Nearly 100 parents and students came together at Albemarle High School last week for a discussion about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Associate Dean of Admissions at the University of Virginia Valerie Gregory stressed that college preparation should start in middle school, when students should begin taking advanced classes to prepare them for more challenging high school classes in the future.

Other topics included the historical significance of Greek organizations on HBCU campuses, as well as cultural differences African-American students will face within an HBCU.

Albemarle High School teacher Wes Bellamy said attending an HBCU has the potential to instill a sense of cultural pride in a young person.

“When you get to go somewhere and see individuals who are just like you and are achieving,” Bellamy said, “whose parents are doing well and you learn in your textbooks and readings that you come from a very rich lineage…it exudes through you.”

Albemarle High School will take interested students to an HBCU fair in February.

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Promise Gala supports higher education

At the third annual Promise Gala last week, donors, scholarship recipients, and community members came together to raise funds for the Charlottesville Scholarship Program (CSP), a fund that makes financial gifts to help low- and moderate-income citizens further their education.

The program, which has provided 82 scholarships to-date and is currently assisting 30 people, was established in 2001 when citizens called for City Council to invest a $250,000 budget surplus in the city’s future.

Adults, city schools graduates, and city employees are eligible for the partial scholarships that usually increase each year and renew until a student graduates. In addition to the financial support, board members also mentor recipients during their tenure in school.

This year the CSP honored Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins with the Russell M. Linden Promise Award, which honors a community member who helps create opportunities for Charlottesville’s students to build futures for themselves.

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Meriwether Lewis Elementary School named a Blue Ribbon school

The students at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School have outperformed their peers across the state, garnering recognition last week from U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes K-12 public and private schools that demonstrate high academic performance or significant gains in student achievement.

“I am enormously proud of our teachers, students and parents for their wonderful engagement with our school, for their enthusiasm for learning, and for the high personal standards they set for achievement,” Meriwether Lewis Principal Kimberly Cousins said. “Every member of our school community should be congratulated for making such a significant difference at our school.”

The Virginia Standards of Learning results released last week show Meriwether Lewis students’ scores surpassed state benchmarks. For the 2012-13 school year, 88 percent of the schools’ students passed in English, against a benchmark of 75 percent. In science, math, and history, pass rates ranged from 85 to 97, against a benchmark of 70.

Meriwether Lewis Elementary will be honored November 18-19 in Washington, D.C. with the rest of the nation’s Blue Ribbon Schools, including nine others from Virginia.

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