YEAR IN REVIEW: March

No eighth grade at Chester Middle next year

Originally, the School Board had approved a plan that left Chester Middle School’s rising eighth graders in the Chester Middle building this school year with Thomas Dale High School’s ninth grade, which was to be moved to the building to alleviate overcrowding at the high school.

But, at a public hearing, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Administration Ed Pruden cited several factors for officials to consider, including increased transportation costs and limited student elective choices and extracurricular activities, if the eighth grade were to remain at Chester Middle.

Ultimately, the School Board voted to redistrict Chester Middle’s rising eighth graders, along with their rising seventh- and sixth-grade peers, to Carver and Elizabeth Davis middle schools.

Hats off to Dr. Seuss

Second grade teacher Sarah Glass is pictured above dressed as the Cat in the Hat with her students as Ecoff Elementary celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss, participating in “Read across America.” This year’s theme was “Hats Off to Reading,” inviting students and staff to wear their favorite hat.

Remembering Mrs. Gregory

Veteran L.C. Bird High School music teacher and choral director Margaret F. Gregory died suddenly on March 1. In the days that followed her passing, nearly 1,600 people joined a group created in her memory on Facebook, a popular social networking site, and hundreds of messages of love, sorrow and support were shared.

“She definitely was passionate about music and passed that along to all that she met,” Rachel Westra Marsh, a former student, said. “She lit up the room when she walked into it, and beyond teaching music she really did teach everyone that she met about how to live and love life to the fullest.”

Michale Siverio, another former student, said he auditioned for Guys and Dolls when he was a senior in high school. He had been Gregory’s show choir drummer for two years, so his teacher was surprised to see him audition for a musical, he said.

“Mrs. Gregory laughs and says, ‘Do you have anything to sing? No? Sing Happy Birthday then,’” he said. “I get through the song and Mrs. Gregory says, ‘You can sing, Michale.’ I stood there in shock. I return for call backs and get the part of Nathan Detroit. … Mrs. Gregory was with me every step of the way.

“Although it’s cliché, Mrs. Gregory showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to and that I should never take the easy way out.”

Bothe inks professional pack with Kickers

In March, Roger Bothe, a 2006 graduate of Thomas Dale and 2010 graduate of William & Mary, signed a contract to play professional soccer for the Richmond Kickers.

 

Crowd makes case for libraries, schools

What the crowd at a March 18 Dale District community budget meeting lacked in size it made up in passion, as several speakers offered emotional pleas for programs headed for the chopping block.

Meadowbrook High School Librarian Shelley Murray shared the story of a student who entered ninth grade reading below grade level, but brought his skills to grade level and gained confidence with the help of the school’s reading specialist, who was set to be a part-time teacher in the 2010-2011 school year.

Dale Supervisor Jim Holland said the school cuts were the School Board’s decision, but he would cut areas other than reading teachers. School Board Chairman David Wyman said “this is a tough time” and there are very few dollars.

“Unfortunately, we’re tasked with cutting $42 million,” Wyman said. “We don’t like it, but that’s the way things are.”

Fred Grundeman, a director of Friends of the Chesterfield County Public Library, said: “If reading is so important, why are we closing the library one day a week?” he asked. “That makes no sense to me.”

Frank Cardella, president of the Chesterfield Education Association, asked Holland why, if his priorities were students and education, he made the motion to set the advertised tax rate at 95 cents when the School Board and the county administrator had recommended a revenue-neutral rate of $1.

“I felt like this is not the time to increase taxes in Chesterfield County,” Holland said.

Matko shooter sentenced

The convicted murderer of Chester boy Ryan A. Matko, who was 16 at the time of his death, was been sentenced to 100 years in prison with 50 years suspended in March. Detavis J. King, 18, appeared in court after his conviction for first-degree murder and felony firearm charges stemming from the fatal shooting of Matko, a Thomas Dale High School student, on Aug. 22, 2007.

Matko originally went missing on Aug. 22, 2007. His body was found the next day on Garden Ridge Trace in the Shadow Creek subdivision, in a wooded area. King was arrested in February 2009.

Marguerite Christian Lions have perfect run

The Marguerite Christian Lions celebrated a perfect season, going 14-0 and being named the 2010 Chesterfield Boys Basketball NCAA champions.

Area Ukrop’s to get facelifts

MARTIN’S announced in March that it would remodel and refurbish 25 former Ukrop’s stores as part of the conversion to the MARTIN’S banner. Renovations included:

  • Increased refrigeration;
  • Improved lighting;
  • Maintenance and repairs;
  • Updated signage and décor packages;
  • New tables and chairs at all 23 cafes;
  • Wi-Fi capability installed in cafes.

Rotarian honors: Local couple recognized for selfless service

Betty and Bill Burton were honored by the Chester Rotary Club for their extensive history of community service.

At its annual Founder’s Night Banquet, which was held in March, the organization honors an individual with the Warren G. Thompson Community Service Award, named in honor of the club’s charter president. The award typically goes to an individual, but in some cases it has been awarded to couples whose joint efforts and accomplishments were singular in scope and purpose. This year’s recipients were the Burtons.

Before they received their award, Rotary member Chris Sovine shared stories of the Burtons and their work in the community.  The Burtons moved to Chester in 1967 from Alabama, and their commitment to the community began early with the involvement of raising four children and wanting to make their community a better place. 

Presently, Betty Burton serves as the kitchen chairwoman for Chester Baptist Church and has been a volunteer at The Hermitage since 1983.  After retirement 15 years ago, Bill Burton volunteered to take on all the technology and computer work for Crater Hospice, CCHASM and The James House.  

Sovine says in an e-mail that “criteria for selection for this Chester Rotary award includes personal, unselfish volunteer efforts and active involvement in helping others on a continuing basis and a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of those less fortunate.”  

Hotel site yields a look into the past

Kerry Schamel-Gonzalez, an archeologist, had been prospecting along the CSX railroad tracks from Richmond south to North Carolina for months when crew member Carthon Davis announced he had uncovered a projectile point, or arrowhead.

Davis and Jeff Brown were excavating on an interior corner of what is thought to have been the kitchen for the hotel. Within seconds, Schamel-Gonzalez was on her cell phone texting her two bosses and her husband, who also works for Dovetail. “How do you spell ‘whooya’?” she exclaimed.

The point, which measured about 3-inches long, was determined to have been made from orthoquartzite during the middle-archaic period, as far back as 3,000 B.C.

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