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HIGH FIVES

Giovanni Paulo Giarratana, 19, qualified for the fall dean's list at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Eligibility is based on a minimum course load of 12 hours, and a grade-point average of 3.5 with no grade below a C.

Giarratana, who was homeschooled, graduated in 2004. He was dual enrolled at Hillsborough Community College. At Belmont University, he is majoring in music business with a minor in music.

Giarratana was recently inducted into Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, and is involved locally in the annual No Regrets youth rally. He is the son of Joseph "Papa Joe" and Donna Giarratana of Brooksville.

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Wider Horizons School in Spring Hill has announced this year's school winners of the National Geographic magazine Geography Bee.

Megan England was awarded first place; Sarah Mosley, second place, and Ariana Bond, third place.

Megan will now take a written test administered by National Geographic.

All students from fourth to eighth grade participated. The name of the school winner will be added to a special plaque of all past winners. Wider Horizons School has participated in the National Geographic geography bee since it began.

CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS

The 82nd annual Florida State PTA Convention was in Jacksonville from Nov. 11-13. Attending from Hernando County were: Barbara Renczkowski of Hernando County Council PTA; Linda Tacy of West Hernando Middle School and Hernando County Council PTA; Suzanne Renczkowski of Powell Middle School, Suncoast Elementary School and the Hernando County Council; and Cathy Czyr of J.D. Floyd Elementary School.

While attending the convention, the women had the opportunity to attend several workshops, including ones on secondary education reform, PTA membership (getting parents involved), youth gambling, and methamphetamine and its dangers to children. The four also attended the PTA Walk for Children.

While at the conference, the group brought home some awards.

Hernando County won an award for having the largest number of countywide delegates at the leadership conference in July 2004 and at the 81st annual Florida State PTA Convention in Miami.

West Hernando Middle School and J.D. Floyd Elementary School won awards for a 25 percent membership increase for the 2004-05 school year.

For information on how to get involved in PTA, visit the Web site at: www.hcsb.k12.fl.us/hccpta..

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Arc Nature Coast customer Danny Diomede recently received an award from the Achievers of America softball and bowling teams of Pasco for individuals with special needs.

Diomede had the highest average score in his bowling group for the season. His bowling group meets weekly at Leisure Lanes in Hudson.

The awards ceremony was at the Jail House Restaurant in New Port Richey. Scott Helfand, another Arc Nature Coast customer, received second place.

Achievers of America has conducted a softball and bowling program in Pasco County for about five years. Achievers is a nonprofit organization headed by Steve Biondo, and anyone can participate in the program. Biondo's philosophy is "Everybody plays, everybody wins and everybody gets a home-run and a high-five - it's their team."

Biondo began with the Achievers softball team of Pasco, which was for challenged children. "Its an opportunity to participate, learn, feel that they are needed, and an opportunity to socialize," said Biondo.

For information about the Achievers of America, contact Biondo at (727) 868-5084. For information about the Arc Nature Coast, call 544-2322 or visit the Web site at www.thearc-naturecoast.org.

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The 2006 officers for the Hernando Environmental Land Protectors Club were installed on Jan. 12. County Commissioner Diane Rowden presided.

New officers include: Buster Webb, president; Dawn Elaine Fish, vice president; Pattie Webb, treasurer, and Dee Shanks, secretary.

HELP was established as a nonprofit corporation on May 20, 1976. It is one of the oldest environmental organizations in Hernando County. Its goal is to promote and protect the environment in the area of Hernando west of U.S. 19. The area includes a variety of relatively unspoiled habitats for wildlife.

Membership is open to all who are interested in the preservation of the environment. Dues are $5 per year.

HELP meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Weeki Wachee Area Club, 7442 Shoal Line Blvd. A potluck dinner is served at 6 p.m.; the meeting and a speaker follow. For information, call 596-6112.

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Members of the National Association of Retired Law Enforcement Officers II recently returned from a cruise aboard Celebrity's Millennium cruise ship.

Leaving from Fort Lauderdale, the eight-day cruise stopped in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. John's, Antigua, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

Members and guests who attended included: Ann and Chuck Bernhardt, Barbara Binns, Joe Bochenko, Elaine Calassen, Debbie Chamberland, Ginny and Ron Conklin, Betty and Bill Dieck, Kathy and Marty Doyle, John Eynon, Bill and Jeannine Foster, Shirley Freshour, Beckie French, Bill and Wally French, Charlie and Lee Gutschmidt, Mike and Robin Hart, Hilde Hartt, Norine and Steven Hemping, Bill and Margot Hilbert, Bob and Doreen Keehner, Tony Monteleone, John Orscher, Peter and Sandy Olschewski, Marilyn and Walter Probst, Betty and Jack Robertson, Elaine Shaw, and Blanche and Jack Tassieillo.

President Bill French thanked Diana's Travel for helping to set up the vacation. The organization meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the Brooksville Elks Lodge, 14494 Cortez Blvd., west of Brooksville. For information, call 796-7488.

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At a recent holiday luncheon, Helen Little, Alzheimer's chairwoman for the West Hernando Chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, presented the chapter's annual donation - a check for $1,000 - to Dominick DePetrillo, executive director of the Alzheimer's Family Organization.

Chapter president Billy Luecke and Richard Gerber, District 9 vice president, were at the luncheon. During the same meeting, the chapter installed its 2006 board.

Officers include: Luecke, president; Joseph Sandefur, first vice president; Kenneth Thomas, second vice president; Donna Dorgan, secretary, and Linda Harmon, treasurer.

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Thrivent Financial for Lutherans members have elected the 2006 leadership board for the Hernando County Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The leadership board is responsible for providing direction, planning and administration to support local congregational and community service teams.

Chapter leaders for 2006 are: Carolyn Jarman, president; Daniel Wee, vice president; Walter Neumann, records director; Robert Knowles, financial director, and Ernst Horeis, congregational service team director.

In addition, the chapter elected Jean Tickner, communications director; Richard Sander, assistant financial director, and Jessica Fee, youth director.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, through its chapter care programs, provides its members and others with an opportunity to help individuals/families, nonprofit organizations and Lutheran congregations through fundraising and hands-on service activities.

Chapters administer the programs by supplementing local funds raised, distributing funds for service activity expenses, and providing resources for members to deliver an impact in communities.

There are 1,362 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans chapters throughout the country. The chapter system is responsible for an average of more than 200 activities per day and $159-million per year in funds raised and supplemented.

Anyone can join in a volunteer activity. Individuals interested in finding a local chapter may call toll-free 1-800-236-3736. Membership is not required to participate.

RECREATION

AND SPORTS

Varsity.com selected the Central High School cheerleaders as Cheerleading Squad of the Month for January.

"We strive to uphold the expectations for what we believe to be an ideal cheerleading squad," said Ruth Owen, Central High cheer coach. "This squad lives up to those expectations, and they make every effort to do so each day."

In December, Central's cheerleaders offered their time to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office to help wrap presents that were donated for needy children. The squad received a case of Propel Fitness Water and a secret gift pack from Varsity.com for its accomplishment.

Last June, Varsity.com selected Springstead High School's cheerleading squad as the Cheerleading Squad of the Month. The squad's photos and accomplishments were featured during June on Varsity.com's Web site.

In December, Springstead's cheerleaders appeared on Disney's nationally televised cheerleading special on ABC. The Eagles were among only eight schools that performed, out of 87 applicants. The team will compete this month in Orlando.

Hometown Hernando welcomes reports on recreational and sports activities, both youth and adult, that do not normally run on the Sports pages. Send your news and results to: Jean Hayes, Hernando Times, 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613-6174.

WE NEED YOUR NEWS

Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it's snapshots from your family reunion, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. You can contact Hometown Hernando news coordinator Jean Hayes at:

PHONE 848-1438

FAX 754-6133

E-MAIL jhayes@sptimes.com

MAIL 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613-6174

MADE THE DEAN'S LIST: Giovanni Paulo Giarratana, 19, of Brooksville, qualified for the fall dean's list at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo courtesy of Vince Vanni

GEOGRAPHY BEE WINNERS: Winners of the Wider Horizons School National Geographic Geography Bee included, from left: Ariana Bond, third place; Megan England, first place, and Sarah Mosley, second place.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Stubbs

GOOD AT STRIKES AND SPARES: Danny Diomede, Arc Nature Coast customer, received a trophy and medal for earning the highest average score in his bowling league at Leisure Lanes in Hudson.

Photo courtesy of Mari Sicari

LODGE PARTY: Members of the Sons of Italy, Friendship Lodge 2728, had their annual New Year's Eve party at Spring Hill Lanes. President Joe Lemmo and his wife, Fran, the event chairwoman, presided over the event. More than 30 members attended.

Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Ritter

ENVIRONMENTAL LAND PROTECTORS CLUB: The Hernando Environmental Land Protectors Club recently installed officers. From left are: Dawn Elaine Fish, vice president; Doug DiGerlando, board member; Dee Shanks, secretary; Pattie Webb, treasurer; Buster Webb, president, and County Commissioner Diane Rowden.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Gutschmidt

CRUISERS: Members and guests of National Association of Retired Law Enforcement Officer II cruised recently aboard Celebrity's Millennium.

Photo courtesy of Dave Crane

KIWANIS CLUBS MERGE: The Kiwanis Club of Spring Hill and the Kiwanis Club of the Nature Coast announced a merger of the two clubs. William Koenig III, left, president of the Kiwanis Club of the Nature Coast, was welcomed by Michael Jackson, president of the Kiwanis Club of Spring Hill. Koenig will be a director in the newly merged club. The merger will allow the clubs to better serve the Spring Hill community. The clubs will be able to provide more resources to their projects, which will help raise more money to serve the ever-growing needs of Spring Hill. Former Kiwanians and prospective members are always welcome to attend the weekly luncheon meetings on Tuesdays at the Residence at Timber Pines, off Commercial Way in Spring Hill. For information, contact Dave Crane at 683-5048.

Photo courtesy of Louise Lunny

JOINING THE PRIDE: The High Point Lions Club welcomed four new members during the group's December open house. Membership director Joe DePoole initiated the four after he spoke about the Lions "code of ethics." New members, from left, are: Ken and RaeAnn Reber, DePoole, and Dwayne and Ruth Bettis.

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