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Sibling Rivalry

Family Allegiances Split in Army-Navy Battle
The annual Army-Navy football game is a tradition many sports fans enjoy. But the game – and the friendly rivalry between the two branches of the U.S. armed forces – holds special meaning for one Henrico family.

Henrico resident Matthew Fiorelli is a freshman at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. with big plans of serving his country.

“Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to attend a service academy," he said. "As a kid growing up, I looked up to my dad, my grandfathers, my uncles, and others who had served our country in the armed forces,” Fiorelli said.

Fiorelli's brother, Michael, is a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Both students were raised in a household heavy with Navy influences – their father, Jim, a former Henrico School Board member, attended the Naval Academy and spent 24 years in the navy – and it surprised even Matthew when he eventually sought to enroll at West Point instead of heading for the navy.

“I chose to attend the Military Academy rather than the Naval Academy because I wanted to become an Army officer, and that was the door that God opened for me after high school,” he said.

As youngsters, both brothers watched the Army-Navy game annually with their dad, even dressing up in navy gear.

“From the time they were young, they were interested [in serving],” Jim Fiorelli said.

This year was the first time that both brothers attended the game (played Dec. 11 in Philadelphia) as cadets.

“We were both looking forward to the Army-Navy game, and there was definitely some smack talking going on over Thanksgiving Break,” said Matthew.

Bragging rights – for the ninth straight year – remain with Michael and his father, as Navy won the game 31-17.
Even though he rooted against the Army in the annual game all his life, Jim said he and his wife are very excited for both their sons.

“Jan and I are proud. We’re excited for them to have great experiences and meet wonderful people,” he said.

Matthew Fiorelli received his appointment to West Point in October of his senior year at Freeman High School in 2009. He accepted in March 2010 and started six weeks of basic training as a cadet in June.

During the academic year, he has a strict schedule. His day starts at 6:50 a.m., when all the cadets line up and march to breakfast. Classes last from 7:30 a.m. to about noon, followed by lunch formation and then classes until 4 p.m.

“In the afternoon, we typically have intramurals, which each cadet is required to participate in if they are not on a core or club squad team, or we have unit training time – military training of some sorts,” he said.  Although the program is tough, Matthew said he enjoys being productive and the challenges each day brings.

“West Point provided me the possibility of an extremely unique and purposeful experience," he said. "Also, an opportunity to receive training to become an army officer, which was my end goal.”

After graduating from West Point, the cadets must serve at least five years of active duty in the army and three years in the reserves. Fiorelli plans to become an infantry officer or helicopter pilot.

Jim Fiorelli said that the boys demonstrated normal, healthy competitiveness growing up two and a half years apart but said they are very involved today in what the other is doing.

“Matthew has always been Michael’s biggest fan,” he said.

Matthew Fiorelli concurred.

“He gave me some really good advice before I began at the academy, which has really helped me through,” he said of his older brother. Matthew hopes to participate in an exchange program in the navy during his junior year to compare it to his experiences at West Point.

Although he took a different route then his father and brother, the inspiration behind joining the military academy is still close to home. “My dad inspired me to join the military through his actions and service to our country," Matthew said. “Although he exposed us to the military at a very young age, he never prompted me to join or encouraged me to follow in his footsteps.”

“I’m really proud and pleased that they care enough about our country and understand the importance of military service,” Jim Fiorelli said of his sons.
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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