1. Education

Pinellas education news: Science festival, safe bus drivers, school choice and more

Caitlin Reynolds, bottom, a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, teaches kids about hurricane erosion during the 2014 St. Petersburg Science Festival at Poynter Park in St. Petersburg. The festival, now in it's eighth year, will be held Saturday along with MarineQuest on Bayboro Harbor. [Times (2014)]
Caitlin Reynolds, bottom, a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, teaches kids about hurricane erosion during the 2014 St. Petersburg Science Festival at Poynter Park in St. Petersburg. The festival, now in it's eighth year, will be held Saturday along with MarineQuest on Bayboro Harbor. [Times (2014)]
Published Oct. 16, 2018

Thousands expected for science festival, MarineQuest

Two big events — the St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest — will again be held together along the Bayboro Harbor waterfront Saturday, offering what organizers describe as "an immersive science experience under the sun." The twin festivals attracted an estimated 20,000 people last year. They will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with activities set up at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Poynter Park along Third Street S and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Attendees will experience a variety of activities and experiments representing the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) fields. They'll be able to sample the Bay News 9 hurricane simulator, interact with virtual and augmented reality at USF St. Petersburg's STEM INQ lab, crawl through a 20-foot-long cave to investigate Florida's karst landscape and explore Tampa Bay's natural environment via vessels and jet skis. Food trucks and live entertainment also will be on hand. About 1,000 children will get a sneak peek of the science festival during organized school trips on Friday. This is the 24th year for MarineQuest and the eighth for the science festival. The events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Pinellas names school bus driver of the year

The Pinellas County School Board has recognized Kimberly Johnston as the 2017-18 bus driver of the year. The selection was based on numerous letters from supervisors, coworkers, parents and students. Many of the children who ride with Johnston have special needs. "From last school year to this school year, I have watched how my 4-year-old with autism has transitioned greatly with her," one parent wrote of Johnston. "She is so amazing that I requested she is his driver for this school year." The bus driver of the year is selected every year from eight employees recognized as driver of the month over the course of the school year. The School Board also recognized 72 school bus drivers with 10 or more years of safe driving. Seven of those have been driving 20 or more years without an accident: Ruth Cobarras (25 years), Charles Russell (25), Yvonne Taylor (25), Wanda Prosser (25), Joann Pierce (23), Stephanie Holmes (21) and Janet Nusspickel (20).

Eckerd College lecture: Pushing for change that helps the poor

Rev. Liz Theoharis will speak at Eckerd College about the long-term work of organizing a movement of the poor and dispossessed, the roles that religion and a liberation theology have in advancing change, and the recent efforts of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Theoharis is co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, which was founded in the 1960s and was championed by Martin Luther King Jr. Her talk will start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Fox Hall on the Eckerd campus, 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Admission is free.

Workshop, fairs to showcase Pinellas school choice programs

Next week marks the beginning of Pinellas County's school choice process with a workshop to inform parents about how they can apply for a magnet, fundamental or high school career program. The event will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday at Countryside High, 3000 State Road 580 in Clearwater. The school district also has scheduled three Choice Fairs, where parents and students can speak to representatives from every choice program in the district. The fairs will be held from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 1 at Gibbs High, 850 34th St. S, St. Petersburg; 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 3 at Largo High, 410 Missouri Ave. N; and 6-8 p.m. Nov. 8 at Dunedin High, 1651 Pinehurst Rd. The application period for choice programs is Jan. 9-18. For more information, call the school district's Student Assignment office at (727) 588-6210 or sign up at to receive reminders.

SPC to host job fair

The last of three job fairs held this month by St. Petersburg College will be held from noon-2 p.m. Tuesday on SPC's Seminole campus, 9200 113th St. N. Those who attend can meet with local employers and learn about career opportunities. They are advised to bring printed resumes and be prepared for on-the-spot interviews.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Cheeseburger or hamburger, 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 veggies. Entrée salad: farmers' salad or Apple-a-Day salad. Sandwich: Jamwich Kit. Romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Chicken tender basket with oven crinkle 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 beans, side salad.

Friday: Pizza variety, teriyaki chicken bowl, chicken caesar salad, turkey and cheese ciabatta sandwich, green beans, fresh veggie dippers.


  1. More than 1,300 summer and fall graduates were eligible to participate in the morning or afternoon commencement ceremonies Dec. 11 at the Pasco-Hernando State College New Port Richey campus. Approximately 345 degrees and certificates were conferred. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    Two ceremonies were held at the New Port Richey campus.
  2. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  3. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  7. This Sept. 12, 2019 file photo shows a University of Tennessee shirt in Knoxville, Tenn., using the design of a Florida fourth-grader who was bullied.  Sales of the T-shirt have raised over $950,000 for an anti-bullying organization. Tennessee officials said Wednesday that 112,715 shirts have been sold in the three months since it was created. (AP Photo/Steve Megargee, File) [STEVE MEGARGEE  |  AP]
    Tennessee officials said Wednesday that 112,715 shirts have been sold in the past three months.
  8. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  9. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
DL Tre'von Riggins (98) on the field during spring football practice at Lakewood High School in in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. 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 School Board will consider a $2.2 million package at its Dec. 17 meeting.