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2018-2-6

STUDENT OF THE MONTH HEATHER DIANNE THOMPSON JANUARY 2018

Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Heather Dianne Thompson has been chosen the January 2018 Student of the Month.  Heather, a senior, is the daughter of Chris and Kristine Thompson of Emporia. Her father is also a graduate of Brunswick Academy.   She has one sister, Lauren, a Brunswick Academy graduate.   She is the Granddaughter of Mrs. Judy Houchins, Billy Houchins and William C. (Bug) and Dianne Thompson of Emporia. 

Heather is in the Brunswick Academy Honors Program, which is the most rigourous and challenging program of studies.  This year she has been taking dual-enrollment classes at Southside Virginia Community College, as well as her upper-school classes at Brunswick Academy. 

Regarding academics, she is a member of National Honor Society, Student Council Organization, Brunswick Academy Honor Council and the Hi-Y, where she currently serves at Vice-President.   Heather has attended Model General Assembly for three years and has been a House Representative and a bill presenter. 

Heather has been a member of the Junior Classical League (Latin Club).    Within this group, she has held the position of philanthropic chair for two years, Vice President and now President.  Her classmates have recognized Heather’s Leadership abilitities by selecting her to be their Class Vice-President for 3 years.  At the graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2017, she was a Brunswick Academy Junior Marshal.  At the annual awards assembly held in the spring of 2017, Heather received the William Mary Leadership Award. 

In addition to excelling in academics, throughout her years of attending Brunswick Academy, Heather has participated in athletics, both at the JJV, Junior Varsity and Varsity levels.  She has been a member of the JJV, JV and Varsity Basketball teams.  She has been a captain and has received the Most Improved Award, Coach’s Award, All Tournament Team, Second Team All-Conference, All Academic as well as Most-Improved. 

Heather joined the volleyball team in the 6th grade and has played for seven years, serving also as Captain.  She has received Most Improved Award, Coach’s Award, Second Team All-Conference, All Academic, Coach’s Award and First Team All-Conference. She has also played JV Softball and Varsity Soccer. 

Since the Fourth grade, Heather has participated in programs of the Brunswick Academy Theatre.  For nine year she has acted in the follow productions:  Footloose, Grease, Signin’ in the Rain, Cinderella, Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Little Women (Marmee), Once Upon a Mattress (Larkin) and Shrek (Fiona).  She has also participate in the Association of Virginia Academies (AVA) Forensics Program, Field Day and Arts Festival.  

Heather has applied to James Madison University, The University of Virginia, The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, The College of William and Mary, Liberty University and George Mason University.  

Heather enjoys dance, piano, the beach and spending time with her family and friends. 

CONGRATULATIONS! WAY TO GO HEATHER

Kenneth Wayne Simmons

Kenneth Wayne Simmons, age 55, originally of Emporia, Virginia went home to his Heavenly Father on February 4, 2018.

He was preceded in death by his dad Sam Simmons, stepdad Bobby Clark, brother Calvin Simmons and sister Linda Newsome.

Kenneth is survived by his wife Pamela Simmons, son Gavin Simmons, daughters Mary Carlson (fiancé Bradley Berardo), and Kala Carlson. His mother Grace Clark, brothers Sammy Simmons, Donnie Simmons (wife Tammy), Billy Simmons, Bruce Simmons (wife Teresa), and sister Tammy Simmons (husband Gerald). Also, his many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Funeral services will be held at Lebanon United Methodist Church on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 1:00 P. M. with Rev. Bob Clyde and Rev. Randy Martin officiating. Burial will follow at Spring United Methodist Church Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the church from Noon until 1:00 P.M.

Online condolences may be left at wrennclarkehagan.com

From Home, Virginians Can Keep an Eye on Legislators

By Fadel Allassan, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – It may not offer the drama of “House of Cards,” but an initiative at the Virginia Capitol is lifting the curtain on the workings of the General Assembly.

In January, the House and Senate started live-streaming and archiving videos of committee hearings. On a computer or cellphone, Virginians can now watch – from the comfort of their homes or offices – what used to require a trip to the Capitol.

“We’re already hearing about a lot of people watching at home and following these debates you could only follow in Richmond in the past,” said Meghan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

The General Assembly was prodded into offering videos of its committee meetings by the liberal advocacy group Progress Virginia.

During the 2017 legislative session, the organization streamed committee and subcommittee hearings using iPads and college interns. The project, called Eyes on Richmond, was part of an effort to hold Virginia’s legislature – notorious for a lack of transparency – to account, said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia.

The videos from Eyes on Richmond weren’t Emmy quality, and the audio sometimes was hard to understand. But the project received an award from the Virginia Coalition for Open Government in November.

The General Assembly followed suit and began providing live streams and video recordings – at the committee level only – when the 2018 legislative session opened.

The streams and archives are accessible from each committee’s webpage. Those webpages can be found on the General Assembly’s website.

Eyes on Richmond still webcasts and archives many subcommittee meetings. Scholl said the group will continue to do so until the state provides that service.

That likely will happen when the state opens a replacement for the General Assembly Building in 2021. A spokesperson for House Speaker Kirk Cox said Monday that the commonwealth will provide video of subcommittee meetings in the new facility.

The state has been broadcasting House and Senate floor sessions since the 1970s and putting them online for a decade. But Scholl said the most substantive debate, as well as testimony from citizens, happens at the committee and subcommittee levels in the General Assembly.

“We believe very strongly that transparency is necessary in lawmaking,” Scholl said. “Constituents should have access to the actions that are being taken on their behalf.”

State officials said it cost more than $500,000 to set up video streaming of committees in the House and about half that amount in the Senate.

How to watch

For links to videos of floor sessions and committee meetings, go to the General Assembly’s website – http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/ – and click on “Members and session.”

To watch a committee meeting, drill down to the committee’s webpage and then to the agenda for a specific meeting. There, you will find a video link.

For videos of subcommittee meetings, go to EyesOnRichmond.org, a project of the group Progress Virginia.

Eyes on Richmond has four “channels” – websites featuring a different video stream. The project’s home page includes a calendar listing which subcommittee meetings are being webcast on each channel.

Each channel’s home page also has a link to videos of previously recorded subcommittee meetings.

 

Advocates Will Seek Improvements in Mental Health Services

By Sarah Danial, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Advocates for improving mental health treatment and education in Virginia will gather in Richmond next week to urge legislators to provide more funding and attention for such services.

Several groups will join in the lobbying effort: the Virginia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Voices for Virginia’s Children, Mental Health America of Virginia and VOCAL, a mental health service based in Henrico County. They will host a conference Monday and Tuesday at the offices of Voices for Virginia’s Children, 701 E. Franklin St.

The event organizers have designated Monday as Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day and Tuesday as Mental Health Advocacy Day.

“We would like the public to know that more than between 20 and 25 percent of individuals, and their families, are affected by mental illness,” said Rhonda Thissen, executive director of NAMI Virginia. “So people with mental illness are all around us – they are our friends, family members and neighbors.”

The conference comes as the Virginia General Assembly is considering a slew of bills regarding mental health. They include proposals to expand access to mental health treatment for prisoners, increase mental health training for emergency officials and include mental health education in Virginia’s high school curriculum.

Mental Health America of Virginia, the state’s oldest mental health advocacy, is hopeful for real legislative change in an area in which the commonwealth compares poorly.

“We need to transform how the system is organized and funded. The current commissioner for behavioral health has avision for how to do this that deserves serious discussion. Virginia ranks 40th of all the states in mental health care. There is a better way,” said the group’s executive director, Bruce Cruser.

The General Assembly has had a special panel studying the issue. The Mental Health Services in the Twentieth-Century Joint Subcommittee has made several recommendations to improve such services.

The recommendations include providing $1.1 million annually for three years to the Appalachian Telemental Health Network Initiative and possibly funding the public behavioral health system through options available under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Legislators also are considering such bills as:

  • HB 252 – It would require high schools to have one mental health counselor for every 250 students.
  • HB 934 – It would establish a process for prison officials to petition courts to authorize mental health treatment for inmates unable to give informed consent.
  • HB 1088 – It would require the Virginia Board of Health to include training for emergency officials in identifying and safely assisting a person experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • SB 669 – This bill would affect people who are ordered to involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment for a mental illness as a minor. Under the legislation, they would be subject to the same restrictions in firearm possession as an adult who was ordered to involuntary treatment.
  • SB 878 – It would require the Virginia Board of Corrections to adopt standards for mental health and substance services in local and regional correctional facilities
  • SB 953 and HB 1604 – These bills would include mental health in the Standards of Learning for ninth- and 10th-graders. The students would learn about the relationship between physical and mental health.

Cruser said education plays a major role in understanding mental illness. He believes that if people are more educated about mental illness, they will seek treatment sooner.

“There is hope and recovery,” Cruser said. “There are others who have fallen in the same hole and know a way out. Ask for help.”

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