Skip­ping into a new school year

Rappahannock News - - Front Page -

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


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


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


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.

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