Henrico County VA

Henrico’s dropout rates fall

Henrico County's high school dropout rate declined from 8.3 percent in 2011 to 5.8 percent in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the school system.

The number of students classified as dropouts decreased from 335 among the students who began high school with the Class of 2011 to 231 among those who began with the Class of 2012.

The dropout rate reduction is attributable in large part to more students graduating, thanks to the increased efforts of school counselors and the creation of new specialized programs for students at risk of dropping out, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Eric Jones told the School Board Jan. 8.

"Some of our dropout prevention efforts have really worked," he said.

The school system currently offers four program centers for students who want or need alternative approaches to education.

Through the e2020 program, the system also makes online courses available to students who may have failed to graduate otherwise. Jones cited the examples of several students who had dropped out just a few credits shy of graduating but completed the online courses and earned their degrees.

School systems in Virginia are required to report as dropouts any students who begin high school as freshmen but fail to graduate with a recognized degree (from their original schools or any other schools) within four school years.

In recent years, school counselors and other officials have placed an increased emphasis on tracking students who moved out of the state or county to determine whether they enrolled and graduated in new schools elsewhere. Those who did not – or for whom no information can be found – must be reported as dropouts.

Such efforts can be particularly difficult in the case of foreign students who move out of the country, Jones said, because locating them and determining whether they have in fact enrolled in school is challenging.

Last year, Henrico appealed to the Virginia Department of Education for the right to remove from its dropout totals students who moved out the country, as long as they could verify such moves.

"But so far we haven't made any headway," Jones said.

That issue could account in part for the fact that the percentage of students listed as dropouts within the Hispanic population rose from 9.6 percent in 2011 to nearly 15 percent last year, while the percentage of dropouts among students with limited English proficiency rose from 5.7 percent to 9.5 percent in the same period, Tuckahoe District board member Diana Winston theorized. (By comparison, the number of black students listed as dropouts dipped by half a percentage point, while the number of white students listed as dropouts fell 1.5 percent.)

Winston cited examples of several immigrant students at Tucker High School who were a month away from graduating but moved back to their native countries when work here for their parents dried up.

"We have not been able to track them," she said.

Overall, the dropout rates at Tucker (down 5.3 percent from the previous year), Henrico High (down 4 percent) and Varina High (down nearly 5 percent) showed marked improvements, Jones said. He credited the staff at Henrico in particular for working hard to pull the school back from the brink of declining graduation totals that were threatening its accreditation status.

The newest totals reflected Henrico's lowest number of dropouts during the past four years. The system reported 315 dropouts in 2009, 241 in 2010 and 335 in 2011.
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Community

MADD to host candlelight vigil Dec. 2 at UR

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will host a candlelight vigil of remembrance and hope Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the University of Richmond, outside the Cannon Chapel. The public is invited to attend and join MADD to honor victims of impaired driving crashes, while helping to remind the community to be safe during the holidays. > Read more.

Tournament supports adoption efforts

Among participants at the Seventh Annual Coordinators2Inc Golf Tournament and awards luncheon Oct. 3 were (from left) Rebecca Ricardo, C2 Inc executive director; Kevin Derr, member of the winning foursome; Sharon Richardson, C2 Inc founder; and Frank Ridgway and Jon King, members of the winning foursome.

Held at The Crossings Golf Club, the tournament will benefit placement of children from Virginia's foster care system into permanent families through Coordinators2. > Read more.

A.C. Moore to host winter craft day for kids

Event will help kick of Marine Corps' 'Toys for Tots' campaign
All 140 A.C. Moore locations will serve as drop-off centers this year for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and all toys collected will stay in the local communities served by the stores in which they are donated.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Willow Lawn location will kick off the month-long program by hosting a "Make & Take" craft event for kids. Children ages six and older will be able to make a craft and take it home with them. Representatives from the Marines will be in-store to teach customers about the Toys for Tots program. A.C. Moore team members will be on site to help with the crafts. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


The Dominion GardenFest of Lights Grand Illumination takes place tonight at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! This year’s theme is “A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden,” which celebrates the Garden’s history. You can also celebrate Thanksgiving again – tomorrow at Henricus Historical Park. More great events – Lavender Fields Herb Farm and Wilton House Museum will both host their holiday open house events this weekend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A hero is born

Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6,’ lovable robot Baymax delight
It may be time for Olaf to step down as our nation’s reigning cartoon character. Big Hero 6, the latest animated feature from Disney, contains a challenger to the throne: Baymax (Scott Adsit), another lovably chubby white wonder, who will bring joy to children’s hearts and invade every home in America inside a six-foot pile of Disney merchandise.

Big Hero 6 (based ever so slightly on a Marvel comic of the same name) is the story of Baymax – and also his closest companion Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter). And then also their four friends, all of whom join together to form the titular superhero team.

At first, though, it’s only Hiro, a young boy and an engineering prodigy, who’d rather spend his time in underground robot fight clubs than do something productive with his gifts. > Read more.

Authentically Italian

Bella’s feels – and tastes – like Italy should
Short Pump is known for its share of chain restaurants and strip malls, but diners looking for something more distinct can certainly find it without heading downtown or to nearby Charlottesville.

In fact, local husband-and-wife restaurateurs Valeria Bisenti and Doug Muir brought a taste of Charlottesville (and Italy) to Short Pump when they took a chance and opened Bella’s second location in the same shopping strip as Wal-Mart and Peter Chang China Cafe. (Bella’s original location is on Main Street in downtown Charlottesville.)

For a local Italian restaurant, Bella’s is as “Mom and Pop” as its gets. Valeria is Mom, and Doug is Pop. Since its opening about six months ago, diners have been eating rich comfort foods and drinking Italian wines. > Read more.

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Lavender Fields Herb Farm, 11300 Winfrey Rd., will host its Christmas Open House event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 28-29. There will be classes, demos, fresh herbal tastings… Full text

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