06/16/13 Human Interest
The famed words of philosopher George Santayana may turn into a new reality in Florida.
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness … ," Santayana said. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
But how can we progress if we don't require college students to learn U.S. history? A new report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni on Florida's university system offered a positive assessment. But it questioned several aspects, including the lack of a required U.S. history course in all but one university, noting that "…Too many students will leave college with a limited understanding of how to participate effectively in the free institutions of our nation."...
06/13/13 Human Interest
Kinsey Smith, like the other young ladies the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida honored as Gold Award winners, stood at the podium and acknowledged all who helped her achieve the prestigious designation — sort of the equivalent of the Boy Scouts' Eagle Scout program — including her parents.
And then the Newsome High junior added a caveat, thanking her mother for telling her to "get over it" when she complained in middle school that none of her friends stuck with Girl Scouts....
06/09/13 Human Interest
Principals endure unenviable challenges every day, but Wharton High School principal Bradley Woods erred when he cut off the microphone of salutatorian Harold Shaw and abruptly ended his speech last week.
Shaw denies the school district's claim that he deviated from his approved draft. But even if he did, greater latitude needed to be given.
While I understand the effort to maintain pomp and circumstance, the ceremony serves as an opportunity for the students to showcase the education they've received, including lessons about being responsible adults. You can't give them the keys to the car and then try to take the wheel back just because they veer in a different direction....
06/08/13 Human Interest
The bond between Stu Robinson and his 15-year-old daughter Tyeisha Harston has only grown deeper since he started staging Stu's Father-Daughter Dance seven years ago, an annual Father's Day event that allows proud papas to fete their little girls like princesses. • Now Tyeisha carts him around on shopping excursions, picking out fancy dresses and matching shoes so she can look her best. Robinson says he enjoys the time together, with a couple of caveats. • "I hold my peace," Robinson said. "As long as what she picks out is respectable, we're good. And I always ask her to start in the sale section and then we can look at the higher-priced outfits. Just because it's on sale doesn't mean it's not nice." • Yet it's not just the personal gain that has inspired Robinson to continue hosting fathers and daughters this year. Even though he lost his job as music director for WBTP-FM 95.7 in December, Robinson continues with the event — with the support of former boxer Winky Wright, former Bucs receiver Michael Clayton and the generosity of T.Pepin's Hospitality Centre — because of what it means to so many others. • Robinson recently spoke with Times columnist Ernest Hooper about the dance and his motivation to keep it going....
George Packer's stinging portrayal of Tampa in his new book, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, saddened my outlook on the place we call home, if only for a moment.
Packer, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, paints an unflattering but largely truthful depiction of the devastating impact the home building collapse and its underpinnings of manipulative greed and reckless get-rich desires had on this area....
06/02/13 Human Interest
Want to see teachers get emotional? Tell them they're overpaid. Or watch when they present a President's Award for Educational Achievement.
The year-end recognition goes to students who may not be the highest achievers but who have shown tremendous growth, often against special obstacles.
Teachers, such as those at Valrico Elementary, read a personal letter to the winning students during an awards ceremony, extolling their efforts and promising to always help. The teachers choke up and pretty much everybody in the room gets a little teary-eyed....
05/30/13 Human Interest
Jennifer Whelihan can't forget the first time she met Matilda Garcia.
She walked into a Hispanic Professional Women's Association luncheon and just the sight of Garcia, decked out in a purple head-to-toe outfit and sipping a martini, left an indelible impression.
"I thought, 'Wow, that lady is impressive,' " Whelihan said of Garcia, who turned 94 on Thursday. "She has something about her that you want to know, an aura. You want to be around her. She's what we're all trying to become....
05/26/13 Human Interest
In 2004, then-Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella urged his team to a Stanley Cup championship with a simple mantra: Safe is death.
An assessment of the latest Pier proposal from St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster reminds me of the Lightning's success. As Tampa Bay Times staff writer Mark Puente reported Friday, Foster wants to give voters three options in case a referendum halts the proposed Lens in the August election, including the choice of building "a flat wooden fishing pier with only basic amenities."...
Pure joy filled her senses as she walked around Times Square.
Sierra Fareed fell in love with New York City when she made her one and only visit as a 7-year-old but to see it years later as an adult — with fellow Florida A&M University students — proved altogether different.
She knew only one song could crystallize the moment, and it had been playing in her head since she got off the airplane at JFK. So she donned her headphones, pushed play and listened to Alicia Keys sing Empire State of Mind as she soaked in all the sights....
05/19/13 Human Interest
Chef Robert Irvine proved to be a master showman at the Hilton at Clearwater Beach when he hosted locals at the Dinner: Possible fundraiser for the Haven of RCS last week.
The Food Network star of Restaurant: Impossible brought an energy to the room, engaged the participants with food tips and humor and inspired with his generosity. Thanks to Irvine and event sponsor Clarity Services, four people bid thousands for first-class trips to an upcoming taping of Irvine's show....
RIVERVIEW — Promising to bring pasta, pizza, wraps and its signature California bowls to the area, restaurateurs James Lanza and Jeff Gigante announced this week they will open a Ciccio's California restaurant at Winthrop Town Centre this fall.
The partners expect to open in November in a building under construction on the east end of the mixed-use center. Ciccio's will share the 6,500-square-foot building with the Egg and I, a breakfast chain that plans to open in the fall....
05/16/13 Human Interest
For some, the word sorority immediately inspires visions of college-age women wearing Greek-lettered shirts, gathering for social functions and staging philanthropic events.
Candle-bearing rituals, fraternity mixers, step shows and memorizing the sorority history may also come to mind.
But Paulette Walker wants you to know there's so much more, especially with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc....
05/12/13 Human Interest
Community Tampa Bay celebrated the life-changing success of its Anytown program at a luncheon last week, but the nonprofit also reminded us that there is work to be done in its quest to end discrimination.
Officials shared how an employee has to endure a co-worker repeatedly using the n-word, even though the employee asked her to stop. Management has yet to take action.
Check your calendar. Yes, it is 2013. Yes, it's still a problem....
05/11/13 Human Interest
Our special package of Mother's Day stories in today's edition primarily focuses on the heartwarming relationships mothers and their daughters share over the spectrum of time.
The stories have proved even more captivating than we first imagined, but we still saw the need to add some expert insight. We wanted to talk to someone who could give an in-depth analysis of how the bond forms between mothers and daughters....
05/11/13 Human Interest
As 600 people prepared to gather at the Palmetto Club in FishHawk Ranch last fall to celebrate Leon Brockmeier's life and mourn his surprising death, his wife wondered if it could be possible.
Melanie Brockmeier thought it could be stress. After all, her 33-year-old husband had died in her arms days before. She had lost her best friend and now faced the challenge of raising their two sons without him....