Unearthing a Piece of History at FHS

Student discovers relic buried at Falcon Field

It started as an ordinary day in late October in Mr. Potucek’s horticulture class at Fauquier High School. Students received their assignment for the day – to help the landscape class finish the scoreboard grading at Falcon Field. Shovels in hand, the students began to dig, piling up more dirt and gravel with each scoop. Once reaching several inches in depth, one student discovered something unusual. 

“I saw something shiny and asked myself, what is that?” wondered senior Anjoli Johnston.

Johnston had discovered a 2002 lacrosse state championship ring. “I thought it was a class ring at first. I didn’t know it was a championship type,” Anjoli said.

After some research, Mr. Potucek tracked down the owner, Brice Craig, and learned the rest of the story.  

Craig, Vice President of Operations at Craig Builders in Charlottesville, responded with disbelief and shock, recalling he had never told his parents he had lost it. Craig was a former Western Albemarle lacrosse player whose team had faced off against the Falcons in 2003 on Falcon Field. Shortly after they spoke, Mr. Potucek mailed the ring to Craig, who was grateful to get it back.

When we last spoke to Anjoli, she had planned to attend Mary Washington University next year and major in environmental science. She was looking forward to taking the greenhouse management class at Fauquier this semester. 

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.

Hometown American Idol Star Visits Grace Miller Elementary

On March 29, students at Grace Miller attended their first school-wide assembly since 2020, and boy, did they make up for lost time! Students and staff alike were treated to an inspiring performance by Mike Parker, American Idol singer and graduate of Fauquier County Public Schools.

As expected, the performer wowed his audience with his beautiful vocals. But it was Mike’s words of encouragement that made an equally strong impact on the crowd. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you aren’t good enough,” he said. “Your teachers love you.”

“People are going to tell you no. They’re going to disagree with you, but guess what? They haven’t read your book, and you haven’t finished writing your book. Finish that book.” ~Mike Parker

And to top the event off, Miller Elementary staff and students enjoyed hearing Mike’s mother sing. The talented Dr. Dejuanna Parker worked as a long-time teacher for Fauquier County Public Schools. The duo was joined on stage by Xavier, a Grace Miller student, and adoring fan. 

Mike has secured a spot in the American Idol’s Top 24 and will continue to compete in Hawaii. Be sure to follow and vote for Mike!


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 bit.ly/FCPS1Virtual for more information.

Students ‘Reveal’ Spelling Skills at Virtual Academy Bee

The FCPS Virtual Academy held its first annual spelling bee on December 6th. Ten students from grades 3-8 participated in the virtual bee. Steve Payne, Secondary English Supervisor, was the pronouncer. Secondary FCPS Virtual Academy English teachers Jan Jessie, Steve Bucher, and Lindsay Brady were the judges.

Virtual Academy Spelling Bee

After nine rounds, Naima Powell (7th grader) won the Virtual Academy Spelling Bee by spelling her championship word, reveal. Grayson Whitfield (5th grader) came in 2nd place, and Isaiah Moore (3rd grader) came in 3rd place. All three students will now participate in person at the FCPS Spelling Bee at Taylor Middle School on January 22nd.

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.

Bradley’s Trunk or Treat Event Lifts the Fog

By Joy Fredericks, ITRT at C.M. Bradley Elementary

C.M. Bradley’s Trunk or Treat on Friday was a sight to behold. The kids and their parents were out in force in a who’s who of the tiny and sticky. Normally quiet students came alive as they dragged tired parents from car to car, giggling and asking for treats. The costumes were on point. I saw an entire family of Mandalorians, more Marvel superheroes than I could count, and Cindy Martin’s granddaughter was so sweet in her ladybug costume that I definitely got a cavity! Ms. Froehlich was parked next to me – with Piggy, Gerald, the Pigeon, and the rest of the Mo Willems crew. Mrs. Hanlon handed out books, and Mrs. Eldridge was there in costume with her entire family, who were also dressed up. My husband (a complete introvert) braved the crowds to help me install the giant inflatable dragon that breathed fire from atop my car. The mom in the car parked on the other side of mine was dressed in PJs and a bathrobe; she told me her costume was “teachers after school.” I felt that in every ounce of my being! I lost count of the students who asked if I was handing out computers and who, despite me not being in a costume, told me I looked familiar but didn’t actually know who I was. This year has been clouded by an indescribable fog that seems to have settled over all of education, but on Friday, for two short hours in the C.M. Bradley parking lot, that fog lifted. It was the most normal I have felt all year. It was busy, happy, and exhausting, but it was good for the soul to hear all that happy in one place!

trunk or treat

C.L. Payne FFA Shines at the Virginia State Fair

By: Grace Page and Stephanie Loring

The State Fair of Virginia was held Sept. 24 to Oct. 3 in Doswell, Va. at the Meadow Event Park. Every year, the fair is filled with fun rides, funnel cake, and an assortment of vendors, but the best part would undeniably be on the other side of the bridge, where the youth agricultural events are held.

This year the C.L. Payne FFA chapter of Liberty High School sent 23 students to compete in various competitions. On September 24th, Meredith Day, Salem Sifford, Hannah Tonkin, and Hannah Winegardner competed in the Jr. Dairymen’s contest and placed 9th out of all teams. Sophomore member Nathan Hoosier placed 8th on the same day in the Lawn Tractor Operators Competition. The Forestry Field Day Event was held on September 27th. The following students competed: Hunter Bean, Andrew Bowers, Justin Bowers, Parker Curtis, Mauricio Guerrero, Noah Hall, Austin Mawyer, Joseph Medina, Cody Owens, Eddie Rodman, Austin Tate, and Bristen Umberger. The junior team placed 7th overall and the senior team placed 10th. 

Meredith Day and Grace Page participated in the Horticulture Demonstration contest on September 28. They demonstrated how to make Fabulous Fried Apples and brought home the blue with their fantastic demonstration. On September 29th, freshman Aly Ryman blew the judges away with her Jr. Agriscience Demonstration on cat grooming and won her own blue ribbon. That same day, Salem Sifford won 1st place with her outstanding Sr. Agriscience Demonstration on how to churn butter.

churning butter

Oct. 1 was the Hippology team’s time to shine, with Lizzy Bosarge, Kylie Cussins, Grace Page, and Kyndal Waln placing fifth overall and Grace placing sixth individually. The C.L. Payne FFA Chapter is advised by Mrs. Erin Burton, Mrs. Miranda Locuratolo, and Mrs. Stephanie Loring. “This has been one of the best state fairs since I began teaching 14 years ago,” said Mrs. Loring. “I am so proud of these guys and cannot wait to see how they continue to grow and excel over the next year.”

FFA Competition

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!”

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