Community School News

Students Present 2014 Local Hero Award

(January 2014)

Community School's Local Hero Committee is proud to announce Reverend Sue Bentley as this year's recipient of the Local Hero Award. Sue was nominated by her three children, Sarah, Alex and Matt, who noted how much time she gives to others. She regularly visits those in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement communities. Sue is a board member of the Mental Health Association of the Roanoke Valley and hopes to make a difference for those dealing with mental illnesses.

While these are important contributions to our valley, it is Sue's work with the South Sudanese population here in Roanoke that most impressed the committee. She started outreach programs for them, helping the immigrants cope with the challenge of leaving a war-torn country and adjust to their new lives. She assists with their daily needs, worked to provide them a place to worship at St. James Episcopal Church, and has become their priest. Sue inspires those around her, her children and us. In her acceptance speech, she shared an African proverb about the importance of working together--while it is easy to break a single stick, a bundle is stronger--and called for us all to bundle together.

Since 2002, Community School has sponsored the Local Hero Award to honor the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our middle school students select the recipient, create an original art piece to serve as the award, and present the award during a student-led ceremony. Special thanks go to the members of the Westside Step Team for their performance at this year's award ceremony and for their leadership during a step workshop held for our students following the ceremony.


Strawberry Festival News!

(November 2013)

We are happy to announce that Hometown Bank has agreed to partner with Community School as a presenting sponsor for Strawberry Festival. They have agreed to a three-year commitment of $15,000 annually.

Strawberry Festival costs an average of $30,000 to produce. We generally receive $10,000-$12,000 in sponsorships each year. Our goal has long been to have Strawberry Festival paid for completely through sponsorships. This would mean that the money we bring in during the two days of the event would be 100% profit. Thanks to this new relationship, we may be able to finally reach this goal.

Please join us in thanking Hometown Bank for their vote of confidence in our event!

We Met Our Match!

(October 2013)

Total Project Cost: $275,000

Total Raised to Date: $239,000 

If you've been on campus, you've seen the great progress made on the new building. If not, visit the link on our homepage to view construction photos. 

We thank the Ceres Foundation for its wonderful matching grant. We met that challenge with the help of our community and raised $50,000 which will result in a total of $100,000 toward this project. Thanks to all those who pledged to make this possible. 

We are now in striking distance of raising the total building cost...$275,000.  We only have $36,000 left to raise.  Please help us cross the finish line and consider maximizing your tax deductions this year by pledging a gift to the campaign.

New Building Update & Matching Grant Information

(September 2013)

Visit the "Building On Our Vision" link on the homepage of this website to see updated construction photos and a progress report from Board Chair, David Lloyd.

Have you heard about our matching grant? The Ceres Foundation generously pledged to match all new pledges through 12/31/13, up to $50,000. As of today, we have raised $31,000 eligible for that match leaving just $19,000 yet to be raised to take advantage of this wonderful gift! No pledge is too small, so please consider helping us earn the full matching grant! Thank you to all those who have already given. Your support has helped us get this far.

New Executive Director on Campus

(Summer 2013)


Community School is pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has hired Linda Roth as the school’s new Executive Director. She stepped into the administrative leadership position in July, after the previous director had to relocate due to her husband’s job.


Linda is a familiar face on campus; she has been teaching in the middle school program for sixteen years. Linda holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vassar College and a master’s degree in education from the University of Rochester.


     As a strong advocate of progressive education, I am excited to take on the

     director’s position at Community School. Our school is a valuable resource for  

     southwest Virginia, and I want us to continue to provide students with the joy of 

     discovery in a nurturing environment. I believe that we have an important role in

     developing responsible citizens who care about their community and have the

     courage to take action.


Our school community is delighted to welcome a leader who is not only a valued and talented teacher, but a friend with a longstanding commitment to the school and a deep understanding of our philosophy and mission. Linda is the third consecutive Executive Director to move from our teaching faculty into the director’s role.

Groundbreaking for New Building Scheduled; Fundraising Continues

(Summer 2013)

The Board of Trustees invites the entire Community School family to the groundbreaking ceremony scheduled on campus at the site of the new building on Monday, June 10, at 11:00 a.m. Please join us and show your support for the school. This new addition to our campus will house a STEM lab, music lab, and multi-purpose space. Fundraising efforts continue for this important project. While steady progress has been made, we need and appreciate your continued giving to see construction through to fruition. For more information, please click the “Building On Our Vision” button on the Community School home page.

Community School Voted "One of the Best Independent Schools in Southwestern Virginia"

(Winter 2013)

Community School just received notification that the readers of Virginia Living have voted Community School as one of the Best Independent Schools in Southwestern Virginia, as part of the Best of Virginia Reader's Survey. The survey results will be published in a special issue, Best of Virginia 2013, coming in early May.

Students Honor St. Francis Service Dogs with Award

(Winter 2013)

Since 2002, Community School has sponsored the Local Hero Award to honor the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, the Local Hero Award Committee chose to honor a local non-profit agency whose efforts in the community have exemplified Dr. King’s peaceful efforts. The award committee, composed of middle school students chosen by their teachers, selected St. Francis Service Dogs for their dedication to providing trained service dogs to people with disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, autism, and brain injury.

The students will present the award, an original student-created art work, to St. Francis Service Dogs in February. The award piece represents Joseph Campbell’s monomyth or hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a universal tale found across cultures. Each rung in the ladder represents a different stage in the hero’s venture.


A ladder presents this piece as a symbol of climbing to something we need to reach, growth and ascension. Naturally, this led the student artists to think of the symbolism of a journey. Each artist submitted ideas for the piece and voted to choose a peer’s design. Then the individual artists each created a single rung and, using a layered wood technique, brought the story to life.

To tell the story, the work emulates the style of Henri Matisse. Matisse, in his later years, became fascinated by the ability of simple lines to tell a story. His work became full of fantastic shapes and featureless figures careening, flitting or stretching across the canvas. These faceless figures could be anyone, as a hero can be any one of us.

New Music Keyboard Lab Open for Classes

(Fall 2012)

Our new Yamaha Music in Education (MIE) Keyboard Lab arrived this summer and is now set up and ready for class in the music room. All of our students, from preschool through middle school, began enjoying the benefits of this wonderful addition to our music curriculum during the first week of school.

Community School music teacher Kim Mucha, who attended a special training workshop during the summer, has been busy introducing all the students, staff, and parents to the lab's amazing features and potential for enhancing our students' music education. The state-of-the-art lab allows students to play and perform, sing, compose, listen, improvise, and read, notate, analyze, and describe music.

Many thanks to everyone who supported the fundraising effort for Community School’s new keyboard lab. Whether you donated funds, went to a concert, or attended the spaghetti dinner and talent show, you played a part in making this exciting addition to our children’s music education a reality. Please stop by the music room to see our new lab.

Strawberry Festival Wins "Favorite Annual Festival" (May 2012)

We are thrilled to share the news with you about Strawberry Festival and the "Best of Roanoke 2012." The Strawberry Festival is the Platinum Award winner for "Favorite Annual Festival”! This marks the first time that the Strawberry Festival has placed above Festival in the Park for this annual “best of” award. We are grateful to all the volunteers who work so tirelessly to make our event the Berry Greatest in the Roanoke Valley. This year marks the 25th year of The Roanoker's annual reader poll "Best of Roanoke." The 2012 ballot consisted of more than 100 categories on many topics. There are never any nominees on the ballot, simply categories where voters must "write-in" their pick for the best. For more information on the Strawberry Festival, click on the berry at the top right of this page.

CS Alumna is a Poster Child for Women in Science (Fall 2011)

The following excerpt is reprinted with permission from the Yale Alumni Magazine. To read the full article and link to the related Associated Press article, please visit the Yale Alumni Magazine. For additional information on the impressive achievements of our alumni, please visit our Alumni Updates page. Rebecca Allred is a graduate of Community School and Community High School of Arts & Academics.

A woman’s place is in the lab

When Rebecca Allred was college-hunting, Harvard president Larry Summers publicly expressed doubts about women’s aptitude for high-level science.

Allred who finished her high school requirements at age 16 and scored a perfect 5 on her AP chemistry test went to the College of William and Mary in Virginia. There she took a chemistry class with Elizabeth Harbron, who became a mentor, her lab an incubator for high-achieving young women.

Now Allred is a second-year doctoral student at Yale and, thanks to a recent Associated Press article, a poster child for women in science: “one of a new generation of young women who are helping change the face of the so-called STEM fields science, technology, engineering and math.