Skipping into a new school year
New and returning students to Rappahannock County Elementary School, including second grader Madelyn Chapman happily skipping down the hallway here, were more than excited to try out the new Commit to Be Fit Sensory Path that winds its way through not one but two of the school’s hallways. The unique path incorporates a variety of movement activities that include learning shapes, alphabet, and colors for the youngest students, although older kids can similarly benefit from the challenging motions.
Rappahannock County Public Schools may have a new Athletic Director, but she is definitely not new to the RCPS family.
During last week’s School Board meeting, Courtney Atkins was appointed to the position of Athletic Director/High School Nurse. Atkins began coaching volleyball at Rapp in 2011 and led the varsity team to win the state championship title in 2016. That same year she was named the 2016 Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 1 Coach of the Year at the conference, regional, and state level.
In addition to serving as a volleyball coach, Atkins has worked as a registered nurse since 2002. In this new, dual role at Rappahannock, she will serve as the high school nurse for a portion of the day in addition to the athletic duties.
Atkins was all smiles when she spoke about her new role.
“This unique opportunity offers me the chance to pursue a few of my passions . . . working with kids, nursing, and athletics. I have a deep rooted love for this county, especially the schools. I am a proud Panther,
and I look forward to being a part of the growth and development of all the programs we have to offer to our students.”
Atkins is a proud Panther indeed. She graduated from RCHS as class valedictorian in 1998. As a student-athlete, her volleyball team won the school’s first-ever district championship for volleyball during her senior year. Courtney has taken that winning attitude and applied it to coaching.
“The culture I have developed in my coaching is this, ‘We strive for perfection to achieve greatness.’ My primary goal is that we continue to embody this culture . . . always believing in the desire of perfection, and along the way we capture the moments of greatness."
RCHS Principal Jimmy Swindler, who has been serving as interim athletic director following the departure of Daniel Nobbs, is excited by the expertise that Atkins brings to RCHS both in athletics and nursing.
“We were extremely fortunate to have a strong field of candidates for the athletics director position at RCHS, and further fortunate to be able to select one that can fulfill two key roles for our high school,” he said.
Atkins resides in Amissville with her husband, Ray, and their two children. She will officially begin her new roles at RCPS at the beginning of September. — Holly Jenkins
WCDS: RESULTS DRIVEN
A student's final years in high school can be demanding. Classes, sports, homework, family and friends — it's hard to find any time to do much else.
As students approach their last few years in high school, in addition to all the things they've been engaged in for years, college applications come along and can be daunting. Many students who might otherwise thrive in college are left staring at a labyrinth that can prove too difficult to maneuver.
At Wakefield Country Day School the college advisor, Mrs. Dowell,
takes the reins and helps guide students into their successful next step. The school’s unbroken history of 100 percent 4-year college acceptances with over $1.25 million in merit scholarship for our recent 10 graduates shows the proof is in the pudding.
Says Avigayil Aaronson, WCDS class of 2019, "I started at Wakefield Country Day in my junior year and WCDS definitely helped prepare me for college. Mrs. Dowell was right there with me every step of the way: helping me fill out the applications and write essays; making sure I didn't miss any deadlines when applying for scholarships; and helping me choose the best school for me.
“No other school I attended in the past would have prepared me as adequately. WCDS helped me go where I wanted to go because they prepared me so well and wanted to help me get into a great school — one where I wanted to go."
Lucy Clark, the last of four children in a legacy of Clarks at WCDS, says, “The pressure of applying to colleges during my senior year was lifted because of our college advisor. It is her sole purpose to help us research and choose the best school for us, manage applications, determine if we want to do a supplemental video, and then find scholarship money.
“It made my junior and senior years so much easier — I could concentrate on my classes and sports and still feel confident about my future."
Recent WCDS grads have attended (or will attend) top schools across the United States, including UVA, VaTech, College of William and Mary, Yale, University of California-Davis, UPenn, Penn State, NYU, Cornell, JMU, GMU, UMW, RIT, Clemson, Indiana University, Purdue, Swarthmore, USC, Vassar, and many others. — Suzanne Zylonis
RCES SENSORY PATH
When the students returned to RCES, they were excited to see the new Commit to Be Fit Sensory Path in the primary wing. According to one happy student, “this is the best hallway ever!”
The path, which extends through two hallways in the elementary school, incorporates a variety of movement activities including learning shapes, alphabet, and colors for the youngest students. However, it’s not just for the Pre-K and Kindergarten students. Even the older students can benefit from the movement activities on the path.
“The C2BF team is so excited about the installation of the sensory path to allow students to build sensory pathways and connections in the brain while developing essential skills like balance and spatial awareness to aide in learning,” said Jackie Tederick, Wellness Integration Coordinator. “This is all happening while they are having fun! Win-win!"
To follow the path, students must hop the alphabet, balance, walk heel-to-toe, jump, march, complete hop-scotch, step from object to object, tip-toe on a squiggly line, and crab walk. These locomotor movements assist in filling various developmental movement gaps while increasing sensory pathways in the brain to enhance learning. In addition, the path is a helpful way to increase blood flow which research shows can improve students’ focus in the classroom.
“I love it!” exclaimed a second grader. “We need more [paths] in other halls.” A fourth-grade student chimed in, “I give it a 10 out of 10!” — Holly Jenkins
MEDIA HONOR ROLL
The Virginia School Boards Association 2019 Media Honor Roll Programs honored the Rappahannock News at last week’s Rappahannock County School Board meeting, where board Chairman Wes Mills (left) presented the VSBA’s recognition certificate to the newspaper’s editor John McCaslin
“The Rappahannock County School Board recognizes your fair and balanced reporting on school division and education related topics,” it reads. “Your work has aided this community in focusing on the goal of providing the best public schools we can for the children who attend them.”
McCaslin took the opportunity to credit Holly Jenkins, the RCPS public information officer, for accomplishing much of the heavy lifting when it comes to reporting on the schools’ many accomplishments and activities.
Courtney Atkins holds the new RCPS combined position Athletic Director/ High School Nurse.
WCDS grad Avigayil Aaronson is off to the college of her choice.
Lucy Clark credits her college advisor at WCDS.