NRVâ€™s Premier Lifestyle Magazine
New River Valley March/April 2019
M A G A Z I N E
Matriarch of the Monarch
Little British Car Custom Education Cabinets & Counters Furniture Placement STEM Hands-on Learning
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34 Pastu re Talk
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Cu stom Ed u c at ion 26 Sm a r ter Tom or row 28 M a t r i a rc h of t h e Mon arc h 3 0 ST E M H a n d s - on Lear n in g 3 4 B o r row I nstead of B u y 38 Fo o d : Potato es 40 N RV Ri d e s : L i tt le Br it ish Car 42 NRVMAGAZINE.com
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A few years ago, the New River Valley Magazine booth at Home Expo was adjacent to the United Way booth. In casual conversation, the lady said something like: "We are all one day away from an emergency." That line did not come to mind when my husband yelled and I found him on fire under a car in the garage. I remembered it later, along with the fact that I have donated to volunteer fire and rescue departments most of my adult life. It's a passion of mine. The well-trained volunteers do not get the money; it all goes to supplies and equipment. As the first and only woman on the Boulder Emergency Squad decades ago, I know the constant challenge to replace and update bandages, tools, ropes, tires, etc. I rose to be an officer and paramedic, specially trained in hazardous materials handling, nuclear radiation monitoring, ropes and rigging (think: Colorado), water and mine rescue and much more. Volunteers are only as good as the equipment at hand, purchased with donations and support from local municipalities. It's a civic responsibility, a one-way kind of giving to something that you hope you never need. But if you do, they are there. Or here, as the case was in mid-December. Being the practical sort, I fed the dogs and horses before grabbing a clean shirt for John and heading to the ER to pick him up Mar/Apr
and bring him home. Dr. Laura Harvey was brilliant in identifying the smoke inhalation threat, and she met me to say he was being airlifted in critical condition to VCU's burn unit in Richmond. This story has a happy ending. He came home after three weeks in ICU, and his hand therapist believes he can recover most function in his left hand and arm now that skin grafts are complete. Neighbors, friends and church families responded with love, bales of hay, driveway plowing, food, errands, rides to Richmond, more food, more love, etc. I often rally here about supporting our advertisers ~ and that's a good mantra because it is they who make this magazine possible; don't forget them. Additionally, I'm suggesting that every reader pull out a check, pay online or drop off a few nice dollar bills at the closest volunteer fire and rescue station. Mark the date on your calendar and give again next year. And the next year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who touched our lives these past couple of months, including first responders from Blacksburg Volunteer Fire Department and Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad whose names I do not even know.
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Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor firstname.lastname@example.org
Ho me I mp rovement
CENTER STAGE IN THE KITCHEN: CABINETS AND COUNTERS
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Trends are always afoot in the kitchen renovation industry, and timeless classics with staying power remain popular as well. When you walk into someone's kitchen, it's not normally the ceiling or drawer pulls that get your attention. It's the cupboards and counters for having the largest vertical and horizontal surfaces.
Cabinets One of the most stunning upgrades to a kitchen, without gutting it and spending the same as a 2019 Ford Expedition, is refinishing the cabinets. It can take any kitchen from mediocre to amazing. "Like most 30-somethings, I spend way too much time perusing Pinterest for DIY projects," states Kristie Lea McCallum. "After pinning every Magnolia-inspired 10
farm kitchen, I convinced myself I could transform my builder's basic kitchen cabinets into something Joanna Gaines would be proud of. After enough research and watching a friend lose her mind putting a third coat of paint on her kitchen cabinets, I gave up on the idea. While staffing the New River Valley Magazine booth at Home Expo in Christiansburg, I noticed Morris Finishing's booth and realized this was the mom and pop shop that could transform my kitchen." As soon as Kristie and her husband, Darryl, discovered they could have a brand new looking kitchen for under $3,000 and add value back into the home, they signed on the dotted line. "The process was short and sweet," she explains. "Our kitchen was out of commission for three days, and I returned to a handwritten note, bouquet of flowers and a Pinterest worthy kitchen of my dreams. Chuck and Susan March/Apri l
Ho m e I mprovem ent
Morris and the team are honest, good people who take pride in their work, and I am once again proud of my 1100-square-foot starter home." One concern with cabinet refinishing is often the kitchen around the structure which holds the doors and drawers. "We take cupboard doors and drawers to our shop for applying a high grade finishing material," Susan Morris explains. "Then we set up a portable paint spray tent in the kitchen to spray the permanent structure and protect everything else - counters, floors, appliances, sink, faucet - it's all completely guarded. The doors and drawers are returned and put back in place with existing or new hardware, and it's like a new kitchen." Morris Finishing can also have brand new doors and drawers crafted which fit the existing structure. Wood delivers on the craving for natural materials in our homes with oak still topping the list. New finishes include cerused and driftwood which accentuate wood grain. Medium-Density Fiberboard or MDF is an engineered blend of wood fiber, resin and wax. It can be used for just the doors with full wood cabinet structures, and its lack of grain creates a perfectly smooth finish in any color under the sun. "Another benefit is that MDF does not expand or contract like solid wood," states Kristi Dickson of Ewing Cabinet Company. "It does not have joints in the doors that could separate." Transitional styling incorporates more than one material, color or style. Contemporary cupboards can sport vintage hardware, and painted cabinets are modernized with sleek horizontal hardware. Minimalist styles have hidden indentations to open, eliminating hardware altogether. Dickson, Ewing's designer for all interior projects, says that open shelving is very popular. "We tell homeowners that the open shelf concept is ideal for decorative pieces, a stack of cookbooks or everyday dishware that gets used and washed NRVMAGAZINE.com
often. We do both accent shelves and entire kitchens with open shelving above the counters. Lower cabinets and drawers keep the pots and pans, utensils and some pantry items and baking needs out of sight."
Counters Most of the action occurs on these horizontal surfaces. Countertops are front and center of almost every kitchen task, so being tough and durable goes hand-in-hand with being aesthetically attractive. Granite breezed into kitchens at least a decade ago and
captured the desire for a natural look with the strength of rock. Walter and Diane Hearn recently contracted with Shelter Alternatives on a kitchen renovation. "They set us up with Ideal Cabinets, who showed us granite samples and served as liaison with Stone Dynamics where we chose our granite slabs. They were very helpful with guiding us to procure an accurate quote and making sure everything went smoothly. There are many variations in the slabs for the same style, so it's important to go to the granite supplier and select the exact piece." The Hearns selected a lovely soft tan, gray and white
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"Quartz is the most popular countertop material now that there is such great variety and diversity in both appearance and price," version of Fantasy Brown. "Cost-effective porcelain tile counter tops have their niche and weâ€™ve seen demand increase recently," states Joe Cole, president of DEHART Tile. "Larger tiles in the 24 to 36-inch size with very fine, sealed, grout lines allow for a more solid work surface than smaller tiles associated with countertops of the past." He goes on to explain that porcelain tiles share the heat resistant benefit of granite and quartz, but are less porous than natural stone. "There is a nearly unlimited color palette in styles ranging from farmhouse to contemporary," he adds. DEHART Tile may be strongly associated with flooring, but their 55 years in business is a tribute to excellence in all kinds of tile projects, including countertops. Concrete has moved from sidewalks and cinder blocks into kitchens. It is nearly indestructible, though being porous like granite, it should be sealed occasionally. "We love that we can put hot pans on it without worry, and it has a nice smooth surface," says Harry Behl, "but there is a downside here." There are two ways to install concrete: Pour on site or make in a mold like most other counters, transport it and lay it on the lower cupboards. "Ours was poured on site," Harry's wife Joan explains, "so we can never change out the cupboards under it, without completely removing and
replacing it. We'd love wood, but it wouldn't look right to install only new wood upper cabinets." "Quartz is the most popular countertop material now that there is such great variety and diversity in both appearance and price," Dickson relates. "Textures are also in demand. A suede or honed finish delivers a smooth, unpolished look, while a leathered process results in a slightly textured finish, like leather." Whatever your cabinet and counter preferences, you can find it. Matte or gloss, heavily veined or not, brown or gray tones, wood or paint, textured, eclectic, bold or not. The kitchen world is full of wonderful options for every budget and home style in function, decor and marvelous, longlasting materials. March/Apri l
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Furniture Placement Primer
Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper Whether you call it a living room, family room, den, sun room or great room, there is that one room in your house with furniture you love to sink into for relaxation and entertaining. Here are some tips and traps that can make the space more or less enjoyable based on furniture placement. Experts say arrange furniture to suit the way you use the space. Natalie Siegel, owner of The Upscale Attic, a high-end furniture and home accessory consignment store in Christiansburg, believes an effective room arrangement starts with the focal point. It's a common living room arranging dilemma: Should the fireplace or TV be the cornerstone of your living room design? Or should a view out windows or French doors take center 14
stage instead? Orient the main seating pieces toward the focal point. Scale is important in grouping furniture. Siegel starts by placing the biggest piece of furniture first and working smaller pieces around it. Also critical are conversation areas. According to thespruce.com, position sofas and chairs to face each other (not necessarily straight on, but close), and so they are near enough that people can converse without raising their voices. If the room is too large, create multiple conversation areas. To unify a seating group within a larger space, use a large area rug. Make sure itâ€™s big enough that all the furniture in a seating arrangement can rest on it. You can also divide a large space into separate zones with furniture placement. A sofa
facing away from the dining room defines the conversation area from the rest of an open layout, according to Better Homes & Gardens online. Some people subscribe to the ancient Chinese art of placement called feng shui when arranging furniture. It teaches you how to balance and harmonize with the energies in any given space. Its aim is to assure good fortune for the people inhabiting a home. According to realsimple.com, feng shui dictates that the sofa should be against a solid wallâ€” ideally, the wall farthest from the entryâ€” with a clear view of the door. Leave a few inches of breathing room between the sofa and the wall. If you don't have a wall to put the sofa against, put a console behind it, topped with tall, sturdy lamps. Add a mirror opposite the sofa so you can
see behind you. That makes you feel protected. Siegel, on the other hand, advocates ‘floating’ furniture if the space allows. She believes that people shouldn’t be afraid of placing furniture away from walls or at an angle as it gives a room interest. Tah Hoq, store manager of Sleep Mattress & Furniture at University Mall, suggests letting your furniture serve double duty for sitting by day and sleeping arrangements by night. "We carry a large ottoman that converts into a single bed, but you wouldn't know by looking at it," he says. "The sofa sleepers are exceptionally attractive and sleep comfortably, but futons really shine in a contemporary space for style and ease of conversion." Thespruce.com gives a standard formula for tables: Side tables should be approximately the same height as the nearby chair arms; if that’s not possible, lower is better. For coffee tables, the height should be the same height as chair and sofa seats or lower. Ottomans can stand in as side tables, or they can move where you need them for seating. Also important is flow. In general, you shouldn't hit any furniture as you move across the space. For example, it's not great to walk into the back of a sofa as you enter the room. And if there's a walkway into another room, it has to be clear. As Siegel says: “Without good flow, a room just doesn’t work.” NRVMAGAZINE.com
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tone in a grouping. For accessories, avoid "sprinkling." Grouping together like things, such as collectibles, makes more of an impact and also gives the eye a place to rest. Sprinkling things around can simply make it look messy. Myriad other considerations affect how to arrange your living space: The use and function of the room for family activities, like a game table or soft corners for kids crawling around, placing fabric furniture out of sunshine to avoid fading, watching TV without the glare of a large window. There are probably as many factors as there are living room layouts. The key is choosing what is right for your family and lifestyle.
Another Way to Shop ReStore: (verb) to bring back The Habitat for Humanity ReStore â€˜brings backâ€™ items that might otherwise inhabit landfills or way backyards. Recognized mostly as a home improvement store selling building materials, the ReStore also sells gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories and more at a fraction of the retail price. The store, which operates mostly on donations, is open to the public. Some pitfalls are buying furniture too large for a space. Be sure the entrance and egress of the room are large enough for potential purchases. Another issue can be having too much furniture in one room. Either use an online floor planner or old-fashioned graph paper to sketch out your desired floor plan and furniture size and placement. As hgtv.com admonishes: "Get out that tape measure." Be aware of color, too, advises Siegel. She suggests not having too many warm colors or too many cool colors in one place, but rather balancing the two. Have at least one item of the opposite 16
As with most thrift stores, your best bet is to come frequently and browse the changing inventory. There are many items listed on Craigslist to browse online from home. The ReStore supports the work of Habitat for Humanity NRV to provide safe and affordable housing for folks in need. 1675 N. Franklin St. - Christiansburg Monday â€“ Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 2019
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Ho me I mp rovement
Curb Appeal ~ The First Impression
Text by Joanne M. Anderson Despite our best efforts, we do judge a book by its cover, people by their attire and a house by its appearance. Like it or not, first impressions can set the stage for everything that follows. Houses with an attractive curb appeal sell for a higher prices in less time than those with a bit of sloppy out front. James Ulmer, founder of Back to Nature Landscaping & Construction, firmly believes: "Your home deserves to have a great first impression just like you do." Sprucing up and maintaining the space and landscape around your home, however, shouldn't be about selling the 18
property, although what it looks like from the street is always on the buyer's mind. You should keep up the exterior space and landscape for yourselves, adopting a mindset like: "This is not only my home, but also represents my largest asset, and I intend to get the most from it while I live here and when I sell." While many organized neighborhoods have a Homeowners Association (HOA) with rules and covenants, not everything, like if your curtains or mini-blinds hang crooked, if your windows are dirty or the front porch light fixture rusts, can be addressed in a
litany of covenants. It's your responsibility to keep up with exterior maintenance on a regular basis. The largest slice of curb appeal may very well be the lawn, trees, bushes, flower beds, mulched areas and walkways. "At Back to Nature, we believe that a thoughtful plant design followed by a maintenance package is the best way to keep a home's curb appeal in tip top shape," Ulmer adds. "We plan - and plant - for the future with appropriate species and spacing and encourage homeowners to sign up for a maintenance package. This service can include mowing, pruning, weeding, mulching and turf care, so
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homeowners don't have to lift a finger, their plants thrive, and their home is loaded with curb appeal." Once you have your lawn and landscape addressed, there are several other ways to enhance curb appeal. One of the often top-rated curb appeal upgrades is garage doors. Many new ones have horizontal windows and black hinges which add natural daylight inside and an attractive detail in a large, usually white, space. Other ways to boost curb appeal and enjoy driving up to the house yourselves are listed below, just in time to be incorporated into your spring cleaning routine. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 20
sweep cobwebs and loose dirt check gutters and drains for drainage and damage replace house numbers with classy, large ones touch up or paint anew the trim, porch railings, etc. stain decks and natural wood surfaces put up hanging baskets arrange furniture or accent pieces on porch or steps power wash everything kill mold and mildew add or replace a flag or banner fill cracks in driveway and seal put up a window box or two clean windows and check how window treatments look from outside install new mailbox add matching porch and garage light fixtures paint the front door buy new door knocker or hardware or polish what's there remove branches close to roof or siding check or install lightscaping along walkways neatly edge sidewalks and driveway NRV MAGAZINE
• • • • • • • • •
put away toys, bicycles, etc. add color accents with a chair, flowers, pot, bench keep fences in good repair, stain or paint re-point bricks which have lost mortar replace any cracked glass wash and inspect shutters check foundation clean up after pets store trash cans, RVs, boats out of sight or off property
If you are planning to sell, remember that many buyers cannot see potential, and others are not interested in purchasing potential. The offer price goes down with every little thing, and they are on the lookout for small stuff to chip away at the price. On the other hand, not only will you enjoy the property more yourselves, but these are teaching moments for children and grandchildren, who can help, in maintaining things of value, and one's home is usually the most valuable asset in a lifetime. Back to Nature Curb Appeal Tips: Add color to your landscape by planting annuals in the spring and fall Start with a good plant design for textures and seasonal color all year Strategically place landscape lighting for ambiance and to cast shadows Consider a turf care package paired with routine mowing Planning and maintenance consistency are key components of curb appeal
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Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Tom Wallace
When the Durretts first saw the split level house under construction by Poff Construction, Rick was not impressed. "I didn't like the location, and it wasn't graded out back," he says. It was 1972, and they bought it anyway. "It turned out wonderful when all the work was done," Rick concedes. But, as any homeowner knows, the work is never really done. Rick and Jane Durrett have renovated, redecorated, added on, converted rooms and crafted a multi-level sanctuary out back across 47 years. These high school sweethearts were in the last class  to graduate from the old Valley High
Rick paints the kitchen at least every five years. Most recently, they have had hardwood floors installed. . . . The centerpiece in the front yard is a beautiful red maple . . .
School in Hot Springs, Va. They have been married 62 years and lived in this Christiansburg home three-quarters of their lives together, raising three kids and working locally. Rick's job with Sears brought them to the New River Valley. He has a varied work background and owned convenience stores much of the time. Jane worked for the News-Messenger selling ads for 28 years. But it's home that brings them joy, tranquility and a peaceful retirement. A very large fourth bedroom was added downstairs. The carport was converted some years ago, and the
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kitchen renovated just before the turn into the 21st century. At Jane's direction, Rick paints the kitchen at least every five years. Most recently, they have had hardwood floors installed. The centerpiece in the front yard is a beautiful red maple with an American flag and lovely circle of stonework filled with mulch, lightscaping, low shrubs and a couple of guardian geese. Everything out front is super neat and tidy. A spacious sunroom was added on the back outside wall of the house, and that brick wall holds Jane's collection of sun faces. She calls it the Garden Room. A second sun room sports a wood ceiling and three sides of windows with 24
bamboo roll up shades. "It is all cedar wood and very warm on a sunny winter day. We have a portable A/C unit for summer," Rick says. The backyard was home to a pool for 25 years, which is gone, and now it is a glorious, multi-level collection of decks, pathways, fences and covered spaces with statues, flowers and garden trinkets Jane has collected - or received for anniversary or birthday presents - across decades. Rick figures he figuratively owns the ridge behind them. "No one can build on it. It is super steep and might as well be mine," he jokes. And it gives them privacy and the nature and wildlife view they so love.
Jane came home one day with a lovely framed glass piece, and she proceeded to paint Happy Garden Happy Life on it. Every description by Rick of everything in the backyard and front yard is pretty much the same: "We did it together." They have built, in Jane's words: "The kind of home you want to come home to; a place where grandkids can relax and climb on the furniture." They think about moving. A smaller house. A smaller yard. Smaller gardens. "But we love it so much, we can't move," Rick states emphatically. "It's home!"
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ED U CAT I O N
Benefits of a Custom Education Why hyper-focused training may be better than a four-year degree Text by Nancy S. Moseley
Box fan air-conditioned dorm rooms, dining halls with bulk cereal dispensers, picturesque quads, a smattering of Greek letters here and there can only mean … college. Though certain age-old signs are constant, education itself seems to be changing. It’s changing to meet students where they are vs. making them chase down an education. It’s a move that behooves the future of learning. The idea that a quality education takes a high quantity of money is also constant. Attending a traditional brick and mortar college is quite the undertaking, especially if it means you’re handing over hard-saved funds that will leave you in a job you don’t really like after all, with no money left for a do-over. On the flip side, vocational, trade 26
or technical schools have also been a constant. They are straight shots to specific lines of work unlike, say, an expensive liberal arts degree. But the term “vocational” is fading out to make room for the shiny new term, “career and technical education” (CTE). The rebranding is in response to the reality that college costs are soaring, but so is the demand for adequately trained and skilled workers. Companies are caring less and less about the degree with which you walk in the door and more and more about commitment, motivation and trainability. In Virginia, the previously named New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program (WCG) is now called the FastFoward Program. It’s an innovative initiative that launched statewide in 2016 in an effort to
expand affordable workforce training to help fill the wide and growing gap between the demand for and availability of credentialed workers. These are jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree but more than a high school diploma. Through state-funded grants, residents of Virginia enrolled in a FastForward program will get two-thirds of the total cost of training covered. Students are expected to pay the first one-third, actively participate in all classes and pass certification testing. All 23 community colleges in Virginia participate in the program. “The grant was created so individuals could receive short-term training that leads to industry credentials that allow someone to make more than minimum wage,” says Kim Matthews, New River
Community College’s career and credentials coach. The courses are designed to be quick (weeks or months vs. years) with a streamlined focus to get a variety of industries the workers they need at salaries they deserve. According to vccs.edu, since the program’s inception, about 4,500 Virginians have used the grants to earn credentials in approximately 40 high-demand occupations. Workers also see an average of 25 to 50% higher take-home pay. It’s a win-win. Students get a financial break and the Commonwealth gets skilled, in-demand workers. “In order for a course to be FastForward approved, we have to prove that the local area needs and will benefit from graduates of that program. We’ve done that through LMI data (Labor Market Information), research, job postings and economic development reports,” offers Jeanne Symanoskie, NRCC’s FastForward program coordinator for Montgomery County. Right now New River Community College offers the following programs: Pharmacy Technician, Commercial Driver’s License - Class A, Manufacturing Technician 1, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, Lean Six Sigma - Green Belt and Medical Assistant (CMA). Enrollees come from a variety of backgrounds at varying stages of their professional journey. “The majority of participants are students off-the-street who want to pursue a certain track, like pharmacy technician or get their CDL license. The other part is businesses proactively sending employees here to take advantage of the reduced cost of certification,” Symanoskie states. There are participants who have a GED up to people with multiple college degrees. Some are even currently enrolled in a university and are simply seeking a better part-time job. Matthews’ job as career coach is to remove any barriers that would hinder the student succeeding in the program, receiving a certification and ultimately getting a job. She is a resource for tutoring, resume writing, mock interviews and putting job postings in the hands of prospective applicants. Certain FastForward programs also offer career mentors. Mentors are employees in the community who are tasked with connecting with students in the same field throughout their training. The benefits of having real-world counsel and perspective are immeasurable. Staring ahead at four+ years of post-secondary school can be intimidating and daunting, especially if there is any question in your career choice or even in your ability to succeed. Whether a certification is the end game or merely one step in an education journey, FastForward is a very manageable experience that offers renewed confidence each step of the way. “We are literally changing people’s lives,” Matthews offers. “When I think of some of the people who have gone through the program, it’s like night and day.” It’s a mushy statement, she laughs. But rest assured, when talking about how to make the rest of your life the best it can be, people find comfort in mushy. Nancy S. Moseley is a freelance writer from Blacksburg who feels that every day should have just a little bit of ‘mushy’ in it. NRVMAGAZINE.com
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ED U CAT I O N
The Price of a Smarter Tomorrow Keeping the cost of college manageable from birth
Text by Nancy S. Moseley More than 20 million students are enrolled in American colleges and universities. That’s 20 million souls with dreams of career grandeur, goals of professional fulfillment, and hopes for a tomorrow that’s more financially lucrative than today. It was our own Thomas Jefferson who said: “With great risk comes great reward.” But, unfortunately, when navigating the waters of higher education, the “risk” in that scenario is often tied to money. It’s a familiar song and dance at this point; student loan debt is up 60% in the last decade with the average graduating student owing $28,000 and up. The landscape of post-secondary schooling is ever changing, making way for progressive ways to affordably pair individuals with an education. Purdue University recently launched an income28
sharing agreement (ISA) where the student pays nothing up front, then pays back a percentage of income based on their major and salary for the next 10 years. A teacher won’t pay as much as an engineer, for example. It’s a creative way to put the financial risk on the institution, not the student. Ultimately, if a university is advertising that attendance will lead to that career grandeur, then perhaps they should have some skin in the game. But unfortunately in most cases, like death and taxes, the high price tag of a quality education is certain. Brandon Cross, a Blacksburgbased Edward Jones financial planner, shared a custom-built calculator that helps quantify a forward-thinking strategy. You can type in any institution, the projected year of enrollment and the amount of money you are capable of saving monthly, and it will give you the amount that will be available
when the student is ready for dorm life. It takes into consideration tuition inflation, interest earnings and will tell you what steps you need to take in order to assure 100% coverage of college. A 529 college savings plan is the most popular way of putting away money for college. It’s a state-sponsored education savings vehicle that is federally tax-free if used for education. As of January 2018, qualifying elementary and secondary schools (generally private or religious) are also eligible. A 529 is attached to a singular individual but can be transferred to a sibling if the original beneficiary decides to backpack across Europe instead of attend college. But if all children have big dreams of college, they will each need their own 529 plan.
How to best use a 529 plan is based on when you start saving: Ages 0-10 years old: Within a 529 plan invest in a growth mutual fund (more volatile, higher return long-term). Ages 10-17: Put money in a slightly more conservative college target-dated fund. It will protect your savings from significant dips in value when your known cashout date arrives. Age 18+: Money market or an in-college target-dated fund. Treat paying for college as important as choosing a college. Do your research. Talk to a professional about your goals. There are all types of scholarships and grants offered by private parties, non-profits, colleges, states and the federal government. These don’t need to be repaid. Schools commonly offer some amount of financial aid, and it never hurts to ask for more. Be your own advocate. Proactively play the card that “College B” offered you “x” amount of money, then challenge your first-choice school to match or exceed that. After all, it’s a common tactic used in the workplace; get your practice in early. And everyone should ask the federal government for assistance. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is an opportunity available to any college-bound individual. It takes a good, hard look at the funds available to you and determines money awarded based on an overall financial need. It also never hurts students to save most of their full-time summer earnings and get a part-time job during school. Kids who work through college get better grades than those who don’t. It teaches time management in conjunction with money management, the yin and yang of success. Cross concludes: “Our society says borrow and buy instead of having the discipline to save. Most Americans could do well financially no what their income is, you just have to tell your money what to do.” Understanding that money can actually do something besides get handed over in exchange for a product is so important to instill at an early age when their tunnel vision is still money begets special treats. Respecting the value of money can be an ongoing life lesson. So when it comes time to hand over funds in exchange for the special treat of a college education, you will not be handcuffed to instantaneous years of loan debt. When grandparents want to stuff birthday cards with a bit of cash, have them do so with one-dollar bills. Take the opportunity to teach a young child how to distribute the money. Save some, give some, share some and enjoy the rest. It’s a simple place to start. Make the discipline to save second nature, along with promoting sensible buying decisions on clothes, accessories and entertainment. The habit is sure to leave more doors open than closed. Even if those doors don’t lead to a classroom. Nancy S. Moseley is a freelance writer who not-so-secretly hopes her children choose to backpack across Europe and take her with them. NRVMAGAZINE.com
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Matriarch of the Monarchs
Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts Photos courtesy of Roy Kirkpatrick
Thelma Kirkpatrick can be
considered a matriarchal figure to the
monarch butterfly. She takes great care to gently remove each caterpillar from the milkweed plants that line her driveway,
cautiously placing them into tennis ball
then adding a milkweed leaf on top. Each
tube is covered with a piece of pantyhose stretched tight and secured with a rubber band. Then there’s the watching, waiting and daily cleaning.
She did not set out to be the
“When he goes checks the mail, he looks
plant the monarch butterfly will lay eggs
on, it’s no wonder the monarchs decided
2006, I noticed the tiny caterpillars on our milkweed leaves, but many of them were not surviving. They were being preyed
upon by everything from ants to parasitic flies.”
Determined to help the
Thelma decided to bring them inside. Now, over a dozen years later, her
backyard passion has become a full-
Thelma’s husband, Roy, is fully on board. for caterpillars to bring in. Last year, we had 224 caterpillars that actually made
chrysalis, of which 190 made butterfly and were released.”
Thelma’s concern is warranted
as the Center for Biological Diversity reports that the monarch butterfly
population is down more than 80% from the mid-1990s. The monarchs are under assessment to determine whether they
caterpillars make it to their chrysalis,
found her. “We never bothered to mow our milkweed plants," she explains. "I
Since milkweed happens to be the only
flowers in summer, and they smell good.”
place to settle down. “In the spring of
paper towel (not too wet) folded twice,
“monarch” of monarchs, rather, they
fledged monarch-saving operation.
the Kirkpatrick’s residence was a good
containers (one per tube) with a wet
think they’re kind of pretty with lavender
should be placed under Endangered
Species Act protection. Biologists cite
deforestation in Mexico, severe weather, and the growth of herbicide-based
agriculture destroying crucial milkweed
is considered one of the longest insect
offspring fall prey to a backyard pest
factors responsible for the decline.
generations, with the fourth generation
have taken matters into their own hands
flora in the Midwest as the three major
“When you can take a
widespread migration of this sort and completely dismantle it as a result of
human activity, it is deeply concerning,” says Lincoln Brower, a professor of
biology at Sweet Briar College who has studied the monarch migrations for
decades. “The monarch could simply be the canary in the coal mine.”
The monarch migration to
Mexico is extraordinary. The 2012
documentary movie “Flight of the
Butterflies” tracks the details of a 40-
year scientific investigation into what NRVMAGAZINE.com
migrations in the world. It spans several (late fall) being the one to make the
journey to Mexico. Although most adult monarchs live only a few weeks to lay eggs, the monarchs that migrate to Mexico can live up to nine months.
After wintering in Mexico, they
journey north, during which they find mates in the spring, lay eggs, hatch caterpillars and become butterflies,
continuing the cycle for three more
generations into the fall, and battling
everything from birds and cars to hunger and hurricanes. Embarking on such a miraculous voyage only to have your
would be heartbreaking. Thelma and Roy to ensure a successful journey.
“I even bring in eggs and let the
caterpillars hatch out inside if I can spot them. They are about the size of a pin
head,” Thelma relates. With so many perils waiting to befall the monarchs, the 190
successful butterflies raised last summer is nothing short of a miracle.
“Some eggs are infected by
parasites before even hatching, and we can see the holes. And sometimes a
caterpillar makes chrysalis, but a larva eats the inside of it out, and instead
of a butterfly emerging, a fly will come
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out,” Roy adds. There is also the delicate
carefully removing the caterpillar, cleaning
the hardened green chrysalis to the
after emerging from the chrysalis. “The
adding a new leaf and putting the
pattern of the butterfly’s wings inside.
process of a butterfly unfurling its wings butterfly begins pumping fluid into its
caterpillar back. She keeps a calendar of
wings. We can watch it unfurl, very wet and flexible like a paper towel being
unfolded. When it is dry and the wings
start opening and closing slowly, I know
it is ready to go. I place it in the sun, hold out a pencil for it to grip and then gently place it on a sunflower.”
One newly hatched butterfly
circled back and landed on Thelma,
perhaps saying: “Thank You!” And why
not? All August and September Thelma spends an hour each morning and
evening going through every container, 32
out its tube, replacing the paper towel,
translucent grey when she can see the
Thelma doesn’t leave the
“The butterfly begins pumping fluid into its wings. We can watch it unfurl, very wet and flexible like a paper towel being unfolded . . .
house with any on the cusp of hatching
notes where each one is in the process
big impact on their lives as well.
-- from black and yellow caterpillar to
for fear they could beat their wings too
much inside the tube and do permanent damage. Once they open their wings, it is easy to sex the butterflies. The male
has a little black dot on each wing and the female does not. Last year they
counted 100 females and 60 males. The Kirkpatricks make an impressive impact
on the monarch butterfly population. And it’s safe to say the monarchs have had a
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ED U CAT I O N
Letting Kids Get Messy to Learn STEM hands-on learning
Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts Photos courtesy of Bricks Bots & Beakers If you’re going to make an omelet, be ready to crack a few eggs. And if you’re going to teach STEM activities [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics], be ready to make a mess. The Bricks Bots & Beakers (B3) franchise embraces this philosophy with open arms and rolled up sleeves. The names of their summer camps say it all -- Gross Out Chemistry, Wizards Potions Lab, BUGS Elementary Entomology and Gross Anatomy to name a few. Lindsay Barron, director for the Blacksburg area B3, recognized the growing demand for STEM education 34
for elementary aged kids more than a decade ago while working as a preschool enrichment educator with The Whole Child Learning Company.
. . .my training was firmly based in Piaget’s constructivist theory, which approaches learning as an active process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it “As a graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in Family and
Child Development/Early Childhood Education, my training was firmly based in Piaget’s constructivist theory, which approaches learning as an active process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it,” says Barron. She designed the Bricks (engineering/architecture), Bots (robotics/coding) & Beakers (science/ chemistry) framework to take advantage of the natural learning style of children, which is: “Hands on, minds on.” “The best hands-on learning engages more than one of the senses, so a child becomes more fully immersed in the experience and activates more parts of the brain,” Barron explains. “Kids do
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“Franchising can be pretty competitive when you are trying to get your message out, and we have a pretty narrow niche,” this naturally in play, and when we create learning experiences that engage kids more deeply, they learn more and love the process.” It is not unusual for Barron to hear one of her students exclaim: “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” or “I love science!” And that, she says, is what it’s all about. “Science is literally the first letter in STEM, yet it’s so often overlooked,” she continues. “There are many obstacles to teaching science in the elementary schools such as classroom time, budget, the mess factor, and the teacher’s comfort level with the subject matter. It can be hard to do really great hands-on science consistently in an elementary 36
school classroom. Also, in Virginia, the Standards of Learning tests [SOLs] don't really include things like chemistry where you can get into the cool chemical reactions that captivate kids until middle school or high school.” With 15 franchises and counting,
“Architecture definitely informed my art. I became more detailed-oriented and precise. It refined my artwork . . ." the B3 enrichment program proudly serves more than 5,000 children annually, offering STEM classes and programs
throughout the year. Parents can take advantage of summer camps, early release day camps, as well as holiday and snow day camps when they may be scrambling for childcare or entertainment options for their children. B3 also hosts kids’ birthday parties and field trips for preschool and daycare centers. “We ran our first camps the summer that Montgomery County Public Schools extended the summer by two weeks,” Barron relates. “I had been wanting to test out day camp programming, and I knew that parents would be looking for activities for their kids during those weeks. I got in touch with Jack Leahy, the assistant director of
Parks and Recreation for the Town of Blacksburg (now retired) and presented the idea of running a few camps.” Those camps did so well that Barron decided to run additional camps on Saturdays in the fall and winter and eventually expanded to run camps all summer the following year. Parks and Rec had offered a few science and technology camps before our program, but we really expanded the offerings into LEGO and Chemistry and a wider variety of STEM topics. We learned a lot about working with a municipality and how great that partnership can be,” says Barron. After establishing the Blacksburg corporate territory, B3 opened franchise territories in Plano, Texas, then Jacksonville, Fla., and Oahu, Hawaii. At first, they would choose an area, hire teachers and run it as a company-owned area. However, they found the quality of the experience for the parents enrolling their children and the kids taking the classes and camps was best when there was local ownership such as being a franchise owner. “Franchising can be pretty competitive when you are trying to get your message out, and we have a pretty narrow niche,” Barron declares. “You really have to love kids, education and all things STEM. We have grown organically to this point, mostly by word of mouth.” Creating a new camp from scratch, such as a half-day camp which will typically run for 4 or 5 days, can take Barron anywhere from 80 to 100 hours to develop. This includes researching activities, writing and planning lessons, sourcing materials and designing student worksheets and other components. “We don’t let making a mess get in the way of a great learning experience!” But she has gotten smarter about the cleanup, so kids can spend more time soaking up knowledge, and educators can spend less time scrubbing up desks. So what’s next for this burgeoning B3 company? “We would like to establish 10 to 15 more franchise territories in the U.S. and look to enter our first area outside the country, most likely Canada. We have received interest from a few different countries, but are also excited to sell franchises in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.” Bricks, Bots & Beakers 1995 S. Main St., Suite 902, Blacksburg www.bricksbotsbeakers.com
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Borrow Instead of Buy
Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper Photo Courtesy of NRV Rent-All The average wedding in the United States in 2017 cost $25,764 according to www.theknot.com. Just think of all the things that you might need like tables, chairs, dance floor, linens, tableware, tents, plants, theme décor, columns, arbors and more. They can all make a huge impact on your wedding and reception comfort and atmosphere. And you don’t necessarily need to purchase everything, a costly move that can also generate postwedding storage problems. Renting is a viable and cost-effective option. Aztec Rental's Special Events Division offers a wide variety of wedding and reception items. According to Blacksburg store manager Robert More, the most common rental for weddings is tents because even if the forecast is beautiful, you never know what Mother Nature might do. Next in popularity are tables, chairs and linens. Brides and grooms may not have considered renting things like dishes, glasses, flatware and 38
arches, but they are all available. At New River Valley Rent-All in Radford, general manager Dan Leary says that they can do “bare bones or make it look like it’s inside.” Chairs are their biggest rental item. Something kind of neat that his company offers is juvenile tables and chairs to make a kids’ space. Leary is a fan of lighting in tents,
"We can take it a step beyond," Leary continues, "with flags or pennants to top our premium tents and match the wedding’s color scheme." including chandeliers.
Much depends on the couple’s budget. Aztec offers set-up on table and chairs, but the price-conscious might opt to use volunteer family and friends. For small, economical ceremonies and receptions, Aztec provides a classic
package for pick-up which includes a 20 by 30-foot tent plus tables, chairs and linens for around $400. At the other extreme, a package that encompasses a 40 by 85-foot tent, set-up and all the bells and whistles could cost around $7,500. Popular spots for using outdoor rentals are parks, personal residences and Virginia Tech campus places like Hahn Horticultural Garden and the War Memorial Pylons. Aztec’s Blacksburg location has a broad delivery area, even reaching to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. The company has other locations in Salem, Lynchburg and Smith Mountain Lake Leary recommends booking rentals now for summer weddings, especially if the couple desires premium items. Reserve three months out, at the latest. Leary tells couples to plan for the largest wedding they think they might have, then “take it down” if necessary, because it is easier to nix items than to
scramble to find additional tables, chairs and such as the date nears. Not all rental items are as hum-drum as tables and chairs. One of the rarer items Aztec rents is a chuppah, or special gazebo specifically for Jewish weddings. Also unusual are requests for artificial trees, but More says those do not transport well. Leary recalls that for a May 1 wedding, New River Valley Rent-All created a festive May pole. The current trend toward rustic wedding venues means changing tastes. Leary says that instead of chairs and linen tablecloths these days, hay bales and burlap runners are popular. Fun, entertainment-oriented embellishments can also be rented. Val Skripak, a representative of Starshine Events in Blacksburg, says: “Receptions are more parties.” The company frequently rents photo booths and disc jockeys for weddings. With the photo booth comes props and photo strips. The Starshine staffer prints enough
copies of the photo strip for those in the booth plus an extra, which the guests glue into a scrapbook with a message for the happy couple. “People line up for the photo booth,” Skripak adds. “It’s the biggest thing you could have at a wedding. Less common are requests for a caricature artist, magician or karaoke machine." Skripak has more than a business interest in rental items as her daughter will be a bride in October. They plan to utilize Starshine’s two photo booths as well as a DJ for the reception. Another mother of the bride, Melodee Wade, recently hosted an outdoor wedding for her daughter on a chilly November day. Fortunately the couple had rented a tent, which was adequate protection for the short ceremony, though Wade said that on a do-over she might opt for tent sides and heaters, an upgrade rental companies offer. Chairs were the only other item rented for the couple’s small ceremony. A party will
follow next summer at the Blacksburg Country Club where all the accessories will be included, as they are at most indoor venues. Couples looking in any price range can rent almost anything imaginable these days to spruce up their weddings and receptions. And that is good news for brides and grooms minding their Ps, Qs, and dollars.
10 ‘don’t forget’ wedding rentals • Tents • Tables and Chairs • Linens • Dinnerware, Flatware and Barware • Dance Floor • Lounge Furniture • Electricity • Lights • Flower vessels • Restrooms ~ Source: weddingwire.ca
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NR V F o o d F a re
Compiled by Joanne M. Anderson
The humble potato is a 99.9% fat-free vegetable, though it contains a lot of starch and is often billed as that part of a meal with other vegetables accompanying it. It is grown in every U.S. state, though Idaho grows the most commercially, followed by Washington and Wisconsin. It contains 80% water and 20% solids. "A diet of whole milk and potatoes would supply almost all of the food elements necessary for the maintenance of the human body." ~ U.S. Department of Agriculture Mashed, fried, baked, twice-baked, cubed, sliced, scalloped, creamed, whole - it's not hard to fix potatoes. A medium baked potato has just over 100 calories, vitamins C and B6, niacin, phosphorus, manganese and more potassium than a banana. It contains no sodium or cholesterol.
Potatoes au Gratin
4 russet potatoes, (sliced into 1/4" pieces) 1 onion, sliced into rings 3 Tbl. butter 3 Tbl. all purpose flour 1/2 tsp. salt 2 cups milk 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese Pre-heat oven to 400ยบ and butter one-quart casserole dish. Layer half the potatoes in the dish; top with onion slices; add remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. In sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and salt, whisking for a minute. Add milk and cook until mixture thickens. Add cheese and stir until it all melts. Pour mixture over potatoes and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours.
N NRRVV M MAAGGAAZZIIN NEE
March/Apri March/April l
Mashed Potatoes Comfort food at its finest, here are a few things to gussy up mashed potatoes: • grilled lobster or crab pieces • sausage or ham bits • gouda or any cheese • garlic, thyme and herbs • bacon and onions • meatloaf • pumpkin • sirloin strips • cheese, pepperoni, oregano • chicken chunks • gravy galore • leave the skins on • butter, duh!
4 large potatoes 1 medium onion 1 egg 1 tsp. salt 2-4 Tbl. all-purpose flour ground black pepper 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Finely grate potatoes with onion in large bowl and drain liquid. Mix in egg, salt and pepper. Add flour to make mixture thick enough to stick together. Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drop two or three 1/4 cup mounds of potato mixture into hot oil and flatten for 1/2-inch thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm in 200º to hold for serving and top with butter and favorite syrup. NR NVRM VM AG AA GZA IZNI E N.Ec .ocm o m M a r / M A aprr/ A p2r0 1 92 0 1 9
NRV RI DES
A Treasured LBC ~ Little British Car
Text by Karl H. Kazaks Photos by Tom Wallace Adolescence is a formative time, filled with indelible moments. Like careening off the road when the right front shock mount of your 1963 Austin-Healey 3000 MK II BJ7 breaks, sending you through three fence posts, snapping the car’s frame and impacting every part of the vehicle. If you’re Mike Abbott, when that happens (as it did to him in 1989, when he was in high school near Charlottesville), you convince your father not to part out the car but instead to commit to a complete 42
restoration. Two and a half years later, the sportster was back on the road, and soon afterward Mike enrolled as an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, studying mechanical engineering and driving the Healey around the New River Valley. The car still has an early 90’s-era VT commuter parking sticker.
Abbott has put more than 60,000 miles on the car since he and his father, David, put it back together.
“I see no point in having a car if you’re not going to drive it,” he says. This past winter
Abbott tore into the car again to rebuild the Healey’s drive train. The car’s left front shock tower was showing fatigue failure and also needed its camber adjusted. It’s easiest to fix those things when the drive train is removed, so he decided to redo the drive train, too. The Healey is what’s known as an LBC – little British car. It’s a two-door RWD sports convertible with a manual
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four-speed overdrive transmission and an overall length of just over 13 feet. It’s not wide – when you sit inside it, the interior door panel is very close. But the car is swift, thanks to its 6 cylinder, 3.0L engine. Abbott’s Healey is a nearly stock MK II BJ7. One notable modification is the addition of a highspeed rear end (stock for non-overdrive versions of the car) that allows a much more enjoyable drive on today’s faster highways. The car is painted British racing 44
“We have a problem when it comes to British cars,” Abbott reveals. In addition to his Healey, Mike owns a 1963 Mini Cooper . . . and a 1964 Jaguar Mark II 3.4L right-hand drive
green and sports wire wheels. It also has rollup windows – the first AustinHealey to have that feature. Previous versions had side curtains. “Back then sports cars weren’t supposed to have roll-up windows,” Abbott relates. He is planning to take the car to a show this spring with his father, who has his own Healey, a 1964 3000 Mark III. David bought his car in 1967 and finished restoring it the same year that Mike’s 1963 went through the fence. Over time, David bought another Austin-
Healey – a 1961. “We have a problem when it comes to British cars,” Abbott reveals. In addition to his Healey, Mike owns a 1963 Mini Cooper, which he rebuilt last year. It had been modified for racing and ran hot, causing a hole to blow in a piston. He also has a 1964 Jaguar Mark II 3.4L right-hand drive, and nothing has ever been done to it. Though the Healey has been restored, it is original, with one exception – it has electronic ignition instead of points. Comparing the cars, Abbott observes: “Men like the Healey, women like the Jag, and everyone laughs at the Mini – it’s a clown car.” He even keeps a clown nose in the glove box of the Mini for passengers to wear. NRVMAGAZINE.com
Another comparison: “The Mini handles the best, the Healey is the fastest, and the Jag you can drive cross country.” Abbott does use a lead additive in fuel tanks of the Healey and the Jag.
After his undergraduate years in Blacksburg, Abbott worked in product development outside the area. He did earn a master’s degree and moved back to the NRV in 2006. Today he works as an innovation consultant for large businesses. Since moving back, Mike has restored one American
car – a 1964 Corvair Monza. If you know the car, you know why Abbott would have worked on it – its styling has similarities to LBCs. “I just love British cars because of their design,” he says. He also loves working on them and has in his garage a 1969 MGB. Built for racing, Abbott is restoring it frameoff, having had to install new floor boards. When it’s done, he has a 1971 Triumph TR250 to restore. What comes after that, Abbott’s not sure. Possibly whatever LBCs his own sons decide they want to work on. He is sure, though, that he would never sell the Healey. “This car,” he declares, “is not a car, this car is part of me.”
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Plan your vacation, wedding, and adventure in Giles.
JOY OF GIVING 4.24.19 Make a secure, online gift on April 24th directly to any of the 125 charities featured on the GiveBigNRV website and help that charity win a grant from the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.
6th Annual GiveBigNRV Giving Day And, maximize the impact of your gift by donating to The Fund for the NRV supporting dozens of organizations working together to: • Educate and support young children and families • Give fresh, nutritious food to neighbors in need • Enable aging NRV residents to stay in their homes • Provide professional training to local nonprofits
An initiative of
COMMUNITY FOUNDATION of the New River Valley
cfnrv.givebig.org March/Apri l
ANNUAL MARKET REPORT NEW RIVER VALLEY
The full report including various areas within the New River Valley is now available online at www.NewRiverValleyMarketReports.com NEST REALTY | 400 NORTH MAIN STREET | BLACKSBURG, VA | 800.325.NEST | NESTREALTY.COM NRVMAGAZINE.com
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Saturday, May 11, 2019 7:30 PM
Shadowland 2: The New Adventure
In the more than 40 years since its beginnings as a dance class assignment at Dartmouth College, Pilobolus has performed on Broadway, at the Oscars, and at the Olympic games. Shadowland 2: The New Adventure tells a love story about two people and their quixotic quest to save an imaginary bird.
Friday, April 12, 2019, 7:30 PM TURTLE ISLAND QUARTET WITH CYRUS CHESTNUT Carry Me Home
Friday, April 26, 2019, 7:30 PM FRED HERSCH, KURT ELLING, AND KATE MCGARRY Leaves of Grass
PERFORMANCES l EXHIBITIONS l EXPERIENCES 190 Alumni Mall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 | artscenter.vt.edu | 540-231-5300
Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Floyd, Giles County, Pulaski County.