Sunday, February 25, 2018
Education

Community volunteers liven up schools

SOUTHSHORE — Let there be music, reading, frolicking and just plain more fun for students centered around some new and innovative outdoor attractions at Gibsonton and Reddick elementary schools.

That was the primary mission of the members and friends of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, which came to fruition on Thursday (Aug. 10) as Pre-K through fifth grade children descended upon their respective campuses to begin the first day of their 2017 – 2018 school year.

Thanks to contributions from the community and tons of sweat equity, the students received the surprise of an enlivened environment in their courtyards and other open-air spaces.

Armed with $8,100 in community donations and 100 on-site volunteers, chamber executive director Melanie Rimes led an effort that transformed the grounds at both schools.

The makeover included replacing dead and dying shrubberies with new plants and filling in barren spots with truckloads of sod, shell and mulch.

Dave Rimes, Melanie's husband and carpentry hobbyist, helped create musical gardens at both sites that include artfully-crafted xylophones and an assortment of old pots and pans.

Artistic hands also fashioned reading gardens beneath the branches of two grandfather oaks on both campuses, replete with an array of flowering plants.

The garden at Gibsonton is dedicated with a marker in remembrance of Sherry Kotula, a teacher and media specialist at the school who died in 2014.

What's more, artistically adorned wooden panels were crafted and placed near selected classroom doors throughout the campuses; new picnic tables and benches along with eye-catching overhead umbrellas were added; and several inspirational outdoor banners were hung at or near each school's entryways.

And, if that weren't enough, the teachers' lounge at both schools were furnished with new couches and chairs.

A small stage was built in Gibsonton's dining hall, complete with a stationary vinyl curtain that salutes the town's heritage as a home base for traveling carnival performers.

"They made this school a really colorful and fun place for the kids to come back to and I didn't do anything but supply the water," said Gibsonton principal Cindy Guy.

Reddick principal J. Thomas Roth, who noted he and some of his staff members helped with some of the outside, shared similar thoughts.

"The positivity abounds right now around here," said Roth, adding that the changes brought pizazz to the 10-year-old school. "At our open house the other night before school started, parents said they love what went into this project."

The school's playground area was primarily a dirt field until sod and shell were brought in to make it more aesthetically appealing and user friendly, said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy Brooke Melton, who serves as Reddick's school resource officer and contributed monetarily toward the project.

"The kids at this school are so amazing and they deserve better," Melton said. "A lot of these children are sleeping on the floor at home, but they always manage to get to school on time every day."

Nearby Wimauma residents Keith and Michelle Singletary, both retired professors, also made a sizeable financial donation toward Reddick's outdoor renovation endeavor.

"My wife and I learned of some of the needs in the community and we want to be supportive of our migrant workers, especially the children," Keith Singletary said. "In some regards we feel the growth of our nation depends on the education of our kids."

From start to finish the project took 45 days, including 23 full work days that drew almost 100 volunteers.

"This was a great community project that hopefully will inspire others to find out the needs of their local schools and see how they can help," Melanie Rimes said. "We only get one shot at helping our kids succeed before they become adults in our community, so why not try to inspire them with things to help them at school – fun things."

The International Showmen's Association, headquartered in Gibsonton and serving the carnival and outdoor amusement industry, contributed $1,000.

"I and many others in the club grew up in Gibsonton, went to school here and continue to make this community our home," said club president Wesley Burnett. "We want to see the kids there succeed."

 
Comments
Special Olympians shine at county summer games

Special Olympians shine at county summer games

NEW PORT RICHEY — It was one of those perfect days, when sunscreen and shade are in high demand, smiles are aplenty and the camaraderie on the field trumps the thrill of victory.About 600 Special Olympians and unified athletes from west Pasco schools...
Published: 02/23/18
Pasco foundation battling childhood hunger one school at a time

Pasco foundation battling childhood hunger one school at a time

ZEPHRYHILLS — On a Thursday morning in a small warehouse off Gall Boulevard, a well-oiled machine of goodwill is cranking. At the Thomas Promise Foundation, volunteers Carlos and Robin Clothier, pack boxes of macaroni and cheese, granola bars, apple ...
Published: 02/23/18
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Published: 02/22/18
Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored...
Published: 02/22/18
Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

With high school students from Parkland in the Capitol this week advocating for gun control, the bill that would have allowed superintendents and principals to designate trained employees who can carry concealed weapons at school didn’t get heard as ...
Published: 02/22/18
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

LITHIA — Students, faculty and staff recently scurried inside the Newsome High School gym for a morning assembly to hear a message about bullying from a man who kids once taunted.Newsome’s principal Carla Bruning invited actor Quinton Aaron, star of ...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

RIVERVIEW — Spoto High School English Department Head Adam Sherman can’t help but wonder if a program he introduced to Spartan students could have changed the trajectory of Nickolas Cruz’s life before he gunned down and killed 17 people on Valentine’...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18