Saturday, July 21, 2018
Education

Girl Scouts invade Clearwater

CLEARWATER

Roughly 2,200 Girl Scouts, ages 7 to 17, stampeded across the Memorial Causeway Bridge on Saturday morning, hamming for iPhone cameras and honking cars.

The journey was symbolic, an anniversary celebration: "Bridging into the next century," read the bubble-lettered slogan on each girl's shirt.

The event dubbed "GS Fest," organized by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, commemorated 100 years of Scouting with a day of concerts, friendship bracelets and introductory rocket science — among other girl-powered activities — in Clearwater's Coachman Park.

Anastasia Myers, 14, of Seminole weaved through the crowd in 4-inch wedge heels and a badge-covered vest. She began collecting the sew-on honors, about 150 by now, in kindergarten for tying square knots, learning to sail, serving chicken noodle soup at homeless shelters.

At 5-foot-8 barefoot, Anastasia likes to be tall. She'd camp in stilettos.

"I can be myself here," said Anastasia, who takes biology and law courses at St. Petersburg College's Seminole campus. "There's always something to do or work toward."

Regional Girl Scouts CEO Kim Jowell, who high-fived girls walking off the bridge, said Scouting is education disguised as fun: Youngsters learn about financial literacy through selling cookies, history through stories told by the campfire.

"We started out as 'cookies, crafts and camps,' " Jowell said. "We've come so far from that. We're so much more than that."

The program evolves to keep up with modern, fast-paced girls, she said. But troop leaders' goals remain the same.

"It's a unique opportunity for them to be in a gender-specific environment, constantly experiencing new things," Jowell said. "They learn a lot about their community and give back to their community, and I don't think you can replace that experience."

At Coachman Park, 9-year-old Sophia Tuozzo hula-hooped in the grass.

By noon, the budding cross country runner — a Brownie whose Tampa troop meets twice monthly — had climbed a tree, crafted a miniature airplane and hugged a woman dressed as a gigantic daisy.

"I love it," Sophia said, adding her favorite Girl Scout memory "of all time" was sleeping near the tigers at Busch Gardens. "We have fun and try new things and get to be leaders."

Jackie Tuozzo, who trailed slightly behind her daughter, enrolled Sophia last year to build her daughter's people skills.

"She's more self-confident now, friendlier," Jackie said. "She tries new things and becomes more independent."

Above the crowds, singer Carolyn Cole performed the song Call Me, Maybe with a cluster of Scouts.

Hannah Gibbs, 16, of Valrico, kicked off her Puma shoes before rushing onstage.

She swayed to the beat, shook her half-shaven head and pumped a fist into the air during the chorus: "Hey, I just met you — and this is crazy!"

The pop anthem matched her day. At every station, as interests aligned, she made giddy new friends.

"Here's my number — So call me, maybe!"

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

   
Comments
In the few weeks before school starts, experts offer tips on getting ready mentally and physically

In the few weeks before school starts, experts offer tips on getting ready mentally and physically

By the second week of August, public schools will be back in session across the Tampa Bay area. That may seem far off, but sleep experts say now is when parents need to start easing the kids (and themselves) into those early wakeup routines. The foll...
Published: 07/20/18
The genius: At age 11, he’s graduating from St. Petersburg College — then it’s on to astrophysics.

The genius: At age 11, he’s graduating from St. Petersburg College — then it’s on to astrophysics.

PALM HARBOR — Just over two years ago, William Maillis stepped onto a bright red chair behind a lectern, tweaked the angle of his microphone and recited a Bible verse in Greek before deconstructing a quote from French philosopher René Descartes.That’...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hernando County leaders may help School Board pay for campus security

Hernando County leaders may help School Board pay for campus security

BROOKSVILLE — With an Oct. 1 deadline looming for the Hernando County School Board to find a way to pay for school security once its agreement with the County Commission expires, leaders from both governments will consider extending the partnership.B...
Published: 07/19/18
State to keep close watch on five ‘turnaround’ schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas

State to keep close watch on five ‘turnaround’ schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas

State education officials on Wednesday approved plans in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to improve struggling schools — but with some conditions.The Pinellas district will have to keep a close watch on Fairmount Park Elementary principal Kristy M...
Published: 07/18/18
Pinellas School Board: First of three big candidate forums on Tuesday

Pinellas School Board: First of three big candidate forums on Tuesday

Candidates for the Pinellas County School Board will appear Tuesday at the first of three forums sponsored by the Pinellas Education Foundation, St. Petersburg College, the Pinellas County Council PTA and the League of Women Voters. The event will be...
Published: 07/18/18
Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

The Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the union for the county’s instructional staff, has announced its recommendations for School Board candidates ahead of next month’s election.The group made its decisions via a private forum, where about fi...
Published: 07/18/18
Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Lori Romano, fired from the Hernando County superintendent post for "ineffective leadership" a month ago, has snagged a job in the neighboring Pasco County school district.She won’t be nearly as high up the administrative ladder in her new role.Subje...
Published: 07/17/18
Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

LAND O’ LAKES — Chris Stowe has a storied past as an explosives technician in the U.S. Marine Corps.The retired master gunnery sergeant has mementos of his service — a field knife mounted to the lid of an explosives box, for instance — hanging promin...
Published: 07/17/18
Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Three trustees for Pasco-Hernando State College have been reappointed to their posts by Gov. Rick Scott, and a new member joined the college’s Foundation Board of Directors.The reappointments to the Board of Trustees are Alvaro Hernandez, Lee Maggard...
Published: 07/17/18
Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

DOVER — With the start of classes nearly three weeks away, Hillsborough County school resource officers are receiving extensive active shooter training Tuesday morning to prepare them in the event of another school tragedy.Members of the Hillsborough...
Published: 07/17/18