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“Field of Dreams'” Dwier Brown coming to the Diamond for Opening Night; Andruw Jones rescheduled

The actor known as John Kinsella in the classic baseball film will help ring in new Flying Squirrels season; Jones is headed to The Diamond on April 21st.

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Actor Dwier Brown, known for his role in the movie “Field of Dreams,” will be a special guest for the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ Opening Night on April 16, the team announced on Friday. Former MLB star Andruw Jones, who was originally announced as an Opening Night guest, has rescheduled his appearance to Tuesday, April 21.

Opening Night with the Flying Squirrels, presented by Virginia Birth Father Registry and Chick-fil-A, will include dueling fireworks to ring in the new season. First pitch between the Flying Squirrels and Bowie Baysox is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. and the ballpark gates open at 5 p.m.

Brown is well-known for his role in the acclaimed baseball film, “Field of Dreams,” in which he portrayed John Kinsella, the father of the film’s main character, Ray Kinsella. The Ohio native also held movie roles in “The Guardian,” “The Cutting Edge” and “Dennis the Menace Strikes Again!” He has also made appearances in television shows, including “ER,” “Firefly” and “House.”

“We look forward to an action-packed first homestand of the 2020 season,” Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd “Parney” Parnell said. “Having such an iconic character with us on Opening Night will generate great momentum as we strive for our 11th consecutive Opening Night sellout.”

VIP Meet & Greet packages will be available for $40 each beginning Mon., Feb. 24 at 8:30 a.m. and include access to an exclusive VIP meet & greet with Brown, an all-you-can-eat buffet in the SEGRA Picnic Zone and a Field Level ticket for the Flying Squirrels’ home opener.  Packages can be purchased by phone at 804-359-FUNN (3866) or in-person at the Flying Squirrels’ offices at The Diamond. More information is available here.

The Flying Squirrels’ first 10 home openers have all sold out, including franchise-record crowds of 9,845 fans in each of the last two years. Since the franchise’s first season in 2010, the Flying Squirrels have welcomed a special guest to help open the home schedule at The Diamond. Brown joins the list of sports stars and dignitaries to celebrate the start of the new baseball season in Richmond. Previous guests include:

  • 2019 – Ryan Klesko
  • 2018 – Fred McGriff & Gov. Ralph Northam (caught by Mayor Levar Stoney)
  • 2017 – David Justice (caught by Mayor Levar Stoney)
  • 2016 – Jerome Bettis
  • 2015 – Will Wade (caught by Gov. Terry McAuliffe)
  • 2014 – Michael Robinson
  • 2013 – Javy Lopez & Ryan Kerrigan
  • 2012 – Dale Murphy
  • 2011 – James Farrior, Brandon Rozzell & Chris Mooney
  • 2010 – Gov. Bob McDonnell

VIP Meet & Greet Packages for the appearance by five-time NL All-Star Andruw Jones will also go on sale on Mon., Feb. 24 at 8:30 a.m. Packages cost $50 each an include access to an exclusive VIP meet & greet with Jones, an exclusive Andruw Jones commemorative card, up to two autographs per attendee, an all-you-can-eat buffet in the SEGRA Picnic Zone and a Field Level ticket for the April 21 game. More information is available here.

“Having to move Andruw to Tuesday night gives us an amazing opportunity to celebrate not just Opening Night, but again when Andruw comes on April 21,” Parney said. “The entire first homestand promotional calendar gives us a great opportunity to have our best start in team history.”

Packages can be purchased by phone at 804-359-FUNN (3866) or in person at the Flying Squirrels’ offices at The Diamond.

Fans can also purchase combined VIP Meet & Greet Packages for both Opening Night with Dwier Brown and April 21 with Andruw Jones for $75.Information on group packages for the Flying Squirrels’ home opener on April 16 are available here or by contacting the front office at 804-359-FUNN (3866).

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Education

Check out these summer reading tips, part of HCPS’ ‘Summer Reading Kick-Off’

“During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to stay connected,” said Shannon Hyman, HCPS library services specialist. “This summer, Virginia authors, illustrators, and community partners are joining with our school librarians to challenge our students to stay connected through reading. All activities are optional, engaging, and designed to encourage learners to read widely all summer long.”

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Henrico County Public Schools’ “Summer Reading Kick-Off” aims to build students’ reading skills – and encourage fun – all summer long. At three interactive webpages for HCPS elementary, middle, and high school students, you’ll find reading resources, activities, and tips for keeping your students engaged this summer.

The colorful interactive summer reading pages are available by going to www.henricoschools.us and looking under “Hot Topics” or at https://sites.google.com/henrico.k12.va.us/mockupedflix/summer-reading. The page also features a video welcome to HCPS’ summer program, featuring 15 Virginia authors and illustrators, as well as HCPS community partners.

Students can click and explore as they navigate the reading resources and activities appropriate for their school level. The tropical “Elementary Island” page features an explorable beach resort, the middle school page resembles a comfortable hangout for tweens, and the high school site, based on a day at the park, enables students to select useful reading apps on a virtual cell phone. Each page features a video tour by an HCPS librarian.

The sites include student “launch boards” with activities such as reading a cookbook and making a recipe (elementary), making a stop-motion video based on a book (middle school), and drafting a resume (high school). Students can explore ways to find great reads, take part in virtual book clubs, hear audiobook talks, and more.

“During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to stay connected,” said Shannon Hyman, HCPS library services specialist. “This summer, Virginia authors, illustrators, and community partners are joining with our school librarians to challenge our students to stay connected through reading. All activities are optional, engaging, and designed to encourage learners to read widely all summer long.”

How can you encourage your student to read? These tips from HCPS librarians and Library Services Department staff members can help:

  • Read aloud together with your student every day, at every age.
  • Borrow audiobooks and listen as a family.
  • Opt outside. Bring your book, read on your device, or download an audiobook and enjoy on a walk.
  • Pick up some great magazines to enjoy in the car, at the pool or under a tree! Magazines are gateways to other reading materials and foster visual literacy.
  • Explore Henrico County Public Libraries’ great programs and activities. Your school librarian will be working with our public libraries to share summer reading activities, lists, and opportunities with all students. Be sure to check out Henrico County Public Library’s summer reading program, at henricolibrary.org/summerreading.
  • Remember, if you want your student to read, give them ample opportunities to see YOU reading, too!

For more summer reading tips, go to https://sites.google.com/henrico.k12.va.us/mockupedflix/summer-reading and click on “Printable Summer Reading Overview Page.”

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Community

Flying Squirrels Chief Executive Chuck Domino is Stepping Down

Just a few days after announcing that there won’t be a Richmond Flying Squirrels season another big announcement from the Squirrels.

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Official Press Release:

Richmond Flying Squirrels Chief Executive Chuck Domino is stepping down from his role with the organization effective immediately, the team announced on Thursday.

As part of a baseball career spanning four decades, Domino was a founding member of the Richmond Flying Squirrels organization. He joined the franchise in 2009 to facilitate its move from Norwich, Conn., to Richmond, and he led the club’s effort to overhaul The Diamond and establish the team’s brand in Virginia.

In the franchise’s first season in 2010, Domino was named Eastern League Executive of the Year as the Flying Squirrels led the circuit in overall and average attendance. Over the last decade, the Flying Squirrels have been at the top of the league in average attendance six times and finished second four times. The team has also ranked in the top-two in the league in total attendance in nine of its ten seasons.

Along the way, the Flying Squirrels brand has become one of the most recognizable across minor league baseball and has established itself an impactful part of the Richmond-area community, while upgrades to The Diamond have enhanced the fan experience at games.

Statement from Chuck Domino
“I am very proud of what was accomplished since I first set eyes on the Diamond in the summer of 2009. To get it ready for baseball in a few short months on a finite budget, to build a front office, instill a culture from scratch and then to watch that staff and culture become a fabric of the Richmond community is something that I will always cherish. That whirlwind of months leading up to the first game in April 2010 as the Flying Squirrels alongside Parney and a group of other devoted professionals was a special time. We didn’t accomplish our goal of moving into a new stadium during my tenure but it many ways what we did without a new stadium is even more impressive. I’d like to thank Eastern League President Joe McEacharn for fighting to get us into Richmond and to Lou DiBella for giving me the opportunity which led to a decade of great memories and friendships in Richmond.”

Statement from Flying Squirrels President & Managing General Partner Lou DiBella

“Chuck was an integral part of our move to Richmond and the launch of the Flying Squirrels. He was an invaluable asset, particularly during our transition and renovations of The Diamond. Chuck leaves the management of the Squirrels in fine hands of our new Chief Executive Officer, Todd “Parney” Parnell, and General Manager Ben Rothrock, who will add Vice President to his title. I wish Chuck Godspeed in all that is ahead for him and Domino Consulting.”

Statement from Eastern League President Joe McEacharn

“Eleven years ago, Lou DiBella and I agreed on one very important thing: We needed a very special individual to build an organization that would exceed every expectation, unleash the GREAT people of Richmond and stand the test of time. I couldn’t be more proud of and appreciative to Chuck for under-promising and over-delivering to the people of Richmond. In short order, he and Lou ramped up an organization that started with excellence and continues to improve. The Squirrels have developed a root system here in the Richmond community that will produce Nuts for a very long time. He leaves the team poised to grow even further with the structure in place and that speaks volumes of the person I consider to be the very best there is in MiLB. Richmond should not be disappointed at his departure, but you should be thankful and celebrate his ever-lasting impact in your community. We look forward to many more years of wonderful accomplishments from the Flying Squirrels and will remain thankful for his everlasting impact. The good news is Chuck and I are close friends, so I can continue to call on him for advice. My very best wishes go out to Chuck in whatever he chooses to do!”

Statement from Flying Squirrels Chief Executive Officer Todd “Parney” Parnell
“Personally and professionally, I’m grateful to Chuck for our relationship that now spans five decades. He is a minor league baseball legend I will be forever thankful for his personal guidance and friendship.”

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Education

HCPS families: Take a short survey and help Henrico County Public Schools plan for fall reopening

“The input we get from families and staff will be critical as we formulate our plans,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “HCPS will take into account state guidance, the advice of health experts and the wishes of the larger community before making any final determinations for the fall.”

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Henrico County Public Schools will reopen in the fall, but what exactly will that look like? The school division is making plans for a safe and healthy return to school and is seeking the input of HCPS families and staff members. The survey results will be used for planning purposes and respondents are not committing to any choices for the 2020-21 school year.

HCPS parents, guardians, and employees received an email recently with a link to a short video about reopening, followed by a survey. The email sender will be “Henrico County Public Schools” and the subject line will read “Back to school: Your feedback needed.” The survey is open through July 5. It is only available to HCPS employees and student households.

“The input we get from families and staff will be critical as we formulate our plans,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “HCPS will take into account state guidance, the advice of health experts and the wishes of the larger community before making any final determinations for the fall.”

On June 9, Virginia officials issued guidelines for state schools and school divisions to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. HCPS will use the state guidance, along with staff and community input, to create detailed plans for instruction and health. After an initial review of the guidelines, HCPS is pursuing a plan that combines two approaches: one hybrid model that alternates in-person and virtual learning, and a second fully virtual, parallel pathway:

  • Hybrid learning pathway: One portion of the student body would attend classes on campus for a period of time, while another portion would learn remotely. This pathway contains several options under consideration. The two groups might alternate days or weeks on campus to build a blended learning environment. Having fewer students on campus would make it easier to implement distancing guidelines.
  • Parallel all-virtual learning pathway: Based on the choice of parents or guardians, students may opt for a fully virtual learning experience that parallels the “in-person” instruction happening in classrooms.

Before reopening for any large-scale in-person instruction, HCPS and other Virginia school divisions must show how they will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 prevention strategies, including:

  • Use of face coverings.
  • Health screenings for staff and students.
  • Physical distancing measures.
  • Enhanced hygiene practices for staff and students.
  • Isolating symptomatic cases.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Those not receiving the email should check their email account’s spam or junk folders. For questions about the survey, or if you did not receive an email, contact Helen Whitehurst in HCPS’ Department of Assessment, Research, and Evaluation at [email protected].

For an overview of HCPS’ plans as they stand prior to community feedback, watch the video below.

The school division will make additional announcements as plans continue to be developed in accordance with the Commonwealth’s new health and safety guidelines.

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