EHBA donates 40 bikes
Principal Paul Llewellyn of Seven Pines Elementary School in Sandston sat in a small room in the school library earlier this month with a helmet on his head, stared fixedly into a video camera and told his students that they rocked their standards of learning tests.
“I’m so proud of you guys,” Llewellyn said as he prepared to draw four names in the third annual bike raffle during the special morning video announcement. “You did better than any other year of testing at Seven Pines.”
Two years ago, Eastern Henrico Business Association President Mark Romers was approached about helping to fund the purchase of two bikes for the raffle to help incentivize performance on the spring testing.
“Last year, Principal Llewellyn contacted me about how the PTA went in another direction but that he wanted to continue the program, and so I contacted the EHBA,” Romers said. “In 24 hours I had not four bikes, but pledges for eight. It gave me an idea that because of how easy it was, that maybe we could do the whole district of Varina.”
So this year, the program was expanded to all 10 elementary schools in the Varina District.
“Do you know what 40 bikes smell like? Rubber,” Romers said, laughing about having had all the bikes in his shop before delivering them to the schools.
With the support of Target, local businesses and the American Legion and Sandston Recreation Center, Romers and the EHBA were able to ensure that each elementary school had four bikes.
“All children love bikes, but at the same time providing a bike for a child tugs at the heart strings of the business community,” Romers said.
Romers’ three children went to Seven Pines and four grandchildren currently attend. He said that when he and his wife personally helped out the first year, he was surprised at the enthusiastic feedback he heard from his grandchildren.
At Seven Pines, each student can earn between three and five tickets, depending upon how many tests they have in their grade, Llewellyn said.
“If they use their testing strategies, say on a math test they write out the problem first. . . then they earn a ticket,” he said. “If they don’t earn a ticket on the first test, it’s an incentive to do well on the second and learn from the change.”
Llewellyn said that other principals asked him about his program and how he set up the raffle based on incentives. He said that each school has different needs, but this works for Seven Pines.
“It’s proven itself,” Paul said of the program. “The kids like it and it’s the third year, so it’s become a sort of tradition. . . We want them to take the tests seriously, but we don’t want them to worry about whether their score was this or that. We just want them to do their best.”
At Seven Pines, two bikes are raffled to kindergarteners through second graders and two to third through fifth graders, ostensibly two for female and two for male students. However, Llewellyn stressed that he told students they could put them in whichever box they wanted.
Third-grader Nana Adeia put her slips in for a boy’s bike.
“My dad’s going to say, ‘Why’d you get a boy bike?’” she said. Nana said she doesn’t like pink and that if her dad did ask she’d tell him, “I wanted to!”
Second-grader Elizabeth Vargas said this was her first bike and fellow second-grader Thomas Dooley said he was surprised he’d won. Llewellyn said he liked including the lower grades in the raffle, which don’t participate in standardized testing, to build up an expectation and establish the program.
In the cafeteria after the raffle, the students posed with Llewellyn and Romers for photos. Llewellyn asked if any of them thought they were going to win, and Nana raised her hand with a confident smile.
Romers started planning for this year’s raffle in January and through the power of the pen gathered the money necessary.
“I needed $3,000, and in three weeks I’d earned $4,000,” he said. “I put out reports with barometers and soon enough we blew the top out.”
Staff members at the Laburnum Avenue Target bulk ordered the 40 bikes and helmets and assembled them in the store before delivering them to Romers, said Carl Grunow, the Target store team leader who worked with Romers both last year and this year.
“It fit in perfectly with Target’s emphasis on helping with children’s education,” Grunow wrote in an email. He also said Target would remain partners as long as the program continued.
Llewellyn said that he was grateful for all the support.
“I’m fortunate to have good teachers and a strong community,” he said. “This is evidence of that.”
Romers said there had been discussion about expanding the program next year to the whole county.
The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.
The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)
The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.
The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.
The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.
Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.
Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise
Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.
They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.
As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.
Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.
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