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Culpeper School Board honors business groups, news media
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Culpeper School Board honors business groups, news media


The nation’s continuing public health emergency has knocked many things off kilter, including some awards that the Culpeper County School Board normally presents in the spring.

So when it met Monday night in the county Administration Building, the School Board took a few minutes to recognize people and entities that involve local businesses with the schools, as well as local news media that communicate school news to the public.

Normally, the board’s business awards are made in March, and its media awards are presented in the early fall.

This year, adding three local entities to the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2020 Business Honor Roll, the board recognized Career Partners, Chrysler of Culpeper, and Rappahannock Goodwill Industries for their ongoing support of the community’s public schools.

“Your work has aided this community in focusing on the goal of providing the best public schools we can for every child who attends them,” the board said in honoring the organizations.

The board’s resolution declares that many businesses play “a crucial role” in supporting our schools and that collaboration between businesses and schools strengthens both by fostering a well-trained and highly educated workforce.

Superintendent Tony Brads presented the business awards to each recipient—Marty Bywaters-Baldwin of Career Partners Inc., Wade Schick of Chrysler of Culpeper and Sara Drebes of Fredericksburg Goodwill Industries.

Brads did the same with the media recipients—Jonathan Krawchuk of Culpeper Media Network and Clint Schemmer of the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

School Board Chair Michelle North said all of the organizations play vital, invaluable roles that contribute to the school division in many ways.

Accepting Career Partners’ certificate, Bywaters-Baldwin noted that the nonprofit is celebrating its 20th year of building bridges between local businesses and Culpeper public schools to help students improve their career prospects. Acknowledging that meant 20 years of building trust, he thanked the board for furthering that relationship to encourage businesses to partner with the schools.

Chrysler of Culpeper owner Wade Schick accepted the certificate for his business, warmly expressing his appreciation for the honor and the friendships that Chrysler’s participation in the division’s annual Business, Industry and Education Day has encouraged.

Schick donates thousands of dollars to the school whose employees take the most Chrysler test drives during the Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce event.

“We immensely enjoy doing this event,” Schick said Monday night. “It’s fun, and it’s always nice to hear from teachers and friends.”

Sounding wistful, Schick said he and his team wish the Chamber hadn’t had to cancel 2020’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hope to return next year when life may return to normal.

For 50 years, the chamber has held Business, Industry and Education Day in coordination with the school division, usually at Eastern View High School. Many of the 1,250 people employed by the school system attend the event, visiting booths set up by some 100 Culpeper businesses and industries.

Chrysler of Culpeper has been a big part of that, aiming to give back to the community. Last year, it brought 15 shiny new cars and trucks to Eastern View for school employees to test drive.

Sara Drebes of Rappahannock Goodwill Inc. accepted that organization’s certificate.

Drebes cofounded The Groundwork Project, a venture of Virginia CareerWorks’ Culpeper Center that encourages leadership development, builds teamwork and establishes careers for young people through hands-on learning and experiential education at Verdun Adventure Bound’s Outdoor Challenge Course in Culpeper County.

As part of the state School Boards Association’s Media Roll, the board recognized WJMA 103.1 radio personality J.D. Slade, Culpeper Media Network and the Culpeper Star-Exponent for their “responsible and exemplary nature of reporting on this community’s public schools.”

The board expressed its “appreciation for your balanced and accurate approach to sharing with this community both the challenges facing our schools and the successes achieved by the teachers and students,” its resolution states.

North noted that on many a morning, Slade can be counted on to interview Culpeper’s athletic directors, recap sports games, and recognize athletes and youth-sports supporters. Slade has been a longtime booster of Culpeper youth, regardless of which radio station he has worked for, she said.

Similarly, the board applauded Culpeper Media Network for communicating school news—which includes its meetings and 2020’s virtual high-school graduation ceremonies—to the public via the network’s cable-TV channel. North thanked CMN station manager Jonathan Krawchuk and his colleague, Nicolle Wooten, for their hard work this year.

Krawchuk said it was a pleasure to work with the board and to support the public schools.

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Clint Schemmer, a journalist since 1980, has worked at papers in California, North Carolina and Virginia. He’s been a bureau chief, editorial-page editor, copy desk chief and local news editor. Now a staff writer at the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

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