Henrico students honored by Interfaith Council

The Interfaith Council of Greater Richmond presented its 50th Annual Brotherhood Sisterhood Youth Awards Feb. 16. The ceremony, held at River Road Church, Baptist, featured The Reverend Vernon Gordon of “The Life Church” as keynote speaker.

The Brotherhood Sisterhood Youth Award recognizes Richmond area high school students who have shown caring for others and have participated in activities that improve human relations and inter-group understanding. Chosen by their school counselors, honorees are recognized for their service to the community and for their commitment to including classmates who are different from themselves.

For the fifth year, the ICGR offered scholarships for honorees choosing to submit an essay based on the essay question: “How can a community reflect and sustain understanding, respect, cooperation and love?”

Arayana Harris of Varina High School took first place with her essay, with Abigail Klose of Deep Run H.S., Zoe Emerson Flippen of Henrico H.S., and Shannon Colson of Maggie Walker taking second, third, and honorable mention, respectively.

A student at the Communication Center at VHS, Arayana Harris is editor of the school newspaper and a member of the Key Club, SODA, National Honor Society and BETA clubs. Known for her compassion, caring, and selflessness, Harris also served as her school’s Girls State representative and volunteers with elementary students in Richmond schools; her career goal is to become a child psychologist.

At Deep Run, Abigail Klose is co-president of the Key Club, and led other officers and members in a Trunk-or-Treat for Thirst project. Having learned that 663 million people worldwide struggle to obtain clean water, Klose made it her goal to raise funds for the Thirst Project, an organization with the goal of enlisting socially conscious young people to help end the worldwide water crisis.

As a board member of Henrico High's Safezone, Zoe Flippen takes time to listen to fellow students and encourage those who may be depressed. A Youth Program Advisor and performer in the Spectrum LGBT+ Theater group, she is passionate about shedding light on the everyday struggles of the LGBT+ community, and also runs food drives for the Health Brigade (formerly the Fan Free Clinic) food pantry.

Shannon Colson of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School has said that one of her goals is “finding solutions to social and cultural problems,” and she demonstrates her dedication to this goal by volunteering as a teacher at HomeAgain Homeless Shelter in the inner city. Working with children ages five to 16, she uses a curriculum she created that focuses on finding solutions for local and global issues to help children think critically and gain life skills. She also is founder and co-president of the Mental Health & Disability Awareness Club, and volunteers at the Faison School for Autism.

At Saint Gertrude High School, Eleanor McCune is known as a peacemaker who can redirect conversations to ease tension and ensure that dialogue remains respectful. As co-creator of a new club, Women to Women, she helped enlist one third of the student body as members; she also co-edits the school yearbook and coordinated a tutoring project for a disadvantaged Catholic school.

As an immigrant from Sudan, Sara Abdulrahim of the Advanced Career Education Center at Hermitage H.S. has devoted a great deal of time to teaching respect for values and differences among the diverse cultures of her school. For a class assignment, she prepared a media presentation that compared the differences and similarities between the U.S. and her native country and which emphasized that classmates should respect the values of all cultures. She also volunteers at Goodwill and the Tuckahoe and Douglas S. Freeman H.S. libraries and plays games with special needs children through Jacob's Chance.

Ellie Casalino of The Collegiate School works regularly with students from the Faison School in a variety of programs. Through the John Maloney Project, Ellie spends a couple hours each week playing and connecting with her buddy. As a varsity volleyball captain, she handles challenges well and serves as a role model for her teammates. She also partners with students of various abilities, including some who are deaf, blind and autistic, through SPARK’s Live Art program.

At Hermitage High School, Caleb Bland has demonstrated leadership as the two-year captain of the wrestling team and as president of the Leader’s Club of the YMCA, where he volunteers as a mentor and coach for young children. He also tutors his peers, is involved in the Christian ministry Young Life, and is president of the Hermitage Crazies, a pep club supporting student athletes.

Last summer, Caroline Campbell of Douglas Freeman H.S. self-funded a trip to the Dominican Republic to work with Haitian refugees, and hopes to return to assist again. Campbell also has collected canned goods for the Christmas Mother and raised money last year for Strike Out Cancer, an organization raising awareness of colon cancer.

Alexia Tyler of the Advanced Career Education Center at Highland Springs H.S. can always be counted on to treat her teachers, peers, and the preschoolers under her care with kindness and compassion, say her teachers in the Early Childhood Education program. In the classroom, Alexia was the first to help out one of her peers who is in a wheelchair, by sitting next to her in class and offering smiles and support.

At J.R. Tucker High School, Lauren Brown is known for her leadership and discipline; while managing the rigorous course load for the Advance College Academy program, she is a youth leader at her church and an officer in various school organizations. In addition, she is varsity captain of sideline cheerleading, and is working on her Girl Scouts of America Gold Award.

This year, Kinsey Martin was nominated for the Godwin High School's homecoming court, along with a student who has Down Syndrome. Rather than focusing on herself, Martin shared her convertible ride with the other student, made sure a sign was created for her, and was otherwise instrumental in providing a special senior year experience for her friend. In her involvement with athletics, Educators Rising, Circle of Friends and other school and community groups, she has fostered a community of inclusion, and always goes out of her way to work with those who need a caring partner for activities.

Grace Elizabeth Daniels is a willing advocate for new Northstar Academy students who have difficulty fitting in, and was selected to help guide a new visually impaired student to classes. She volunteers with the St. Peter’s Community feeding program, has organized outreach drives to collect donations for those in need, and displays a positive attitude that teachers say is contagious among her classmates.

At Glen Allen High School, Kaelie Jager participates in Circle of Friends, a group that brings together students of all abilities to promote inclusivity, and has helped with a project known as “We are Glen Allen” that combats students preconceived stereotypes. She has spent three years learning ASL to help her build connections in the deaf community, and is also involved with Girl Scouts of America, Miles of Scarves, and Future Medical Leaders of America.

Lauryn Fleming attends the Advanced Career Education Center at Highland Springs for Radio Broadcasting for half the school day studying radio broadcasting and collaborating with students of varied backgrounds from other area high schools. She volunteers regularly with community clean-up projects and the Children’s Museum, serves on the East End Teen Advisory Board, and is a middle school mentor for S.O.D.A. (Student Organization Developing Attitudes).

A member of the Gay Straight Alliance, the Feminism Club, and the Unity Club at St. Catherine’s School, Arianna (Ari) Aganbi works at spreading the message of inclusion and diversity among her classmates and encourages them not to generalize about others. In addition to participating in VCIC (Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities), RYPP (Richmond Youth Peace Project), and SDLC (Student Diversity Leadership Conference) programs, she is involved with robotics, track, theater and chorus.

As a member of the varsity soccer team at The New Community School, Harrison Baker leads by example with his excellent sportsmanship. His peers are drawn to him for his wisdom, guidance and sense of humor, and he never fails to serve as a role model with his service and giving ways.

Claire Xu is a member of The Steward School's anti-bully team, which works towards creating a more emotionally safe climate for students throughout the campus. In addition to serving as an Honor Council representative and as secretary of the Model United Nations/Model Congress Club, she is active with RAMPS (Ramp Access Made Possible By Students), which raises funds to expand wheelchair accessibility on campus.

Certified in conflict resolution with Richmond Youth Peace Education Center, Fatahillah Iskander of the Al Madina School of Richmond is known for his empathy and ability to defuse tense situations. Upon hearing that low student morale might develop into a protest, he organized a video game shut-in night, averting the crisis by providing a way for students to relieve their frustration through play. He also befriended transgender students he met through his dual enrollment program at J. Sargeant Reynolds, and made a point of supporting them when others were less welcoming.

At St. Christoper’s School, Willy Bemis is known as a difference maker. In addition to serving as the lacrosse team captain and as a student admission ambassador, Bemis frequently speaks up in class on behalf of others who may not speak up for themselves. “What truly sets this extraordinary young man apart," said a teacher, "is his commitment to and insistence on social justice for all in our school and in the broader world...His profound compassion and enormous heart have helped many in our community, and he continues to demonstrate what it means to be a servant leader."
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Thoracic surgeon is first to perform 100 robot-assisted lobectomies in Central Virginia


Graham M. Bundy, a thoracic surgeon with HCA Virginia Physicians’ Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates, is the first such surgeon in Central Virginia to perform 100 minimally-invasive Da Vinci robot-assisted lobectomies (a surgical procedure to remove a lobe of the lung). The procedure is used to treat multiple types of conditions but is most often used to treat lung cancer. > Read more.

UMFS has urgent need for foster parents


UMFS officials say they have a desperate need for more foster families in the Richmond region and Central Virginia, especially those who would receive teenagers currently in the foster care system.

In recent years throughout the state, the number of children entering the foster care system has grown. > Read more.

VSP issues warning about automated traffic ticket email scam

Virginia State Police officials are warning Virginians about an email scam that tells people they are receiving an “automated traffic ticket” from the agency. State Police do not use or issue digital or automated traffic tickets or summonses, however. Anyone receiving such an email should delete it and not click on any links provided in the email, police said. > Read more.

READ Center offers free classes, training to low-literate people


One in six adults in Metro Richmond has literacy issues, and the READ Center in Henrico County is working to address the issue.

Next week – Sept. 24-30 – is Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, a time during which the READ Center is shining a light on its efforts to help some of the 35,000 adults in the region for whom reading, writing and basic math remain an elusive target. > Read more.

Play Day RVA planned for Sept. 21


The Richmond region will celebrate Play Day RVA Thursday, Sept. 21, with activities throughout the area to celebrate the opportunities that exist to play in the community. Dozens of employers, local governments, schools and community organizations will participate by hosting events that integrate playful activities into daily life and spread awareness of the value of active living. > Read more.

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September 2017
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Pet Valu will host a nationwide fall fashion party to launch its new seasonal apparel for dogs, cats and other animals with a sense of style. Guests will get a first look at the latest apparel from Bailey & Bella, enjoy complimentary refreshments and take advantage of one-day-only discounts and special giveaways, including a chance to win a $500 fashion shopping spree. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at all area Pet Valu locations including those in Henrico: 1601 Willow Lawn Dr., 5304 Wyndham Forest Dr. and 11839 West Broad St. Full text

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