Western Albemarle High School junior Caitlin Dutta discusses her science fair project. Dutta was one of two Grand Prize winners from Albemarle County.

After months of debate, the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center Board last week adopted a strategic plan that symbolizes the first major structural change to the school in its 40-year history.

The plan outlines a five-year transformation of CATEC’s current model of programming into one based on content-focused “institutes” that will align with local employer needs. The school will now form a steering committee to study the implementation of the model, and to think about which institute to open first as a pilot.

As proposed, the institutes, which will serve both high school and adult students, include skilled trades, customer service, early childhood education, healthcare services, and manufacturing and information technology.

In addition to the model’s plan to align CATEC more closely with Piedmont Virginia Community College, each institute will have its own advisory council comprised of academics and employers to develop curriculum relevant to business needs.

But many questions still remain.

For example, Charlottesville Board member Ned Michie asked whether students would attend the new institutes full-time or part-time, and what adjustments the facilities would need.

Albemarle Board member Pam Moynihan said she thinks the plan—which recommends hiring four new administrators—is too “administrative and bureaucratic heavy.”

With respect to administrative growth, Grant Tate, whose consulting group, the Bridge, designed the plan, said reassigning organizational duties will allow CATEC director Adam Hastings to focus on the center’s strategic growth, and quickly establish relationships with the business community—a move, Tate said, that is essential.

Read the full story here: http://collectbritain.com/news/article/17544-catec-reaches-milestone/

County students take top honors at science fair

Albemarle County Public Schools’ science students know their stuff, and they have 84 awards to prove it.

At the 33rd Annual Piedmont Regional Science Fair last week, students from Albemarle, Western Albemarle, and Monticello high schools captured 75 percent of all first-place awards, which translates to 12 in 16 categories.

Albemarle sophomore Selena Feng and Western Albemarle junior Caitlin Dutta both won Best in Show Grand Awards.

Feng’s project, “I Click: The Development of a Practical Vision Based Virtual Mouse,” demonstrated touch-screen technology that can replace a computer mouse.

Dutta’s research, “The Effect of a New Long Non-Coding RNA 2953 on Muscle Creation,” which took one year to complete, analyzed genetics to foster healthy cell growth.

Monticello High School student Kelly Bao also won a first-place prize in chemistry for her examination of free radicals in cooking oil.

Selena and Caitlin’s work has qualified them for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, where 1,600 finalists from about 7 million student science fair projects will compete.

Read the full story here: http://collectbritain.com/news/article/17557-county-students-take-top-honors-at-science-fair/

City students sing—and play—for their supper

Thanks to steady leadership in the classroom, Charlottesville students continue to make musical strides.

Under the tutelage of band director Joe Tornello, the Buford Band recently captured “straight superior” ratings at District Music Assessments. This marks 31 consecutive years in which a Buford band has received the top rating.

Each year at assessments, students must perform a concert march, two of three prepared concert pieces—one selected by the judges and one by Tornello—and they have the option of participating in an additional sight reading assessment. This year the judges rated the Buford Band a one—the highest possible score—in each category.

Walker Upper Elementary School and Charlottesville High School also performed well.

Walker’s 62-member concert band took home a superior rating on level two music. Schools can choose from music ranked one through six, six being the most difficult level that is often performed by high schools.

CHS’s string ensemble earned a top score on the most challenging level of music they could have performed—a streak dating back to 1984.

The Virginia Music Educators Association also donned CHS with its ninth blue ribbon for earning a superior ranking in band, choir, and orchestra.

Read the full story here: http://collectbritain.com/news/article/17562-city-students-singand-playfor-their-supper/