Checking In

Dear Patriot Families,

Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, Dr. Matt Haas stopped by the school this past Monday to take a walk around with me and see many of the great things that our staff and students are doing.

I love when I get a chance to tour guests in our school, especially Dr. Haas who served as the 5th Principal of Albemarle High School from 2004-2009.

Dr. Haas sent the following summary to all ACPS employees last week highlighting his visit and thought I you would like to read it.

Enjoy the rest of your week an if I can be of any support to you or your child, let me know.

Darah Bonham, Principal


Superintendent’s Weekly Check-in, February 14


Dear Colleagues:


Your mission and my mission every day is to establish a community of learners and learning, through relationships, relevance and rigor, one student at a time.


A thought for next week: “History has shown that courage can be contagious
and hope can take on a life of its own” — Michelle Obama


Happy Valentine’s Day Friday!


Yesterday morning, I visited Jack Jouett Middle School’s staff meeting, and I am so impressed with the caliber of the team and the student-learning focus of the meeting. Keep up the great work, Jack Jouett!


Monday morning, I had a great time walking the halls of Albemarle High School with principal Darah Bonham. As we made our way around the school, we met up with several staff and students doing good work. Geometry teacher Bill Munkacsy uses the library space and collaborates with library staff to vary his students’ learning experiences. On Monday, students were using their own self-measurements to calculate the golden ratio.

Social Studies teacher Chris Cantone created a live crime scene for his students to investigate the assassination of Julius Caesar.


It was all Spanish and no English in John Glass’s Spanish II class upstairs, and in the art wing, I enjoyed stopping by to visit Diane DiGiacomo, who was working with a student in ceramics. Diane also showed off photography lab equipment new to AHS this year.

The teachers are wonderful at AHS, and I think that students are inspired. I met three super student leaders who are making leadership level contributions to AHS, and I am so impressed.



Senior Taiyaunna Bolling is in charge of the PATS desk in the library. The PATS desk is the student-run help desk at AHS. Taiyaunna told me that she loves this job and gets to help three or four students daily with computer issues during her class period at the desk.


Check out Kaukab Rizvi, the 11th-grader pictured above with Darah Bonham. Recently, Darah found out that Kaukab has been staying after basketball games and cleaning up the stands of his own volition. He even takes on this task after basketball games when AHS plays at other schools. Sometimes other students help, but he often takes it on alone. He says it’s a way to be a good sport and to give the custodians a helping hand. Wow!


Pictured with assistant principal Jason Lee, senior Shertal St Luce took it upon herself to set up a special meeting night with 15 students and some parents to give them help and support with college applications. Oh my goodness; I’m so proud of Shertal for her leadership. She talked with staff at AHS in planning the event, and I would say she is now an expert in the field.


I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I have to. These three young adults are all examples of what happens when the adults get out of the way and let students pursue their natural inclination to simply be useful and to give to their community. And having them do so not only sets them up for success, but it also lightens the workload for all of us.


I had a great time at the 15th annual division-level Spelling Bee on Wednesday night! All the school champs were present and highly competitive. I greatly appreciate the work of Catrina Sims and Lauren Price in organizing and conducting the event. Congratulations to Layla Bouber from Henley, who defended her title and will move on, with five other school champions, to The Daily Progress Regional Spelling Bee. Good luck to all!


Have you ever been to a book tasting? I have! On Tuesday, I visited Stony Point librarian Julia Trammell-McGill and students as they “tasted” books and voted them onto a school menu. What a fun and creative event!


One Final Note: Many people in the United States, particularly students, parents and teachers, will join forces on Read Across America Day, held on March 2 this year. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss!


I have noticed on this day in the past that many of our staff get out reading-related T-shirts and wear them to work. If you decide to wear a T-shirt that promotes reading on Read Across America Day, email a photo of you wearing the shirt to Christine Thompson ( by noon on March 2. The wearers of the three best T-shirts will win a free pair of athletic shoes from either of our local running shops, Crozet Running or Ragged Mountain Running. I want to emphasize that this is open to all employees, just like this Weekly Check-in; however, last year’s winners of the Pi Day T-shirt contest are not eligible this year.


Have a great weekend!


Just checking in,




Looking for an old post? Visit the Superintendent’s Weekly Check-in Archive, or you can access the archives through the Compass, under the Quick Links menu.

Additional Resources To Check Out

Mr. Jeff Smith, Talent Development and Gifted Services Teacher —Link

AHS Athletics Link   and Notify Me service to get updates on games and practices. (Link here.)















Here Comes Second Semester

Dear Patriot Families,

Can you believe it?  Second semester is about to begin and we are half-way through the school year.  If you are a Senior, or parent of a Senior, the time is fast approaching towards graduation.

I haven’t posted in a while and I wanted to update you on a few things as we start the second semester.  I hope you will get a chance to look at the information below.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, concerns, and input to our school.

Darah Bonham, Principal



I had a meeting with our staff on Friday and we discussed the opportunity to start second semester by renorming some practices.   I always want to be able to take input from stakeholders and continue to improve upon the work we are doing at the school.  We will be sharing the information below with students this week:

  • Refocus on Patriot Period.  Patriot Period has a great deal of value for our students but we can also continue to make it better.  The primary focus of Patriot Period is student support- academically and beyond.
    We want to increase the opportunities that our students have each day to get support in the classroom and to also have enrichment activities.
    We are looking to increase the enrichment activities with the development of a mentor program that could support a wide range of needs that our students have.  From working on a unique project to getting support in class, mentors can be a great resource for our kids.  If you are interested in mentoring students, either virtually or in person, email me at dbonham@k12albemarle.orgWe will also be adjusting some of the areas that students can attend during Patriot Period.  Having students in classrooms with staff is most advantageous.  For a trail period of time, beginning Monday, January 27, the cafe and gymnasium will not be available for students during Patriot Period.  Students can continue to sign up for the auditorium for study hall or for a particular teacher or activity.

    On a given week we have over half our students not sign up for their Patriot Period sessions at the beginning of the week.  This forces us to place them in a classroom.  All students have the opportunity to signup for the week starting Friday evening through Monday morning and we encourage them to do so.

  • There is a huge correlation between academic success and attendance in class.  We want our students to be mindful of this to make every effort to be in class.  We also feel that the first and last 10 minutes of class are critical students to understand the lesson for the day and to know what is in store for the next class period.  Beginning Monday, January 27th, hallway passes will not be permitted during the first and last 10 minutes of the class except in the case of emergencies.



Senior Parents

(This information is from Jostens regarding cap and gown purchases.)

Good afternoon senior parents! Graduation is around the corner and we want your senior to be ready and not stressed at the last minute.  Please make sure that your senior has ordered their graduation cap and gown and other items in preparation for this exciting day.  They have worked really hard and we want them to be able to celebrate their accomplishment without any last minute stresses.  If they have not ordered you can order online at or by calling 1-800-jostens.


Understanding Your Child’s PSAT Scores

The AHS Counseling Department will be hosting an evening event for 9th-11th grade families this Thursday, January 23, in the AHS Library. The evening will begin at 6:00 pm with a presentation on accessing and understanding your child’s PSAT scores.  At 6:30 pm, Ms. Valerie Gregory, Associate Dean of Admissions from The University of Virginia, will give a presentation on preparing for and understanding the college admissions process. We hope to see you all there.

Library Exhibit

We are fortunate to host the Legacies of Slavery Exhibit from Monticello in the library over the next several weeks.   Here is a link to the exhibit from the Monticello web page.  Students may observe the exhibit as part of their history class or on their own before school or during lunch.

GIS and Mr. Bunin

Check out the very cool recognition our very own GIS and History teacher, Mr. Chris Bunin, received recently for his work at Albemarle.

Additional Resources To Check Out

Mr. Jeff Smith, Talent Development and Gifted Services Teacher —Link

AHS Athletics Link   and Notify Me service to get updates on games and practices. (Link here.)


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