Henrico County VA

Laptop, network enhancements expected

Henrico County's groundbreaking one-to-one laptop initiative for high-school students will conclude its third four-year contract June 30, and school officials are seeking enhancements that will make the next contract more efficient and effective.

The school system issued a request for proposal (RFP) last month to solicit interested bidders for the next contract, which will replace the current deal with Dell Computers for the provision of laptops and support for high school students, faculty and staff.

The RFP asks bidders to bundle the leasing of equipment with service needs, training for technical staff members, loaners and all other components necessary for the program, HCPS Technology Director Peter Taylor said, so that the overall cost to the school system may be more inclusive than in previous contracts.

The new machines will have solid-state hard drives, which are more durable and less likely to need repair than the mechanical drives that are used in the system's leased laptops currently, Taylor said. The new contract also will include a program on each laptop that automatically backs up critical student data to a server in their schools, he said. That way, students will have easy access to their materials at all times – even if they need loaner machines.

Officials will review bids with the School Board early next year, and the board likely will award a contract by the end of February.

In a separate RFP, to be issued by the end of December, school officials will seek bids to update the school system's network infrastructure. The current network, implemented in 2001 when Henrico began its laptop initiative with Apple, is on the verge of becoming obsolete, Taylor said. The chief problem: lack of adequate bandwidth, which particularly at the high school level is threatening to slow the flow of information from the internet and individual school servers to student and faculty computers.

Recommended state bandwidth standards for school systems exceed what Henrico's is capable of handling through its current network system, Taylor said. With so much demand for online content and so many users, high schools in the county likely will reach their bandwidth limitations within a year.

Upgrading the network to a 10 gigabits per second (gpbs) internal capability for all schools will provide more than enough bandwith, while preparing the school system for future needs, Taylor said. (Current bandwith varies from 10 megabits per second at elementary schools to 100 mbps at middle and high schools and 1 gpbs for internet usage.)

It also will provide enhanced levels of security for faculty and staff members, who will be able to submit grades, for example, through a completely secure wireless system.

Officials will recommend to the School Board a vendor and contract for the network enhancements sometime in the first quarter of 2013, with the intention of updating the network during the summer.

Some money for the project – which could cost $1.5 million or more in total, according to Superintendent Pat Russo – is included in the current budget. But the majority of it will need to be added, Russo said.
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

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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