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

New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tix Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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The Henrico Theatre Company will present “Born Yesterday,” a classic comedy by Garson Kanin, Sept. 12-28 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, 2880 Mountain Rd. Evening performances begin… Full text

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