1. News
  2. /
  3. Hernando

Hernando High senior joins School Board

Sophia Torres will serve as the student board member for the 2019-20 school year.
Sophia Torres and John Stratton [Special to the Times]
Sophia Torres and John Stratton [Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 3
Updated Oct. 3

BROOKSVILLE — Sophia Torres, a Hernando High School senior, admitted that her emotions were running strong, but she kept her composure as she thanked student delegates for electing her the student member of the Hernando County School Board for 2019-2020. The election took place September 18 in the School Board office.

“All the students come together, and this is the best way to make change,” said Torres. District superintendent John Stratton was the first to congratulate Torres.

Applause rang out, and four other candidates whose names were on the ballot gathered around Torres. They included: Dylan Fox Chapman from Central High; Jada Smith from Nature Coast High; Charlize Soares from Springstead High; and Evan Bronhard from Weeki Wachee High.

Those not elected will serve on the District Student Advisory Council, which meets with Torres through the year to review actions of the board. Torres will take student concerns to the board.

She plans to promote kindness and make student mental health a priority, she said. Her statement earned nods of approval from students and adults, including many parents who gathered for the meeting.

Torres is the daughter of Amy and Kevin Torres, West Hernando Middle School teachers. Sophia Torres plans to attend college, working toward a degree in psychology, focusing on mental health.

Each school in the county sent two voting delegates; those from elementary schools were fourth- or fifth-graders. Delegates were peer leaders or members of student government.

The faculty coordinator for the program is Tori Hunt from Springstead High. She served as the first student delegate to the board in 2011-2012. Her goals were focused on anti-bullying and adding sidewalks for students who walk up to 2 miles every day to their schools.

“All students in Hernando County are part of this process of electing a student representative,” Hunt said.

Before the voting, Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson spoke to students about voter rights and responsibilities and the importance of knowing candidates and their platforms.

“It’s very important to know who you are voting for and what you are voting about,” Anderson said. “You may plant the seed to get important change started.”

Gail Diederich is a retired Pasco County teacher of 32 years. She writes feature stories with an education focus for Pasco and Hernando counties. She can be reached at


  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. Rocky, Sally Mae, Marsali and Paisley are available for adoption at area shelters. [Times]
    Shelter pet offerings throughout Tampa Bay
  3. At Adventures in Music, administrator Rich Holley talks of the studio's performance based lessons that train students, young and old, to make music together. [BETH N. GRAY  |  Special to the Times]
    New studio offers private lessons and group sessions.
  4. The Sears in Brooksville, as shown in this captured image from Google Maps, will close next year. [Google]
    The store’s parent company had already announced the area’s last Kmart in Pinellas also is closing.
  5. Pinellas County Commission chairwoman Karen Seel said a Tampa economic development group's recent decision to put "Tampa Bay" into its name "does great harm to the progress we have made on regional collaboration."
    But in Tampa, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit, government-supported economic development group is giving no sign of backing off the new name.
  6. Dan Short, second from right, owner of Dan-Lo Jewelers,  speaks with Hernando County Sheriff's detective Anthony Belmonte, far right, during a news conference Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 in Brooksville. The Sheriff's Office announced that a trio of jewelry store burglars were arrested after robbing between $16 million and $18 million from places around Florida. [ZACK SAMPSON  |  Times]
    The trio targeted jewelry stores, making off with as much as $18 million, authorities say. They were finally arrested in Chicago.
  7. The May-Stringer House, home of the Hernando Historical Museum in Brooksville, has a reputation as haunted. Now, those who run the museum want to learn whether there's a forgotten cemetery on the property, too. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    More than 50 enslaved people plus the family that held them might be buried at the plantation-era Heritage Museum in Brooksville.
  8. Hernando County Government Center
    The proposal would place dense residential development in an area that is still rural, county planners say.
  9. The new Maydell Drive Bridge will be a multi-use bridge to cater to cars, bicyclists and pedestrians with travel lanes, 8-foot shoulders, and a barrier-separated 5' sidewalk & 10' trail. [Hillsborough County]
    Hillsborough County closed the bridge in December 2015 after an independent engineering study found it was structurally unsound.
  10. Kayakers line up at the boat launch at Weeki Fresh Water Adventures, a kayak and stand-up paddle board rental facility in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller]
    Study recommends limiting visitors and where they are allowed to help prevent future damage.