UR students to read book about Flint water crisis

RICHMOND — University of Richmond students will soon learn more about the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

The university has chosen “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City” by Mona Hanna-Attisha as its common reading book for the 2019-20 academic year. The common book is a campus-wide initiative that encourages both students and staff to read and discuss one book on a social justice issue — in this case the book on the Flint water crisis.

“This book crystallizes the inherent value of interdisciplinarity in efforts to understand and eventually remedy political problems,” said Rania Sweis, an associate professor of anthropology and global studies. “Students majoring in anything from chemistry to anthropology are equally drawn to the case of the Flint water crisis and all can see how important collaborative thinking is to real-world problem solving — in this case literally saving lives poisoned by water.”

The initiative, called One Book, One Richmond, is led by the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement.

Amazon helps launch Petersburg High program

PETERSBURG — Amazon has helped launch a new STEAM program at Petersburg High School.

The company donated $10,000 in science, technology, engineering, arts and math resources and materials to the high school. The donation included Ozobot robots, digital and physical chemistry sets, and a robotic hand.

A new STEAM lab at the high school is expected to open next school year.

“Amazon’s donation allows us to expand beyond the brick walls of the classroom,” said April Hawkins, principal at Petersburg High School. “Using the items Amazon donated, we’ll be able to give students access to tools that have real world applications and teach them to be critical thinkers.”

Virginia schools honored

for advanced learning

RICHMOND — Hundreds of schools across Virginia, including some in the Richmond region, have won awards for advanced student learning and achievement.

Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Board of Education announced the winners of the 2019 Virginia Index of Performance Awards, which recognize schools and districts that exceed state and federal standards, and achieve goals set by the governor and state board.

Here are the Richmond-area winners:

2019 Board of Education Excellence Awards

These schools met all state and federal accountability benchmarks and made significant progress toward goals for increased student achievement and expanded opportunities set by the Board of Education.

  • Chesterfield County — Cosby High, J.B. Watkins Elementary, Swift Creek Elementary and Winterpock Elementary;
  • Henrico County — Colonial Trail Elementary, David A. Kaechele Elementary, Deep Run High, Echo Lake Elementary, George H. Moody Middle, Holman Middle, Mills E. Godwin High, Nuckols Farm Elementary, Rivers Edge Elementary, Shady Grove Elementary, Short Pump Elementary, Three Chopt Elementary, Tuckahoe Elementary and Twin Hickory Elementary; and
  • Richmond — Mary Munford Elementary and Open High.

2019 Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Awards

These schools met all state and federal benchmarks and made progress toward the goals of the governor and the Board of Education.

  • Chesterfield County — Bettie Weaver Elementary, Midlothian High, Midlothian Middle, Robious Middle, Tomahawk Creek Middle, W.W. Gordon Elementary and Woolridge Elementary;
  • Hanover County — Atlee High, Kersey Creek Elementary, Pole Green Elementary and Rural Point Elementary;
  • Henrico County — Gayton Elementary, Glen Allen Elementary, Glen Allen High, Pemberton Elementary, Pocahontas Middle and Short Pump Middle;
  • Louisa County — Jouett Elementary;
  • Richmond — William Fox Elementary.

Huguenot robotics team qualifies for championship

RICHMOND — The robotics team from Huguenot High School qualified for the Technology Student Association National Championship.

The team, the Millennium Falcons, is an all-girls team that will compete against others from across the country June 28 to July 2. Donations can be made online at

Reynolds Community College names dean of enrollment

RICHMOND — Reynolds Community College has named its first dean of enrollment.

Terricita Sass was named to the position. She currently serves as associate vice president for enrollment management at Southern Connecticut State University.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Terricita Sass will bring her 25 years of executive level experience in enrollment management and recruitment to Reynolds,” said Reynolds President Paula Pando. “She is a student-centered, data-informed decision maker who will help Reynolds better serve our growing and changing region.”

Said Sass: “Working with the staff, faculty and community, I am committed to aggressively and strategically creating additional opportunities and successful outcomes for students, families and employers of the greater Richmond region.”

She is an alumna of Capella University, Norfolk State University and Francis Marion University. Sass is scheduled to start in the role July 10.

Va. localities receive grants for school resource officers

RICHMOND — Fifty-three localities in Virginia have received state grants to increase the number of school resource officers in their schools.

The state supplied more than $3.47 million, Gov. Ralph Northam said. Funding for the grants came from the state-funded School Resource Officer/School Security Officer Incentive Grant Program, which received $3 million more this year from the General Assembly.

“It is paramount that we continue to make smart investments to keep Virginia schools safe and to create supportive learning environments for our students,” Northam said. “The school resource officers and school security officers hired through these grants not only make our schools safer, but also enhance our communities by building strong positive relationships with students, faculty and parents.”

Here are the Richmond-area grant recipients and how much they each received:

  • Colonial Heights ($40,747)
  • Dinwiddie ($88,950)
  • Hopewell ($157,711)
  • King William ($39,730)
  • Prince George ($213,052)

RPS vision program has benefited 20,000 students

RICHMOND — A program launched last school year in Richmond Public Schools has benefited 20,000 students.

The city school district, alongside Vision To Learn and Conexus, celebrated an eye vision program that has given vision screenings, vision exams and free glasses to thousands of students.

A celebration of the milestone at Miles Jones Elementary School featured two dozen students from the school trying on their new glasses for the first time.

Through the program, 2,200 city students have received free glasses since its October 2017 launch.

“This project showed the enormous need for vision services among our Richmond students, and the ability of mobile vision care to reach those kids,” said Conexus Vice President Robin Mead.

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— From staff reports

Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers K-12 schools and higher education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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