Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Students mourn, fondly recall Riverview drama teacher Daron Hawkins

RIVERVIEW — All day Thursday, they shuffled in and they shuffled out, they gathered together backstage and they told stories for hours around an empty chair.

More than 100 current and former students of Daron Hawkins talked about their teacher, whose death after a long illness was announced Wednesday via a family friend on Facebook.

They cried.

But they laughed, too, about Riverview High School's diligent, demanding and detailed drama teacher, who expected the best from them, and usually got it.

"He loved you," says Priscilla Aguirre, a former student now in her first year studying vocal performance and musical theater at the University of South Florida. "But he made you work for it."

Aguirre didn't meet Mr. Hawkins until her senior year, but connected with his high expectations.

"Having him as a teacher really made me realize, that's okay to want to strive for perfection."

It was a point Mr. Hawkins made again and again to his students and cast, Aguirre says, and it showed on stage. People couldn't believe they'd just seen a high school production, but the cast put in long hours rehearsing and worked hard to get there.

"He had taught us that's what professionals do."

Liz Stewart first started working with Mr. Hawkins in 2000, when she was a private voice teacher. Working together on shows, he had every detail down, she says, from hair to costumes to sets to the perfectly organized costume closet.

Mr. Hawkins' passion and precision for theater showed up early, says Robert Heilmann, Riverview's principal. Heilmann had known Hawkins since he worked as an assistant principal at East Bay High and Hawkins was a student.

"I would watch Daron as a junior begin to take control of presentations," Heilmann says.

That includes once telling the choral director that practice time was over, and "get off my stage," Heilmann recalls.

Students and staff will remember him for his productions, but also for his sticky notes. He used them everywhere, Aguirre says.

Students often brought Mr. Hawkins sticky notes with notes of their own.

Mr. Hawkins found another way to share his passion with the community through the Riverview Little Theatre. He also served as director of the Florida State Thespians.

Mr. Hawkins was 38 and had been at the school since it opened in 1998. On Friday morning, plans were solidified for a celebration in honor of Hawkins on Nov. 23. The evening will include songs and snippets from Hawkins' productions. But it won't be a memorial.

At a spontaneous memorial backstage Thursday, there was talking and tears. And music.

Together, cast mates from last year's production of Once on This Island sang a verse and the chorus of the song Mr. Hawkins taught them, and worked on, and perfected, until they got it just right.

Comments
The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers had the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.For the second straight week, they could not finish.As disappointing as that might be, they have a larger problem, and one that has existed all season: The B...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Unexpected visit, gifts

Unexpected visit, gifts

GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES | TimesFrancisco Cervantes, a kindergarten student at Wimauma Elementary School, high-fives Santa Jim on Tuesday while Ryan Sealy, Cervantes’ teacher, looks on. Amazon, which has a major distribution center in neighboring ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Updated: 17 minutes ago

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Campaign f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

TAMPA — A 24-year-old aide at Buchanan Middle School was arrested Monday and charged with using Instagram to ask for sex and nude photos from female students at the school, deputies said.Between Sept. 1 and the time of his arrest, Quinton J. Bradford...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

LAKE MARY — Hundreds more juveniles who steal cars each year could be kept off the streets under a new tool approved by a Department of Juvenile Justice committee Tuesday, a move that could put a dent in a dangerous local car theft epidemic.Secretary...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pinellas construction board prepares to lose independence

Pinellas construction board prepares to lose independence

LARGO — Members of the Pinellas County agency that oversees contractor licensing cried foul in January when elected officials sought to fold the board into county government.They were mostly quiet this week as they received word on plans to make that...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

TAMPA — Police were searching Tuesday for a missing 15-year-old Plant City girl who disappeared from a Tampa girls school.Zoe Warren was last seen about 8 a.m. Monday at the PACE Center for Girls, 1933 E. Hillsborough Ave., where she attends school, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

Defendant asks jurors: Do I look like Charles Manson?

LARGO — Daniel Richards, on trial for the murder of his 83-year-old mother, began his own criminal defense on Tuesday by asking a few questions to the pool of prospective jurors."If you were accused of killing your mother, would you want to represent...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Two of St. Petersburg’s assistant police chiefs leaving next month

Two of St. Petersburg’s assistant police chiefs leaving next month

ST. PETERSBURG — Two assistant police chiefs are stepping down next month, leaving two of the three of the second-in-command jobs vacant at the St. Petersburg Police Department.Assistant Chief Jim Previtera announced this week that he will resign fro...
Updated: 2 hours ago