September 29, 2020

 

If you were unable to tune in live, here is the recording of the 2020 September FIRST Chesapeake Town Hall broadcast

 

September 24, 2020

 

Dear Teams,
 
It has been awhile since you received an update, so I wanted to give you a quick summary of where we are at FIRST Chesapeake and also invite you to attend a remote Town Hall on Tuesday, September 29th, at 5:30pm on Twitch- https://twitch.tv/firstchesapeake. A recording of the town hall will be available later on YouTube for those unable to attend.
 
As always, the health and safety of our teams and volunteers are our top priorities. The pandemic has shown itself to be unpredictable, but the good news is that we have a lot more information now than we did in the Spring. The CDC and local health agencies have been working towards standardizing best practices and safety guidelines for larger gatherings, and FIRST Chesapeake feels comfortable in sharing that we are continuing to plan hybrid in-person events for both FTC and FRC this season. (Note that our FTC competition season will begin in January, instead of November.)
 
FIRST Chesapeake's commitment to you in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia is to bring the excitement of a competition along with the camaraderie and joy of being a part of an FRC event to our teams in the safest way possible. While we cannot provide a lot of details at the moment, we promise to keep you as up to date as possible regarding our competitions and other events this season. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me or our Director of Programs, Ron Therrien.
 
Because FIRST HQ and FIRST Chesapeake are separate entities representing vastly different numbers of teams and volunteers, our challenges and plan of action may vary from time to time. I respectfully ask for your understanding as there is no "right" formula for all FRC Districts and Regions. We are all trying to do our best with a moving target this year.
 
Before signing off, I want to express profound gratitude on behalf of myself and the FIRST Chesapeake staff to all of you for your patience and gracious professionalism. Stay healthy, my friends.
 
Leighann

 

 

July 8, 2020

 

The July 8th FIRST Chesapeake Town Hall video can be viewed here.

 

June 4, 2020

 

Our world is very different than it was just a few months ago, but FIRST Chesapeake’s commitment to the health and safety of our teams and volunteers has not changed. We are working closely with FIRST Headquarters and our local health authorities to determine the best path forward for the 2020-2021 competition season. Because this is going to take some time, we will be announcing our competition dates and locations a little later than usual. Please check our program webpages in the Fall for more information.

Until then, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at  or call 804.572.8454.

Be well, take care of yourselves and your families, and please continue to follow the CDC guidelines to maximize your well-being. As we all know, FIRST Chesapeake is not about building robots. It is about what “WE” do together to make the world a better place. 

 

April 17, 2020

 

Dear FIRST  Family, 
 
I was reviewing our volunteer data last night and realized that, even with the suspended season, FIRST Chesapeake event volunteers logged more than 20,450 hours in 2019-2020! Add that to the thousands of hours that coaches, mentors and behind-the-scenes volunteers have dedicated to our programs and the total is mind blowing. While the number itself is impressive, what I see beyond the bottom line is a reminder of how our FIRST family has always banded together to support one another in good times and in bad. Thank you for all that you do.
 
Please join me in recognizing some of our tireless, and often unsung, volunteers.
  • Carolyn Van Damme and Stephanie Lockhart and all of the Judge Advisors and Judges at our competitions.
  • Joe Bouchard, who not only acts as an FTC and FRC Judge Advisor, but also developed recommendations for risk mitigation at our events to help keep us safe.
  • Chris Brown, Cherisa Haynes, and the scores of employees at Newport News Shipbuilding who have dedicated hundreds of hours to planning the largest ever District Championship we've ever attempted.
  • Anne Shade and the Team Advisory Committee for their tireless support this season.
  • Farish Perlman for her work behind the scenes at our District Championships. Napoleon said, "An army marches on its stomach". Our volunteers give their all while grabbing meals and snacks when they can. Farish has made sure that everyone is treated to tasty and satisfying meals while balancing a laundry list of dietary needs.
  • Steve Shade, Jim Anderson and all of our event referees. Their job isn't always easy, but they do it so well.
  • Our Robot Inspectors, CSAs, and FTAs who spend their weekends with us from November through March.
For those of you who were unable to attend last night's Town Hall, I would also like to give some updates so we're all as informed as possible.
 
FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding have been extended into May. If you have a topic you'd like to hear more about or would like to nominate your team to present and receive a $200 team stipend made possible by Capital One and Showbest Fixture Corporation, click here.
 
FIRST Chesapeake is excited to announce an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the FIRST Chesapeake community and recognize some of our outstanding teams and individuals at the  
2020 FIRST Chesapeake Cultural Awards. This virtual awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 30th at 7pm. Join us for an hour of fun, celebration and much-deserved appreciation. 
 
Some say that "each day starts with new opportunities", but many of us would agree that each day also starts with coffee. Don't miss your chance to win a Starbucks' gift card through Meet FIRST Chesapeake Sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation's Educated Guess drawing. Take a minute to read the clues at the bottom of each "Meet FIRST Chesapeake" email at 2pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Enter your guess here to win a Starbucks' gift card and recognition on the next email blast. No one guessed that our own Jenny Beatty is also a supertaster, so we'll have 2 gift cards to give away at the next drawing!
 
We have been informed by the Hampton Coliseum that they are no longer able to guarantee that they can open to large crowds this summer. Because of this, our rescheduled June 17th-20thDistrict Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding has been postponed until further notice. In order to reschedule the District Championship or offer Infinite Recharge as an off-season challenge/celebration, FIRST Chesapeake will need to meet certain benchmarks such as the re-opening of all schools and the lifting of travel bans in our district, as well as changes in the current limitations regarding large gatherings. We will also need to receive permission from FIRST Headquarters before scheduling any events.  FIRST HQ is working with the Program Delivery Partners to determine the best course forward. Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers right now. We are hoping that FIRST will have a plan in place that we can announce to all teams by mid-May.
 
Finally, since there are no guarantees regarding what the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year may look like, FIRST HQ wants to make sure that all teams are aware that they are thinking outside of the box about ways to keep teams engaged and enthused. More details regarding enhancements to the upcoming FTC and FRC season will be coming later this Spring and Fall. For now, please check out FIRST @ Home as a way to access on line learning, support FIRST activities and stay connected with the FIRST community.
 
I know that I speak for the FIRST Chesapeake board and staff when I say how immensely proud we all are to see how our community has come together over the past month. FIRST Chesapeake strives to provide a safe and respectful community for our teams, volunteers and supporters, and we are working very hard to provide transparency and keep our community informed during these challenging and unprecedented times. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this season, and always. Of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me or the FIRST Chesapeake Team Advisory Committee.
 
Stay safe and healthy, my friends.
 
Leighann
Executive Director
FIRST Chesapeake

 

April 16, 2020

 

If you were unable to join tonight's Town Hall meeting, the recording is available here.

 

April 1, 2020

 

- If you were unable to join tonight's Town Hall Meeting, the recording is available here.

- The next Town Hall Conference Call is scheduled for April 16th, 5:30pm.  We will give an update about the season. 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1495062011

Or iPhone one-tap :
    US: +1(773)2319226,,1495062011# (US North)
           +1(469)4450100,,1495062011# (US South)
           +1(470)8692200,,1495062011# (US East)
           +1(623)4049000,,1495062011# (US West)
           +1(720)9027700,,1495062011# (US Central)
Or Telephone:
    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
    US: +1(773)2319226 (US North)

           +1(469)4450100 (US South)
           +1(470)8692200 (US East)
           +1(623)4049000 (US West)
           +1(720)9027700 (US Central)
    Meeting ID: 149 506 2011

 

March 18, 2020

 

Dear Teams,
 
It has been a long and sometimes frustrating two weeks, but the way our teams have conducted themselves during this trying time has been amazing. Your maturity and gracious professionalism have really shown, and it's been so much appreciated by all of us at FIRST Chesapeake. Believe me, cancelling some events and postponing others was not an easy decision.
 
This communication is meant as an update. As always, if you have questions or need clarification, please reach out to your Team Advisory Committee or FIRST Chesapeake staff.
 
What Is FIRST HQ Saying About The Suspended Season?
FIRST HQ has suspended the season but has cancelled the World Championships in Detroit and Houston. There is a difference in the wording. Currently, the program is suspended through April, when HQ will re-evaluate the potential for resuming play in one form or another. However, the World Championships are cancelled, which means they will not be rescheduled.
 
What Does This Mean For FIRST Chesapeake Teams?
Currently if you go on the FIRST website, you'll see that CHS remaining events are listed as suspended. While HQ knows that we have cancelled the remaining local District events and rescheduled the (FRC) District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding to June 17th-20th, they assigned all events "suspended" until they can have one on one discussions with the program delivery partners.
 
Team refunds - Any team fees paid for the World Championship will be refunded. A FIRST HQ communication will go out to teams hopefully within the next few weeks. Team refunds for FRC teams who never got a chance to compete or have already paid for a District Championship are under review. FIRST's policy states no refunds, but the executive staff realize these are unique times and they are working to find a solution. The hope is that the season will resume (example, our District Championship in June) and teams will get at least one chance to play before the season ends.
 
Awards - FIRST is working on determining how awards such as Dean's List, Chairman, Engineering Innovation, etc. will be interviewed and recognized. They are asking for our patience.
 
Seniors - FIRST realizes that recognizing graduating seniors is very important to the teams and they are working on several options. They are also discussing how to recognize Volunteer of the Year and Woodie Flowers.
 
Rookie grants -  FIRST recognizes the unique position rookies have been in this season and are evaluating options regarding rookie grants for next season.
 
What Is The Rescheduled District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding Going to Look Like?
 
FIRST Chesapeake is planning to offer the same high energy experience as always, including an expanded Technology and Scholarship Row, free giveaways, team showcases, and more. Travel grants will also still be available to teams needing assistance.
 
Team Advancement - FIRST Chesapeake is waiting to schedule a discussion with FIRST HQ about how we will handle team advancement in the next few weeks. Ideally, we would like to total the scores of the 8 teams that played 2 events, double the scores of the 94 teams that played once, and open a lottery to the 24 teams that didn't get to compete at any local District events. Note that all of this is hypothetical until FIRST HQ has approved our proposal.
 
COVID-19 - Of course, the success of the District Championship depends upon the path the COVID-19 pandemic follows over the next few weeks. If the majority of teams are still under travel restrictions, FIRST and FIRST Chesapeake will need to re-evaluate the District Championship plans. Because of this, FIRST Chesapeake has asked FIRST HQ to consider pushing the event registration deadline back to May or June of this year.
 
What Is FIRST Chesapeake Planning?
FIRST Chesapeake is looking at a number of options to help keep teams engaged over the next few months:
  • Possible scrimmage for the 24 teams who were unable to play at a District event this season. More details to follow in late April/early May.
  • Weekly updates to teams via email and social media.
  • Mentor workshops Sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton (free) are still planned for Richmond (May) and Blacksburg (June).
  • Off-Season Events - FIRST Chesapeake is willing to work with teams that may be interested in hosting off-season events in the Fall. More information to follow this summer.
  • Possible on-line webinars, panel discussions, and Q&A forums. See below for more information on how to get involved in this.
  • Town Hall update, April 1st, 5:30pm. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1493160069

    Or iPhone one-tap :
        US: +1(773)2319226,,1493160069# 
               +1(623)4049000,,1493160069# 
    Or Telephone:
        Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
        US: +1(773)2319226 
               +1(623)4049000 
        Meeting ID: 149 316 0069
What Can My Team Do For Now?
  • Continue to work on your team's business or succession plan
  • Keeping in mind the CDC guidelines regarding limiting social contact and the guidelines of your school, think of ways that you may be able to help others in your community. (Does your local animal shelter need dog walkers? Can you pick up trash at a nearby park or green space?)
  • Contact your local Team Advisory Committee member about your team hosting an on-line webinar, open chat or panel discussion. They will gather your ideas and work with Ron Therrien, Director of Programs, to schedule and promote these sessions on FIRST Chesapeake's Ring Central conference line.
  • Let your local Team Advisory Committee member know what topics you may like to hear more about from FIRST Chesapeake staff. (examples, fundraising, creative conflict resolution, etc.)
  • Share your favorite experiences from the season with Samantha EllisFIRST Chesapeake Communications Manager, for posting on social media. We'd love to share a little sunshine over the next few weeks.
 
We are working very hard to keep the teams and our volunteers updated. We will be posting any updates regarding COVID 19 on our website here. Until then, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the Team Advisory Committee or FIRST Chesapeake staff.
 
Wishing everyone good health.
 
Leighann Scott Boland
Executive Director
FIRST Chesapeake

 

March 13, 2020 

 

March 12th Town Hall Call recording

 

March 12, 2020

 

Dear FIRST Chesapeake Community,

The FIRST Chesapeake board met this morning and made the difficult decision to cancel this week’s Portsmouth and Owings Mills District Events, as well as next week’s Blacksburg District Event and Edgewater District Event Sponsored by Leidos.  The health and welfare of our teams and volunteers has always been our highest priority. Given the dramatic increase of COVID 19 confirmed cases and the unprecedented number of school closings and revised travel restrictions over the past 24 hours, we feel it is in the best interest of everyone to cancel.

 

The FIRST Chesapeake District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding has been postponed to June 17th-20th, 2020. While we realize that this is not a perfect solution, we hope that moving the District Championship to a later date will allow teams to enjoy the excitement and energy of a FIRST Robotics Competition.

 

We are disappointed that teams will not have a chance to finish the competition season this Spring, and we recognize that there will be many questions about how this will affect team rankings and the FIRST World Championship. We are working with FIRST Headquarters to determine next steps for advancement to our District Championship and FIRST World Championship Competitions.

 

There will be a dial in Town Hall this afternoon at 5:30pm. We will give an update and answer as many questions as we can at this time. This meeting will also be recorded and posted on the FIRST Chesapeake webpage under COVID 19 updates.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1497171975

Or iPhone one-tap :
    US: +1(773)2319226,,1497171975# 
Or Telephone:
    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
    US: +1(773)2319226 
    Meeting ID: 149 717 1975

We recognize the tremendous amount of hard work that the teams and the local committees have put into this season.  We also know that some teams and volunteers may lose deposits for this weekend. The situation has been a moving target with many variables. This was not an easy decision, but we feel it is the right one.

 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work with FIRST Headquarters to solidify a plan for FIRST World Championship and the District Event Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding this summer.

 

Sincerely,

 

Leighann Scott Boland                                                       James Kresge

Executive Director                                                                Board Chair

 


March 11, 2020

 
Hello Teams, 
 
Given the recent news about the Coronovirus (COVID-19), the FIRST Chesapeake Board of Directors would like to share the following update.
 
We assure you that the safety and health of our community continue to be top priorities for FIRST Chesapeake. We are following the situation closely and working with our schools, local committees, health departments, and FIRST Headquarters. As of today, we plan to have all scheduled District events while continuing to follow the CDC guidelines for large groups. These guidelines include encouraging common-sense practices such as hand washing, staying away from events if sick or part of a high risk group (immune compromised, elderly) or if you may have possibly been exposed to the virus. Some venues may require we limit the number of team members or public, but currently all sites are willing to hold the events as planned. We are also working with FIRST 
Headquarters and other District Partners to develop alternative opportunities for teams that may not attend events due to school closings or potential exposure. By being proactive and observing public health recommendations, we are doing our best to ensure the safety of our teams, guests, and volunteers.  
 
At this point there are no changes to any District event plans. However, should the situation change we will proactively adjust and notify you as quickly as possible.
 
The most important way to protect yourself against the spread of any contagious disease is to understand the symptoms, risks, and steps that can be taken to stay healthy while you are at events.
 
Safety Precautions:
  • Stay home if feeling unwell, developing a cough, or running a fever
  • Stay home is you are part of an at-risk group, such as immune compromised or elderly or if you believe that you have been exposed to someone with COVID 19.
  • Practice hand hygiene, including frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Practice respiratory etiquette, including covering cough and sneezes with a tissue, and then disposing of the tissue in the trash
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (including tablets and cell phones)
  • Perform self-monitoring, and seek medical care immediately if feeling unwell
At Events:
  • Safety glasses will no longer be handed out for reuse. Teams will be responsible for bringing their own safety glasses. A limited number of glasses may be sold by host teams on-site, but this varies by venue.
  • Signs are posted around the event reminding attendees of proper hand washing procedures. There are bathrooms with sinks and soap throughout each event location.
  • Hand sanitizer is stationed at all entrances, Pit Admin, Volunteer and Mentor Lounges, and on the field.
  • High-touch surfaces, such as the drivers' stations and gates to the field are being wiped down between matches.
  • Attendees are encouraged to use an elbow bump instead of a handshake or high five as a greeting.
A dial-in Town Hall will be hosted at 5:30pm on Thursday, March 12th for anyone who would like to attend. The Town Hall will address questions such as alternate plans if events are cancelled and options for teams who may be unable to attend. (This will also be recorded and posted with the COVID 19 Update later this week.)
 
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1497171975
 
Or iPhone one-tap:
   US: +1(773)2319226,,1497171975#
Or Telephone:
   Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
   US: +1(773)2319226
   Meeting ID: 149 717 1975
 
Updates from FIRST Chesapeake will be posted on our home page under COVID 19 Updates. Any event cancellations will be posted on the FIRST Chesapeake home page, broadcast on social media, and event volunteers and registered teams will be emailed immediately. Event specific updates will also be posted on the event webpage, as well as the event specific volunteer and team webpage. A full list of cancelled or postponed FIRST events can be found here.
 
We are also working very hard to keep the Team Advisory Committee updated and informed. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to them. As your team representatives, they may already have an answer. If not, they will know the appropriate staff at FIRST Chesapeake or FIRST Headquarters to contact.
 
We appreciate your patience as we navigate the next few weeks. Unfortunately, while we are trying to be as proactive as possible, this is an ever-changing landscape. We ask for your understanding as we address issues as they arise.
 
Leighann Boland                                       James Kresge                                 
Executive Director                                     Board Chair
 
Additional Information:
 
FIRST COVID 19 Statement: https://www.firstinspires.org/covid-19
FIRST Registration Deadlines and Refund Policy: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/pricing-and-payment

 


Previous Updates

 

March 3, 2020 message

  FLL RGB Explore vert icon full color FLL RGB Challenge vert icon full color FIRST Tech Challenge FIRST Robotics Competition
  6-10 Years Old 9-14 Years Old 12-18 Years Old 14-18 Years Old

 

Want to see what a FIRST Chesapeake competition is like and hear from our teams and volunteers? Check out our View From All Sides video

  • Thursday, November 5th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Canon Virginia Employees - Presented by Canon Virginia."
  • Thursday, November 5th, 6:30pm - "Meet the FTC Head Referees." FIRST Chesapeake Head Refs will discuss what referees do and answer questions about the upcoming season.

Inclement Weather

INCLEMENT
WEATHER POLICY

In case of Inclement Weather the day of
a FIRST Chesapeake Event,
Please call 804.464.8945
after 5am for updates