LARGO - Last year did not go as planned for Marcus Paschal. After a pair of 6-4 seasons, the Largo High School head football coach thought his team was finally ready to make a playoff push. Instead, several hardships pushed the team’s limits and it took a step backward, finishing with its first losing season since 2004.
“It was a tough season on and off the field,” he said. “We had so many different things going on even outside the game.”
The Packers will again face hardships this season, including having only two home games as a result of an unfinished game field, but Paschal is confident continuity and talent will help them overcome.
SEMINOLE - The St. Petersburg College is hosting a forum, titled The Drug Epidemic: How Opioids Became a Death Machine, on Oct. 10, 6-8 p.m., in the Digitorium of SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N.
The forum, originally scheduled on Sept. 7, was canceled due to Hurricane Irma.
TAMPA - The University of South Florida in Tampa has reached the required number of benchmarks to earn the designation as a “preeminent” research university in the state of Florida.
USF’s most recent data, updated after the summer 2017 semester, shows USF Tampa’s six-year graduation rate has increased to a level (70 percent) that meets the preeminence standards according to the current Florida law. State universities must meet at least 11 of 12 established benchmarks, which are subject to change in the 2018 Florida legislative session. The Florida Board of Governors must certify all data before officially designating a university as preeminent.
SEMINOLE - With the new school year underway, change is in the air at Career Academies of Seminole.
With a new principal at the helm - Marti Giancola took on the role after Barbara Clare retired in June - CAS is set to become the county’s first technical high school. Construction will begin on the $10.5 million project in October.
Douglas L. Jamerson Jr. Elementary Center for Mathematics and Engineering has been named a Nationally Certified Magnet School by Magnet Schools of America.
Magnet Schools of America is the national association for magnet and theme-based schools. Jamerson Elementary was one of the first 55 schools in the nation to become nationally certified and will be recognized at a ceremony at Magnet Schools of America’s 36th National Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in April 2018.
The Lunch Pals mentoring program won the elementary school level 2017 Florida Association of Partners in Education Community Engagement Volunteer Award. The award comes with a $500 prize.
Lunch Pals, a partnership between Pinellas County Schools and Raymond James, is supported by dozens of business and community partners. The program links businesses, community organizations and individuals with nearby schools to provide students with mentors who meet with students during lunchtime. In 2013, the program started with one business and one school. Now, the program has more than 50 business and community partners at more than 80 schools. At the end of 2016-17 school year, 707 students were mentored through the Lunch Pals program.
The University of South Florida St. Petersburg College of Education will continue its Prep for Middle School Success Program this year.
The program is a partnership with Pinellas County Schools and is funded by the Juvenile Welfare Board. Over the summer, USFSP COE hosted rising fifth grade students from six different schools at a Leadership Summer Camp. During this current school year, USFSP COE staff and students will be again offering services to fifth grade students at Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Lealman Avenue, Midtown Academy and Pinellas Park Elementary schools. The program focuses on a leadership club, mentoring and tutoring, field trips and experiential learning, as well as Soccer, Teambuilding, Attitude, Respect and Self-Awareness, or S.T.A.R.S. Club, an afterschool enrichment program.
SEMINOLE - St. Petersburg College, nationally recognized for its use of data-driven strategies to increase student achievement, will host the fourth annual Moving the Needle Conference on Nov. 8-9 at the college’s Seminole campus, 9200 113th St.
The two-day event is from 7 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 8 with an evening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m.; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 9.
ST. PETERSBURG - Scott Cooper, St. Petersburg College’s associate theater professor, recently earned the 2017 Florida Theater Conference Achievement Award for College/University Theater.
This award honors his contributions to the cultural fabric of the arts in the college and university community. On Thursday, Nov. 9, Cooper will attend the Florida Theatre Conference at the Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College in Gainesville to receive the award.
CLEARWATER - How do you follow up one of the most successful seasons in a program’s history? That’s the question Clearwater head football coach Don Mesick is faced with this year following a magical run in 2016 that saw the Tornadoes go undefeated in the regular season, winning 10 games and a district title as well its first playoff game in over a decade.
But if any coach is up to the challenge it’s Mesick, a former assistant who in the spring of 2015 took over a turbulent program that had gone winless two years prior and was coming off the surprise resignation of head coach Donnie Abraham.
LARGO - Largo Middle School’s principal, Stephanie Joyner, was the recent recipient of the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce Inspire Award.
Presented by the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Committee, the Inspire Award honors those who are making a difference in the community. This is the ninth year the awards have been presented.
At Largo Middle School, Joyner implemented several programs that enhance student success. One of those programs is College for Every Student, which engages in three core practices: mentoring, leadership through service, and pathways to college and career. The program helps underserved youth achieve college success. Last year, Largo Middle School was awarded the School Distinction Award for engaging in CFES’ three core practices.
PINELLAS PARK - Marjorie Rawlings Elementary School was recognized as one of the top 10 healthy schools in America.
The school received the highest National Healthy School Award, the Gold-level award, from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Nine other schools received Bronze- or Silver-level National Healthy School Awards, including Bay Point Middle School, Highland Lakes Elementary School, Westgate Elementary School, Curlew Creek Elementary School, Forest Lakes Elementary School, Maximo Elementary School, Mount Vernon Elementary School, Safety Harbor Elementary School and Shore Acres Elementary School.
Schools earned the distinction by successfully meeting a rigorous set of criteria for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education, and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models. Each recognized school participates in Healthier Generation’s landmark Healthy Schools Program - one of the nation’s largest school-based childhood obesity prevention initiatives. The recognition was featured on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website and in Cooking Light magazine.
ST. PETERSBURG - The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Eckerd College recently released its 2017 fall term catalog.
The catalog features more than 150 non-credit classes and activities offered at its Eckerd College location designed for people age 50 and older and open to all adult learners across Pinellas County.
Among the many OLLI fall term classes offered are “Will Rogers: America’s Favorite Son,” “Discovering the Splendors of Provence, France,” “Walking the Camino de Santiago,” “Charlie Chaplin: Early Short Film Masterpieces 1916-1917,” “The Graduate: 50th Year Retrospective,” “Building the Tamiami Trail Across the Everglades,” “Mostly True Stories: Tales of Haunted Florida,” “Emerging Technologies Transforming Home Healthcare,” “The Turbulent Sixties,” “More Than a Funny Lady: Barbra Streisand,” “Crime Scene Investigation” and “Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks.”
SEMINOLE - The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College in partnership with the Drug Free America Foundation will sponsor The Drug Epidemic: How Opioids Became a Death Machine, Thursday, Sept. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., in the Digitorium of SPC’s Seminole campus, 9200 113th St. N., Seminole.
The forum will examine how opioid addiction became such a health crisis and what is being done to address it. Fueled by the mixing of deadly synthetic chemicals with heroin, an epidemic of fatal opioid overdoses has created a drug crisis in Florida and the nation that ripples across health care, law enforcement, medical first-response, social service and criminal justice agencies.
Pinellas has developed Preschool Kindergarten Partnership, a collaboration between the district, the Early Learning Coalition and other partners to establish countywide communication between preschool and kindergarten teachers.
The program will help to streamline the transition for students from pre-K to kindergarten.
Some of the major initiatives PKP has accomplished include designing a transmission form that the pre-K teachers can provide to kindergarten teachers on the strengths and preferences of students entering kindergarten; scheduling a meeting to educate pre-school directors on the district’s early transitions efforts; and holding transition meetings for parents of ESE students.
LARGO - In 1964, Largo High School sweethearts Audrey Venezia and Ken Bray were voted by their peers to have the most school spirit after they helped spearhead a project to install an 8 1/2-foot crest on the side of the auditorium.
That crest was taken down when the school was renovated in 2014, and Audrey would pass away two years later in July 2016.
So, when Bray watched a crew mount a new crest that was paid for by fellow members of the Class of 1964 almost exactly one year after his longtime wife’s death, he felt more than school spirit. He felt Audrey’s as well.