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Greensville County High School Celebrates Career and Technical Education Month

Students and faculty at Greensville County High School joined others across the nation during the month of February to celebrate national Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month®. This year’s theme is Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow! CTE Month provides CTE programs across the country an opportunity to demonstrate how CTE makes students college- and career- ready and prepares them for high-wage, high-demand career fields. The CTE department held their annual Career Fair Wednesday, February 23, 2017GCHS gymnasium.
Greensville County offers nine CTE programs. Wyatt Middle School provides the foundation course for these programs.  “The activities planned illustrated the rigor and relevance CTE courses offer our students,” said LaMeka Harrison, CTE director. “By partnering with the business community, CTE programs are investing in students and providing them with the latest technology and skills that will prepare them to become successful employees and future leaders.” GCHS and SVCC have a partnership agreement to offer dual enrollment options in Business, Culinary Arts, Drafting, Welding, and Health Occupations.
CTE encompasses 94 percent of high school students and 13 million postsecondary students in the United States and includes high schools, career centers, community and technical colleges, four-year universities and more. CTE is a major part of the solution to myriad national economic and workforce problems, such as high school dropout rates, a weakened economy, global competitiveness and massive layoffs. At a time when opportunity for employment is so critical, CTE programs in every community are ensuring students are equipped with the skills to successfully enter the workforce. 
Career Fair had over 40 vendors from various career clusters and areas of the state. The day concluded with a luncheon coordinated by the GCHS culinary arts students and instructor.  The highlights of the event included CTE Proclamations from Delegate Rosalyn Tyler, 75th District and Honorable Mary Pearson, Mayor of Emporia.  Career and Technical Student Organizations SkillsUSA, HOSA and FBLA provide information their organization recognition weeks.  The guest speaker was Brian Thrower, City Manager, City of Emporia who provided information on how Career and Technical Education directly relates to the infrastructure and employment factors in Emporia.
The CTE faculty, staff, and students would like to thank everyone who help to coordinate, plan, and implement the CTE month career fair.
CTE faculty and staff include:
  • LaMeka Harrison, CTE Director
  •  Aaron Morris, Business, CTE Chair, FBLA Advisor
  • Jerry Brown, Welding, SkillsUSA Advisor,
  •  Marsha Campbell, Business, SkillsUSA Advisor
  • First Sergeant Clarence Bowdry, JROTC
  • Major Sergeant Christian, JROTC
  • Dennis Holland, Graphic Imaging, SkillsUSA Advisor
  • Heather Lackey, Business
  • Teresa Lindberg, Agriscience, FFA
  • Carla Martindale, Business
  • Courtney Moseley, Business, NTHS
  • Stephen Wells, Culinary Arts, SkillsUSA Advisor
  • Mozelle Rose, Health Occupations, HOSA Advisor
  • Martha Smith, Business, FBLA
  • Gerald Wozniak, Drafting, SkillsUSA Advisor
  • James Wright, Building Management, SkillsUSA Advisor

Greensville County Skills USA District 12 Competition

The Greensville County SkillsUSA student organization participated in competitive events last week.

On Saturday, February 11, 2017 Greensville County SkillsUSA hosted the District 12 SkillsUSA Leadership competitions in Chapter Display and Promotional Bulletin Board. Students placed as follows:

  • Neal Powell, Ricky Norwood, and Ciara Wright  first place for Chapter Display
  • Samantha Dickens, Taylor Powell, and Anesia Powell first place Promotional Bulletin Board

On Monday, February 13, 2017 Greensville County Skills USA hosted the District 12 Welding competition.

  • Joshua Vaughan, first place  Welding
  • Hunter Cifers, second place  Welding

On Friday, February 17, 2017 Greenville County Skills USA hosted the District 12 Additive Manufacturing competitions.

  • All students competing in Additive Manufacturing will progress on to state competition
  • Jessie Gay and Austin Dixon  first place Additive Manufacturing Team
  • Cody Delgado and Deidra Mangrum second place  Additive Manufacturing Team

Congratulations to all members on job well done. The members will now move on to the State Leadership Competition in Fredericksburg, Virginia April 28-29, 2017.

‘Ambassador of the Arts’ views poetry as activism

James Ragan 2

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – In 1985, James Ragan and three other poets from Western countries were invited to perform before 10,000 Russians at the first International Poetry Festival in Moscow.

“I still remember how I’m thinking the audience is looking at the stage and they’re saying ‘Oh, my God, there’s Bob Dylan. Oh, my God, that’s Seamus Heaney, Robert Bly … Who the hell is that?’ That was me – the ‘who the hell is that?’” Ragan said.

Ragan managed to make himself stand out by speaking Russian. He told the audience in their native tongue that his parents were born in Czechoslovakia and that his translator, who was born in Siberia, was “my brother.”

“The place went crazy. ‘The American is speaking Russian to us!’” Ragan said. “I could have whispered my poem after that.”

Ragan is back on center stage in a new documentary, ““Flowers and Roots, James Ragan, An Ambassador of the Arts.” The film, which explores how Ragan’s poetry and writing provided an outlet for his social activism, was featured on Sunday, the last day of the weeklong Richmond International Film Festival.

When the documentary producers first approved Ragan in 2014, he had no idea why they wanted to make a movie about him. After all, he is not a household name, even though Ragan has read his poetry for seven heads of state, published nine books and had several internationally produced plays.

“It was amazing how they were looking in at me, and seeing this as all being spectacular, whereas I was looking out and saying, ‘We were supposed to be doing this back in the ’60s and ’70s – we didn’t see it as spectacular,’” Ragan said. “And they immediately liked that response.”

The movie navigates the Cold War era through Ragan’s own life. Born into a Czechoslovakian immigrant family in Philadelphia as one of 13 children, Ragan said that growing up speaking Slovakian got him into a lot of physical fights.

“As I learned English, I learned to fight less,” Ragan said. “I had a huge respect for the language, and a huge respect for the arts. I just loved that you could win fights with words and not fists.”

When Ragan grew older, his personal experiences continued to shape his use of language and art as a means of addressing issues. In college, Ragan received multiple bones spurs in his legs from playing basketball. The doctor treating him gave him radiation therapy to heal the spurs, but ending up giving Ragan an overdose that caused cancer.

Rather than simply writing about the pain his cancer caused him, Ragan used his pain to discuss “the cancers of the world,” such as the injustices that triggered the civil rights movement and communism.

To this day, Ragan uses his work to reflect “the truth of the times” – for example, in the poem “The Dumbing Down Finale,” which will debut in an upcoming book. In the poem, he explores his belief that American society is devolving with the increase of social media, reality TV and “alternative facts.” Ragan fears that a lack of respect for education and the arts will destroy America.

Despite his harsh commentary on society, Ragan calls himself an optimist. From seeing young people protesting as their counterparts did in the 1960s and ’70s, to seeing Americans treating each other kindly, Ragan believes there is hope for the moral foundation and future of the country.

“I’ve seen beautiful things happen with people who wouldn’t normally want to help that neighbor and they do,” Ragan said. “Recently someone had leveled the headstones in a Jewish cemetery, and the Muslims came to help the backup, as well as Protestant and other religions.”

Ragan has often used his work to speak out about communism, and his writings were banned in one country. When he was studying under a Fulbright scholarship in Slovakia, the U.S. Embassy asked him to distribute 10 copies of Newsweek and Times magazine at one of his candlelight readings. Ragan said the people in attendance were eager to receive the publications and were “grabbing at the truth.”

“Journalists have also played a very important part in that history, and especially now we need that,” Ragan said. “To see these people that had very much so been the victim of propaganda and also oppression, that one moment of truth I was giving them through a poem on the stage or through these magazines brought a great sense of responsibility to me, of what I could do. The power of language, the power words.”

Ragan said Americans sometimes take freedom of speech for granted – a freedom many people in the world don’t have. He thinks it’s important to use this freedom to stand up and speak out.

People must make “a moral decision to stand up or lay down,” Ragan said. “And I’ve never been one not to stand up

New laws would help and hurt access to information

By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – For advocates of government transparency, the General Assembly’s 2017 session was a mixed bag, resulting in bills that both increased and decreased information available under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the session saw fewer FOIA-related bills than in past years. Even so, the group stayed busy opposing legislation that Rhyne said would keep important information from the public.

She said one such bill was HB 1678, which would have allowed information on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to be withheld from mandatory disclosure under FOIA. The bill cleared the House of Delegates but was ultimately defeated in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee.

Rhyne said the “most concerning” bill this legislative session was HB 2043, which would have made the release of the names of police officers involved in police shooting investigations a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Jackson Miller, R-Manassas, was narrowly approved by the House General Laws Committee. However, Miller withdrew the measure when it reached the House floor.

Many FOIA-related bills did make it through the General Assembly.

Rhyne was glad to see SB 1102 pass both the House and Senate. It would require that records of “unattended deaths” – in which the dead person is not found for several days or weeks – be accessible to family members of the victims involved.

According to Rhyne, “unattended deaths” usually end up being police-confirmed suicides. Under a current FOIA exemption, family members of the deceased can be denied access to the records in the case.

“Now police will have to give families that information instead of using the exemption that allows them to withhold investigative records,” Rhyne said.

To Rhyne, this reflects a greater awareness among lawmakers about openness in government. “I don’t know that we would have seen that kind of incremental change five years ago,” she said.

The 2017 General Assembly also passed bills requiring a list of FOIA officers to be available online, clarifying where minutes from public meetings should be posted and requiring the Freedom of Information Advisory Council to develop an online form that allows the public to comment on the quality of assistance from that agency.

At the same time, several bills were passed that will result in less access to information under FOIA, Rhyne said. They include HB 1587, which would create a FOIA exemption for engineering and construction plans for single-family homes except when requested by the home’s applicant.

Legislators also passed HB 1971, which would allow government agencies to withhold information on investigations into cases of child abuse, neglect or assault.

And SB 1226 would create a FOIA exemption for certain records when a government agency contracts for solar photovoltaic services or buys solar power equipment. The business involved could specify that certain documents are proprietary information or trade secrets, and they would be exempt from mandatory disclosure under FOIA.

Those bills now go to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for approval.

Other bills that would have opened government to more disclosure failed in the General Assembly. For example, HB 2401, which would have required public bodies to take minutes and make audio recordings of closed meetings, died in the House General Laws Committee.

Although this was a low-key session for bills concerning open government, Rhyne is optimistic for the future.

“It has been encouraging to see a growing number of legislators introducing access-friendly bills and also getting good votes on some of these bills,” she said.

Some female hunters have sights set on pink camo

By Jessica Samuels, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Cassie Crouch of Bedford, Virginia, started hunting when she met the man whom she later would marry. “It was one of our first dates,” she said. In 2010, Crouch and her husband Daniel even celebrated their wedding anniversary by hunting wild hogs.

Crouch, who uses a variety of guns as well as a bow and arrow, likes the fact that hunters soon may have a choice of colors for their hunting safety apparel: Hunters would be able to wear bright pink, instead of being limited to blaze orange, under a bill approved by the General Assembly during its recent session.

Another female hunter – Amanda Bailey of Tazewell County – also is looking forward to the new law.

“I would love having the option of wearing pink camouflage or orange,” said Bailey, who hunts deer, elk, coyotes and bear and uses a variety of firearms.

Crouch and Bailey are among a number of female hunters hoping Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs HB 1939into law. If he does, the bill – which was approved unanimously by the House of Delegates and 35-5 by the Senate – will take effect July 1.

HB 1939, sponsored by Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax, states that “every hunter and every person accompanying a hunter shall (i) wear a blaze orange or blaze pink hat … or blaze orange or blaze pink upper body clothing, that is visible from 360 degrees or (ii) display at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or blaze pink material at shoulder level within body reach visible from 360 degrees.”

Many female hunters and stores that cater to them already have been considering pink as a camo option. It’s all part of an effort to give women a choice of colors to wear out in the field. Retailers have begun marketing hoodies, hats and T-shirts for hunters – all in pink.

Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, is among the legislators who voted for the bill.

“My fellow House members who support the addition of blaze pink to be approved hunting clothing explained that blaze pink is more readily seen at a distance than the traditional hunter’s orange,” Kory said. “Therefore, I supported HB 1939.”

Virginia is not the only state offering blaze pink as a substitute for blaze orange for hunters. Wisconsin was the first, and since then, New York, Colorado and Louisiana have followed suit.

Some believe that the color option will draw more women to hunting. About 13,000 women currently are registered to hunt in Virginia.

While some women see the new law as a fashion statement, other female hunters prefer blaze orange to blaze pink.

Tamala Doup, who lives in Midlothian, has been hunting most of her life. She killed her first deer at age 11. Doup hunts every year between November and beginning of January, using a black powder rifle.

“I personally prefer the blaze orange from a safety aspect,” Doup said. “It seems much brighter and easily recognizable in the woods, especially in dense areas.”

Doup has another reason for preferring orange over pink: She is colorblind. Experts say colorblind people may have more trouble seeing pink than seeing orange.

“That bright blaze orange is better for me, personally,” Doup said. “It’s all about safety, not fashion.”

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