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Bland students raise money for toys

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Bland County students raised over $1,500 this year toward a Christmas toy program for children.

The annual “Penny War” between the elementary and high school saw the elementary students win the war by a wide margin. BCES raised over $1,100 while BCHS brought in over $400.

The good-natured competition involved students collecting pennies as a donation to the Bland Ministry Center toy drive.

BCES Principal Melissa Reardon and BCHS Principal Tyler Eastep reported on the campaign during the Oct. 13 school board meeting. Both were proud of their students’ participation.

“We didn’t get the elementary school numbers, but we’re pretty proud,” Eastep said of the amount his students raised.

Bland Ministry Center is also conducting a toy drive on Dec. 3 at the Lutheran-Presbyterian Fellowship Hall in Bland during Christmas at the Market. All toys and non-perishable foods collected will be donated to the center.

Registration is currently underway by Bland Ministry Center, working with the Bland County Department of Social Services, for children to be included in this year’s toy drive. Deadline is Nov. 18.

Also at the school board meeting, a proclamation opposing school bullying during VSBA Bullying Prevention Month was read by Superintendent Laura Radford and approved by the board.

The proclamation notes that more than 20 percent of youth in the United States are estimated to be involved in bullying each year, either as bully or victim. More than 160,000 students miss school every day due to a fear of bullying, something that can have lasting impacts on everyone involved.

The Virginia School Boards Association has developed a model policy on anti-bullying to encourage positive behavior and students participate in a variety of anti-bullying activities throughout the month of October.

Radford also praised students and teachers for the Standards of Learning scores earned for last year.

Bland students scored above the state average in English, math and science on the approximately 1,039 SOL tests taken this past school year.

“We have a lot to be proud of, we certainly do,” Radford said.

Radford also noted that students attending school in-person scored better than those in virtual learning.

“There’s a lot to be said for being in the classroom and having that instruction face to face,” she said.

Contact Linda Burchette at

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