Friday, January 19, 2018
Education

No Pasco graduation DVDs after 'someone didn't press the record button'

ZEPHYRHILLS — Donna Messing brought her video recorder.

She wanted to commemorate her daughter Leah Melquist's commencement speech and march across the USF Sun Dome stage June 1 as a Zephyrhills High School graduate.

Messing never cracked open her camera after she saw the offer for a professional recording of the occasion.

"We paid just $10," Messing said. "Because of the cost being so economical, we had our video camera there but chose to purchase the DVD and relax and enjoy the event."

The bad news came Tuesday. The Sun Dome's video crew failed to record the ceremonies for the eight Pasco County high schools that celebrated their outgoing seniors there.

So, no keepsake DVD.

"We would like to formally apologize for the error that was made in regards to the video production at the Pasco County high school graduations," venue general manager Trent Merritt wrote in a letter that the district forwarded to parents. "We accept full responsibility for the mistake and I assure you we are taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future."

Merritt was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

The Sun Dome credited the district half of its $5,900 video production charge. The rest covered other services that were provided, district executive director for operations Ray Bonti said.

Parents also will get their money back. About 150 families paid for the video at Zephyrhills, Mitchell and Wesley Chapel high schools.

Fivay High ordered a DVD of its ceremony but had not presold copies. Wiregrass Ranch, Sunlake, Anclote and Land O'Lakes high schools did not order DVDs from the venue.

Refunds can't take the place of sharing the event with far-flung family that couldn't share in the memories firsthand, though.

That's what most bothered Leah Melquist, Zephyrhills' senior class president.

"I shed a few tears when I found out," she said. "My whole family could not attend. I had a really big part in that, and my family can't share in that. I don't feel bad for the kids. I feel bad for the families."

Making matters worse, her dad, Troy Melquist, runs a video production company that regularly records school events across the Tampa area.

"My ex-husband spent all season recording other schools' graduations and here, with his daughter, class president and one of the speakers, and first child to graduate high school, and he doesn't have a recording of it," Messing said.

Just a few parents called Zephyrhills High after the news of the nonexistent video emerged. Assistant principal Scott Davey said they were understanding.

"They understand that human error does happen," Davey said. "One parent joked to me that they hadn't watched their wedding video in 20 years."

Twenty years can matter, Leah Melquist said. She and her fellow class officers are in charge of future reunions, she noted, and having the video would have been nice for those activities.

"Now we don't have that to look back at what happened," she said.

Bonti said he was displeased with the "unacceptable" video situation. It should not happen again, he said.

Still, he added, the total graduation experience should not be overlooked because of this mistake.

"We plan on going back to USF next year," Bonti said. "Overall we've been very satisfied with USF."

On that point, Messing agreed.

"The venue was great, otherwise," she said via email. "All seats were good seats for viewing, we had plenty of room and were comfortable in the air conditioning and didn't have to be concerned about the weather.

"The only thing that put a damper on the entire event was the fact that we will not be able to share it with families who couldn't make the trip, our daughter will never get to hear her speech, and we will never be able to sit down together and revisit this special time in our daughter's life … because someone didn't press the record button."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Hillsborough, Pasco schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Hillsborough, Pasco schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health is reporting a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letter warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their schoo...
Updated: 1 hour ago

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

It’s decision time in Pinellas County and other local school districts as several school choice deadlines are upon us.For Pinellas families who want to apply for a magnet, fundamental or high school career program for the 2018-19 school year, the dea...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

The night of initiation was the most that the brothers of Florida State University’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter said they had ever seen their pledge class drink.That was the plan, court records said: Pledges would arrive at the fraternity house Nov. 2 and ...
Published: 01/18/18
9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

TALLAHASSEE — The death of a fraternity pledge from alcohol poisoning has led to hazing charges against nine Florida State University students.State attorney Jack Campbell filed charges on Wednesday in Leon County Court.All nine will be charged with ...
Published: 01/17/18
From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

As the Florida Legislature considers undoing the current governance of the University of South Florida by folding the three branches of its system into one entity, here is a look at some Times coverage of the long-running struggle for independence at...
Published: 01/17/18