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Pinellas education news: Showcasing STEM, prepaid college plans and more

Students enjoyed working with Legos during this STEM summer camp at Gulf Beaches Elementary in 2015. For the summer of 2019, the Pinellas school district plans STEM camps at several schools in June. Families are invited to start signing up now. [SCOTT KEELER | TIMES]
Published Apr. 9

Pinellas offers expo, summer camps for kids interested in STEM

The sixth annual Pinellas County Schools STEM Expo will be held April 27 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and will showcase engineering design projects completed by more than 4,300 students from 98 schools. Meanwhile, the school district has started registering students for its summer STEM camps in June. One series of camps is open to students in grades 2 through 7 at four locations: Leila Davis Elementary in Clearwater (June 3-6), East Lake Middle (June 10-13), Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo (June 17-20) and Tyrone Middle in St. Petersburg (June 24-27). The $100 cost includes lunch each day. The district also will hold two STEM honors camps for students in eighth and ninth grades at East Lake Middle and Lakewood High. Those camps will run from June 10 to 20, Mondays through Thursdays. The cost is $150, which includes daily lunch, two field trips and a T-shirt. Both camps will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. For more information about the camps and the expo at USF, visit

Deadline nears to enroll in Florida Prepaid College plans

The open enrollment period for the Florida Prepaid College Plan will close April 30. The plan allows families to lock in college plan prices and prepay the future cost of college tuition and fees. When students are ready for college, it pays covered costs at Florida colleges or universities. For more information, visit

Eckerd College speakers to discuss 'your food footprint'

Holistic health coaches Maya Carl and Robert Lawson will host a presentation titled "You, Food and the World" at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday in Miller Auditorium at Eckerd College. Participants are urged to "learn about your food footprint, how powerful you truly are in the world and how honoring yourself means honoring the earth." The school provided this description of the topic: "Food, medicine, entertainment, tradition and creation are the basis of many worldwide issues. Few of us realize the connection between a trip to the grocery store and our energy levels, between family dinner and climate change, between our appetizer and politics. We are directly connected to the earth, and every food choice we make affects so much more than we realize." The presentation is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the communication discipline at Eckerd. The campus is at 4200 54th Ave. S in St Petersburg.

Student club at USF St. Petersburg addresses food waste

The Food Recovery Club at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg is hosting one of five regional Food Recovery Summits around the nation in April. The event — from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 20 in the University Student Center Ballrooms — is an opportunity to get involved in and connect with community food experts. It will highlight how to reduce food waste in homes, businesses and schools, and allow for the community to collaborate and implement action on food waste issues. The USF St. Petersburg club is one of 230 Food Recovery Network chapters around the country. To register for the summit, visit

Ridgecrest Elementary volunteer wins state honor

Tracy Ellis, a volunteer at Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo, has been selected as a Florida Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for 2018-19, education commissioner Richard Corcoran announced last week. Ellis has volunteered at Ridgecrest for six years, spearheading school projects, acting as a club sponsor, facilitating workshops and other events, and advocating for disadvantaged children. The award is given in each of Florida's five regions to a student, an adult and a senior volunteer. Ellis was honored in the adult category for Region 4, which covers west central Florida.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Hamburger or cheeseburger, chicken and broccoli penne alfredo with bread stick, fruit and yogurt plate, bologna and cheese sandwich, sliced carrots, fresh veggie dippers.

Tuesday: School Favorites Day — students choose the hot entrees and vegetables. Entrée salad: Farmers Salad or Apple‐a‐Day Salad. Sandwich: Jamwich Kit. Romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Chicken tender basket with crinkle oven fries, macaroni and cheese, yogurt and fruit parfait, ham and cheese croissant, sliced cucumbers, spinach or collard greens.

Thursday: Beef or pork tacos, Max Cheese Sticks, chef salad, chicken caesar wrap, marinara cup, refried fiesta beans, side salad.

Friday: No school.


  1. In this image from a Pinellas County school district video, former School Board member Lee Benjamin motions to someone he knows while sitting with family members during at 2013 ceremony to name the Northeast High School gymnasium in his honor. Mr. Benjamin was the school's first basketball coach in 1954 and later became Northeast's principal in a long career with Pinellas schools that included 14 years on the School Board. He died Wednesday at age 92. Pinellas County Schools
    He was a teacher, coach and eventually the principal of Northeast High in St. Petersburg. Then he became a district administrator and later, a School Board member.
  2. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri chairs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is preparing its second round of recommendations for lawmakers.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle pieces together a skull that might have been Amelia Earhart's. SANDRA C. ROA  |  University of South Florida
    DNA from a skull found in 1940 could prove whether the famous aviator has been found.
  4. A Hernando County Sheriff's deputy talks to students in the cafeteria of Brooksville Elementary School in 2018. Earlier this month, the school district put forward a proposal to move away from a contract with the Sheriff and establish its own police force. On Tuesday, it announced it would drop that idea.
    Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis spoke out this week against the proposal.
  5. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The sides have not set a time to resume discussions on teacher pay.
  6. Vials of medical marijuana oil. [Monica Herndon | Tampa Bay Times]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. The Pasco County school district is considering adopting a policy for student medical marijuana use on district property. [Getty Images]
    The rule will not change the district’s current approach to the touchy topic.
  8. Shown in 2002, Carolyn Hill, then the principal of Kenly Elementary School in east Tampa, celebrated after 78 of her students improved their state scores and were treated to lunch at The Colonnade Restaurant. Hill, now deceased, might be honored Tuesday as the Hillsborough County School Board considers naming a school for her in the SouthShore area. STAFF  |  Tampa Bay Times
    School Board members will select a name on Tuesday
  9. Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, 55, is now in his 11th year leading the fourth largest school district in the nation. Miami Herald
    The charismatic leader of the nation’s fourth-largest school district has a complicated legacy. He almost took over the Pinellas County School District in 2008.
  10. Alachua County school superintendent Karen Clarke welcomes the crowd at a "listening session" Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 to discuss changes in the Florida's education standards. A similar session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Jefferson High, 4401 W Cypress St. in Tampa. The Florida Channel
    A roundup of stories from around the state.