Westlake Christian School in Palm Harbor amped up its commitment to the North Pinellas community during its annual "Westlake Cares at Christmas" campaign.
Each homeroom class (18 in all) and the Middle School Student Government chose a community service agency to adopt during the Christmas holiday season. Once they adopt a community service provider, the classroom teacher and the students decide how they would like to help. Teachers can organize drives (food, clothing, toiletries); plan service trips to help on-site at organizations; invite speakers to the school or engage in other activities to express how Westlake students care for the community.
This year, kindergarten students held a "Board Game Bonanza" and collected board games to donate to Pinellas County foster children.
One of Westlake's first-grade classes collected new pajamas for children at risk in Clearwater.
A fifth-grade class held a food and clothing drive for Oldsmar Cares.
Students in a third-grade class "adopted" a local family with six children and provided everything they needed for the family to celebrate the holiday.
The Middle School Student Government hosted a dessert reception after Westlake's annual Christmas program and raised $600 for Metropolitan Ministries of Pasco County.
Principal Rick Pucci said the goal of the project is not just to lend a helping hand, but to connect Westlake students to their community through compassionate service.
"Westlake students are so very blessed," he said. "Our Westlake Cares program is a way for our students to share their blessings with others during this important time of the year."
This year, Westlake partnered with Pinellas Foster Care, the Pajama Project, Palm Harbor Fire/Rescue Teddy Bear Outreach, Kimberly Home Pregnancy Resource Center, Raising Hope, Clothes to Kids, Ronald McDonald House, Good Samaritan Mission, PACE Center for Girls, Oldsmar Cares, Suncoast Animal League, Pinellas Hope, FEAST Food Pantry, Hospice of the Sun Coast, the Shepherd Center, Religious Community Services and Metropolitan Ministries Pasco.
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Leora L. Yates of Dunedin celebrated her 100th birthday with a Nov. 2 luncheon at Mease Continuing Care, where she's been a resident for three years, and was the guest of honor at a family celebration Nov. 27.
She was born Nov. 27, 1911, in Taylorville, Ill., to Charles and Jenny Sharp. Her father was a retail shop owner who opened a 5-and-dime store in 1929.
The centenarian graduated from a high school in Champaign, Ill.
She and Cecil Yates married March 30, 1936, in Chicago. He worked on the Illinois Central Railroad in Clinton, Ill. She worked many years in the treasurer's office of the DeWitt County Court House in Clinton, Ill.
Mr. Yates died in February 1986, the same year the couple moved to Dunedin and one month shy of their 50th wedding anniversary.
Loss of hearing and diminished eyesight has made it difficult to do some of the things she loves such as crochet, knitting, needlework, bingo and card games, especially pinochle. In her younger days, she enjoyed croquet on a professional level for several years; participated in the game of roque, a variation of croquet played with short-handled mallets, as a club member in Clinton; and would kick up her heels square dancing with her husband.
Yates doesn't drink alcohol or smoke and never found a reason to swear. She relishes her nap time.
She never had children of her own. Her closest relatives are nephew Lyle Sharp of Hilton Head, S.C.; niece Betty Meyer of Clearwater; and many great-nieces and great-nephews, including Larry Schock of Clinton.
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The Anthony Telesca Foundation and Knology, a corporate supporter, recently awarded sophomores Alex Trump and Madison Vorbrich of East Lake High School with gift certificates for their winning entries in a seat belt safety poster contest.
Trump received $500 for his first-place entry and Vorbrich received $250 for her second-place entry. The Telesca Foundation also provided $1,000 to the East Lake High art department on behalf of the two winners.
The awards were based on a competition between students at Clearwater, Countryside, Dunedin, East Lake and Largo high schools to design a poster that effectively communicates to teenagers the dangers of unsafe driving practices.
The Anthony Telesca Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works with public safety and law enforcement organizations, high school districts and community business leaders to help educate and encourage teenagers to drive safely.
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Ashley J. Haggard, 22, was awarded the St. Petersburg College Foundation's Raymond Johns Award for Excellence during graduation ceremonies Dec. 8 at the Allstate Center in St. Petersburg.
She is a member of Fire Academy Class 32 and earned the award for her performance rating and high grade point average.
John H. Johns, who created the Raymond Johns Award for Excellence to encourage students to complete the fire academy program, presented the award. The scholarship honors the memory of Johns' late son, Raymond, who completed St. Petersburg College Firefighting Academy courses and was working on his paramedic certification.
Haggard is the daughter of Excaly Nabong of Palm Harbor.