Marshall Student Wins State American Legion Essay Contest

On March 24, representatives from the American Legion named eighth-grader Elizabeth Berman as the winner of the American Legion Department of Virginia Middle School Essay contest during an assembly at Marshall Middle School. Berman’s family, fellow students and teachers, and representatives from the American Legion gathered to hear the announcement.American Legion State Winner

“It was very surprising, and I didn’t expect it. It took me about 20 minutes to process,” Berman said. “I was honored by all of the people who came to help me celebrate. It meant a lot to me.”

Berman first achieved the distinction of Warrenton Post 360 winner, allowing her to advance and be named the 16th District winner. Finally, she was selected as the statewide contest winner.

Berman earned the award with the help and support of her English teacher, Lisa St. Ledger. The two were awarded checks and certificates of recognition according to contest rules.

“Elizabeth is such a hard-working student, and it is wonderful to see such a deserving young lady be honored,” St. Ledger said. “We are grateful to the American Legion for giving students this opportunity to showcase their talents. We are so proud of all of Elizabeth’s accomplishments. ”

The 2021-2022 Middle School Essay Contest “I LIKE LIVING IN AMERICA BECAUSE” was open to all accredited middle school students at participating schools, public, private, or parochial, within the sponsoring jurisdiction of established American Legion Posts in the Department of Virginia.

FCPS Virtual Academy Makes the Grade in its Debut

Bright and early August 11, 2021, Fauquier County Public Schools reopened its doors to five days a week of in-person learning. While thousands of students returned back to their schools, others logged on to the newly-launched FCPS Virtual Academy.

In March of 2020, COVID hit, shifting learning online nearly overnight. Zoom, webcams, synchronous, and asynchronous all became part of the daily routine. Students and teachers alike couldn’t wait to get back to the good old days of face-to-face learning. But for some, the virtual setting was right where they needed to be.

While face-to-face, in-person instruction is best for most of our students, we realize it is not best for all. Some students thrive in a virtual learning environment and can benefit from a stand-alone virtual program. 

FCPS Superintendent David Jeck advocates for giving each student what they need in order to succeed. “If we truly believe that kids learn differently, then we need to continue to provide opportunities tailored to meet their needs. The Virtual Academy is a great example,” Jeck said.

The FCPS Virtual Academy serves as another personalized learning path to provide an engaging, student-centered alternative learning experience where traditional barriers of time, place, and availability are removed.

We’ve found over the past two years that many students thrive in a virtual environment, so providing this program helps accomplish the goal of providing equitable instruction for students.” ~ David Jeck

This year, the over 170 students who chose Virtual Academy learned from a cadre of 9 full-time and 12 part-time teachers. With a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning throughout the school day, students accessed their instruction through Canvas and Google Meet.

Opening the academy wasn’t without its challenges. Just ask Virtual Academy Coordinator Mike Snell. Previously a third and fifth-grade teacher at Grace Miller Elementary School, Snell began his new role on July 6, just over a month before opening day. The framework for the academy had already been established, but Snell had to assemble a team of high-caliber teachers and find students who were the “right fit” for virtual learning.

Students weren’t the only ones to prefer a virtual environment. When teachers were forced to move instruction online in 2020, some teachers thrived and found ways to continue to build relationships with students and make learning meaningful. Snell and teachers point out that Virtual Academy educators intentionally engage and connect to students.



Mark Frazier, a teacher at FCPS Virtual Academy, explains how he connects with his students. “The really cool part of virtual teaching is we get to connect with students in completely new ways we never imagined.” 

He gets to know their pets’ names, sees siblings he taught in prior years, or meets extended family members. He forms an even more personal connection than he would have had in the traditional classroom. 


The virtual environment is not for everyone; however, for the right student, the right teacher, and the right subject, it is awesome!” ~ Mark Frazier

Teacher Brittany Del Rocco knows the importance of building rapport with her students.

“I try to bring up things I know they are into or that I know they are doing. For example, I knew I had a few students celebrating Lunar New Year last month, so I asked them to share about the ways they are celebrating, if their families were making any particular foods, etc.,” Del Rocco said.

Del Rocco engages students virtually by using VR 360 videos in her geography class. Students have explored Cichen Itza and ‘dive’ a cenote in Mexico, taken a boat ride down the Amazon River and enjoyed views from the Alps in virtual reality.  

Teacher Steve Bucher believes virtual learning actually enhances engagement for many students, especially those who find the traditional brick and mortar school environment to be intimidating and/or distracting.  

“Being able to monitor student online work in real-time permits more expansive opportunities for individual instruction and personalized tutoring,” said Bucher.  “Enhanced engagement for students creates a learning environment that is inherently more meaningful. This enables the traditional classroom experience to become something much more akin to seminar.“

Teacher Sandra Albertson encourages her students to talk with each other and with her during class.  

“When presenting new material, I present math problems and work them out while asking individual students what I am doing and how do I do it,” Albertson said. “Work is completed during our class time so that they can talk with each other, help each other and confirm with each other that they understand the material. I am there to guide and coach them to understand math their way.”

Each Virtual Academy student has their own unique story.




Michelle Brady’s three children have been enrolled in Fauquier County’s Virtual Academy for the 2021-2022 school year.  

“My son has despised math for a long time and has a lot of anxiety when it comes to school. Mr. Hanzivasilis went out of his way to make sure that my son received the time and attention he needed,” Brady said. “He even scheduled multiple meetings with my son and me to go over lessons my son found confusing, as well as teaching me concepts so I could help at home.”

Brady reports that her son is now excelling in math.

I know this is a privilege to have a virtual school within our county. I’m so grateful to what Dr. Jeck, Mr. Snell, the teachers of Fauquier County, and the school board have done to help the families of Fauquier County, and I hope to see Virtual Academy as an option for the next school year.” ~ Michelle Brady


So what’s the future of the FCPS Virtual Academy?  That all depends on our students’ needs. 


The Virtual Academy is planning and preparing for the 2022-2023 school year. The application window will be open to all students on March 1, and it will stay open until May 1. The student application will be on our website, and we will hold our student & parent interviews in May. Please visit the Virtual Academy website at for more information.

Pearson Pandas’ Penny Drive Supports Breast Cancer Awareness

admin team covered in silly stringStory by Kara Lynn, ITRT at Pearson Elementary School

The students and staff of HM Pearson Elementary presented a check for $1107.74 to the Cherry Blossom Breast Cancer Foundation.  Each day in October, students brought in pennies for Breast Cancer Awareness.  Mrs. Leavell’s 5th-grade class, which brought in the most, celebrated by covering Principal Mark Marchinetti and Assistant Principal Jamie Edgar with silly string!

The Cherry Blossom Breast Cancer Foundation serves Fauquier and Loudoun Counties.  With this donation, they are able to supply baskets to post-surgery patients to help make recovery a bit more comfortable.



Positivity Permeates Greenville Elementary

By Ange Byrd, FCPS Parent and Substitute Teacher


Tim Gardner


I have been substituting at Greenville Elementary School. I wanted everyone to know from an outsider who has no kids there, that this school is incredible! When you walk in, Mrs. Day greets you and cannot make you feel more welcome. Truly. I cannot stress enough how important the front office is at our schools. She is a breath of fresh air!

The admin there, Tim Gardner and Sydney Kelly, are always present in the halls. I see them multiple times a day when I am subbing, and they are continually positive and encouraging. You do not understand how much that means when you are substituting to see the administration in the halls and available if you have any questions. If you ever do any county-wide meetings talking about things that subs need to want to come back and work at a school, please let all the schools know how much this is appreciated.

Staff morale is different at GES… When you walk down the hallway, there is positive energy from the staff. They are smiling and always make me feel right at home there. I think having administrators who support them and keep their spirits up makes a huge difference. They should be commended. It is not an easy time right now at the schools, and the way that Greenville is operating is amazing! What they do there matters and the difference in their school shows on a daily basis.

Three Brothers Benefit from Their Learning Spaces

Here’s how a mom describes the learning spaces set up for her first-grader, fourth-grader, and sixth-grader:

“It made all the difference having them in different spaces, quiet, and with everything they need around them! And thank you for the Chromebooks provided to my 2 older ones! That made a huge relief for us since we only had a laptop which would be impossible to share!”

Skip to toolbar