@VSPalerts Added to Communications Platforms

RICHMOND – Since the Virginia General Assembly established Virginia’s first missing person alert program in 2003 with the Virginia A.M.B.E.R. (for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert, the Virginia State Police has taken advantage of the ever-evolving landscape of communications technology to reach broader audiences as quickly and effectively as possible. This year the Virginia State Police added @VSPalerts on Twitter to its existing notification platforms.

“Just as the types of alerts have expanded over the years, so too have our means of notifying the public,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Every second counts when it comes to safely locating an abducted child or endangered adult or a missing child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Thus, it is imperative that an alert’s key details be disseminated across as many diverse communications channels as quickly as possible.”

Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has established five missing persons alerts: Virginia AMBER Alert (2003); Virginia Senior Alert (2007); Virginia Blue Alert (2011); Virginia Critically Missing Adult “Ashanti” Alert (2018); and the Virginia Missing Child with Autism Alert (2020). State code designates the Virginia State Police as the operator of each alert for the purpose of identifying that each alert’s criteria is met and an activation is justified.

An AMBER Alert triggers activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), @VSPalerts and the Virginia State Police Twitter and Facebook pages, changeable message boards and a series of other communications/notification systems. For those instances where not all AMBER Alert criteria can be satisfied, the state police will initiate an Endangered Child Alert. This alert still enables the Department to bring the necessary attention to the missing and endangered child’s situation across traditional and social media platforms.

Since each program’s inception, Virginia has activated a total 62 AMBER Alerts, 181 Senior Alerts, 33 Endangered Child Alerts, 10 Endangered Adult/Ashanti Alerts and one Blue Alert.

Additional background information on each alert program is available at https://www.vaamberalert.com/VSPalerts-background.htm.

Governor Northam Invites Virginians to Celebrate Educators During Teacher Appreciation Week

Virginia Lottery’s sixth annual “Thank a Teacher” campaign honors educators across the Commonwealth

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has proclaimed May 3–7, 2021 as Teacher Appreciation Week in the Commonwealth and is encouraging all Virginians to participate by sending personalized thank-you notes to recognize educators for their service and dedication to students. This year’s sixth annual Thank a Teacher campaign, sponsored by the Virginia Lottery in partnership with the Virginia Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and The Supply Room, celebrates the important role of teachers in Virginia and highlights the talent of young artists by featuring student artwork on each thank you note.

“While this school year looks unlike any other, one thing remains the same—teachers are the driving force in equipping our children with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary for success,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia’s teachers have risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic, and during Teacher Appreciation Week we have a special opportunity to show them our gratitude. I encourage Virginians across the Commonwealth to join us in recognizing all those who are investing their time and talent to ensure every student is served equitably and shaping the lives of our future leaders in more creative ways than ever before.”

More than 100,000 thank-you cards have been sent to Virginia teachers during the first five years of the campaign. To send a digital thank-you note, or to request hard copy notes for your school, please visit thankateacherva.com. Hard copy notes also are available through participating PTA chapters and at all Virginia Lottery customer service centers. Digital and hard copy thank-you notes may be sent to teachers through Friday, May 7.

Qualifying teachers who receive a thank-you note can enter a drawing for a chance to win one of two Virginia vacations from the Virginia Lottery and $5,000 in credit for their school from The Supply Room. 

“Our superhero teachers have gone above and beyond for students over the past year,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “From early childhood to K-12, Virginia educators have quickly adjusted to new guidelines and are providing students with a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment to return to throughout the Commonwealth. This week, let’s thank them for going the extra mile every day for Virginia’s children.” 

For the fourth year in a row, the thank-you notes feature the beautiful designs of three student artists selected through the Virginia Lottery’s “Thank a Teacher” Art Contest. The winning entries were created by Sarah Saravanan, a first grade student at McNair Lower Elementary School in Fairfax County, Karmare Brownlee, an eighth grade student at Tabb Middle School in York County, and Andrew Gibson, a senior at Gretna High School in Pittsylvania County. 

Each winning student-artist received a $150 gift card from the Virginia Lottery. The art department at each winner’s school also received $1,000 from the Virginia Lottery and a $1,000 credit from The Supply Room.

“Every day, thousands of teachers are working to make a difference in the lives of our children and, consequently, Virginia’s future,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Teachers choose their profession because they are passionate about enriching the lives of the students who fill their classrooms. As your Secretary of Education, a former teacher, and a public school parent, I invite you to take a few moments to write a thank-you note to the teachers that sacrifice so much for our students.”

“Virginia’s K-12 public school teachers have always been a valuable and important resource for the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall. “The Thank a Teacher campaign is a great opportunity to celebrate those teachers who have moved heaven and earth to continue supporting Virginia students and their families during these challenging days.”

Authorized by Virginia voters in a successful 1987 referendum, Virginia Lottery players generate more than $1.6 million per day for Virginia’s K-12 public schools. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, lottery customers helped generate more than $595 million in funding for public education. The Virginia Lottery has been the source of more than $10 billion for public schools since 1999.

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