Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey students get in the act in RNC education video

NEW PORT RICHEY — At 8 p.m. Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times Forum rocked as Republicans neared the climax to their national convention — the nomination of Mitt Romney for president.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stood backstage, ready to talk about education. The big screen lit up with a slick 106-second video featuring children — "the next generation of Americans" — who the narrator said had "the drive to reach their dreams. Will they be equipped to pursue them?"

"I want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg," said 13-year-old Abi Williams as she walked through a crowded school hall.

"I want to be a teacher," said Laura Agudelo, 12, with a confident smile.

Friday morning, the children were still enjoying the attention at their New Port Richey charter school, Dayspring Academy.

"Do you know how many people watch the Republican National Convention?" asked Kasey McNaughton, a 13-year-old with dreams of Broadway. (Nielsen estimated that 21.9 million viewers tuned in to the several networks showing the convention's final night.)

Kasey had no lines in the video. But she was fine with that, she said. "I was just an actor."

That's right. The kids made no bones about it as they excitedly talked about their experience. The lines were scripted.

Abi, who in the video wanted to be like Facebook founder Zuckerberg, said she really wants to be a pediatrician. She said she had to ask who Zuckerberg was.

"When I first got there, I was like, 'Why do they need me?' " she said. "Then I looked at the script. I went to my line and it said, African-American girl. I'm like, 'This is why.' "

She and her friends laughed at the story. But it was serious business for the Republicans, who have a recognized gap in minority group support.

"They really wanted ethnic diversity," said art teacher Kelly Covic, who helped organize the students for the filming.

Jack Abberger, another aspiring actor, had to repeat his line — "I want to be the next Stephen King" — at least 50 times. The directors wanted to hear it with different inflections each time, said Jack, 13, who actually considers himself a mediocre writer and hopes to be a professional athlete.

"By the final time, I just placed my head on my desk. I was so relieved," he said, adding with a grin that he accidentally said "Stephen Hawking" in one of the takes.

The lengthy day of filming then gave way to anticipation. Would the video air? Would they be in it? Would it show up on television or just on the convention floor?

Hope Greenier intently watched the events unfold on her television as the time for their debut neared. She was waiting for that moment.

Then came the tinkling piano music and images of Americana, with the narrator's deep intonation, "What is this American dream?"

"I thought, Maybe this isn't it," Hope, 13, related Friday morning. "Then my ring showed up, and I was like, 'That's me!' Then they showed my face."

She scrambled to Facebook, where she quickly updated her status to let everyone know she had just been ON NATIONAL TELEVISION for two seconds. Several of her classmates were doing the same thing.

Then they spent time rewinding and watching again, showing it to their friends.

Forgot to hit the record button? It's on YouTube, too.

That's how Devon Rivera knew they had made it.

Several of the students' friends, family members and acquaintances saw it, as they quickly learned.

"I usually go to my friend's house (each morning) and they'll drive me down to the bus stop," said Tyler Corbin, 14. "His dad was there and he opened the door and said, 'I want to be a scientist.' "

That was Tyler's line.

He said Friday that the entire experience, from the long hours taping and waiting, to the tired next day at school, to the ultimate showing, was totally worth it — a feeling that everyone shared.

If only, they said, the school could now could get a similar gig for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

"I want to go to North Carolina so bad," Kasey said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

>>watch the video

See the entire RNC video on YouTube

Students from Dayspring Academy charter school in Pasco County appeared in a video that ran just before Jeb Bush's speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday evening. Their school was selected because of its relative proximity to the event site, and the connections of co-founder state Rep. John Legg. You can see the video on YouTube here:

New Port Richey students get in the act in RNC education video 08/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  3. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  5. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.