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GED graduates celebrate successes

Graduation is a day to remember. Walking across the stage, hearing applause and cheers, being able to spend time with friends and family and receiving a diploma are just a few of the countless happy memories associated with graduating school or college. This year’s graduates of the Henrico Adult Education program experienced each of those components when they completed their courses and received their GEDs in the presence of their families and professors earlier this month.

Since July 2011, 701 Henrico students have taken the GED test, which requires the participants to pass sections focused on math, reading, writing, science and social studies. Of that number, 376 have passed and have received their GEDs and 52 attended this year’s graduation ceremony, said Beverly Godwin, Henrico’s Adult Education administrator.

“Graduation is an awesome experience and is always something that I look forward to,” she said. “It is nice that they have their loved ones there to watch them walk across the stage.”

For more than three decades, the Henrico Adult Education program has worked to prepare students for the road ahead. A number of courses are offered at various skill levels to help those 18 years and older reach their potential in and out of the classroom.

Students have several options as to which classes they can take, Godwin said.

There are Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes, in which students work on building basic skills in reading, writing and math, she said. “Classes also focus on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills.”

There are also English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, which provide instruction in speaking, reading and writing English and understanding American culture; students are encouraged to attend a minimum of 70 hours in order to make substantial gains. Godwin said that several levels of each class are offered to fit the needs of the students.

Additionally, there are General Educational Development (GED) classes, which serve learners who have demonstrated academic readiness to prepare for the GED tests, Godwin said. The GED test will be changing in January 2014, she said.

“The new test will continue to measure high school equivalency but will also include a career and college readiness performance level,” she said. “The new test will contain more rigorous content. The overall goal is to better prepare learners for successful transition to secondary education and competitive employment.”

In Henrico, classes are offered at the Highland Springs Adult Education Center and at the Mt. Vernon Adult Education Complex, both during the day and in the evening, to make sure that anyone who is interested is able to take part.

The mission of the program is to provide diverse educational opportunities that will assist adults in acquiring the skills and knowledge that will lead to further education, employment and personal success, said Godwin, who has been working in adult education for the past 12 years.

It is the responsibility of the teachers to help these students on their way to success, said LaTonya Simmons, the ABE/GED coordinator at Highland Springs.

“As adult education professionals, we help equip citizens with the necessary skills to not only realize their dream of earning a GED, but also to create and obtain new career and personal goals they previously considered unattainable,” she said.

Ann Gareau, the ESOL coordinator, had a similar viewpoint about helping non-native English speakers complete their goals.

“We are here to help them gain the language skills they need to be fully engaged in their community,” she said. She urged anyone who might be interested in, or might benefit from, an ESOL class to take advantage of the services.

Godwin explained that each year, programs across the state receive a Program Performance Report Card from the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Adult Education and Literacy after being evaluated for financial management, target performance and policy compliance. For four consecutive years, the Henrico program has been recognized as a Tier 1 top performing program, which is the highest level of performance.

“We are extremely proud of our Tier 1 recognition,” she said. “Being recognized as a top performing program is a testament to our talented and dedicated staff, hardworking students, and supporting School Board and Central Office leadership. We are honored by this recognition, and look forward to continuing to provide a comprehensive and quality program to our community.”

The most rewarding part of the job for Mt. Vernon ABE/GED Coordinator Sandra Jackson Allsbrooks is seeing the smiles she receives from her students when they have experienced success.

“So often our students, for whatever reason, did not have a positive school experience and there tends to be a lack of confidence…To see the smiles and to hear them say ‘I’ve got it’ lets me know that we are doing what we have been placed here to do,” she said.

Said Simmons: “It is essential that the value of adult education is not underestimated…Successful adult learners set higher standards of excellence not only for themselves but also for their future generations. Adult learners bring a fresh perspective to life-long learning.”
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Journey to mediocrity

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ fails to capitalize on tasty concept
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a curious little Romeo and Juliet of a film. A family, forced out of their native India, begins a trek across Europe.

The family’s sole mode of transportation sputters and dies in a sleepy little French town, but the town’s food culture is high, and that’s a perfect place for a family of restaurateurs to settle down. There’s only one problem – the family’s rustic “Maison Mumbai” is right across the street (a hundred feet away, if the title didn’t clue you in) from a prestigious French bistro with a Michelin star, run with an iron fist by the dreaded Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, pictured).

It’s here that a particular Romeo and Juliet story begins to develop, with Hassan (Manish Dayal) on the Indian side and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) on the French side. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

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The Innsbrook Executives’ Breakfast Series continues at 7:15 a.m. at The Place at Innsbrook, 4036-C Cox Rd. Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas will give an update on the county. Find… Full text

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