Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Drop out prevention school graduates 25 students

TAMPA — Yahisha Jimenez slipped her arms into a silver gown and perched a mortarboard on her head.

Her principal, Bobby Smith, straightened the tassel so the silver and maroon colors streamed neatly to the left.

Jimenez smiled at her image in a mirror at Seminole Heights High School.

"My mom is going to be so happy," she said.

Jimenez, 21, had stopped by her school with her 18-month-old daughter, Emma, to pick up extra tickets for proud friends and family.

She graduates tonight with about 25 other students who most people thought would never see this day.

Their stories are rife with struggles. They come from foster care, single-parent homes or no home at all. Some are pregnant or new immigrants. More than 90 percent are poor. On average, they lag three years behind in school.

The school, at the corner of Florida Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, serves 400 students. This August, it expanded to another site, West University Charter High School at 1401 E Fowler Ave.

They are public high schools with a mission to help students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out or who are on the verge of dropping out.

Dwynne Robinson, 19, dropped out of Leto High School after other kids bullied her. One of the first students when the Seminole Heights school opened in 2010, she came in with just five credits. Earlier this week, she completed the 24 needed to graduate. She says she wants to be a role model for her five younger siblings.

So far, the school has seen 60 graduates. The staff works to build relationships and support the students, linking them to social services. They have paid for down payments on apartments and regularly dole out bus passes.

They helped Jimenez get free day care for her daughter. Emma is Jimenez's motivation. The baby's father is in prison and Jimenez lives with her mother in Temple Terrace. She wants a future for her daughter that won't depend on anyone else. She plans to attend Hillsborough Community College in August and major in criminology. She wants to be a police officer.

These graduates will make space for students on a waiting list.

During the three-day orientation, Smith, the principal, tells potential students how he grew up in Sulphur Springs with his parents, neither of whom graduated high school. He saw how hard they worked. He listened when they told him they wanted more for him.

He tells them he wants them to be informed. Decide if you want to come here or somewhere else.

"You decide if this is the place for you," he said.

Jimenez said she knew it was right for her. She had been hardheaded when her mother warned her years earlier to stay focused. Instead, she spent time with her boyfriend and got pregnant during her senior year at Chamberlain High School.

"I slacked," she said. "I was never in school."

She had only needed two credits to graduate. Today, 20 people are coming to watch her walk across the stage at Hillsborough High School, where the ceremony is being held. Afterward, they will celebrate at Bahama Breeze.

For her, it's a matter of proving herself. At one point, she said, she too, had doubted she would make it.

"I actually did it. I'm so proud of myself," Jimenez said.

"I am too," Smith said.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3431.

Comments
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region baseball: Leto ends state final four drought

TAMPA — It was the biggest game of Jakob Ryley's baseball career, and in the first inning of Wednesday's Class 7A region final against Melbourne, the senior right-hander was a little shaky.With two outs, Ryley walked two Bulldogs before a fly o...
Updated: 1 hour ago