Thursday, February 22, 2018
Education

Hernando High freshmen get pep talk from upperclassmen

BROOKSVILLE

Hernando High School's Class of 2016, the current freshman class, gathered in the school auditorium early one recent morning to make a commitment.

They put it in writing, each student pledging to stay in school and graduate.

On the stage, several seniors addressed the younger students, passing along their wisdom about staying the course.

Seventeen-year-old Chandler Ross' topic was the "high school experience," which she explained was "working hard when it's time to work hard and having fun when it's time to have fun."

Jesse Ramirez, 17, told the students they are going to have to be aware about graduating early on.

"You have to stay on top of stuff," Ramirez said.

He admitted to having a low grade-point average as a freshman, though he has since brought it up.

Tracy Echols, executive director and president of Communities in Schools of Hernando County, offered assistance to the students to help them stay in school and out of trouble — mentoring, tutoring, food, clothes — whatever they may need.

She pointed out the different pay scales among dropouts, high school graduates, college grads and those with master's degrees or doctorates.

"Education is your key for life," she said.

Senior Brent Culpepper, 18, talked about taking pride in finishing school.

"My freshman year, I didn't get to sign a pledge. Take pleasure in your accomplishments," he said.

He offered his personal help, as well.

"I am here for all of you," he said. And he assured the freshmen they had no reason to fear him because he is a senior. "I'm not going to trash-can you."

Alexandra Rey, 17, senior class president, BETA Club vice president, National Honor Society vice president, School Advisory Council secretary, yearbook editor and chief and Student Government member, talked about getting involved.

"You make friends. You get so many opportunities, and it makes you a more well-rounded person," she said.

Instructional coach Erin Courtney, freshman class sponsor, also encouraged the students.

"You want to be the person who's on track to graduate," she said. "The teachers here that you have are more than willing to help you."

After the speakers, the students filed up to the stage to sign the C2G (Commitment to Graduate) banner, which will be displayed throughout the year as a reminder to the students about their promise. They also shook hands with principal Leechele Booker and assistant principal Lorenzo Fields. The freshmen walked off the stage with another reminder to graduate: wristbands — "visual, personal reminders," Booker called them.

Freshman Brianna Dokter, 14, exited the stage, wristband in hand, and shared what she took away from the presentation.

"If I don't get good grades now, I'm going to have a really hard time doing band and keeping my grades up," she said.

Freshman Justin Williams, 14, remembered what Ramirez had said at the beginning of the assembly, about how low his GPA was and how he raised it. Williams said he wants to graduate and attend college.

Jamal Mention, 15, heard that story, too.

"What impressed me is how you have a 1.7 GPA and how you push yourself and push yourself to improve your grades and get where you want to go. If they can do it, I can do it," he said.

Mention hopes to play football at Florida State University.

Dylan Wilson, 15, liked hearing about the experiences of the seniors, especially Ramirez's work raising his GPA and Rey's school involvement. Wilson is quite sure he will graduate and already has goals.

"I plan on going into the Air Force Academy and becoming an officer and pilot," he said.

Fields, the assistant principal, said he is hopeful the program will help lower the school's dropout rate.

"I think it's good for them to set a goal and make a commitment to somebody else," he said. "They're in for the long haul."

Comments
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...
Updated: 9 hours ago
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 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
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
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Published: 02/20/18
Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members are not happy about the prospect of having to hand over academic control at three struggling schools to a private company, and paying the firm up to $2 million on top of it. But that’s the course they must...
Published: 02/20/18
Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

The parents of Andrew Coffey, the Florida State University student who died from alcohol poisoning after an apparent hazing episode last year, have sued the national Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and nine of its members for their son’s death.Coffey, who wa...
Published: 02/20/18
Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Schools nationwide are on heightened alert in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings in Broward County, and in the Tampa area, that means official warnings about social media posts and more calls for police action.Two Tampa boys, one 15 and one 16, ...
Published: 02/20/18
Schools, Tampa police warn against ‘misleading’ school security reports

Schools, Tampa police warn against ‘misleading’ school security reports

TAMPA — During a news conference Tuesday morning, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan warned against misleading investigators with reports about school security."Spread the word," the school said in a t...
Published: 02/20/18