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Henrico Schools’ Class of 2021 will celebrate with expanded access to in-person graduations

The revised directives will enable more family members and loved ones – a maximum of 8 – to attend the ceremonies, will give attendees the option to sit more closely, and won’t require masks.

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In accordance with updated pandemic directives from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Henrico County Public Schools is adjusting some plans for traditional in-person graduation ceremonies scheduled for June. Northam’s Executive Order 79 brings Virginia’s policies in line with COVID-19 pandemic guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The revised directives will enable more family members and loved ones to attend the ceremonies, will give attendees the option to sit more closely, and won’t require masks — although the governor’s order strongly encourages vaccination, as well as mask-use for those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. No matter their vaccination status, attendees may still choose to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing at the events.

To read the governor’s order, go to https://www.governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/ and click “Executive Order 79.” A May 14 news release with more information is available at https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/news-releases/.

In April, HCPS announced plans for traditional graduation ceremonies at Richmond Raceway for the school division’s nine comprehensive high schools and two Advanced Career Education centers, as well as a June 9 ceremony for the Academy at Virginia Randolph, to be held at the Virginia Randolph Recreation Area.

In accordance with the new state directives:

  • Masks will not be required for those attending the graduation ceremonies. However, the governor’s directive strongly encourages those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated to wear masks in all settings.
  • Each graduate will now be able to invite eight guests, instead of four. (Graduates will still receive only four printed tickets for admission to the ceremony, because the tickets were printed before the new guidelines were issued. However, each ticket will now admit two guests.)
  • Attendees will not be required to physically distance or sit together in “pods” of guests.

Each class at the Richmond Raceway events will engage in a processional, emerging from a gate beneath the grandstands, walking past friends and family in the grandstands and descending to a grassy seating area just across the track. As is traditional, students will ascend a stage and accept their diplomas. Professional-quality sound systems and video boards will also be in place to amplify the students’ processional, songs, speeches and the recognition of each graduate by name as they walk across the stage.

Because pandemic restrictions were eased earlier than the expected June 15 date, planning for the 10 Richmond Raceway ceremonies was well underway. To accommodate June temperatures at an outdoor venue:

  • The starting times of graduations are taking place slightly earlier in the day (compared to prior years) in order to avoid some of the hottest potential late afternoon heat.
  • HCPS high schools are planning to reduce the length of their ceremonies — which can typically last up to 100 minutes — to 70 minutes or less.
  • Graduating seniors will assemble in the shade beneath the grandstands before their ceremonies and will have ample access to water.
  • Guests may bring a factory-sealed bottle of water to the ceremonies.

Graduations will also be livestreamed at www.henricoschools.us, ensuring that relatives and loved ones can also watch from their computers and mobile devices. Graduations will also be recorded and will be available to view the week after the ceremonies by going to HCPS’ graduation hub at https://henricoschools.us/graduations/. Graduations will be replayed later in June on HCPS-TV (Comcast Channel 99 and FIOS channel 38). An HCPS-TV replay schedule will be available at the graduation hub webpage.

HCPS graduation schedule

Detailed information is being made available to graduates through their schools. At Richmond Raceway events, parking will open two hours before the program, and grandstand gates will open 90 minutes before each program.

Virginia Randolph Recreation Area

2175 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, Va. 23060

Wednesday, June 9

  • The Academy at Virginia Randolph (7 p.m.)

Richmond Raceway Complex

600 E. Laburnum Ave., Henrico, Va. 23222

Monday, June 14

  • Advanced Career Education Centers at Hermitage and Highland Springs (6 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 15

  • Henrico High School (10 a.m.)
  • Highland Springs High School (2 p.m.)
  • Varina High School (6 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 16

  • Douglas S. Freeman High School (10 a.m.)
  • Deep Run High School (2 p.m.)
  • Mills E. Godwin High School (6 p.m.)

Thursday, June 17

  • J.R. Tucker High School (10 a.m.)
  • Glen Allen High School (2 p.m.)
  • Hermitage High School 6 p.m.)

Friday, June 18: Rain date

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Business

Tazza Kitchen owners bringing new Mexican concept to Patterson and Libbie

Conejo (pronounced Koh-nay-ho) will feature a lunch and dinner menu of fresh drinks, a curated list of mezcals and tequilas, house-made masa, rotisserie meats, tacos, unique salads, and vegetarian options, and a variety of classic Mexican antojitos, the owners said in a press release.

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Big Kitchen Hospitality, the Richmond-based restaurant group which owns and operates Tazza Kitchen, has announced plans for a casual Mexican restaurant at the Westhampton Commons development at the corner of Patterson and Libbie Avenues.

Conejo (pronounced Koh-nay-ho) will feature a lunch and dinner menu of fresh drinks, a curated list of mezcals and tequilas, house-made masa, rotisserie meats, tacos, unique salads, and vegetarian options, and a variety of classic Mexican antojitos, the owners said in a press release.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Mexican Chef and cookbook author, Danny Mena, who has become an integral part of our menu and concept development,” said partner Susan Davenport. “He has a wealth of knowledge about Mexican cuisine and Mezcal – both from his upbringing in Mexico City and his work on his cookbook, Made in Mexico. He has owned and operated several Mexican restaurants in New York but was ready for a change and has moved his family to Richmond to join us on the project. As a Virginia Tech graduate, Virginia is familiar ground. The pieces just fell into place.”

“In addition to being Spanish for rabbit, Conejo is one of the varieties of Mexican heirloom corn we plan to use for our masa. And according to the Aztec myth of the 400 Conejos, divine rabbits are the gods of agave spirits. So, the word Conejo represents elements of this restaurant that are important to us. I am very excited to be here in Richmond and be a part of this team,” said Mena.

The 4,474 square foot full-service restaurant will seat 120 inside and 50 on the partially covered patio. A separate entrance will provide easy access for take-out orders.

The targeted opening date is around year-end. Big Kitchen Hospitality Partners include John Davenport, Susan Davenport, and Jeff Grant. The company has engaged 510 Architects as the architect and Whiting-Turner as the general contractor.

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West End

Henrico resident wins year worth of groceries from Kroger as part of vaccine incentive program

The prize is worth approximately $13,000.

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As part of Kroger’s #CommunityImmunity Giveaway, members of Kroger Mid-Atlantic and Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Co., presented Stacey Blizzard of Henrico with free groceries for a year, a prize worth approximately $13,000.

The #CommunityImmunity Giveaway initially was announced by the grocer in June as a way to motivate more Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine to better protect communities across America. The program provided customers and associates with the opportunity to win life-changing prizes, including a chance to win one of five $1 million-dollar checks or groceries for a year to 50 lucky winners. The program culminated in July.

“The #CommunityImmunity Giveaway is a great way for us to motivate people to get the vaccine, and it’s also been a fantastic way to reward our customers and associates,” said Lori Raya, president of Kroger Mid-Atlantic. “The health and safety of everyone we welcome in our stores is our top priority and we’re passionate about doing our part to protect our communities.”

Blizzard is the third Virginian to receive free groceries for a year as a part of the giveaway. Jesse Hamlette, a Kroger associate at Westover Dairy, in Lynchburg, Va. was the first recipient in June and Claire Clasen, a Kroger customer, from Yorktown, Va. received the second groceries for a year prize in July.

The award presentation took place at the Short Pump store at 11895 West Broad Street in Henrico.

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Education

University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab receives three national awards for Southern Journey Story Map Project

ESRI, the industry standard in the field of mapping technology, awarded the DSL the Best Cartography award and the International Cartographic Association and International Map Industry Association Recognition of Excellence in Cartography award.

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The Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond has received three awards for the story map project Southern Journey: The Migrations of the American South, 1790-2010. A story map is a digital project that combines text, interactive maps, and other multimedia content for storytelling.

ESRI, the industry standard in the field of mapping technology, awarded the DSL the Best Cartography award and the International Cartographic Association and International Map Industry Association Recognition of Excellence in Cartography award. The project team includes Justin Madron, GIS project manager, and analyst; Nathanial Ayers, visualization and web designer; and Ed Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of Humanities.

This year, judges selected award winners from more than 350 map projects they determined best-exhibited excellence in all aspects of map design and cartographic production.

“It’s an honor to be selected for these awards among such stiff competition,” said Madron. “This project allowed us to combine the best tools used in mapping and digital storytelling, and the interactive maps and animations produce a user-friendly way to interact with the data and information.”

The team built this project as a complement to Ed Ayers’ latest book of the same name. Madron and Nathanial Ayers also created the more than 60 maps for the printed book.

“Justin and Nathaniel invented ways to bring printed pages to life, revealing the interwoven complex causes of the ebbs and flows that have shaped the southeastern United States,” said Ed Ayers. As the award committee put it, “The dominant eye-catching topaz-and-turquoise honeycomb maps are highly effective in intentionally addressing the ambiguity of inconsistent geographic areas over time.”

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