Middle school can be a breeding ground for bullying, especially as kids grow into themselves, hit puberty and are trying to navigate the awkward space between childhood and the teen years. That’s why the Juvenile Welfare Board, Pinellas County Schools and Gulf Coast Jewish Family Community Services have teamed up to provide the Violence Prevention Program with the Second Step curriculum to select Pinellas County schools.
“We identified 10 middle schools based on the level of special needs students, the disciplinary referral rates, in- and out-of-school suspension rates, academic performance and those kind of criterion,” said Rod Cyr, senior contract manager with the Juvenile Welfare Board.
These schools are Oak Grove Middle School in Clearwater, Tarpon Middle, Dunedin Highland Middle, Largo Middle, Pinellas Park Middle, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle in Largo, and Meadowlawn, Azalea, Tyrone, and John Hopkins Middle Schools in St. Petersburg. The JWB issued a request for proposals in 2002 and Gulf Coast Jewish Family Community Services won the bid. JFCS provides a prevention specialist that is assigned to each of the 10 schools, and that person basically becomes a member of the school staff as she or he delivers the evidence-based Second Step curriculum to all sixth grade students.
Sticks and stones are not the only schoolyard weapons that can hurt kids. Words can hurt just as badly, and cyber bullying has taken it to the next level.
The Pinellas County School District, individual schools, Juvenile Welfare Board, and Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services are all working together to combat this problem so kids across the county can feel safe coming to school.
ST. PETERSBURG - The 50-member division 1A Royal Ambassador Marching Band earned a second state championship recently.
This marks three state titles in the last four years for Northside Christian School and it is the school’s fourth state title in the last eight, having won in 2006, 2010, 2012, and now 2013.
The little marching band, which has members as young as seventh graders, spread a message of optimism through its 1920s themed show “Roarin’”. The centerpiece of the show is “Smile,” a song written by Charlie Chaplin during the great depression. Even though the group dressed in flapper dresses and tuxedos and danced the Charleston, the kids were aware of a deeper message: The good times don’t always last. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” is quote from Jesus in the book of John that appears on the “Roarin’” themed T-shirts seen by supportive parents in the stands.
CLEARWATER - The Miniature Art Society of Florida is hosting its annual scholarship program. It has budgeted $6,000 for the 2014 scholarships, which will range from $500 to $1,500, depending on the number of applicants who qualify. For the first time, MASF will accept applications from previous recipients who are continuing their college fine arts education in the sophomore or junior year.
Scholarship applications must be received no later than Friday, Feb. 7, and applicants will be interviewed on Saturday, March 8 or Saturday, March 22. The primary focus of the scholarships is to encourage young artists to pursue a career in the fine arts, whatever their creative goals may be. MASF hopes that scholarship participants will be motivated to create miniature art in the future and that miniature art aficionados from around the world will be able to enjoy these creations in a future MASF annual show.
SAFETY HARBOR -Courtney Hawkins is giving away a $500 shopping spree to one lucky teacher to say “Thanks for Giving.”
Hawkins, SED of Thirty-One Gifts, has been a speech language pathologist in the school system for 15 years. She understands the importance of teaching and wants to give back to those who teach.
The rules are simple: Like Courtney Hawkins on Facebook at www.facebook.com/courtneysingerhawkins and tag a teacher in the Thanks for Giving thread. Participants should be sure to include the teacher’s school and grade. Teachers being nominated also should like Courtney’s page as well so they know if they win.
Nominations must be submitted before Dec. 2, 2013. All nominations will be entered into a drawing. The winner will be announced on Dec. 6. Current Thirty-One Gifts consultants are not eligible to nominate or win.
CLEARWATER - Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of Staples Inc., recently awarded $1,000 to Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf under a program that lets Staples associates direct donations.
The grants are part of a philanthropic initiative created by Staples Foundation which allows Staples associates around the world to direct funding to nonprofit organizations that are focused on education or job skills. The program encourages local community engagement by awarding larger grants to organizations where associates are highly engaged in volunteering or fundraising - up to $25,000 per organization.
The program, called 2 Million and Change, will award funds to organizations around the world, reaching more than $2 million in grants by the end of the year. In 2012, associates globally directed more than $2.1 million of Staples Foundation grants to 470 nonprofit organizations.
“Staples Foundation is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where our associates live and work,” said Katy Dobbs in a press release. Dobbs is director of global community and giving for Staples Inc. “Through our program, we are pleased to support our associates and the local nonprofit organizations that matter to them most.”
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater/Tampa Bay chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters recently announced the overall winner of the Justine LeBaron Young Artist Competition at the Music Center at St. Petersburg College.
Kaila DeLaney was the overall winner. She was presented with a check for $500 by Anne Lauder, president of the Clearwater/Tampa Bay chapter of the NSAL, which serves the west coast of Florida.
DeLaney performed a classical piece on the oboe, winning first place in the senior division. She went on to be chosen the overall winner of the competition.
The Young Artists Competition is sponsored by the Florida Orchestra Musicians' Association in honor of Justine LeBaron, a beloved former principal French horn player with the orchestra.
ST. PETE BEACH - The longtime goal of a number of educators, parents and residents came to fruition Nov. 12 when the Pinellas County School Board approved an application for a public charter school in St. Pete Beach.
After initially turning down the application, school board members reversed themselves and gave the thumbs-up to the proposed Academy by the Sea, which will serve 176 students in grades 4 through 8 beginning in August.
The Academy’s application was initially turned down by county school officials based on a lack of capital revenue and a suitable location. But proponents of the school worked vigorously at the 11th hour and garnered an additional $94,000 in commitments to go with a promise to find a suitable site. That was enough to convince school board members.
“They questioned our proposal to lease a building and they questioned if we could do it for the amount we stated, and we can,” said Wendy Holmes, a member of the Academy’s board of directors. “Now we need to get some budget help.”
Affordable Care Act presentation
SAFETY HARBOR – A presentation about the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act by Dr. Mark Morris, M.D., is set for Wednesday, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m., at the Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 Second St. N.
Find out more about the law, what is in it, and how it will affect you. Join others in learning about the new benefits offered by the law. Morris is a Tampa Bay pediatrician in private practice and former Chief of Staff of All Children’s Hospital.
Call 724-1525, ext. 4112.
Boy Scouts Troop 10 meeting
DUNEDIN – Boy Scouts Troop 10 meets Wednesdays, 7 to 8:30 p.m., between September through June at 927 Louden Ave.
Call Peggy Ross at 641-5074.
Chess Club meeting
SEMINOLE – The Seminole Chess Club meets Wednesday, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St. N.
Everyone is welcome, though they should know the basics of how to play. Chess sets will be provided and there is no charge to play.
Call Alan Bohrer at 748-2522 for more information.
Largo Toastmasters meeting
LARG0 – Largo Star Toastmasters Club 5933 meets Wednesdays, 12:05 to 1:05 p.m., at the Young Rainey Star Center, 7887 Bryan Dairy Road No. 120 in Largo. For more information, call John Rouisse at 488-8010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The club is open to all residents and workers in the Largo, Pinellas Park and Seminole areas.
A Toastmasters club provides a supportive and positive environment where members have the opportunity to develop their oral communication and leadership skills. Come watch as members present speeches, develop leadership skills by serving in various club positions and participate in
Table Topics sessions in a relaxed yet structured one-hour setting.
Metro Friendly Visitors meeting
ST. PETERSBURG – The Metro Friendly Visitors, a group of LGBT seniors at Metro Community Center in the Kenwood area of St. Petersburg, is making a special outreach to homebound LGBT seniors throughout Pinellas County for communication and socialization.
The Metro Friendly Visitors will meet Wednesday, Dec. 11, 3 p.m., at the Metro Community Center, 3251 Third Ave. N.
Those who participate in the Metro Center senior activities enjoy the good fellowship of regular group discussions and outings. However, members realize that there many in the community who are shut-ins due to ill-health and injury. The M
etro Friendly Visitors program targets shut-ins, those who may be residing alone or in a group care setting.
Metro Friendly Visitors needs help identifying those LGBT homebound seniors in Pinellas County who might welcome some companionship and regular visits from volunteers.
Monthly crafting event
LARGO – Attend a free evening of crafting while taking inspiration from non-fiction books at the Largo Public Library on second Wednesdays, 6 p.m., in the Jenkins Community Wing of the library, 120 Central Park Drive.
Use a variety of materials to create a fun and unique project during this adult program. Families are welcome. The Nov. 13 craft will be a cross-stitch leather cuff.
No registration is required. All materials will be provided. Call 587-6715.
Wednesday afternoon book club
TARPON SPRINGS – The Tarpon Springs Library offers a new Wednesday afternoon book club called “Expand Your Horizons.”
Fiction and non-fiction books from a variety of genres are discussed each month.
For the date of the next meeting, call 943-4922 or email email@example.com.
Ask Your Educator
LARGO - Ask Your Educator: Panel Discussion on Diabetes – Thursday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m., at Bardmoor Medical Arts Building, Conference Center, Room 120, 8839 Bryan Dairy Road, Largo. Two certified diabetes educators will answer questions about diabetes. To preregister for a health seminar, call 953-6877, or visit www.BayCareEvents.org.
Breakfast Optimist Club meeting ST. PETERSBURG - The Breakfast Optimist Club meets each Thursday, 7:30 a.m. at Kissin’ Cuzzins Restaurant, 951 34th St. N., St. Petersburg.
LARGO – Free vegetable, herb and tropical fruit garden tours will be offered Thursday, Dec. 19, 9 to 11 a.m., at Pinellas County Extension, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Advance registration is required. Call 582-2500 or visit www.eventbrite.com/event/6241882639/eorg.
Attendees will learn more about growing their own food as they marvel at the eye-catching array of culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs, trees and flowers in Extension's Florida Botanical Herb Garden. Guests will wander the brick paths between the Egyptian, Mediterranean, Asian and beverage plantings and learn how the featured plants can be used in the home.
Visitors also will learn more about the tropical fruits that do well in the Florida climate including many varieties of bananas, figs, papayas, mangoes, avocados, sugar cane and citrus as well as little-known fruits that are not usually considered by the home gardener including jackfruit, carambola, Buddha's Hand and pomegranate.
The tour features a diversity of plantings including a wide variety of ground covers, bromeliads, palms and power-line friendly trees can be used in home landscaping. These tours, recommended for adults, are limited to groups of 14 to 16 people.