In Pasco, school choice options include arts, STEM, college prep and career programs

Parents can check them out at two November expos. After that, it’s time to apply online.
A Sanders Memorial Elementary student uses GarageBand software to play in the school's iPad Band. Sanders offers a STEAM program, where the focus on science, technology, engineering and math is mixed with art.
A Sanders Memorial Elementary student uses GarageBand software to play in the school's iPad Band. Sanders offers a STEAM program, where the focus on science, technology, engineering and math is mixed with art. [ Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Oct. 31, 2019

The Pasco County school system offers an array of choice programs for families who want to venture beyond their zoned school, with options that include STEM magnet schools, the academically rigorous International Baccalaureate and Cambridge programs, and a variety of career academies.

Online applications for the 2020-21 academic year will be accepted in December for middle and high school programs, and in January for elementary school programs. Two large choice expos are scheduled for November, allowing families to learn more about individual programs.

For more information, visit the school district's school choice page at And check there in December for details on how to complete an online application.

Here is a look at the programs:

AP Capstone

This diploma program from the College Board is based on two year-long Advanced Placement courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. Rather than teaching subject-specific content, these courses develop students’ skills in research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, collaboration, writing, and presenting. Students who complete the two-year program can earn one of two different AP Capstone awards, which are valued by colleges across the United States and around the world. The program can help students stand out on college applications, become more confident and independent thinkers and receive college credit.

AP Capstone is available at the following Pasco County high schools: Sunlake, Mitchell, Wiregrass Ranch, River Ridge and Wesley Chapel.

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AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)

This program is dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. It teaches skills and behaviors for academic success, provides intensive support with tutorials and strong student/teacher relationships, creates a positive peer group for students, and develops a sense of hope for personal achievement gained through hard work and determination. AVID transforms students into hard working, college-ready candidates who confront challenges head-on. In secondary schools, the AVID elective targets students with the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard.

AVID is available at five elementary schools, six middle schools and six high schools. For a list and more information, visit

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Cambridge program

For more than 170 years, the University of Cambridge in England has been setting worldwide curriculum standards through their examinations. The Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) is an accelerated method of academic study offered solely through the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). The program offers an advanced, rigorous, hands-on curriculum that gives students the opportunity to graduate with college credit. The program, available at eight schools, seeks students with A and B averages, good writing skills, and good attendance and behavior.

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• Northwest Elementary (New)

14302 Cobra Way, Hudson; (727) 774-4700

• San Antonio Elementary

32416 Darby Road, Dade City; (352) 524-5300

• Hudson Middle (New)

14540 Cobra Way, Hudson; (727) 774-8200

• Pasco Middle

13925 14th St., Dade City; (352)-524-8400

• Paul R. Smith Middle

1410 Sweetbriar Drive, Holiday; (727) 246-3200

• Anclote High

1540 Sweetbriar Dr., Holiday; (727) 246-3000

• Hudson High

14410 Cobra Way, Hudson; (727) 774-4200

• Pasco High

36850 State Road 52, Dade City; (352) 524-5500

Applicants to the Cambridge program will be contacted by the school with more information regarding the writing sample that must be completed. Students wishing to access these schools must apply using the Pasco Pathways Application.

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Culinary student Sierra Garcia chats with Dan Wenz about her cheddar potato puffs during a cooking competition among students in the culinary program at Wiregrass Ranch High. Other schools with culinary programs include Anclote High, Marchman Technical College, Wendell Krinn Technical High, Land O’ Lakes High and Fivay High.
Culinary student Sierra Garcia chats with Dan Wenz about her cheddar potato puffs during a cooking competition among students in the culinary program at Wiregrass Ranch High. Other schools with culinary programs include Anclote High, Marchman Technical College, Wendell Krinn Technical High, Land O’ Lakes High and Fivay High. [ Times (2016) ]

Career programs

These schools within schools, part of Pasco’s Career Pathways program, offer students a chance to gain knowledge and skills that could improve their employability after graduation. Below is a list of available programs:

Aeronautics: Hudson, Sunlake and Zephyrhills high schools.

Agritechnology: Offered at Land O’ Lakes High.

Automotive Service Technology: Offered at Marchman Technical College, Wendell Krinn Technical High and Wesley Chapel High.

Building Technologies: Offered at Zephyrhills High.

Business Management: Offered at every high school in the county.

Criminal Justice: Offered at Cypress Creek Middle/High, Fivay High and Zephyrhills High.

Culinary Arts: Offered at Anclote High, Marchman Technical College, Wendell Krinn Technical High, Land O’ Lakes High, Fivay High, and Wiregrass Ranch High.

Digital Video Production: Offered at Marchman Technical College.

Engineering: Offered at River Ridge Middle, River Ridge High, Cypress Creek Middle/High, and Wendell Krinn Technical High.

Finance Pathway: Offered at Sunlake, River Ridge, Pasco and J.W. Mitchell high schools.

Gaming and Simulation: Offered at Gulf and J.W. Mitchell high schools.

Hospitality and Tourism: Offered at Wiregrass Ranch High.

Medical Professions Pathway: Offered at J.W. Mitchell, Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch, Zephyrhills, Pasco and Gulf high schools, and at Dr. John Long Middle and Charles S. Rushe Middle.

New Media and Communications: Offered at River Ridge and Sunlake high schools.

Robotics: Offered at Sunlake High and Wendell Krinn Technical High.

Veterinary Assisting: Offered at Hudson and Pasco high schools.

Agriculture: Offered at Hudson High, Hudson Middle, Pine View Middle, Land O’ Lakes High, Pasco Middle, Pasco High, Thomas E. Weightman Middle, Wesley Chapel High, Centennial Middle, R.B. Stewart Middle and Zephyrhills High.

Biomedical: Offered at Wendell Krinn Technical High.

CyberSecurity Pathway: Offered at Wendell Krinn Technical High.

Digital Media/Multimedia: Offered at Sunlake High, River Ridge High, Zephyrhills High, River Ridge Middle, Dr. John Long Middle, Bayonet Point Middle, Seven Springs Middle, and Thomas E. Weightman Middle.

Early Childhood: Offered at Land O’Lakes and Gulf high schools.

FACS program: (human services career training) Offered at Crews Lake, Pine View, Dr. John Long and Pasco middle schools, and River Ridge and Wiregrass Ranch high schools.

Fire Science: Offered at Fivay High.

JROTC (Air Force, Army, Navy): Air Force program offered at River Ridge High. Army program offered at Anclote, Hudson and Zephyrhills high schools. Navy program offered at Gulf, J.W. Mitchell, Pasco and Fivay high schools.

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Collegiate High School

This program allows students to earn an associate’s degree or an industry certification through Florida’s Career and Professional Education Act, while still in high school. Students are required to attend classes full-time at Pasco-Hernando State College, but they will be considered a student at their zoned high school, able to participate in school athletics, student activities and graduation ceremonies. Prospective students must be in 11th or 12th grade next school year, have a cumulative unweighted 3.0 GPA with college-ready reading skills, and be able to provide their own transportation to the state college campus. In addition to a Pasco Pathways application, students must complete an application with Pasco-Hernando State College and turn it into their school counselor by Dec. 18.

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Fine Arts

The Pasco County school system offers fine arts programming in all of its schools. But some schools offer select fine arts programs that give students the opportunity to showcase their work throughout the community and have received top industry recognitions. Students learning through creativity enhances their ability to be problem solvers and in-turn increases their performance in core academic classes.

• Longleaf Elementary

3253 Town Ave., New Port Richey; (727) 774-0800

Longleaf is a Florida Department of Education Model Arts School and Florida Arts Achieve School, and has been recognized as one of the best elementary schools for the arts in the state. The school’s arts integration curriculum encourages students with opportunities to use their creativity to problem solve, enhance communication and listening skills, and build focus and discipline. The school’s concert choir, Liberty Singers, has performed extensively throughout the state. The Freedom Review Show Choir has traveled to Washington D.C., Universal Studios, and Nashville, where they received top honors as America’s best elementary show choir. Longleaf also offers musical theater performances for every grade level, dance for fourth- and fifth-graders, and arts majors working with stop animation, sculpture, and glass fusion.

• River Ridge High

11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey; (727) 774-7200

The Fine Arts and Musical Entertainment Academy, known as FAME, gives students access to fine arts coursework ranging from art to theater, and allows them to showcase their work in the community. Students leave with skills that allow them to pursue careers and higher education in the fine arts.

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Infinity Academy

This program combines online learning and teacher-led lessons with students working at their own pace. The academy is designed to enhance student engagement and learning and will use the Pasco e-School curriculum. Advanced coursework and enrichment activities are available for each course. Students take language arts, math, social studies, science and two electives. Each is assigned technology that they are free to take home to continue their work once insured. Students will follow a pacing guide and meet individually with teachers weekly to discuss progress.

• R.B. Stewart Middle

38505 10th Ave., Zephyrhills; (813) 794-6500

• Paul R. Smith Middle

1410 Sweetbriar Dr, Holiday; (727) 246-3200

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International Baccalaureate programs

The IB program focuses on developing students’ strengths academically and as caring global citizens. Students are encouraged to think independently and drive their own learning. Many who graduate with IB diplomas go onto do well in college. The program is available in different levels at four schools.

• Pine View Elementary

5333 Parkway Blvd., Land O'Lakes; (813) 794-0600.

The Primary Years Programme offered through the IB Organization provides an engaging and challenging curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 5. All students who live in the attendance boundary for Pine View Elementary participate in the program. Students from outside of the boundary who want to attend should complete the Pasco Pathways application.

• Pine View Middle

5334 Parkway Blvd., Land O'Lakes; (813) 794-4800

• Gulf Middle

6419 Louisiana Ave, New Port Richey; (727) 774-8000

Pine View Middle is an authorized IB Middle Years Programme World School. Gulf Middle is a future Candidate School for the program beginning in 2020-21. Both magnet schools are part of the International Baccalaureate continuum, where students learn the Florida Standards through a framework that enriches conceptual teaching and learning. The Middle Years Programme aims to develop active learners and internationally minded young people who can empathize with others and live as well-rounded members of society. All students who live in the attendance boundaries for Gulf Middle (beginning in 2020-21) and Pine View Middle participate in the program. Prospective students from outside those boundaries should complete the Pasco Pathways application.

• Gulf High

5355 School Road, New Port Richey; (727) 774-3300

• Land O' Lakes High

20325 Gator Lane, Land O'Lakes; (813) 794-9400

The IB program at Gulf and Land O’Lakes high schools offers high-achieving, high-performing students an opportunity to pursue a rigorous program of study that can earn them college credit and result in a full Florida Bright Futures scholarship. Separately, the IB career-related program at Gulf High can lead to apprenticeships or employment after high school. Students must apply using the Pasco Pathways Application. Requirements include Algebra 1 completion in middle school, a 3.0 GPA, proficiency on writing and math samples, above-average performance in core classes and state tests, and a clear school behavior and citizenship history. Applicants will be reviewed holistically, so an applicant who doesn’t meet all criteria should not be discouraged from applying.

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New Teacher Academy

The Mission of the New Teacher Academy at River Ridge High is to “Inspire the Desire to Teach.” Developing future teachers, while serving the community, provides a powerful platform for the next generation of teachers. Students in their second and third years identify educational issues and create solutions, in the form of creative philanthropy projects. They market their projects, create logos, acquire funding, schedule appointments, purchase t-shirts and raise community awareness, all while learning the attributes of being an excellent educator.

• River Ridge High

11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey; (727) 774-7200

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Pasco eSchool

Available to all students in grades K-12. For students in grades K-5, Pasco eSchool offers free enrollment in a full-year program that features innovative curricula. Students and learning guides receive instruction from teachers who use the latest technology. Students from sixth through 12th grades may enroll part- or full-time. Any public school, private school, charter school, or home education student located in Pasco County is eligible to apply.

15144 Shady Hills Road, Spring Hill; (813) 346.1900

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STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)

This program at Sanders Memorial Elementary focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to prepare students for college, career and life. Rather than teaching these subjects in isolation, the magnet theme is integrated into the core curriculum. Through inquiry, critical thinking, and process-based learning instruction, students will develop real-world skills in the fields of robotics, aviation, drones, virtual reality, and more. Students must apply through the Pasco Pathways application process.

• Sanders Memorial Elementary

5126 School Road, Land O'Lakes; (813) 794-1500

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STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

The program at Bayonet Point and Centennial middle schools is designed for inquisitive students who enjoy exploring and learning. It integrates an advanced STEM curriculum to ensure that students develop a strong, diverse foundation. Teachers provide a variety of learning activities, including whole­ group and small group lessons, and activities in which students will engage in individually, in pairs, and in groups. Some activities will involve computers, others will not. Teachers act as facilitators of learning, tracking each student’s progress to ensure they receive what they need. All Bayonet Point and Centennial students who live in the schools’ attendance boundaries participate in the magnet theme. Those who live outside the boundaries must apply using the Pasco Pathways application process.

• Bayonet Point Middle

11125 Little Road, New Port Richey; (727) 774-7400

• Centennial Middle

38505 Centennial Road, Dade City; (352) 524-9700

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Technical education

Wendell Krinn Technical High and Marchman Technical College provide students in West Pasco access to 14 technical education programs, including auto collision/repair, biomedical sciences, commercial art, computer systems, cosmetology, culinary arts, cybersecurity, digital cinema, electricity, HVAC, marine service, robotics and welding. In addition, Wendell Krinn students have access to more dual enrollment courses on campus through Pasco-Hernando State College than any other high school in Pasco County. Students must meet eligibility criteria and must apply through the Pasco Pathways application process.

• Wendell Krinn Technical High School

7650 Orchid Lake Road, New Port Richey; (727) 774-3900

• Marchman Technical College

7825 Campus Drive, New Port Richey; (727) 774-1700