The third Sunday of every month is Preschool Sunday.
The faculty of the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School (OPWS) invites the students and parents of OPWS to church.
Pastor Denny Burnette regularly visits OPWS and knows the students well.
Each Preschool Sunday he has a special message for the children. Below is the message for the November, 19th, 2023 service. Right before Thanksgiving!
Graduations mark major milestones. Friday, May 19, 2023 the four-year-old class of Orange Presbyterian Weekday School graduated. And it was -- as it has always been -- a major milestone.
Many of these children became friends and classmates attending the three-year-old class. And next year, they will go their separate ways. The children will be attending different elementary schools in the county. Some will go to private schools, and some will be home schooled.
Hopefully the friendships formed over the past two years will remain strong. We know it has for many past OPWS graduates!
One hundred and thirty-two people gathered to see these youngsters graduate. Family, friends, church members, and OPWS staff were there to wish them well.
It was a short (and sweet) ceremony that ended with a OPWS tradition -- the Friday dance party!
And after all that dancing, the children and adults spilled out into the playground area. Time for refreshments, serious play, and fun.
Good luck to the class of 2023! God bless you, one and all.
Sunday, April 30, 2023 was a very special date. The Orange Presbyterian Weekday School students, parents, and staff participated in Sunday worship.
As pastor Denny Burnette pointed out, "our church does not simply have a preschool. The preschool is an integral part of our church. A very important part of our church’s ministry, and we are a family together.”
To prove his point, Denny asked current students and parents to raise their hands. Then he asked any former students to raise their hands. Then he asked any who had children or other family members attend OPWS to raise their hands.
There were ninety people in the sanctuary. Virtually every hand was in the air.
After the service, there was a reception for friends and families. Denny promises this won't be the last OPWS Sunday. Now that's something to look forward to!
- Ralph Graves
Communications Team Leader
Proposal for Mother’s Morning Out Program
at Orange Presbyterian Church
From the board of the
Orange Presbyterian Weekday School
This proposal is to request the renovations required to outfit Orange Presbyterian Church (OPC) to offer a Mother’s Morning Out program to the community. Improvements will bring the facility up to current building code in a manner that will emphasize both safety and aesthetics.
Orange Presbyterian Weekday School (OPWS) has received generous funding through government grants. One of the purposes of these grants is to expand program offerings to the community. OPWS would like to use some of this money to begin this new program.
What is Mother’s Morning Out?
The purpose of a Mother’s Morning Out program is to offer a flexible childcare opportunity for children 0-36 months in a caring and safe environment. The program will operate during preschool hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00am-Noon).
The proposed cost of the program is $25/day (with the possibility of a sibling discount) and sign-up will be on a first-come/first-served basis. Families will be asked to complete a registration once annually and will have to provide any documentation required by the Virginia Department of Education.
Current Virginia Department of Education guidelines require a staff:child ratio of 1:4 for children 0-16 months. The ratio is based on the youngest child enrolled. So for the age range 0-26 months, the ration will be 1:4.
It is proposed that the program begin with two staff and a maximum of eight children. If the program proves to be very successful, additional staff may be hired at future time. It is proposed that staff will be paid similarly to the pay scale of current OPWS teachers.
To get the program going and gain momentum, it is proposed that the program run each day whether or not there are eight children present. For the first year of operation, OPWS can cover any gap between the income and expenses create by the program. All staff will be required to satisfy the requirements of the Virginia Department of Education.
Requested for use are the Leland Lord Library (approximately 324 square feet) and the current Nursery (approximately 400 square feet). Renovations required to meet current building codes are as follows:
Additional Facility Needs
OPWS plans to make use of any resources that are currently in the OPC nursery as well as OPWS. Only necessary purchases will be made, such as:
If approved, it is proposed that renovations take place during spring/summer 2023, with a program launch to coincide with the beginning of OPWS in September 2023.
A life abroad
Howard Cubberly Berckman and Jean Elizabeth Kemble met in Ann Arbor, Michigan as students at the university. After they married, Howard’s work with the Army took them to Japan. Three of their children were born while the couple were stationed there.
Howard and Jean moved back to Northern Virginia, where their youngest child, Alice, was born. When she was about two, the family moved to Okinawa. The Berckmans stayed for five years.
They then returned to the states and eventually settling in Orange. Howard's career had spanned 25 years.
A life in the church
Howard and Jean decided to participate in the Orange Presbyterian Church. Jean said it was important for her to sing in a good choir and she liked our choir director. Jean joined OPC in July of 1978.
Orange Presbyterian Weekday School
In May of that same year, the Session and Deacons approved plans for a nursery school for the county. The plan was developed by Elinor Vasquez and Jean Berkman, and the school would be housed at OPC.
Elinor and Jean worked hard that summer, and the school opened on September 12th. “We worked together so well,” Jean stated in 2018 oral history interview. She served the school well, retiring after 11 years of service.
The Food Closet
In 1981, the Christian Emergency Council, with the Methodist Minister Forest Porter in charge, set up a Food Closet for needy families. Jean volunteered and so did Elinor and Bob Vasquez. “Elinor was my buddy,” explained Jean.
Howard and Jean would drive to Charlottesville and pick up food for the Food Closet. Jean also worked with the people who came to ensure they had what they needed.
Jean said, “volunteering at the Food Closet gave us a real sense of mission because of the down and out people we could help. All of the churches in Orange were involved, but the Methodists started it.”
Jean Berckman managed the Food Closet for years. That ministry continues to this day, and is now known as the Love Outreach Food Pantry. It continues to provide food for Orange County residents in need.
The Christian Emergency Council
Jean was also involved with The Christian Emergency Council. She talked about how in the beginning, it was mostly dealing with people not being able to pay their light bill. It has grown to be so much more than that today.
Service to OPC
Jean was a member of the Women of the Church. She also served as a Deacon until she was ordained and installed as an Elder in 1985. Jean supported OPC’s Holiday Bazaar with her baked goods.
In 1995, some of the women of OPC made a quilt to commemorate the Church’s sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. Jean took part in that as well.
She enjoyed conducting workshops at the President Madison Inn helping the residents create Christmas decorations. She was also a member of the Rapid Ann Garden Club.
Howard was superintendent of church school classes at OPC for many years. Besides supporting the local Food Closet, he helped at the Friends of the Library and the Orange County Public School Libraries. From Howard’s many years with the Army, he was fluent in Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
Retirement to Charlottesville
In 2013, Jean transferred her membership to Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, Va. As active as Howard was at OPC, he never joined the church. His parents had been Methodist missionaries to China. He remained a Methodist to honor their memory.
Howard passed away in July of 2015 and Jean followed in February of 2019. They are survived by three daughters: Julianne Berckman, Susan Cresap and husband Larry, Alice Crane, and one son, Jim Berckman and wife Belinda. Also, son-in-law Warren Crane, two granddaughters and one great grandchild.
Howard and Jean Berckman did everything with a good heart and expected nothing in return.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
Robert Frank Vasquez and Elinor St. Clair married in May of 1958. They moved to Charlottesville and joined Westminster Presbyterian Church.
While working with the church youth group, they learned about a position at Woodberry Forest School. It interested Robert, and he was soon employed to teach Spanish.
The couple moved to Woodberry in 1961. In October of that year, Bob and Elinor became members of Orange Presbyterian Church. Their three children, Mary Catherine, Robert Frank, and Neta Delores, were all baptized and later became members of OPC.
Elinor's youth ministries
Elinor was quickly asked by Jackie Maddox to help with the OPC youth group. Elinor accompanied the group on trips to Massanutten occasionally, sometimes with one of her own children. She also helped teach the Primary Sunday School Class.
“Elinor remains very active in many aspects of the work of our church,” Thelma Sanford noted in 1985. And she wasn't done yet. In 1989, Elinor joined the Orange Youth Commission and Council. Its purpose is to foster wholesome youth development and prevention of juvenile delinquency.
Orange Presbyterian Weekday School
In May 1978 Elinor Vasquez and Jean Berkman presented plans to the Session and Deacons. It was for a nursery school for the Orange community, located at OPC. The plan was approved.
The two women worked hard that summer. What would become the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School opened September 12th, 1978.
The school now offers the Elinor & Jean Scholarships for students in need. These scholarships were established in part by funds set aside by the Vasquez family. They honor the vision and many years of service to the school by these two women.
It was Elinor’s and Jean’s wish that children could be part of the preschool even when finances made it daunting. “It is our hope to honor their great tradition of love for all God’s children in establishing this scholarship” (Orange Presbyterian Weekday School)
Bob's community ministries
Bob Vasquez maintained a busy schedule at Woodberry Forest. In addition to teaching Spanish, he also served as a college counselor. Bob also taught summer school at Woodberry Forest.
The Christian Emergency Council opened a food pantry in Orange County in 1981. Bob participated by unloading food and stocking shelves.
He teamed up with Ben Johns, a teacher from Episcopal High School. The pair taught GED English and Spanish at the Orange Regional Jail.
In 2006, the Orange County Free Clinic formed. The clinic provides medical care and medication assistance for those in need. Today, there are 5,000 patients registered.
Bob has been volunteering at the clinic from its beginning. He checks in people and files paperwork. Bob also translates for Spanish-speaking patients,
Elinor passed away on June 27, 2019. She is survived by her husband, Bob, their children, their grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. Her service at OPC was just as it should be -- a church filled with many people she had touched with her love and kindness. Elinor St. Clair Vasquez was a force in the Orange Presbyterian Church and the Orange County community. We are so thankful.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team