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December 7, 2015 | Volume 91 Number 3


photo: the “Flaming Marshmallows” and “Amazing Knights” teams

All Saints Catholic School Robotics Teams Excel in Regional Tournaments

All Saints Catholic School has been growing its robotics program for the last five years through participation in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). The school began with two teams but increased interest led to the addition of a third team this year. On November 7th at the FLL Regional Tournament at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, the “Flaming Marshmallows” and “Amazing Knights” teams each won their divisions. The next Saturday at L.C. Bird High School, All Saints’ newest team, the “Robotic Minions” won their division.

“Sustaining the FLL program for five years is very significant. It demonstrates the commitment of the students, parents and the school,” remarked Charles Diaz Aldridge. “My five years of coaching at All Saints has taught me what marvelous things can occur when kids learn and practice good values every day, when parents support those values and encourage children to be inclusive, positive, and collaborative, and when kids discover their own talents and give each other room to express those talents.” All Saints’ student body is 80% ethnic minority and over 60% receive financial assistance.

The All Saints FLL program is a hands-on learning experience of the school’s S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) integration. FLL challenges are not just about robot performance. Challenges also require teams to appear before judges and demonstrate their understanding of a research topic, FLL Core Values, and robot design and programming. This year’s FLL Challenge theme is TRASH TREK which focuses on reducing the amount of trash in landfills. More than 233,000 children from over 80 countries participate in the Challenge.

“The students and their parents gain awareness of potential career paths within the S.T.E.M. They also learn valuable life and employment skills which will benefit them no matter which career path they choose,” comments Sarah Grant, a veteran parent coach.

The teams are busy preparing for the state championship. As 8th grader Mackenzie Jaquez summed it up, “I’ve loved my years with LEGO Robotics. I loved working as a team with my friends and I believe the experience will help me achieve my goal of being a doctor. We are really excited for state; we meet so many wonderful teams.”


photo: Pictured front row, left to right, are AWO Ricky Collins, IT1 Robert Leviker, AD1 Erik Swanson, AM1 Donn Calleia and AD1 Michael Henderson; back row, left to right are AT1 Ryan Torres, AWO1 Kevin Willison, AE1 Beatriz Campos and YN1 Tania Washington.

VP-9 First Class Petty Officers Association donate filled Christmas Stockings

Even on deployment the VP-9 First Class Petty Officers Association found time to donate filled Christmas Stockings for our 2015 drive for St Pius X Migrant Ministry. Santa's workshop is filling up! Based out of Kaneoe Bay, Hawaii the Golden Eagles of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 is forward deployed to Sigonella, Sicily in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility and is assigned to CTF 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout the European and African areas of responsibility. Pictured front row, left to right, are AWO Ricky Collins, IT1 Robert Leviker, AD1 Erik Swanson, AM1 Donn Calleia and AD1 Michael Henderson; back row, left to right are AT1 Ryan Torres, AWO1 Kevin Willison, AE1 Beatriz Campos and YN1 Tania Washington.


Criminal justice reform addressed by CCC executive

Joanne Nattrass, executive director of Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond, recently addressed a Congressional briefing as part of a panel addressing criminal justice reform.

She was one of six faith community leaders who were asked to share their expertise related to crime prevention, restorative justice, incarceration, juvenile justice, rehabilitation and reentry. The other leaders included clergy from Kentucky, Connecticut, California and Texas.

Ms. Nattrass shared both the work of CCC and more broadly the work being done by the Catholic community to promote justice, healing and restoration for both victims and offenders.

“The Catholic response to reentry for both adults and youth is to provide housing, residential services, job coaching, education and training, mentorship programs, mental health counseling and victims assistance, she said. “We see the plight of individuals incarcerated for non-violent crimes and the impact that it has on families and communities. Being able to provide services pre-release would have a significant impact on post-release outcomes.”

She reminded participants of Pope Francis’ words: “God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else, God is in this person’s life.”

While on Capitol Hill, Ms. Nattrass also met with representatives from the offices of Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Mark Warner, Representative Bob Goodlatte (sponsor of the bill) and Representative J. Randy Forbes to discuss the importance of criminal justice reform and the critical need for services post incarceration.

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