Student says Gibbs High shimmers despite F rating

5

August

St. Petersburg's Gibbs High School was hit with gloomy news earlier this summer when it received its first first F rating from the state. A new principal, Kevin Gordon, was named to "turn the school around."

Many tampabay.com readers expressed little optimism for the school, blaming lack of involvement from parents and students who don't care. 

One Gibbs student took offense to the comments and to the perception of her school.

"I'm absolutely hurt and disgusted," Amanda Kiener wrote in a letter on It's Your Times, the St. Petersburg Times' community journalism site.

Kiener learned about Gibbs' arts program, the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, when she was in eighth grade and set her sights on attending -- even though she lives in Tarpon Springs. For the last three years, she's boarded a bus at 4:45 a.m. for her 2½-hour ride to school. Kiener is entering her senior year and already has been offered a scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Kiener says the community views the school in two ways, either for its arts program or as the "school in the hood." But it's more than that, she says: It's a united school, with a dedicated teaching staff.

"Wake up, people! Gibbs High is a melting pot of diversity," she writes. "We represent society in itself. We have dancers writers, musicians, rappers, artists, designers, future business persons, a dedicated and award-winning R.O.T.C. department, and a school for business and technology."

As she enters her senior year, Kiener says she has high hopes for Kevin Gordon: "I hope our new principal will let us shine, and grow as a unified body. Gibbs needs to be reminded of how great we are."

Read Amanda's letter, then share your thoughts on her defense of Gibbs.

[Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 3:55pm]

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