Charlottesville Breaking News

SOL challenge: Schools target critical thinking to raise lagging scores

This year marks Charlottesville and Albemarle schools' second attempt to rebound from drops in pass rates on the math Standards of Learning exams, but last week’s report from the Virginia Department of Education show neither division made much progress. Last year, Albemarle's pass rate was 75 percent and Charlottesville's was 69 percent. In order to earn accreditation this year, 75 percent of students must pass the math test.

As the new school year begins, math teachers and instructional coaches are tasked with bolstering scores, but what does it take for a division to recover, and what do our schools plan to do moving forward?


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Local buffet: Food tours, fancy lunches, and cheap eats

Starting in October, you'll be able to go on guided, themed  "food tours" of Downtown Charlottesville, courtesy of a new start-up company called, appropriately enough, Charlottesville Food Tour. With the purchase of a ticket, you'll go on a two to three hour tour (with 2 to 10 people) and visit five to nine restaurants, sampling food and drink, chatting with chefs and business owners, learning about Charlottesville history, architecture, and culture along the way as well. Final prices on the tour haven't been determined yet, but those are expected to come out in the coming weeks.

Newcomers Rachel and Peter Sengenberger came up with the idea after going on their own food tour, because they couldn't find a food tour service in town.

"Since there wasn't an official tour, we spent an entire Saturday downtown," says Rachel Sengenberger. " We started at the Farmer's Market, went into every shop on the Downtown Mall, and stopped at different restaurants and food shops along the way. It was an incredible day. Pretty soon after that we decided to start Charlottesville Food Tour."

Beyond having a lot of fun and meeting new people, one of the primary reasons the Sengenbergers decided to start Charlottesville Food Tour was to become a part of the community; to be active participants in Charlottesville.

"Charlottesville is a foodie's oasis," says Sengenberger. "Our hope is that Charlottesville Food Tour will be...

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Share the wealth: Even temporary grandkids need love

Hi, Carolyn!      

Over the years, I've read numerous complaints about grandparents who showed favoritism to some grandkids based on gender, adoption or step situations. Each time, I've been outraged that adults could be so unfair to innocent children.      

But I'm finding the situation isn't so easily resolved when you're in the middle of it. My husband and I became grandparents a year ago. We were beyond thrilled! We don't have a lot of money, but we cut some corners to buy cute gifts on the appropriate occasions.      

Now ... my stepson has started dating a woman with two young children. The 26-year-old, college-dropout stepson has made having a family his No. 1 goal in life (maybe to make up for his parents' divorce?). He actually searched dating sites for women with children.      

He's now moving in with this woman, who only a month ago agreed to be publicly identified as his girlfriend. (This is only his second relationship. The first one lasted just months.)      

Anyway ... with the holidays coming up, I don't know what to do. Do we spend an equal amount on these other two kids? I don't want to be a jerk to these two little girls, but I also don't want to keep diverting money from our granddaughter to a string of kids we might not see again. Am I being a total jerk? I just want to be a ...     &n...

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'Win-win': Putting goats to work

"This project has been my baa-baa-by," jokes Michael Juers, facilities manager for the nonprofit Christian Aid on Fifth Street Extended, where, for the past two weeks, a herd of 50 goats have been hard at work clearing an overgrown hillside.

Juers says he'd grown frustrated while getting bids for clearing the hillside that slopes down to a playing field used by a variety of local sports organizations. Estimates for traditional clearing were coming in at more than $10,000, and there was the matter of toxic chemicals being used so close to a stream that crosses the property. Enter Goat Busters, a local firm that puts goats to work doing what they do best: eating everything.

The organization offered Christian Aid, which supports nearly 3,000 ministries around the globe, a nonprofit discount, and the eventual cost of around $2,000, Juers says, was an added benefit.

Watching the goats lounging in tall grass or under brush, relaxing and eating simultaneously, Juers smiles.

"It's win-win for everyone," he says.

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Cheers! These "Drinking Buddies" are cool

By Richard Roeper

Everything about Drinking Buddies seems just about right. Take the fight, for example. There's this guy, Luke, who's helping his co-worker move. They rent a truck, but it won't fit in one of those narrow Chicago neighborhood alleys behind the co-worker's new digs, so they have to leave it in the middle of the street while they quickly unload the furniture. Not quickly enough for the impatient motorist who lays on the horn and starts yelling for them to move the truck, NOW. The argument turns physical— but it's not one of those typical movie fights with punches that sound like baseball bats hitting leather sofas. It's brutal and aggressive, but it's also kind of stupid and embarrassing and awkward.

These are two guys who don't fight, getting into a fight. So it goes with the casual conversations, the workplace friendships, the after-work get-togethers, the romances, the breakups and the quiet resolutions in Drinking Buddies, a through-and-through indie-feeling film from director-writer-editor Joe Swanberg that almost never falls into the trap of being too smug, too cool, in its casual realism. You know that annoying beer comm...

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Editor's Note
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