Henrico County VA
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School Uniforms Possible?

Board Weighs Mandatory Plan for Some Schools
Students at seven Henrico County public schools currently wear school uniforms on a voluntary basis, but could mandatory uniform policies be on their way?

Officials at 11 Henrico schools have expressed strong interest in initiating mandatory uniform programs, and the county’s School Board last week heard preliminary plans about how such programs eventually could be considered.

Mandatory uniforms could enhance the sense of safety and community at schools and foster better learning environments, according to the principals of the schools interested in the plan.

School system officials intend to create a survey that could be used by any school interested in exploring the possibility of voluntary or mandatory uniform programs. Surveys would be sent to parents and staff members at each such school, and if a strong majority (perhaps 80 percent to 85 percent) at a specific school supported such a plan, the idea could advance for additional consideration, Executive Director of Elementary Education Pam Bell told the board last week.

School officials would seek business partners in the community willing to supplement the cost of uniforms for students who couldn’t afford them, Bell said. Officials also would hold staff and community forums to discuss the idea, then brief the School Board, which could choose to vote to approve or reject the idea – or vote to authorize individual school principals to implement mandatory uniform programs at their schools.

Surveys are expected to be distributed this month or next to parents and staff members at the 11 schools that have expressed interest so far, Bell said. The list includes all seven schools where voluntary policies currently exist: among them, Adams, Ashe, Glen Lea, Highland Springs and Laburnum elementaries. If applicable, community forums could be held in January, with possible School Board deliberations in February and a vote in March, Bell said.

A mandatory uniform policy need not be district-wide, and the board has not expressed an interest in establishing a blanket policy. Its consideration of a timeline for considering mandatory policies at certain schools resulted from requests by principals at the 11 schools in question. Many of those schools have already discussed the idea with their PTAs.

School Board attorney Melissa Velazquez told the board during its Oct. 29 meeting month that it could allow principals to make uniforms mandatory at their own schools, provided they followed School Board-authorized protocol to reach their decisions (such as achieving the required positive response levels from surveys).

The School Board also would have to establish consequences for students who fail to wear uniforms at schools at which mandatory programs are approved, Velazquez said.

Though some positives could result from mandatory uniforms, there is a possible flip side as well. Uniforms could prove too expensive for some families and could reduce students’ sense of individualism and freedom of expression, Bell 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

Film industry training program planned for this weekend

The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), in partnership with the Virginia Film Office, will offer "Get Your Start in the Film Industry," a two-day seminar designed to prepare workers for film, television and commercial projects in Virginia. The course will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Workforce Development and Conference Center, 1651 Parham Road in Henrico, on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The training will be taught by Gary Romolo Fiorelli, an accomplished assistant director for film and television projects, which include the television series Sons of Anarchy and ABC’s current drama Mistresses. > Read more.

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

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