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Pasco teacher, students find variety in summer

Jasmine Spavale, 17, a senior at Sunlake High School, spent time at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota taking various courses.

MICHELE MILLER | Times\uFEFF

Jasmine Spavale, 17, a senior at Sunlake High School, spent time at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota taking various courses.

So there it went. Summer vacation is over, no matter how you spent it. Hopefully you racked up some good memories. Maybe you went to camp or worked your first summer job as a camp counselor. Maybe you rang up groceries. Or bagged them. Waited tables. Stuffed ice cream cones. Played summer ball. Fell in love. Got vaccinated. Went on a trip. Slaved away at that AP school work. Read a novel or two. Delivered pizza. Learned to swim. Learned to drive. Learned your ABC's. Learned that the older you get, the faster time flies. A first taste of college, a stint coaching middle school sports and a historic bid for the golf team — here's how two students and a teacher spent their summers.

Jasmine Spavale, 17

It was just a little taste, enough for Jasmine Spavale to know that she'll be heading to college after graduation this year.

The Sunlake High senior came away with three college credits, three hours of community service and one great summer experience at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.

"It was really worthwhile to go there," said Jasmine, who spent four weeks taking courses in Web design, typography, 3-D sculpting and her favorite: charcoal drawing.

Now it's time for senior year. Hitting the books, turning 18, getting out of high school and planning what comes next. Perhaps the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida or somewhere else.

"If I can manage to get together a scholarship or two, I'd go back to Ringling," Jasmine said. "College is interesting. College is fun."

Rob Aguis, teacher .

There was that weeklong trip for that family wedding in New York. But coaching middle school sports was the highlight of Rob Aguis' summer break.

Volleyball, basketball, football — the marketing teacher from Seven Springs Middle did it all. He spent more than a few of those lazy, hazy days at school in the gym or on the field, coaching at summer camps to raise money for the school's teams.

That was just fine for Aguis, who earned some coaching experience and plenty of parental bragging rights some years ago watching his daughters, Krysta, 20, and Kelly, 24, make it to the state finals as Hudson High volleyball players.

Aguis, who enters his fifth year teaching at Seven Springs Middle, got into teaching after being laid off from a Tampa area marketing position. It was a nudge from a younger cousin who shares the same name and serves as career and technical education director for Pasco Schools that had him skipping down a new and unexpected path.

"I love it," he said of his time spent working with middle school kids. "Now I wish I had made it my first career."

Matthew Ross, 16 .

He went to the Florida Youth Summit in Orlando and Youth Leadership Conference in Tallahassee.

"That was cool. We got to stay in the dorms at Florida State."

He went to see his dad and other family members in New Jersey.

"I found out my grandpa likes hot tea like me."

Closer to home, he took in a couple of Rays games.

"I sat in the upper deck. The view is great there. You can see the whole field, and the tickets are only 9 bucks."

Matt, who is autistic, also golfed in the county and district-level Special Olympics competitions along with Cpl. Joseph Koehler, the school resource officer at Mitchell High.

"We got first place."

And he spoke up at a School Board meeting, encouraging the board to think about mainstreaming more disabled students like him, which he said could save money. "Being disabled does not mean that we are stupid," he told them.

Summer vacation was a definite blast for Matt, 16, who is now entering his senior year at Mitchell High.

All that was on Matt's mind last week was getting past the sixth hole during tryouts for the Mitchell High golf team. It would a real first to have a kid like him on the team.

But first there was that sixth hole to contend with.

"As long as I've been playing," Matt said, "the sixth hole has been my enemy."

Last Wednesday, he scored well enough to make the first cut.

On Saturday, Matt shot a 47 and made the team.

Pasco teacher, students find variety in summer 08/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 8:50am]

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