Debate awards: The Jesuit High School speech and debate team won two awards on Dec. 16 in a debate at Newsome High School hosted by the Florida Gulf Coast Catholic Forensic League. Junior Ryan Bianco took first in extemporaneous speaking and senior Paul Sempe was fifth in the congressional debate category.
Toy donations: Berkeley Preparatory School donated toys and 30 laptops to the RCMA Wimauma Academy, a charter school serving children of low-income farm workers. Families from Berkeley Prep delivered the toys and laptops last week. Fifth-grade students at Berkeley helped refurbish and test the laptops, which will be used by students in Leadership Academy, RCMA's new middle school next to Wimauma Academy.
Gift drive: Tampa Catholic High School partnered with St. Clement's Parish in Plant City to collect Christmas gifts to benefit the children of migrant farm workers based in St. Clement's Parish. Students brought unwrapped gifts to school and student organizations including the campus ministry, crew team, Key Club and FBLA helped with the drive.
Fundraiser: Cambridge Christian School in Tampa and Brooker Elementary School in Brandon were among the Florida schools that collected the most money to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Olive Garden's Pasta for Pennies. Cambridge Christian raised $4,388.47 and Brooker Elementary raised $4,377.55. Schools in Florida collected $354,000 this year. Students collected spare change in their classrooms for three weeks. The top fundraising class from each school received a pasta party from Olive Garden.
Scholarship opportunity: Tampa Bay Mensa and American Mensa are offering scholarships to college-bound seniors. Tampa Bay Mensa will award a $500 scholarship and American Mensa will award several scholarships ranging from $300 to $1,000 each. To apply, students must submit essays. Students do not need to be Mensa members to apply for some of the scholarships. Applications and more information are available at mensafoundation.org. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15.
Education conference: Eighth-grade students from Corbett Preparatory School of IDS put together a presentation as part of the Middle Mosaic conference on middle school English instruction that teacher Michael Vokoun attended last month. The students read the young adult novel Hidden Talents and put together small scenes based on the action in the book. They shared the scenes with the conference using Skype. Students Jack Henry Nouss, Connor Goering, Lauren Leach, Tanner Heinberg, Adler Shannon, Maggie Kratzer, Camelia Elkasri, Jordan Payne, Blake Turner and Elisa Cimmino worked with Vokoun one day a month outside of class to put together the presentation. More than 200 educators attended the conference in Las Vegas.
Robotics: Tampa Bay area robotics teams earned bids to compete in the FIRST Lego League regional competition. The Cyborgs robotics team from South Tampa, the Techno Whizards from TechPlayzone, the Mustechs of Valrico from Mulrennan Middle School, the Winthrop Mindstorms of Valrico from Winthrop Charter School and the Ibots of Tampa will all compete in the regional competition on Feb. 9 at Middleton High School. The Programming Thunderbots robotics team from TechPlayzone also won the award for Best Robot Performance at a qualifying tournament at Middleton High School. The next qualifying tournament will take place at Coleman Middle School in Tampa on Jan. 5.