Henrico County VA
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Bike giveaways assist schools

What is a dream come true for an elementary school student? Winning a brand-new bicycle.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Henrico elementary schools and local businesses, several lucky students will be living the dream with their very own new bicycle: the ultimate reward for their hard work throughout the school year.

Last year, Seven Pines Elementary School organized an end-of-the-year bike raffle to motivate students to perform to the best of their abilities on the Virginia Standard of Learning (SOL) exams.

“What kid isn’t super excited by the prospect of a brand new bike?” asked Seven Pines Principal Paul Llewellyn. “This raffle is an excellent incentive for the children to work hard and do their best on these standardized tests.”

Teachers are not permitted to assist their students during standardized tests, which measure how well students are using the strategies they have been taught throughout the year.

School officials want to encourage students to utilize their independent test-taking skills with confidence. In order to develop these habits, students at Seven Pines earned tickets for the raffle based on their ability to demonstrate command of basic test-taking strategies.

For example, students who displayed good test-taking skills, such as highlighting a passage while reading, were rewarded with raffle tickets. After testing was finished, all tickets were entered into a raffle and the four winning names were pulled during the last week of school.

To secure bicycles for the raffle last year, the PTA at Seven Pines approached Mark Romers, president of the Eastern Henrico Business Association. Romers was successful in procuring the four requested bikes, two of which he donated personally. While this effort was definitely a success, it was also only the beginning.

This year, Romers sent out an e-mail request to friends and members of the association and received five bike donations within 24 hours. Since only four bikes were needed for the raffle at Seven Pines, Romers decided to send out another request, in the hopes of receiving more bike donations so that the Seven Pines raffle could be emulated at another local elementary school. The response again was positive, and soon three more bikes had been donated.

The four extra bikes were offered to Jonathan Hochman, principal at Highland Springs Elementary School.

Both principals are very fond of this motivational bike raffle. They feel that it serves as positive motivation for the children to do their best on these tests, despite the fact that they take place at the end of the school year and the students are worn out.

The prospect of winning a new bike “helps them push through and ensure that they are trying their absolute best on these tests,” Llewellyn said.

Romers says he is committed to helping out these schools and rewarding the hard-working students in Henrico County. He is already looking ahead to this time next year, and is hoping that churches, banks, businesses and individuals will continue to exhibit such generosity through their donations.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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