Friday, September 21, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando High strengthens ties that bind students and faculty

BROOKSVILLE — It turns out that Hernando High School chemistry teacher Noreen Shakut is a yoga enthusiast. Math teacher Gina Cabrera enjoys horses. English teacher Brenda Burback crochets. And physical science teacher Marie Dautruche likes line dancing.

For Hernando High administrators, highlighting the interests of these teachers and their colleagues was part of a concerted effort to strengthen relationships between teachers and students.

Principal Leechele Booker and her assistant principals recognized that by improving those relationships, the school could improve student attendance. So, they got to work putting a variety of plans into action.

Assistant principal Lorenzo Fields liked an idea espoused by Brooksville Elementary School principal Jill Renihan to pair high school students with elementary-aged ones. "She thought we could collaborate between the two schools," Fields said.

Even at the elementary level, students can grow disenchanted with school. Renihan, Fields explained, felt high school students could serve as mentors to her students. So every Tuesday, about a dozen Hernando students head over to the elementary school to encouragement and support for about an hour.

"The kids say that it’s been rewarding," Fields said. "They are understanding how important their intervention can be."

Assistant principal Dan O’Rourke has assembled his PIT (Peers In Training) Crew, based on an idea he learned about at a training session for exceptional student education.

Peers in Training is a credit–earning course that also qualifies for Bright Futures credit. It pairs student mentors with fellow students struggling in school or enrolled in special education classes.

"They had to apply (and) get teacher references," O’Rouke said of prospective mentors. Applicants were also required to have at least a 2.75 grade point average and good attendance. Of 40 students who were interviewed, 20 were chosen to mentor other students this first year. ESE/English teacher April LaBelle oversees the academics of the course.

Assistant principal Angela Miller Royal focused on attendance issues, especially during early-release days. Coupled with that problem, she noted declining participation rates in extracurricular activities. So at the beginning of the school year, Miller Royal presented staff with a way to address both issues. It’s an idea that has been well-received by both faculty and students.

Now, early dismissal days — there’s usually one each month for teacher professional development — are called "Club Connect." Students come to school and have an hour of academics followed by two sessions in interest clubs of their choice.

Before the first early release day this year, the school announced that students would go to a club fair to choose from over 50 club activities. That early release day saw attendance at about 90 percent.

Because of Hurricane Irma, the next early release in September was changed to a full school day to compensate for lost time. But the disappointment over losing club time was so widespread that Booker and Miller Royal amended the day’s schedule so students and teachers could still meet for a limited time in their clubs.

Besides the line dancers, students who crochet, the equestrians and the yoga enthusiasts, options include fishing, game design, puzzlemania, nutrition, table tennis, ultimate Frisbee, creative writing, car club, music theory, debate and vintage creations.

After the meetings, Miller Royal said, "I pulled aside a few kids and teachers and asked how it went. All the comments I received were positive. I’m excited. So far it’s producing what I thought it would. All the kids are having an opportunity to participate and that makes my heart smile."

Comments
FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

ST. PETERSBURG — An act of kindness ended tragically when the body of a missing motorist was found Friday more than 15 hours after he pulled over on the side of Interstate 275 to assist another driver.Dhimitri Andoni, 22, of Clearwater was driving no...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Rays journal: Carlos Gomez says ump should’ve been ejected

Rays journal: Carlos Gomez says ump should’ve been ejected

TORONTO — After unleashing a Twitter rant criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher's work behind the plate Thursday, Rays OF Carlos Gomez doubled down on his comments, saying he was even more upset about how Fletcher treated him when questioning a thir...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

ST. PETERSBURG — A fatal traffic crash occurred at about 7:15 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Ulmerton Road and Carillon Parkway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash closed all westbound lanes of Ulmerton Road.No additional informati...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Blocked: People are building their own barriers to block Red Tide

Blocked: People are building their own barriers to block Red Tide

ST. PETERSBURG — To combat the waves of dead fish that keep washing ashore during the Red Tide bloom, some Pinellas County businesses and homeowners are borrowing a tactic from the president himself:They’re building a wall.Take the folks at Admiral F...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays Carlos Gomez doubles down on criticism of umpire

Rays Carlos Gomez doubles down on criticism of umpire

After unleashing a Twitter rant criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher's work behind the plate in Thursday's game, Rays OF Carlos Gomez doubled down  in his comments Friday, saying he was even more upset about how Fletcher treated him when questioning...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies seek two men wanted in sexual battery at Tampa motel

Deputies seek two men wanted in sexual battery at Tampa motel

TAMPA — Deputies are asking for the public’s help to identify two men they believe committed a sexual battery on Sept. 15 near an east Tampa hotel.The attack took place inside a vehicle at the Quality Inn & Suites at 10007 Princess Palm Ave., accordi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sheriff: Pinellas deputy fired for alerting inmate about cell search

Sheriff: Pinellas deputy fired for alerting inmate about cell search

A Pinellas County detention deputy was terminated on Friday for revealing confidential information about a scheduled search of jail cells for weapons and other contraband, said Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.Detention deputy Michelle Parsons, 48, adm...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a long-awaited, school-by-school list of 1,785 projects to be funded by a proposed half-cent sales tax hike.The list, now on the district website, includes playgrounds for Anderson El...
Updated: 3 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, trying to bounce back

For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, trying to bounce back

UPDATE, 6:15: Cash talked about how tough Thursday's loss was, that he doubted many on the team got a good night's sleep. He said he took Kiermaier out to get Meadows an at-bat and doesn't know if Kiermaier would have caught the Kendrys Morales bloop...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

In early fall, Retro Fitness will open a 17,000 square foot fitness facility in Citrus Park, and it plans for more Tampa Bay area locations.Founded in 2005, Retro Fitness has 153 clubs throughout the United States and is the official fitness center o...
Updated: 4 hours ago