Sunday, December 17, 2017
Education

Army specialist surprises sister at Sickles High graduation

TAMPA

The Singleton sisters consider themselves twins.

Big twin: Sara, 22.

Little twin: Lindsey, 18.

They're indivisible, except by the Army and war.

Sara, an Army intelligence specialist, deployed to Afghanistan's Kunar Province a year ago. As Lindsey finished her senior year at Sickles High School, Sara learned to sleep with the sound of mortar blasts.

She came home to Citrus Park for a visit in November, but Lindsey hadn't seen Sara since, not even after her April return to Fort Hood in Texas.

On Thursday, without Sara, Lindsey put on an emerald green cap and gown. It was her graduation day.

Lindsey couldn't get excited. People had tried to cheer her up, but only one person could do that.

"I'm really sorry," Sara had told her the day before.

The Sickles band performed. No Sara.

The ROTC presented the colors. No Sara.

Lindsey would be the last of four siblings to finish Sickles. Her father, a retired Tampa police detective, was in the audience, along with her mother, oldest sister and brother Cameron Cortez, 31, an Army recruiter who served in Iraq.

Lindsey, too, intends to join the Army.

The march of nearly 400 graduates began. The teens followed a ramp up one side of the stage and down the other.

First the honor students, then the A's, B's, C's . . . all the way to the S's.

Lindsey Alyse Singleton.

As Lindsey's name was called, as she walked to center stage, a thought crossed her mind.

The principal had telephoned her mom the day before. What was that all about?

Nah, she thought. Too good to be true.

But it was true.

Coming toward her from the other side of the platform was a slender woman in Army camouflage, carrying a red, white and blue bouquet.

The family had conspired. Sara had traveled 1,150 miles from Fort Hood.

Lindsey and Sara stopped in each other's path.

In seconds, everyone knew.

As the two hugged, teary-eyed, onstage, the hall went wild with applause and strangers came to their feet.

Lindsey didn't need a graduation gift, she said after the ceremony.

This one was enough.

"She came through," Lindsey said. "That's my twin."

Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

Comments
Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

TAMPA — A high-ranking University of South Florida Health official has resigned amid internal concerns that he was giving special treatment to his assistant.After an internal investigation, USF System President Judy Genshaft was poised last month to ...
Published: 12/15/17
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Published: 12/15/17
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Published: 12/15/17
Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

SEMINOLE — It was hard for the second-graders at Orange Grove Elementary to resist the urge to rush into the school’s science lab and tinker with the colorful objects neatly arranged on each table.Thursday was just their second time in the lab this y...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Rising up in defiance to Richard Spencer, hundreds of University of Florida students sounded off in a deafening chant."Go home, Spencer!" they shouted, as the exasperated white nationalist paced the stage, pleading to be heard.Were the students exerc...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

TAMPA — Elementary school students programmed an electronic mouse to make its way through a maze.Middle school students directed an electronic vehicle to stop on a dime, then use its arms to locate and lift a tiny cube.When the demonstration was done...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/14/17