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May 2013

The Greater Raleigh Court Civic League

R a l e i g h C o u r t — A H i s t o r I C A L N E I G H B O R H OO D L OO K I N G F O R WA R D

Welcoming Refugees and Immigrants to Roanoke By Parke Loese

Compassion, caring, a dose of patience, and diversity training come to mind as our four panelists described working with refugees and immigrants at our March 14 meeting. David Maxey, Elizabeth Lutjen and Amar Bhattarai, are employees of Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Refugee and Immigration Services, an organization which merged over two years ago. Steven Martin is Chief of Benefit Programs and Employment Services for the City of Roanoke, Department of Social Services. Members of Martin’s staff follow standard federal guidelines for eligibility and documentation when processing benefits for refugees. There are state programs available for qualified applicants. The city staff interacts with CCC staff members “streamlining” phone interviews with clients and the use of interpreters. Martin mentioned 64 applicants

Inside This Issue President’s Message..................................................... 3 Things You Need to Know........................................... 4 Neighborhood School Grant Awards............................ 5 Raleigh Court Block Party Announcement................... 6 Improvements at Virginia Heights Elementary........... 10

from countries such as Ethiopia, Iraq, Cuba, Myanmar [Burma], and Bhutan had been processed and were eligible for differing programs. Interpreters have always been an important use of the CCC program. David Maxey, a 23 year employee of CCC, is a Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative. Working with many immigrants, he helps them navigate our legal system and counsels them in understanding rules and regulations in a court of law. Overcoming language barriers, adjusting to new customs and a new way of life can be overwhelming. Amar Bhattarai, a former refugee of Nepal, walked with two members of his family for three nights to cross the (continued on p.7)

Meeting Announcement A NIGHT OF THE ARTS AND THE ARTISTS – May 9th, 2013 In the last of our “building community” series this year, the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League will host a panel discussion of area artists on Thursday, May 9 at 7 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Christ Lutheran Church at the corner of Grandin Road and Brandon Avenue. Our panel of four local artists include the following: Rebecca Talbot, specializing in photography; Katherine Devine, working in various arts media; Barbara Wise, a Raleigh Court potter; and Jerry Hubert, a portrait painter of people and homes. Learn how these talented artists began their artistic journey, sustain their creativity, face challenges in their work and explore their medium. These and other questions will be answered as part of the program moderated by Douglas Jackson, former head of the Roanoke’s Art Commission, now with Virginia HDCD as a Capacity Development Specialist, Policy and Strategic Development. All meetings are open to the public.

Greater Raleigh Court Civic League Officers 2012-2013 OFFICERS

Jenny Prickitt

President: : Jake Gilmer

Louella Clement

Vice-President: Vacant

Treasurer: Chad Braby – Interim

Immediate Past President:

Chad Braby

Recording Secretary: Cassandra Van Hyning Corresponding Secretary: Vacant

Directors at Large: Parke Loesel

COMMITTEE CHAIRS: Membership: Martha Graves

Matt Pritts

Newsletter Editor & Advertising:: Martha Graves

Grandin Road Merchants Liaison: Jenny Prickitt

Greenways: Mike Urbanski

Program: Parke Loesel

Building Management: Carl Cress

Web & Social Media: Jake Gilmer - Interim

Adopt-a-Highway: Derek and Stacy Lam

Special Projects: Tony Stavola

Jake Gilmer - Interim Project2

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The Court Reporter is published by the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League five times a year on or about the first week of September, November, January, March, 8/3/11 and 10:18 AM Page 1 May.

From the President By Jake Gilmer

This has been a great year in Raleigh Court and I have been privileged to play a small part in what we have accomplished as a neighborhood. This is our last Court Reporter of the season, so I would like to reflect upon this year’s accomplishments and our plans for the summer. As we have done for several decades, we partnered with the Grandin Village Business Association to host one of our most successful Grandin Village Holiday Children’s Parade. It featured over 100 different groups and marked the special return of “Big Dog”, our giant sculpture of a Dalmatian. The return of Big Dog to Fire-EMS Station No. 7 was due in large part to the efforts of the Civic League and the grant funding that we received. Since last September we hosted five neighborhood meetings that have featured engaging speakers and opportunities to learn about our community. We heard from local business owners, school leaders, the city manager, neighborhood police officers, and recent immigrants to our city. Our last meeting on May 9th will feature a panel discussion of area artist that will speak about their artistic journey, how they sustain their creativity, and the challenges they face in their work. I would like to recognize Park Loesel, our Program Chair, for her creative work in coordinating these meetings. Susan Koch, as always, has been tremendously helpful with these and many other aspects of our work.

a new curb on Memorial Avenue in front of Spikes and Pop’s. We applied and received grant funding to fund this project, which will help address flooding issues that have affected those buildings. As we move into the spring and summer, we have several great things to look forward to such as the Grandin Chillage series, the Grandin Village Block Party, and free Looney Tunes at the Grandin Theater. We will also be tending to small, but important tasks such as weeding and mulching the Dan Wright Trailhead, trimming bushes around our official Greater Raleigh Court welcome sign, and picking up trash along Grandin Road and Brandon Avenue. I wish everyone in the Greater Raleigh Court neighborhood a wonderful summer and welcome your suggestions on how your Civic League can improve as it starts its 35th year. I also would like to thank all the dedicated volunteers and board members that have made this year a success.

This year we continued our support of our neighborhood public schools by awarding $2,000 in classroom grant funds. You can read more about the grant awards in Chad Braby’s article on page 5. Based on the impact we have seen and the gratitude of the teachers and schools, we plan to continue the school grants for the foreseeable future. I would like to thank all those that ser ved on the grant committee. In addition to our annual events and meetings, we have also worked with the City to move forward on a variety of improvements to our neighborhood, such as the repaving and new bike lanes on Brandon Road, plans for Lakewood Park and the Raleigh Court Library, and the forthcoming construction of page 3

Calendar Raleigh Court Neighborhood Meeting Thurs, May 9th, 7:00 pm – Christ Lutheran Church

Grandin Chillage

Friday, May 17th, 6PM-9PM Grandin Village (behind Nopales Restaurant)

Grandin Village Block Party Sun., May 19, 2PM-5PM Grandin Village

Community Health Fair

Sat., Aug. 24, 10AM-2PM Roanoke United Methodist Church

Things You Need to Know Grandin Village Block Party The annual block party will be held on Sunday, May 19th from 2PM to 4:30PM in the Grandin Village. Please come out and join use for free hotdogs, cake, and music. It will also include free family activities, such as a moon bounce zone, face painting, juggling, and a magician. The party is sponsored by the Grandin Village Business Association and the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League. We are still in need of volunteers, so if you are interested contact Parke Loesel at

Community Health Fair The Raleigh Court Health and Rehabilitation Center is sponsoring a Community Health Fair on Saturday, August 24 from 10AM to 2PM at Roanoke United Methodist Church with free health screenings and information. In you would like to become involved or get more information please contact Jamie Hawse, Admissions Director at

Trailhead Volunteer Work A big thank you to all the volunteers that came out on Clean Valley Day to weed, mulch, and plant flowers at the Dan Wright Trailhead. Over 40 people helped improve the appearance of our community trail, including volunteers from Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Kids in the Valley Adventuring (KIVA), and the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League. Thank you to Bill Hackworth and Jim Loesel for coordinating the day.

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Neighborhood Schools Grant Awards

By Chad Braby

The Greater Raleigh Court Civic League recently elected to renew its commitment to supporting Roanoke City Public Schools. This follows on the heels of last year’s successful City Schools grant program, in which the organization gave a $1,000 grant to a local elementary school classroom and a $500 award to a neighborhood teacher of the year. The program was embraced by RCPS administration and was deemed a very successful and enjoyable partnership, and GRCCL received commendation from the school board’s President, David Carson, in a meeting last spring. Also last spring, a generous neighbor issued a challenge donation to the schools grant effort, encouraging GRCCL to increase financial support of the program. The organization met the challenge and expanded the program in year two. In addition to the $1,000 elementary school grant, a $1,000 grant was made available to applicants in the neighborhood’s two middle schools and high school. Applications were made available to teachers in the participant schools in December, and were received in late January. A successful grant project was required to demonstrate a number of qualities, including a commitment to the values of community building and environmental sustainability. The project was also requested to be available to students in future years. A number of quality applications were received, making the selection of winners by the Grant Committee an enjoyable but somewhat frustrating process. It was enlightening to see so much creativity and potential in neighborhood school classrooms, while simultaneously discouraging, knowing that only one project in each category could be funded.

Mr. Newton and his students were thrilled to receive the funds, and committed to installation of the equipment by the end of the school year. The successful project in the Middle/High category was Anna Beebe Sachs, a Food for Thought Instructor at James Madison Middle School. Ms. Sachs requested funding for a seed cultivation program, complete with resource books and dehydrating and propagation equipment. The project will allow students to get their hands dirty while learning to visualize and participate in the agricultural cycles that puts food on their plates. Heirloom seeds created through the program will be passed along to future students, thus perpetuating the cycle as nature intended. In addition to the grant winners, GRCCL is excited to continue its participation in the Teacher of the Year program. The organization is sponsoring two $250 cash awards that will be presented to RCPS Teacher of the Year runners-up at the year-end Teacher’s banquet. While the names of the winners remained undisclosed at press time, RCPS administration expressed their gratitude to GRCCL for its continued partnership and devotion to supporting successful neighborhood schools.

The Grant Committee used a democratic process to agree on the winning projects. The winning applicant for the Elementary school grant was Matthew Newton, Special Education Teacher at Fishburn Park Elementary. He proposed a project that would install a wheelchair accessible swing on the school’s playground, to the benefit of disabled children in both the school and the at-large neighborhood. page 5


Raleigh Court Block Party Grandin Village


Valleydale Hot Dogs - Cake baked by Raleigh Court Health Care Music by the Woodrow Wilson Middle School Band and the Java Brothers Family Fun: - Moon Bounce - Face Painting - Juggler - Magician

Summer Art in the

When: Sunday, May 19, 2013, 2-5 pm

Heart of Grandin Village

Everyone’s Welcome—Bring Your Friends and Neighbors

Cost per three day camp is $75.00 includes supplies and a light snack

Summer Art Camps from June through August! Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday

Sponsored by the Grandin Village Business Association and the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League

Mixed-Media Mornings for ages 6-9 from 9-12pm.

To Volunteer, please Contact: Parke Loesel at

Art Themed Birthday Parties | Friday Crafty Happy Hour | Saturday Workshops 1320 Grandin Road | Gallery Open by Appointment | 540-427-5919

Afternoon Arts for ages 9-14 from 2-5pm. Summer Art Camp is limited to 8 participants, and is filled on a first-come basis.

Full Schedule at page 6

(continued from p.1)

border. Living conditions in a refugee camp before his arrival to the United States were difficult. After being hired with CCC, Amar has a unique perspective and understanding of refugee resettlement issues. He mentioned most refugees enjoy the Roanoke valley because of the mild climate, rolling hills, mountain scenery and lovely surroundings. As Beth Lutjen said, “It is a welcoming community.” Resettlement Services play a huge role in integrating refugees into community life. A sponsoring family or group is important helping refugees with shopping, setting up an apartment, and providing transportation to work or medical appointments. Getting established in a community and finding work is part of the success story. Bhattarai mentioned that less than 10% leave the area and most refugees stay and integrate well into the community. Because of their discomfort of policemen in uniforms, seminars are held to create diversity training about trust and understanding of uniforms and guns. Lutjen was quick to point out that the Roanoke community and refugees are a good match and that there are many living in the Raleigh Court area.

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Improvements At Virginia Heights Elementary By Susan Koch Later this month, as teachers wave goodbye to kids heading off to summer vacation, the construction workers will be arriving at Virginia Heights Elementary. There will be no vacation for the workers, who must complete major renovations by the time school re-opens in August. Currently, every nook and cranny of the school is used. Virginia Heights’ student count has jumped from about 270 in 2008-9 to over 350 today. Some of that 30% growth reflects the overall increase in the city’s school population, but most is the result of closing Raleigh Court Elementary and the changing school zones. Now there’s just not enough room. Virginia Heights was built in 1922 and was expanded in the 1970’s, and again in 1992. In recent years, “double wides,” as School Superintendent David Carson calls them, were added to house the overflow. This summer, they will be replaced by an addition with two classrooms. The current school library will be re-configured into three more classrooms and some smaller instructional spaces. The library will move to the current gym space on the left side of the building and an extension beyond the gym towards Memorial will become the new multi-purpose room.

Virginia Heights served three non-contiguous areas. One area was part of Raleigh Court. Children were bused from two other areas to the north of Raleigh Court as part of the city’s desegregation plan,. Now that busing has ended, the school draws from Raleigh Court, Norwich and Hurt Park. The proportions of white, Asian and Hispanic students have increased. Of the schools serving our neighborhood, Virginia Heights appears to face the most challenges. Solving the space problems with the planned renovations will help Virginia Heights, but other challenges are harder to overcome. Its standardized test pass rates, especially for reading, are affected by its diversity and the high proportion of students who are still learning English. However, it’s clear that the School Board, school administration and the staff at Virginia Heights are committed to overcoming these challenges.

The $2.5 million project will include a new garden outside the library and the multi-purpose room visible from Memorial. The renovations will also allow for future expansion. The footers for the new classrooms being built on the back of the school will support two more floors if the student body continues to grow. Virginia Heights Deals with Other Challenges Virginia Heights is the oldest of the four elementary schools serving Raleigh Court and it has undergone the most change since the re-zoning that took effect in 2009. Previously,

VA Heights Fishburn Grandin Court Wasena

Economically Disadvantaged 72% 62% 41% 72%

Special Education 15% 23% 11% 11%

Source: Roanoke City School Board October 2012 page 10

English Learner 17% 1% 2% 13%

Math Pass Rate 65% 81% 79% 75%

Reading Pass Rate 72% 96% 94% 87%

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Greater Raleigh Court Civic League P.O. Box 3092 Roanoke, VA 24015 Address Service Requested

Membership Form

q new member q renewing member

New members are welcome to join the Civic League at any time. Your mailing label shows when it’s time to renew your membership. You may pay your dues at the next membership meeting. Multiyear or life memberships are welcome! The Civic League is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Donations may be claimed as charitable deductions for tax purposes. Please mail your membership dues ($10 family, $15 business, or $100 life membership) or gifts to: GRCCL, P.O. Box 3092, Roanoke, VA 24015 Or go to and click on “JOIN US” to fill out a membership application online. Name Address

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The Court Reporter  

Newsletter of the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League

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