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Plant City notebook

Neighborhood notes

White House picks Champion of Change

The White House named Plant City resident Lourdes Villanueva, director of advocacy for the Redlands Christian Migrant Association in Plant City, as a Head Start Champion of Change in recognition of her career educating migrant children.

Villanueva, 53, was honored in Washington, D.C., on Monday, along with 10 other Head Start champions from around the country.

Villanueva came with her parents from Mexico to the United States at age 11. Every winter, she picked oranges and strawberries outside Tampa Bay. She married at 18 and raised three children while still employed as a picker.

After enrolling her children with RCMA, a nonprofit group that operates 75 child care centers and two charter schools for Florida's rural poor, Villanueva earned a GED and then a job at RCMA. She later earned a bachelor's degree. Three children are college graduates working at Hillsborough County businesses.

Villanueva also advocates for farm workers and serves on the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association's scholarship committee. She recently persuaded several churches to adopt migrant labor camps and successfully sought grants to teach farm workers how to protect their families from pesticides. The programs have led to the installation of outdoor sinks and racks for donated shirts at RCMA centers. For more information, call Villanueva, RCMA director of advocacy, at (813) 376-8687.

Christian school celebrates opening

Faith Christian Academy, a new school in Plant City, celebrates its opening Wednesday with the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce.

The school, at 1202 S Collins St., is accepting enrollment of children grades K-5.

According to its website,, the school focuses on traditional Christian principles and relies on the "A Beka Book" curriculum to teach students. Students are expected to wear uniforms. Annual enrollment runs from $4,890 to $4,940 depending on grade level. The first day of classes is set for Aug. 22.

Rich Shopes, Times staff writer