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“The University of Mary Washington has extended the enrollment deadline for admitted first-year undergraduate students to June 1, 2024, allowing an additional month for students and families to review financial aid. UMW has offered additional flexibility for incoming students to make their decision to enroll due to numerous delays in the filing and reporting process for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the U.S. Department of Education,” the university writes.

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[Photo: UMW Theatre]
The theater department at the University of Mary Washington announced its season pass sale. Passes cost $113, a $41 savings off the price of regular tickets.

“We can’t wait to bring you along on the journey that is our 2024-25 Season. We have so many engaging conversations in store—a reimagining of the haunting words of a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust, a group of earnest nuns just trying to do their zany and fun-filled best, a script-flipping tale of young women who question one of Arthur Miller’s greatest works, and the origin story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up told in a musical and magical way—this is a season you won’t want to miss!

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University of Mary Washington [Photo: Univesity of Mary Washington Facebook page]
Major League Soccer (MLS) executive Mark McClure, who graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 1996, will be the 2024 Commencement speaker. McClure is vice president of technical operations at MLS, the school reports. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 11, beginning at 9 a.m. on Ball Circle, rain or shine.”

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Fredericksburg and the Rappahannock River have a rich history, and this bond was prominent at the recent Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the University of Mary Washington. River enthusiasts and filmmakers highlighted the positive effects that rivers bring to an area.

Ten films were selected to show the needs of various rivers, and each approached an environmental theme or message. Amongst the first films viewed, a theme surrounded the idea that the well-being of a fish upstream could predict the well-being of other fish hundreds of miles away downstream. The brook trout and the striped bass were used as one example. “As those fish go, so go our stripers down in Kent Island,” said a Maryland fisherman in a film called “A Journey Upstream.” Water quality is an issue here, too. “The biggest threat to the Chesapeake Bay is water quality,” said one of the narrators.

In the Rappahannock River, the salamanders “let you know how clean the water is,” said a representative from the Master Naturalists, who were there along with the Downtown Greenspace, the Sierra Club Rappahannock Group, Sustainability at the University of Mary Washington, and the Friends of the Rappahannock, which also sponsored the film festival.

In another film, the sport of fly fishing is linked to mental health. A man teaching his son to fly fish brings happiness even though the father was impacted by his upbringing in a rough neighborhood and the George Floyd murder more recently. “Fly fishing allowed me to reconnect with my sensitive side,” he said.

Other topics included migratory birds and dust storms, surfing the Kampar River in Indonesia, freshwater mussels, and an abandoned coal mine’s toxic runoff. Many of these films showcase a group or an individual grappling with a problem and working to find solutions.

A panel chose the films to cover community science, litter, outdoor recreation, ecotourism, wildlife, and more. While the films are meant to inspire and encourage conservation on a local level, they bring up topics that uncover other topics that go on and on. It’s like a game of “Whack-a-Mole” from an earlier era.

Brent Hunsinger, from the Friends of the Rappahannock group, noted the issues with water quality, for example. There are surface water intake regulations to consider, the Potomac River aquifer, the chemicals in the water, and the draught in 2023 were all considerations as a tidal program manager. It seems like an uphill battle all the way, but a film festival with upbeat messages presented positively is a good way to get these messages out.

“Our festival allows people to be hopeful,” he said.

The audience was a mixture of the Friends group, concerned environmentalists, students, and residents from the area.

Christine Thompson is a past member of the Friends group, which attended this festival years before. “I love thinking and learning what other organizations are doing,” she said.

She lives close to Old Mill Park and sees the trash left behind after a good park day. “I think it would be simple to just educate people,” she said. The Master Naturalists have a trash pickup day at Old Mill Park on their calendar.

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George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, died in 1789 and was buried in Fredericksburg near a monument that resembles the Washington Monument but on a lesser scale.

The exact location of the actual grave remains unknown though, so in steps the GSSI Ground Penetrating Radar apparatus manned by historians from Washington Heritage Museums and a professor from Mary Washington University to investigate this colonial mystery.

The radar system looks like a cross between a walker for the disabled and a football field measuring system.

“We won’t see individual bones,” said Dr. Katherine Parker, a professor with the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington. Parker was out to the site on President’s Day with a few students testing out their new tool. “This is our first project with this, it’s faster, and we don’t have to dig.”

The monument was dedicated on May 10, 1894, near Mary Ball Street and Kenmore Avenue, aside another old cemetery in downtown Fredericksburg. Since there was no headstone placed when Mary Ball Washington was buried just over 100 years earlier, “it is reported to be near the sandstone outcropping now known as Meditation Rock,” states a historical Washington Heritage Museums pamphlet.

Construction of the monument began in the 1830s but was only partially finished, which angered a group of local women who formed the Mary Washington Monument Association and raised enough money to buy the site.

When the monument was finished in 1894, thousands gathered at the dedication, including one of the speakers, President Grover Cleveland. Other presidents who have visited this site include Andrew Jackson and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who laid a wreath at the monument in 1954.

MWU student Blake Bauer and Professor Parker were on site, operating the GSSI. He majored in historic preservation and considered this experience “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It’s very science-ee” he added.

GSSI stands for Geophysical Survey Systems, headquartered in Nashua, New Hampshire. They have customers all over the world, and their mission is to “help customers solve their subsurface visualization challenges with ground penetrating radar equipment.”

The GSSI technology is used to check the structural health of roads, bridges, and skyscrapers to study the thickness of glaciers, their information stated.
On the President’s Day trip to the site, they found several possible places that may be a grave, but there was no digging that day. It will take further research and approvals before any action is taken.

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Fredericksburg and the University of Mary Washington jointly announced on Thursday, Feb. 8, a significant milestone: the inclusion of the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail into the esteemed U.S. Civil Rights Trail, joining a collection of landmarks spanning 15 states.

Named “Freedom, A Work in Progress,” the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail stands out as the sole addition this year that comprises a series of interconnected stops, totaling 21 locations that enrich the national narrative of the Civil Rights Movement.

At a gathering hosted at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site), the inaugural point of the three-mile trail through downtown and the UMW campus, community members, including many who attended the trail’s launch a year ago, commemorated the announcement. Notable figures such as the Rev. B.H. Hester and the Rev. Lawrence Davies, prominent Black leaders and former pastors of the church, were recognized for their pivotal roles in the fight for civil rights and social justice.

Mayor Kerry Devine initiated the event by unveiling Fredericksburg’s newfound inclusion on the prestigious national trail, surprising attendees who had gathered by invitation for what was described as a “monumental announcement.”

Addressing the packed sanctuary, Rita McClenny, President and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, emphasized the significance of these landmarks, underscoring their dual role in local and Virginia history. McClenny highlighted the importance of preserving and understanding shared history, stating, “When you walk up and down these streets where presidents have walked, where the enslaved have walked, where soldiers have walked … if we all can preserve and appreciate and understand that what we have in common is so much greater than what divides us.”

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University of Mary Washington [Photo: Univesity of Mary Washington Facebook page]
University of Mary Washington: “A power outage is impacting UMW’s Fredericksburg Campus this morning, Tuesday, Jan. 23. All classes on the Fredericksburg campus are canceled until 11 a.m. Classes before 11 a.m. do not meet this morning. Stafford and Dahlgren Campuses remain on normal operations”

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Four-year-old Jaylyn (center) checks out a set of colorful toothbrushes inside the gift box he received from UMW’s COAR. Photos by Karen Pearlman.

University of Mary Washington: “The COAR (Community Outreach and Resources) staff – and the entire UMW community – spent months filling gift-wrapped shoeboxes with winter hats, school supplies and toys for preschool students.”

“The annual effort produced more than 300 packages specifically for youngsters in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County schools, including students in the Head Start Program, which provides education and resources for eligible children ages 3 to 5.”

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