Michele Miller, Times Staff Writer

Michele Miller is a Tampa Bay Times writer in Pasco County. Miller coordinates and provides stories and photographs for Pasco entertainment features as well as the Top of the Class education feature.

Phone: (727) 869-6251

Email: miller@tampabay.com

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  1. Scholarships give notice to kids who have siblings with autism

    Human Interest

    LAND O'LAKES

    It was a wistful conversation prompted by a roadside Powerball billboard and his wife's altruistic notion that gave Ernie Black the idea.

    Along with the "quit our jobs and travel the world" scenario they agreed to, Becky Black said her imaginary winnings would go to starting a scholarship for kids like their daughter, Sydney.

    As a career specialist in the guidance office at Sunlake High, Becky had done the research. She knew there was money out there for students who met specific criteria such as having red hair or being left-handed....

    From left, sisters Sydney and Regan sit with their parents Becky and Ernie Black alongside the family’s chocolate Labrador, Jack. Regan is autistic, and the sacrifices Sydney has made over the years for Regan’s needs inspired her parents to found a scholarship program.
  2. Pasco class notes

    K12

    Calendar

    • Monday is Labor Day, no school

    Art/Music/Theater

    • The African American Club of Pasco will host a Fall Program on Creative Arts for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. The 10-week program will be held 1-4 p.m. each Saturday beginning Sept. 6 at the former Booker T. Washington School, 6105 Pine Hill Road, Port Richey. There is no charge for the program, and snacks will be provided. For information, call (727) 849-5582...

  3. Teens volunteering at hospital makes for a win-win

    K12

    HUDSON — For some kids, high school is four years of figuring out what you want to be when you grow up — or at least what direction you'll be heading in.

    Amir Hussain, 15, already has his path carved out.

    "My dream is to become a neurosurgeon," he said, adding that his interest was first piqued when his mother underwent a successful neurosurgical procedure.

    "The brain is a complex and delicate organ," he said. "And I'd like to be a part of that." ...

    Fivay High freshman Clarice Todd, 14, is a Candy Striper, greeting people, running errands and escorting visitors.
  4. Pasco class notes

    K12

    Calendar

    • Aug. 28: Adult education graduation

    • Sept. 1: Labor Day, no school

    Art/Music/Theater

    • The African American Club of Pasco will host a Fall Program on Creative Arts for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. The 10-week program will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. each Saturday beginning Sept. 6 at the former Booker T. Washington School, 6105 Pine Hill Road, Port Richey. Children will have the opportunity to try their talents in dance, acting, singing, beginning Spanish, geography, scientific technology, crafts, computer skills and creative writing. There is no charge for the program, and snacks will be provided. A show for parents, friends and members will be held Nov. 8. For information, call (727) 849-5582...

  5. Vendors, shoppers find a niche at open markets across bay area

    Events

    PORT RICHEY

    Mary Jo Rodriguez had been up at the crack of dawn baking bread with the hope that locals would venture out for the Sunday afternoon opening of the Market on the Bayou.

    "Bread is the big seller," she said, after tending to a customer at her vendor tent. "After that it's muffins and cookies, then brownies."

    Rodriguez, a former body builder, delved into the business of organic, vegan and gluten-free baked foods after researching healthy diet trends. Two years into it, her Better Baked Goods business is "busting at the seams," building a presence at fresh markets in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Safety Harbor, New Port Richey and Spring Hill....

    Juan Rincon scoops out avocados for fresh guacamole at the Hernando County Farmer’s Market.
  6. Boot camp for new Pasco teachers helps settle first day jitters

    K12

    SAINT LEO — In 36 years of teaching, Beverly Ledbetter never used a red pen to correct her students' papers. Sure, red stands out. But Ledbetter thought it would be deflating for a student to get a paper back that's bleeding negative commentary.

    More often, she used a green pen to point out to students what they were doing right.

    "Remember, you're here to help build self-esteem," Ledbetter told the 25 or so attendees of a Beginning Teacher Boot Camp at Saint Leo University....

    Beverly Ledbetter hosts the Beginning Teacher Boot Camp at Saint Leo University. Ledbetter uses the event to share her 36 years of teaching experience with new educators.
  7. Pasco class notes

    K12

    Calendar

    • Monday is the first day of school for students

    • Aug. 28: Adult ed graduation

    • Sept. 1: Labor Day, no school

    Art/Music/Theater

    • Middle and high school art teachers and instructors looking to exhibit student work might find some space in Picasso Hall for Emerging Artists at the Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery, 6231 Grand Blvd. All media are acceptable for monthly exhibits during the school year including paintings, pastels, collages, photography, digital art, posters, up-cycled and mixed media. Instructors and students are encouraged to participate in the hanging of the exhibition and are invited to attend the opening reception, along with friends and family, to discuss their work. Instructors should contact the gallery at (727) 848-6500 or e-mail nprgallery@aol.com....

  8. Pasco County class notes

    K12

    Calendar

    Tuesday: Middle and high school registration/orientation.

    Wednesday: Elementary school registration/orientation.

    Aug. 18: First day of school for students

    Back-to-school events

    Ridgewood High School, Marchman Tech, Chasco Middle and Calusa and Chasco Elementary present a "Back to School Bash," from 8:30-11 a.m. Saturday at Ridgewood High, 7650 Orchid Lake Road, Port Richey. This event is for parents and students who would like to take advantage of resources, services and supplies to kick off the new school year....

    Ideas take shape: Abilene Dickens, 6, and Declan Taylor, 7, build with KEVA planks at the Hugh Embry Branch Library in Dade City during the summer reading program on Thursday. The wooden planks were donated by Investigation Station, a local traveling hands-on museum.  “It’s important to get the kids to create things, not just consume them,” said branch manager Angelo Liranzo.
  9. Power Scholars Academy helps stem the summer slide

    K12

    HOLIDAY — Iris Garmendiz, 7, loves school so much that she was more than happy to spend part of her summer break in a classroom working on math problems.

    "I love all these days — it's awesome," she said, sitting at a desk with pencil in hand and smiling brightly. "We get to go back to school. We get to have so much fun. We do lots of cool stuff."

    Iris was one of 90 students who attended a free summer enrichment program called "Power Scholars Academy" at Gulfside Elementary School....

    Danny Poth, 8, creates a polygon of toothpicks and miniature marshmallows at Power Scholars Academy.
  10. Moving art in downtown New Port Richey

    Visual Arts

    NEW PORT RICHEY

    A majestic egret taking flight, a rolling ocean tide captured in blue hues, a mirror-laden mixed media sculpture depicting falling rain, and a handmade train set that keeps on chugging.

    Those are just a few of the offerings at the Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery through Aug. 30.

    "Art in Motion" is the theme for the main exhibit, and plenty of local talent answered the call for artists in unique fashion, said gallery director Bonnie Bratby-Carey....

    Aiolos, Tide Coming in Sunset, by Amanda Burns of Hernando Beach.
  11. Class notes

    K12

    Calendar

    Aug. 11-15: Teacher planning days

    Aug. 12: Middle and high school registration/orientation

    Aug. 13: Elementary school registration/orientation

    Aug. 18: First day of school for students

    Art/Music/Theater

    Middle and high school art teachers and instructors looking for a place to exhibit student work might find some space at the Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery, 6231 Grand Blvd. Each month during the school year the gallery features student work selected by their teachers. All media are acceptable: paintings, pastels, collages, photography, digital art, posters, upcycled, mixed media and more. Instructors and students are encouraged to participate in the hanging of the exhibition and are invited to attend the opening reception, along with friends and family, to discuss their work. Local instructors who are interested in setting up an exhibit should contact the gallery at (727) 848-6500 or e-mail: nprgallery@aol.com....

  12. Pottery offers diversion for Pasco students in summer

    Visual Arts

    HOLIDAY — School's out but summertime opens the door to trying something new. Maybe take a crack at kneading and rolling a mound of clay into a treasured creation, and learn how to handle such artisan tools as the potters needle, fettling knife and the clay roller that's ever so handy when it comes to flattening slab into workable form.

    At the Pasco Arts Center, the making of a marbled vase starts with a ball of brown and cream clay, an empty wine bottle wrapped in newspaper, and the newfound knowledge of how to handle those tools....

    Katey Hauschen, 11, molds clay onto a recycled bottle to make a vase during a morning pottery class at the Pasco Arts Center in Holiday.
  13. Hudson library program draws some kids with gross factor

    K12

    HUDSON — Caiden Beal, wearing plastic gloves and wielding a pair of tweezers, felt like he was hitting pay dirt as he gingerly pulled another hidden treasure from the greenish-brown, musty-smelling owl pellet he was dissecting.

    "So far, I have three skulls and a bunch of teeth, and I'm only halfway through it," he said as he dipped his latest find into a shallow bowl of water to wash away the debris. "See, it still has a lot of muck on it, but you can tell it's another skull."...

    Caiden Beal, 11, dips the skull of a rodent in a bowl of water while dissecting an owl pellet during a summer youth program.
  14. Hacienda Village seniors fight management company

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Sandi Nelson has resorted to carrying pepper spray on morning walks. Patricia Dew avoids the pool area after glimpsing drunken late-night parties there. And Robert Abbey says too many people in their 20s and 30s are moving to what is supposed to be a 55+ gated community.

    "There are no rules and regulations, no background checks," said Abbey, a retired Navy veteran....

  15. Pasco class notes, week of July 18

    K12

    Class notes

    Calendar

    Pasco County School Board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 7227 U.S. 41, Land O'Lakes.

    Aug. 11-15: Teacher Planning Days

    Aug. 12: Middle and high school registration/orientation

    Aug. 13: Elementary school registration/orientation

    Aug. 18: First day of school for students

    Library note

    • The New River Library, 34043 State Road 54, Zephyrhills, hosts Tie Dye Chemistry Adventures, at 2 p.m. today for students in grades 4-7. Call (813) 788-6375....