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2 schools in Tampa win awards for excellence

Two Tampa schools have been selected to receive the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award.

Berkeley Preparatory and Coleman Middle School were among 198 schools chosen nationwide for the honor this year.

The recognition is given by the U.S. Department of Education to outstanding public or private schools across the country.

Only six Hillsborough schools have been given the award before. They are Brandon High, Plant High, Broward Elementary, Gorrie Elementary, Mitchell Elementary and Wilson Middle.

To receive a blue ribbon, schools must be recommended by their state department of education. A national review panel of approximately 100 public and private school educators from the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels evaluate the nominations.

Selection criteria include student focus and support; school organization and culture; challenging standards and curriculum; active teaching and learning; leadership and community partnerships.

"We're proud of Coleman Middle School for earning this distinction, and joining six other Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence," Superintendent Earl Lennard said in a prepared statement.

Joseph Merluzzi, headmaster at private Berkeley Prep, said the honor resulted from the efforts not only of current staff, students and parents, but also of those who came before them at the school.

"Together, we have strived to maintain Berkeley's dedication to excellence," Merluzzi said.

Officials seek identity

of man killed in accident

WIMAUMA _ Eric Lee Brown was headed home Sunday night when he struck and killed a man who ran in front of his 1984 Chevrolet, authorities said.

Brown, 17, was about a mile from home, traveling down a dark stretch of State Road 674 just east of Wimauma at 9:43 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol. A man in his 20s ran in front of the car. Brown was unable to avoid the pedestrian, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

FHP is seeking more information about the dead man, who was last seen earlier in the evening at a rodeo at the Wimauma Airpark. The highway patrol estimates the Hispanic man is 5 foot 3 to 5 foot 7, weighs about 140 pounds and is in his early 20s.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at (813) 632-6859.

Police seek suspect

in fatal shooting

TAMPA _ Police on Monday were looking for a man they say shot and killed another man who tried to intervene in an argument.

Tampa police said Jose Velasquez, 35, of 110 E Clinton Ave., was arguing with a group of people in front of his home Sunday around noon. Hector Cortes, 39, of 7300 N Taliaferro Ave., tried to intervene when the confrontation grew more more heated, police said.

But Cortes' attempt had the opposite effect, police said. Velasquez became angrier, went inside his house, got a handgun and ran out into the street shooting. He shot Cortes several times, striking him twice in the chest, police said. Cortes died at the scene.

Monday, homicide detectives issued a warrant for Velasquez's arrest on a charge of first-degree murder. He had not been found late Monday. Anyone with information should contact Detective L. Adan at 273-0770.

Velasquez has past arrests for driving under the influence and domestic violence, according to Hillsborough County records.

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