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

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