Meredith Woo.
Meredith Woo.

Here’s a round-up of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

Sweet Briar president to leave in 2024

Sweet Briar College President Meredith Woo announced Monday that she will leave in May 2024. In a letter sent to the school’s supporters, she said that “in eighteen more months, I will have completed by seventh year as president” and that by then it would be time to “[pass] the baton to my successsor.”

Woo has been president since 2017. She followed Philip Stone, who led the women’s college in Amherst County for two years after its attempted closure in 2015. “Our beloved college has come a long way since its attempted closure,” Woo wrote. “The fundamentals of the college are incomparably better than they were in 2015 and when I arrived in May of 2017.”

She cited a balanced budget, changes in tuition and curriculum, and enrollment growth. “Enrollment has increased steadily, from a small base of 280 in fall 2017 to 450 in fall 2022,” she wrote. “This growth occurred against the backdrop of breathtaking campus transformations that saw the addition of a health center; a new students’ commons in the lower quad, makeovers in our dorms, other student life spaces and Daisy’s Cafe; the building of turf and soccer fields, major renovations to the equestrian center and the launch of our agricultural enterprises through the establishment of large vineyard tracks, an apiary and a 26,000 square foot greenhouse.”

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Former Miss America donates winning gown to Virginia Tech

Kylene Barker McNeill ’78, the first Miss Virginia to be crowned Miss America, has donated her winning gown to Virginia Tech’s Oris Glisson Historic Costume and Textile Collection.

During the university’s Homecoming celebration in 2021, McNeill, a former member of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Board, donated her Miss America crown for display in the Holtzman Alumni Center.

Within months of her 1978 graduation from Virginia Tech, McNeill was named Miss Virginia and, soon after, Miss America 1979. Upon completion of her one-year reign, she opened her own dress shop, which she ran for 13 years. She went on to co-author a book, serve as a corporate spokesperson, and produce fashion shows.

It was while McNeill was in the clothing and textiles program that the Oris Glisson Historic Costume and Textile Collection was named in honor of its founder, who taught fashion at Virginia Tech for three decades. Glisson donated many of the collection’s original items, including designer dresses from the 1950s-70s.

The collection — which now contains more than 5,000 pieces of clothing, accessories, and textiles, some dating to the 19th century — serves as a key teaching and research resource for students and faculty.

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Clifton Middle will host rescheduled basketball tournament

Clifton Middle School will host the Mountain River Realty and Alcova Mortgage basketball tournaments on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14. 

The Alcova Mortgage tournament was rescheduled after it was postponed due to minor water damage at the school that was caused by frigid temperatures on Dec. 24. The tournament was originally scheduled for Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. Even though the water damage was relatively minor, the school division’s maintenance and custodial staff needed to prepare the gym for play.  

Boys and girls tournaments are now slated for Jan. 13 and Jan. 14. Alcova will sponsor the boys tournament. The girls tournament will be sponsored by Mountain River Realty.

Participating teams include CMS, Covington, Maury River, Mountain View, and Kate Collins. The tournament schedule is: 

Friday, Jan. 13 

— 4:30 p.m.: Covington vs. Maury River (girls). 

— 5:30 p.m.: CMS vs. Mountain View (girls). 

— 6:30 p.m.: CMS vs. Kate Collins (boys). 

— 7:30 p.m.: Covington vs. Maury River (boys). 

Saturday, Jan. 14 

— 10 a.m.: Girls consolation game. 

— 11 a.m.: Boys consolation game. 

— 12:30 p.m.: Girls championship game.

— 2 p.m.: Boys championship game. 

Awards for each tournament will be sponsored by Image Express in Covington.