HCPS interns develop software prototype

Two Henrico County students have spent their summer internships creating a working prototype of an online application system for students applying to the county’s high school specialty centers.

The interns and management of eTelic Inc., the information technology firm that hosted the interns this summer, estimate that an automated system could save students, teachers and administrators as many as 20,000 total hours per year currently spent using the paper-based application process. Printing and paper costs for all also would be substantially reduced.

Jack Palen, a recent Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School graduate headed to the University of Michigan, and Shravan Ravishankar, a rising senior at Deep Run High School, developed the online software application during their four-week internship using eTelic’s proprietary rapid software application generator called Turanto.

According to Lynne Norris, department chairperson of Deep Run’s Center for Information Technology, the real-world experience provided to Palen and Ravishankar in this endeavor will prove invaluable as they transition to college and a job after academics.

“This type of experience allows a student to see beyond school and experience what a business goes through in working to solve a real problem for itself or for a customer,” Norris said. “Not many students have an opportunity to do that prior to entering the job market, which everyone knows is getting more competitive each year.”

The two students are planning to schedule a presentation to HCPS officials in order to demonstrate the prototype, hoping it will assist county management in determining the scope and value of automating the current system in the future. An online system could replace the paper-based system used by 3,700 students per year as well as hundreds of teachers and administrators who submit transcripts and recommendations for eighth-grade applicants to the county’s high school specialty centers.

“Normally this type of software program would take an experienced programmer working full time up to six months to create,” said eTelic president Mukul Paithane. “It is remarkable that these two bright students built this complex, data-driven software application in only four weeks, and with minimal programming. Jack and Shravan were able to use their limited time focusing on analyzing a real-world ‘business problem’ and developing a practical solution to replace a paper-based application process, saving time and money for everyone involved.”

Further development of the prototype would allow Henrico County eighth-grade students, teachers and administrators to complete, submit and review various documents online, including the application itself, along with other documents such as transcripts and teacher recommendations. They would be provided with secure access to the system in order to process information needed from them. Specialty Center school admissions officials would then use the system to access all information used to make decisions on which students should be admitted into various magnet schools.

“From my experience in using the current paper system, I know that an automated process would save other students tremendous amounts of time when applying, and the cost-savings for the county should be significant as well,” said County Intern Coordinator Robert Stephens.
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Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.

McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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The Museum District Association’s 23rd annual Mother’s Day House & Garden Tour will take place from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The tour provides a rare opportunity for guests to go inside some of Richmond’s most beautiful and historic homes, gardens and institutions. The hospitality center is located at the Virginia Historical Society. A tour trolley will run continuously between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tour proceeds benefit non-profit agencies in the Richmond area and help protect and beautify this historic neighborhood. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of. For details, visit http://www.museumdistrict.org. Full text

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