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Griffin family wants school named for strawberry pioneer

DOVER – Strawberry pioneer Osburne Griffin already has a scholarship named after him, but his family wants to take that one step further: They want a school to bear his name.

Krysta Figga, Griffin's granddaughter, and other relatives are asking the Hillsborough County School Board to give the name Griffin High School to a new school under construction in Dover.

Figga, two sisters and several supporters showed up at a recent town hall meeting with the superintendent of schools sporting clipboards that said "Name it Griffin High."

The clipboards held petitions.

"Our family's very passionate about it," Figga said.

And for good reason: The land where the high school is being built was Osburne Griffin's. His family sold it to the school district after he died in 2004 but worked out a deal to continue living in six homes on the property.

Griffin was a pioneer in the strawberry industry who ran a roadside stand at his farm from 1954 until 1991. He helped organize the original Strawberry Growers Commission and was involved in the annual Florida Strawberry Festival. The festival awards a scholarship in his name.

The property is just off McIntosh Road in Dover, between Interstate 4 and U.S. 92. For now, it's called High School UUU. Set to open next year, it will likely take students from Armwood, Durant and Plant City high schools.

The district is currently soliciting suggested names for the new high school and an adjacent elementary school, as well as for another new elementary and a middle school in the southeastern part of the county.

District policy dictates that schools be named for individuals "who have rendered outstanding service to public education, such as U.S. presidents, school board members, educators, and outstanding citizens." Schools can also be named for geographic locations, groups or clubs.

The naming process can be intense, according to school district spokeswoman Kristin Jernigan. Anyone can submit a name, and forms are available to do so at other schools in the community or from the district.

Each suggested name — usually a couple of hundred, Jernigan said — is presented to the School Board with a thick packet of supporting materials. The packet can include letters from community leaders, photos or other documents to support the nomination.

Figga said Griffin wanted the school to be built on his property.

"It was his dream," Figga said.

Jan Wesner can be reached at [email protected] or 661-2439.

>>Input sought

Your nominations?

Want to suggest a name for one of the four new schools under construction in east Hillsborough? Send recommendations in writing to Barbara Franques, director for Area VI, 703 N Thomas St., Plant City, 33563. Suggestions can also be e-mailed to [email protected] The deadline is 4 p.m. Oct. 15.

Griffin family wants school named for strawberry pioneer 09/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:31am]
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