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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.
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

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.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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Calendar

The Henrico County Community Author Showcase, a new program that connects writers and readers in the community, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue on Thursdays at various libraries. Shannon… Full text

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