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Miss America Camille Schrier to judge Richmond-area virtual science fair

After schools and local science fairs were abruptly upended or canceled in response to COVID-19, MEDARVA Healthcare recognized the need to support middle and high school students’ engagement in science by sponsoring a region-wide virtual science fair. Submissions are being accepted now through May 15.

RVAHub Staff

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Miss America 2020, Camille Schrier, has loved science since she was a little girl. Her mission is to show kids that science is fun, relevant and easy to understand. So when MEDARVA Healthcare – a Richmond-based health care provider and parent company to two of Central Virginia’s largest ambulatory surgery centers – asked her to be a judge in its virtual science fair, her answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

After schools and local science fairs were abruptly upended or canceled in response to COVID-19, MEDARVA Healthcare recognized the need to support middle and high school students’ engagement in science by sponsoring a region-wide virtual science fair. Submissions are being accepted now through May 15. The organization was thrilled when Schrier signed on to help support continued (and fun) learning during moments like these.

“I’m excited that MEDARVA Healthcare has asked me to be a part of this fun and important project,” said Schrier, who is a graduate of Virginia Tech and a current Doctor of Pharmacy student at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Thanks to MEDARVA Healthcare, students now have an opportunity to share the ideas and talent they would have showcased if schools hadn’t been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Students are asked to investigate an interesting topic and submit a summary, an experiment design diagram, and a short video highlighting the project. A team of judges that include Schrier will score the student entries for a chance to win several monetary awards – $1,500 for first place – in both the middle school and high school categories. The goal is to support area students by recognizing and rewarding their hard work in the field of science.

“Now, more than ever, it is a great time to inspire scientific curiosity in the students in our community, who could be the breakthrough researchers of tomorrow, finding cures for diseases similar to COVID-19,” said Bruce P. Kupper, president of the company. “Miss America, Camille Schrier has demonstrated that science is exciting and every student should be encouraged to explore their interests in science. MEDARVA Healthcare is delighted to join Miss America in her efforts “to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers for girls.”

The “science” behind MEDARVA’s virtual science fair

MEDARVA’s virtual science fair is open to any Richmond-area student in grades 6–12 who:

  • Has already completed a project but did not get a chance to showcase, or
  • Would like to conduct an at-home DIY research project of their choosing.
  • Has conducted an “Epic Fail” project: something that did not quite turn out as expected. A lot of scientific advances come from failed efforts.

Students conducting at-home DIY research are encouraged to utilize common household or backyard items to facilitate their project as needed items may be in short supply. Exploring and analyzing processes and the surroundings of the students’ everyday world can produce some great scientific results.

More information on participation can be found here.

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College admissions deans from multiple schools to offer Virtual College Night May 27th

Virginia high school students who want to learn more about the college admission process and financial aid can attend Virtual College Night for Virginia at 6 p.m. on May 27.

RVAHub Staff

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Virginia high school students who want to learn more about the college admission process and financial aid can attend Virtual College Night for Virginia at 6 p.m. on May 27.

The virtual opportunity is the brainchild of admission deans from the University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Washington and Lee University, and William & Mary. The deans were batting around ideas on how to reach high school students during this time of social distancing. They recognized that many topics are important to potential college students. Rather than provide all of the information individually, they decided to join forces to create the Virtual College Night.

The pilot evening, which will be held via Zoom, will focus on central and south central Virginia. Students who have expressed interest in the four institutions will receive an invitation via email.

If the evening is successful, Virtual College Nights will be scheduled in other regions.

Admission deans will provide information on college search, application review and selection, financial aid, and trends in higher education.

The deans include:

  • Sally Stone Richmond, Washington and Lee University
  • Greg Roberts, University of Virginia
  • Gil Villanueva, University of Richmond
  • Tim Wolfe, William & Mary

They will cover the topics in about 40 minutes followed by a 20 minute Q&A.

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Henrico County Public Schools considering starting school before Labor Day in 2021

The 2020-21 school year is already scheduled to begin the day after Labor Day, which is Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. The proposal would apply to the 2021-2022 school year and going forward.

RVAHub Staff

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In early March, Henrico County Public Schools introduced the idea of a pre-Labor Day start to the 2021-22 school year. That was before the educational landscape shifted with HCPS’ closure to combat the coronavirus pandemic. At its May 14 work session, the Henrico School Board decided to revisit the issue and consider two calendar options for 2021-22 — one with a pre-Labor Day start and another with a more traditional post-Labor Day start.

Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts on the two options by taking a survey, open until June 3 at 8 a.m. The survey is available by going to HCPS’ website, henricoschools.us, and looking under “Hot Topics,” or by going to henricoschools.us/2021-22-calendar-options/.

The two calendar options under consideration for 2021-22 are:

  • Calendar Option A (pre-Labor Day start.) School would begin on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. School would end on Friday, June 3, 2022.
  • Calendar Option B (traditional post-Labor Day start.) School would begin on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. School would end on Friday, June 17, 2022.

At the work session, conducted in a virtual format, the Board also considered a third option, where students would attend school year-round, with intermittent breaks. After discussing the “extended school year” idea, the Board decided to eliminate that option, citing a desire for more research and collaboration with other school divisions in central Virginia.

While the first and last days of school differ, as well as student and staff holidays, all options would include the same number of instructional days.

Possible advantages of a pre-Labor Day start (Option A) include:

  • Provides two additional weeks of instruction before International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement testing, resulting in less time between the completion of testing and the end of the school year.
  • The academic calendar would more closely align with the start of fall extracurricular activities, as well as college and university schedules.
  • Provides at least a four-day break for Labor Day weekend.

Possible advantages of a post-Labor Day start (Option B) include:

  • Maintains traditional HCPS school calendar.
  • Keeps intact the construction schedule for the new J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs high schools and the expansion of Holladay Elementary School (a pre-Labor Day schedule would move up the construction deadline).
  • Maintains the length of the 2021 summer break for students and HCPS staff members (a pre-Labor Day start would require a one-time reduction of summer break).

There are no significant budgetary differences between the two options.

The 2020-21 school year is already scheduled to begin the day after Labor Day, which is Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

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Facebook provides $280,000 grant to Henrico Education Foundation to strengthen COVID-19 response

The grant will designate $160,000 for meals and $120,000 for Wi-Fi hot spots. For each $100 donation, the foundation receives they are able to purchase supplies for 40 meals which are distributed throughout Henrico County Public Schools’ 15 distribution sites.

RVAHub Staff

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The Henrico Education Foundation is expanding the impact of its COVID-19 Response Fund supporting vulnerable children and families in Henrico County, thanks to a $280,000 grant from Facebook. The tech company’s Henrico Data Center is located in eastern Henrico’s White Oak Technology Park. The foundation has partnered with the center as part of Facebook’s COVID relief effort.

The grant will go toward strengthening the nonprofit’s response to the current health crisis which focuses on a collaborative approach with Henrico County Public Schools to ensure vulnerable families receive meals and Wi-Fi hot spots so children can have access to remote Internet-based learning.

The grant will designate $160,000 for meals and $120,000 for Wi-Fi hot spots. For each $100 donation, the foundation receives they are able to purchase supplies for 40 meals which are distributed throughout Henrico County Public School’s 15 distribution sites. The foundation has also been purchasing Wi-Fi hotspots for the school system to distribute to families without access to the Internet at home. The school system has a goal of purchasing 625 hotspots to support social distancing. The funds will cover the cost of both the hotspot hardware and the service.

“We are grateful for the generous support of Facebook,” said Mike Taylor, CEO of the Henrico Education Foundation. “These funds are critical for remote learning and to assist with feeding families during this challenging time.”

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly hard on our most vulnerable families,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “Thanks to this substantial contribution from the Facebook Henrico Data Center and the efforts of the Henrico Education Foundation, more families will have reliable meals and equitable technology. It opens up tremendous possibilities for our students.”

“Henrico is our home, and we are invested in its long-term vitality. We are honored to partner with the Henrico Education Foundation to support local students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope that it will help students continue their education and learning remotely, as well as lift the burden of food insecurity,” said Amber Tillman, Community Development Regional Manager, Facebook.

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