manassas journal messenger 01/25/01

Core curriculum: Knowledge day puts the spotlight on what kids learn

Tiffany Schwab


PRINCE WILLIAM – Wednesday was no ordinary day for the students at
Sudley Elementary School. Instead, classrooms were on display for the ninth
Core Knowledge Day as students showed off what they learned for about 170
parents and guests.

Students made presentations on subjects ranging from habitats and weather
to the solar system and science experiments.

Sudley has been a Core Knowledge school since the 1994-95 school year.
The curriculum is one of basic knowledge and cultural literacy to build
students’ background knowledge, said Core Knowledge coordinator Helen Glessner.

Sudley has gotten away from being strictly about Core Knowledge, because
it must teach the Prince William County curriculum, which ties in with the
Virginia Standards of Learning curriculum.

Although, “A lot of the Core Knowledge curriculum does dovetail
with the Prince William County curriculum,” Glessner said.

Heather Johnson and Shannon Cornell’s second-grade classes have been
studying ancient civilizations, and the students showcased their knowledge
of ancient China for Wednesday’s event.

With their parents as an audience, the second-graders played a trivia
game about China, answering questions about the art, architecture, culture,
geography and lifestyle of China.

Their classroom featured Chinese displays including a hand-painted,
construction-paper block Great Wall of China and an edible map of China
made of peanut butter dough and candy pieces.

“The more they get their hands into it, the better,” Johnson
said of the projects.

Students also prepared a dim sum dinner of egg drop soup, chicken chow
mein, vegetable fried rice and more. Johnson said preparing the food incorporated
math and measuring, which are parts of the SOL curriculum.

“We pretty much feel they learn by doing and seeing,” Johnson
said. “The more ways we can get it to them, the better.”

After the trivia game, students tried their hands at chopsticks, eating
their dim sum creations.

Parent Terry Mullins, who attended Core Knowledge Day, said her son
Brandon has enjoyed his study of China.

“He’s been very excited about this,” she said of Core Knowledge
Day. “He comes home every day and tells us all about what he learns
about China,” including the food he has gotten to taste and the songs
and stories he has learned. “It’s really exciting.”

Second-grader Evan Neff said one of the hands-on projects was his favorite
part of the unit.

“I liked making the Great Wall of China,” Evan said.

On the other side of the school building, third-graders gave oral presentations
on people whose biographies they had read.

To complement the presentations, students dressed as the subjects of
the biographies.

Keegan Cooke dressed as Walt Disney, complete with Mickey Mouse tie,
vest and magic-marker mustache. He gave a speech on the life of the famous
animator, speaking as if he were Disney himself.

He said he chose Disney, “just because I love to go to Disney World
and he’s one of my favorite people.”

In addition to presentations, food was an important part of Core Knowledge

Melissa Callaghan’s second-grade class made Thundercake, after reading
the book of the same name by Patricia Polacco, and offered it for guests.
Parents gobbled up the chocolaty creation, which featured a secret ingredient
– tomatoes.

The students have been studying the water cycle, states of matter and
severe weather. They made a “scientifically correct” rainbow with
all the colors from the spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo
and violet.

“All of these activities reinforce the information we are studying,”
Callaghan said.

Callaghan’s class also recited weather-related poetry and sang songs.
In addition to entertaining guests, students were getting practice for four
SOLs, including those in public speaking and music, their teacher said.



push electoral change

Alfred M. Biddlecomb


RICHMOND – Vince Callahan says his e-mail and voice mail boxes began
filling up immediately following Election Day when the presidential race
was still in doubt and the focus slowly swung from the popular vote to the
Electoral College.

For the next month, he received messages from people he’d never met
asking him to do the “honorable thing” and cross party lines and
cast his vote for Vice President Al Gore rather than George W. Bush who
had won Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.

Callahan, a Republican who also represents McLean in the Virginia House
of Delegates, was serving as a presidential elector for the third time since
1972 but this time was the most trying.

“From November through the time the electors met to vote here in
Richmond on December 8, I received numerous phone calls and e-mails telling
me to change my vote,” Callahan told fellow House members during floor
debate Wednesday.

Callahan and 12 other state electors eventually voted for Bush giving
the Texas Republican the White House by a mere four electoral votes.

Wednesday he spoke up for a bill by Del. Michele McQuigg, R-Woodbridge,
that will require electors to vote for the presidential candidate who wins
the state’s popular vote. The existing law says that electors are “expected”
to vote for their party’s candidate.

With the Electoral vote so close during the past election, many thought
that a couple of rouge electors could have changed their votes giving the
presidency to Gore. Virginia, like many other states, has a winner take
all policy which gives its electoral votes to the party whose candidate
wins the state’s popular vote.

McQuigg’s bill would require electors to vote along these lines thus
taking away the possibility of rouge electors.

“This is already on the books in 28 states and the District of
Columbia,” McQuigg said.

The House gave preliminary approval to McQuigg’s bill even though lawmakers
aren’t sure what the specific penalties would be if an elector ever changes
their vote.

The last time a state elector changed their vote was in 1972 when a
Republican threw his vote to a Libertarian candidate. Because that race
was a landslide for President Richard Nixon, the rouge vote had no impact.

Penalties facing future rogue electors formed the basis of the opposition
which was anchored by House Minority Leader Richard C. Cranwell, D-Vinton,
who noted that an elector who changes their vote would face the penalties
associated with lying under oath.

“Are we going to make it a criminal penalty now for one of our
electors to vote his conscience?” Cranwell said.

Callahan said the law needs to be strict so that electors voting during
the presidential race know the consequences of their actions. “We have
to have something in this law because some day someone is going to give
someone an offer they can’t refuse,” Callahan said.

One of the bill’s other critics was Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince
William who fears the law won’t withstand a court challenge. Referring to
James Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention from two centuries
ago, Marshall said that the entire electoral system was devised to leave
electors free.

Loudoun Republican Robert Black backed up McQuigg saying that court
challenges can’t be much of a threat if more than half the states already
have similar laws on the books.

The bill goes before the House for a final vote today before going to
the Senate for consideration.

The House also approved a resolution that reiterates the General Assembly’s
support for the Electoral College. The mostly symbolic measure is sponsored
by Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan.

Since the last presidential election ended with Gore capturing the popular
vote and Bush winning the electoral vote, some lawmakers have considered
getting rid of the Electoral College. Such an act would require a constitutional

· Alfred Biddlecomb is a staff writer for the Potomac News in


Square bids are back

Chris Newman


The bids are back, and they look good.

Seven contractors’ bid packages for the City Square/Pavilion project
have base estimates ranging from $1.6 million to $1.94 million, city staff
reported in their initial report two hours after opening the bids Wednesday.

“It appears at this moment, based on our last estimates, that we
have an affordable project at this point,” said City Manager Larry
Hughes in a Wednesday city council work session.

Hughes cautioned that the base bids do not include a $125,000 design
and engineering fee and additional options such as more expensive paving
and brick work. But he said the tight range of the bidding shows evidence
of precise pricing, and the seven bids indicate interest and competition
for the project.

“This is a project that contractors want for their portfolio,”
Hughes wrote in his memorandum.

The City Square concept will center around a 6,600-square-foot Loy E.
Harris Pavilion pavilion/skating rink at the corner of Center and West streets
and be used for city events and entertainment. A private fund-raising effort
was launched this week with the Rotary Club of Manassas pledging $10,000.

Estimates have risen from a September 1998 price tag of $1.28 million,
to $1.35 million in January 2000, to $2.07 million in June 2000.

Potential funding sources for the City Square, totaling $1.9 million,
were cited by city staff:

· 1999 bond proceeds and interest, $1.3 million

· 1999 Virginia Department of Transportation funding, $250,000

· Portion of Smitherwood rollback taxes, $250,000

· private contributions, $100,000

City council members were upbeat about the bids. They had anticipated
costs to continue upward in the bidding process, considering the strong
economy and the abundance of work in the construction industry.

“This is good news – very, very positive news,” said Mayor
Marvin Gillum.

In other action, council approved a revenue-sharing agreement with the
school division that sets the rate of transfer of surplus/debt in general
fund revenues to the schools at 56.2 percent, the 10-year average, Hughes
said. Council and the school board made the agreement to prevent disputes
like last year’s squabble over a difference of $626,000.

Officials said the agreement indicates unity between the two bodies,
but the agreement does give the school board greater independence. The city
is transferring $1 million to the school division, establishing a separate
fund balance for the schools.

Hughes said this gives the school board the ability to meet unexpected
needs, like last year’s roof repair for Baldwin Elementary School, without
tapping into the city’s general fund – which council oversees and for financial
soundness must stay at 15 percent of the annual operating budget, staff

· Contact Chris Newman at [email protected].

Cross in need of help

Aileen M. Streng


The Prince William Chapter of the American Red Cross is being called
upon more often to help local families deal with the aftermath of a disaster
such as a house fire.

“We’ve been busy,” said Barbara Burns, director of emergency
services for the local Red Cross. “We have raised the level of awareness
in the community and people are more familiar with Red Cross services.”

During the first half of the current fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31,
the local chapter was called in to assist in 26 disaster cases and helped
98 people.

That is an increase over the same time period of the previous year when
the Red Cross assisted 63 people through 17 disaster cases.

The increase in disaster requests has resulted in a 199 percent increase
over the previous year in financial assistance.

“Your local Red Cross is appealing to you and your neighbors for
help as the increased demand for Red Cross services recently has placed
a strain on the chapter’s disaster relief fund,” said Megan Bowman,
executive director of the local chapter.

While the financial demands have been up this year, “we are meeting
the needs and will continue to do so,” Burns said. “We don’t want
the community to think that we can not take care of the next person in need.”

Still, with more winter months still to come – a time during which most
house fires usually occur – Red Cross officials anticipate they will stay
busy and could benefit from additional community support.

“More volunteers really are needed,” Burns said. “We
want to open the door to those out there who may not know there is an opportunity
to volunteer with the Red Cross.”

The local chapter has a core of about 30 people who volunteer on a regular
basis and another 120 who would be available to work on a large-scale disaster.

“We have some outstanding volunteers. They are there when they
are needed,” Burns said. “Some are more active than others on
a day-to-day basis.”

Yet that core of volunteers is being called upon more often recently,
especially the Disaster Action Teams.

When a family loses its home due to a fire or another tragedy and ask
for Red Cross assistance, it is the trained volunteers who make up the majority
of the disaster teams who respond.

“Red Cross disaster relief focuses on meeting people’s immediate
emergency disaster-caused needs,” Burns said. That often includes a
room in a motel for a couple of nights, clothing and food vouchers as well
as medicine, among a host of other needs that the Red Cross meets.

While all Red Cross volunteers go through some level of training, the
amount of commitment is catered to an individual’s interests and time-constraints.

Aside from the more intensive commitment of being a member of a disaster-assistance
team, volunteers also are needed to serve on a number of committees such
as logistics, human services, mental health services and public affairs.

Participation as a volunteer in large-scale national and international
disaster also begins at the chapter level.

Additionally, Burns said volunteers who are bilingual would be of great
help to the Red Cross.

In times of crisis, “I think there is a certain level of comfort
and security in being able to talk to someone who wants to help you in your
primary language,” Burns said.

Aside from increased awareness of Red Cross services, Burns attributes
the jump in assistance requests to a boom in population.

“The county is growing and expanding,” Burns said. “The
need for our services grows as the community grows.”

And that growing community is being called upon to help the Red Cross
help it.

“We’re grateful for your partnership in fulfilling our mission
and appeal to you for your continued support,” Bowman said.

The Prince William Chapter of the American Red Cross serves Prince William
County, the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park as well as Quantico Marine
Corps Base with disaster assistance.

· Aileen Streng is a staff writer for the Potomac News in Woodbridge.


ends peacefully

Nancy Carroll


Police and a SWAT team were called to Manassas National Battlefield
Park at 6 a.m. Wednesday when they a Prince William man fired a shotgun
after he apparently became angry at garbage trucks.

John Bainbridge Fravel, 39, of 11205, Poplar Ford Trail was arrested
at the scene and charged with brandishing and reckless handling of a firearm.
Fravel came out of his house carrying a shotgun and told the garbage truck
driver that he was angry about them speeding in his neighbourhood, he then
fired one round over the top of the truck. The driver, who works for Waste
Management was not hurt. According to the District Manager of Waste Management
the employee has been in the trash removal business for 20 years and has
never had any problems before.

Fravel barricaded himself in his house and refused to surrender to police.

Prince William police were concerned that Fravel’s mother, 64-year-old
Alice Fravel who was in the house at the time might be in danger.

“We were concerned it might turn into a hostage situation,”
said police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Chinn.

Around 30 police officers gathered at nearby Sudley Methodist Church
to co-ordinate the operation. A hostage negotiator was also on the scene.

During negotiations Fravel came out of his residence twice with a video
camera, evidently to film police officers. On the second occasion police
gave chase and arrested Fravel.

Alice Fravel was also arrested for impeding a police officer. Both
refused to cooperate with Magistrate Charles N. Crum and were being held
without bond Wednesday night at the Prince William-Manassas regional jail.

During a search of the house police retrieved the shot gun used in the
incident, and recovered numerous other firearms.

Contact Nancy Carroll at [email protected]