicia Strickler

The MCPS Jazz Band is made up of students in grades 7 to 12 and is directed by Alicia Strickler.  Saxophones: Jonathan Perry (11), Edgar Teo-Abrego(8), Reyann Wintersgill (11), Ben Butterworth (10) Trumpets: Molly Thomas (11), Hobie Muir (8), Mason Stone (10), Emma Clatterbuck (8) Clarinet: Natalee Coates (7) Trombones: Joseph Phillips (12), Nicholas Coates (9), Jonathan Keys (9), Kathy Dyer (11) Piano: Jonah Clatterbuck (9) Bass: Megan McNeely (11) Drums: Will Peters (11).

Please come out on April 20 to the Spaghetti Dinner to raise money for the Jazz Band in the Wetsel Cafeteria from 5-7pm.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Madison Forensics Team – State Champions, Again.  MCHS Forensics on to Nationals! The past two weekends have been very successful for the MCHS Forensics team. The team competed in two different national qualifier tournaments for the Virginia Catholic Forensics League (VCFL) and National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) leagues.

Madison County High School’s State Championship Forensics Team

Madison took FIRST PLACE in overall speech sweepstakes- making them the NSDA Virginia Champions!  Madison took FIRST PLACE in the yearly sweepstakes – making them the VCFL Virginia Champions.  The following students will head on the nationals:

  • Ben Butterworth, NSDA
  • Jacob Corbin, NSDA & NCFL
  • Samuel Decowski, NCFL
  • Steven Franklin, NSDA & NCFL
  • Jared Gessler, NCFL
  • Caleb Mayer, NCFL
  • Molly Thomas, NSDA & NCFL
  • Rebecca Young, NSDA & NCFL

NSDA Nationals will be held in Alabama this June.  NCLF Nationals will be held in Kentucky this May.

On Saturday, March 11, the team traveled to Eastern View High School to compete in the state VCFL championship.  The competition is open to public schools. The following students won individual awards:

In Declamation:

  • 6th – Samuel Decowski (National Qualifier)
  • 4th – Caleb Mayer (National Qualifier)
  • 3rd – Jared Gessler (National Qualifier)

In Dramatic Performance:

  • 5th – Steven Franklin  (National Qualifier)
  • 4th – Jacob Corbin (National Qualifier)
  • 2nd – Molly Thomas (National Qualifier)
  • 1st – Rebecca Young (National Qualifier)

In Duo:

  • 4th – Caleb Mayer/Samuel Decowski (National Qualifiers)

In Oral Interpretation:

  • 3rd – Rebecca Young (National Qualifier)

On Saturday, March 18, the team traveled to Fluvanna County High School to compete in the state NSDA championship. The following Madison students won individual awards:

In Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking:

  • 6th – Hailey Helm

In Original Oratory

  • 4th – Scotti Mullen

In Informative Speaking

  • 1st – Ben Butterworth (National Qualifier)

In Program of Oral Interpretation

  • 1st – Rebecca Young (National Qualifier)

In Dramatic Interpretation

  • 6th – Rose Young
  • 2nd – Steven Franklin (National Qualifier)
  • 1st – Jacob Corbin (National Qualifier)

In Humorous Interpretation

  • 1st – Molly Thomas (National Qualifier)

The Forensics Team will travel to Clover Hill High School this Saturday to compete in their final state championship of the season, for the Virginia High School League (VHSL). A win this weekend means the Forensics Team will sweep the state championship title for all three Virginia leagues.

The nationally-recognized team is coached by Emily Everard.

Jacob Houser Celebrating During St. Patrick’s Day Drawing.  Jacob was a winner!

Wetsel celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by doing random drawings of teacher names throughout the day for prizes.  It created quite a bit of excitement.

The Wetsel Middle School MadConnects global initiative is running strong into the fourth quarter. The PenPal group in teacher Kellie Mason’s have responded in writing to their counterparts in Brooklyn. The letters arrived safely there last week. This collaboration will continue the rest of the year. The Project:Global crew has also made two new connections in New Zealand. The student-run group has been reaching out to schools in France, Quebec, England, and New Zealand in hopes to take part in cross-cultural inquiry. We hope to receive more responses and offers for collaboration as the year comes to a close.

French II student Ben Woodward on runway

French II students at in Emily Kline’s class completed their PBL on clothing with a fashion show.  Students worked in groups to write up their commentaries, then practiced speaking with partners.  Each student had to read their partner’s commentary while he/she walked the “runway.”  Students had to wear the clothes they described the day of the show, and some chose outfits that were a little more creative than usual!  (See Ben Woodward.)  After the show, students voted on their favorite model and favorite announcer.  Elijah Lewis (pictured) was the overwhelming winner of the modeling category and Keyla Herrera was voted best speaker.  Everyone did a great job and their enthusiastic participation was awesome!

French II Student Elijah Lewis on Runway

This past Monday, third graders at Waverly Yowell participated in the Kid’s Marketplace.  This is a program put on by the Extension Office. This was an exciting morning of Economics.  Students were given a “job” and a “salary” and rotated through a variety of stations making real life economic choices!  What a wonderful opportunity for students to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to the real world.

Teacher Ben Breeden with Students During Jump Rope For Heart Event

The music was bumping, kids’ legs were jumping, and hearts were pumping to raise money for the American Heart Association during MPS’s Jump Rope for Heart Event. While this year’s actual donation amount won’t be announced until next week, PE Teacher Ben Breeden is very hopeful that we exceeded our goal. Getting healthy for a good cause is a definite win-win. Way to go, everyone!

Madison Primary School celebrated a belated Pi Day by enjoying a variety of tasty pies, and racking their brains solving a tricky math problem. Correct answers were entered in a drawing to determine two lucky winners of Panera gift cards. The catch? Winners had to take a pie to the face during our afternoon assembly. Thanks to First Grade Teacher Jarratt Caldwell and Kindergarten Teacher  Beth Dickey for being such good sports – providing an exciting moment for our students. Second Grade Teachers Stephanie Utz and Kristen Schlegel were happy to help out during the assembly as well, taking the honor of applying the pies.

Marc Speigel and Waverly Students

A huge thank you to the Fields Family and Josh’s Class Foundation for inviting Bluemont Storyteller, Marc Spiegel to Waverly Yowell on Friday, March 17. Mr. Spiegel dramatically presented his original stories in verse, narrative prose, and song to all third, fourth, and fifth graders.  Marc explained various ways story ideas are found in everyday life and illustrated each with a story of his own, presenting guidelines to assist students in their own creative efforts. Students especially enjoyed his multicultural folktales from around the world and were invited to stand up and become part of the stories!

World Down Syndrome Day was March 21.  Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.  Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome – about 6,000 each year.  People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships, vote, live independently, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways. For more information go to

9th Grade Madison BRVGS Students

The 9th grade BRVGS group traveled with BRVGS students from Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties to Washington DC. The trip began with a visit to the Vietnam, Korean, and WWII war memorials and culminated with a 2-hour visit to the Holocaust Museum and Memorial. Students experienced a powerful preview of upcoming elements in the World History II curriculum.

Did you know?

Simulated Workplace Success.  Did you know that Jackie Kemp, MCHS nursing instructor and simulated workplace project manager, reports that “in the two CNA classes from last year, I had 4 out of 7 students pass in the fall semester, and 6 out of 10 students pass in the spring semester. That is a 57% and 60% pass rate for the skills portion of the test. This has been our normal trend since the increase in difficulty on the skills portion of the exam that was implemented in 2014. In the fall of 2016, when I began using the Simulated Workplace in the classroom, the student pass rate on the exam increased to 88%, with 7 out of 8 students passing the skills portion of the exam. I believe that the increased practice of skills in the Simulated Workplace is the factor which directly led to this significant increase in our pass rate.”

Energy Efficiency.  Did you know that we are working on energy efficiency upgrades?  Both the School Board and the Board of supervisors are reviewing upgrades to include: HVAC, lighting, solar panels, energy management systems, windows, etc. across the division.


  • All Month                       Music in Our Schools Month
  • All Month                       Youth Art Month

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