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‘Pumpkin’ stars at Lakeside picnic

Former elementary school principal writes children’s book
Author Bill Pike (left) visits with a fan.

Former Lakeside Elementary School Principal Bill Pike was the star attraction at the L.E.S. fall picnic Oct. 11, drawing as many well-wishers as he did customers to his book-signing booth at the event.

Appropriately timed for trick-or-treat season, Pike's newly-published children's book, The Last Pumpkin, tells the story of a journey to select a pumpkin for Halloween. The story centers around the last-to-be-picked pumpkin, Keeper, and around themes of acceptance and love.

Joining Pike at the event were the book's publisher, former L.E.S. student Wayne Dementi, and illustrator Nell Chesley – like Pike, a long-time Henrico resident. Early in the evening, Dementi took a look at the long line of people waiting to get their books signed and observed, "This is a testimony to the endearing qualities of Bill Pike."

As if to back him up, one former parent stepped to the front of the line to greet Pike with a grin, and began to reminisce about the time he wore a ballerina's tutu to encourage academic achievement. The next parent to reach the front of the line, Denise Dysert, announced, "I'm buying [a book] for myself, and three for friends."

After the book-signing, Pike noted that 62 books were sold at the picnic, almost tying the event record of 65. But the book sales were secondary, said Pike, to his delight at "seeing familiar faces that I hadn't seen in awhile."

In addition to enjoying encounters with current students who came to the event, Pike said, he found it exciting to visit with students from the days when he was principal.

"It was amazing to see how much they had grown," he said, "and to learn about their journeys in high school."

On the day before the event, Pike also enjoyed being a part of the school's morning announcements and reading the book in three classrooms. "That was a lot of fun," said Pike, "as the students really displayed good listening skills."

A long-time elementary school educator, Pike worked in Virginia public and private schools from 1975 thru 2010, spending 27 years in Henrico County as teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He, Chesley, and Dementi worked collaboratively for almost two years to create The Last Pumpkin, which Pike said was inspired by his parents and the family that surrounded him growing up in North Carolina. "I was very lucky," he said, "to have a supportive environment."

Although he called the book project a "great learning experience" overall, Pike remarked that being at the community picnic was especially gratifying. "[Lakeside Elementary] is such a special place for me," he said, expressing appreciation for current principal Herb Monroe's efforts to pull together the event with the help of Henrico County Recreation and Parks and the Lakeside PTA (which received a donation from the book's promoters).

So is there a The Last Easter Egg or The Last Christmas Tree in the works? Pike was asked.

"Nell and I have talked about working on another book," he responded. "And I have some drafts in progress that might become a book. Only time will tell."

The Last Pumpkin, written by William A. Pike and illustrated by Nell Chesley, is available at http://dementimilestonepublishing.com


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A new meaning for fried chicken

Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?

Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.

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