1. News

Video will give fourth-graders a peek at North Pinellas history

Student actors go through their scenes in a meeting at the Palm Harbor Historical Society before filming begins on a video about the history of northern Pinellas County.
Published Aug. 17, 2012

PALM HARBOR — Terry Fortner remembers when Curlew Road was made of dirt.

She remembers when there were more woods, more pastures and more cattle in North Pinellas.

"There were citrus groves everywhere," Fortner also recalled.

Fortner, 59, is a member of the Palm Harbor Historical Society, an organization that has teamed up with the community to share memories of North Pinellas history with school students via video. The video will be available to Pinellas County fourth-grade teachers to use to educate their students about local history.

The plot of the video involves a scavenger hunt and three fourth-grade girls: Lucy, played by Elyssa Warner, 11, of Palm Harbor Middle; Evie, played by Haylee Unger, 11, also of Palm Harbor Middle; and Sophie, played by Maya Kohli, 10, of Ridgecrest Elementary.

The characters compete to solve clues about North Pinellas history. The scavenger hunt quickly turns into a battle of the sexes when three boys enter the competition: Jack, played by Cameron Sharrone, 10, of Ozona Elementary; Liam, played by Alexander Dubay, 10, of Tarpon Springs Fundamental; and Aiden, played by Owen Huckstep, 9, of Gulfside Elementary.

Cameron, 10, said it's important to learn local history.

"It helps you learn about Florida's history and life," he said. "If you didn't really know that then everyone would wonder."

While viewers follow the young students' adventure, they will learn:

• That during World War II, a slash pine tree was used as a lookout for residents to climb up and search for suspicious activity in the gulf. The tree, located in Crystal Beach, is still there.

• The Olde Schoolhouse Restaurant in Palm Harbor used to be a school. It was built in 1910.

• The Pinellas Trail replaced a railroad that was built in the 1880s. One of its uses was to transport mail, and a conductor would use a hook to reach out and grab a bag of mail — sometimes without stopping the train.

• There used to be an Ozona fish house, back when the area was a major location for commercial fishing.

• The Boot Ranch Shopping Center and surrounding area used to be a large ranch with horses and prize-winning cattle.

The idea for the video grew out of the celebration of Pinellas County's centennial anniversary this year. The video production is funded by a $10,000 grant from the Pinellas Community Foundation.

Older students also were involved in the video: Three Countryside High School students are producing it.

One of the students, Katie Bessell, 17, said the project began during the spring semester. They completed shooting the video in early August.

"If I was younger, it would be cool to be like, 'Oh, that's right where I live. It's actually here,' " she said. "It's something to show the kids that they can discover (history) themselves."

The goal is to have the video available as school starts. One of the Palm Harbor Historical Society members, Sallie Parks, a former county commissioner, said they consulted teachers to ensure the video follows the school district's elementary curriculum.

"I think our point of view is trying to help people understand what our predecessors did and what our ancestors did for a living here," Parks said. "It will bring history to life."


  1. Officers arrived and helped treat the wounded man. Then he was rushed to a hospital.
  2. The Pinellas County Commission moved closer Tuesday to granting a total of $20.6 million to three museums: the Salvidor Dali Museum (top), the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center (bottom left), and the St. Petersburg Museum of History. Photos courtesy of Pinellas County
    The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of History and Tampa Bay Watch are on track to receive bed tax dollars for expansions.
  3. West Port Colony apartments in St. Petersburg C2 Design Group Inc, Chris Stevens
    The complex off Fourth Street N is convenient to both Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg.
  4. According to a forecast by PNC, business leaders feel sunny about the coming six months.
  5. Lithia Motors Inc. has acquired three dealerships from the Williams Automotive Group including Wesley Chapel Toyota near the Interstate 75 and State Road 54 interchange in Wesley Chapel. [Times (2007]
    Wesley Chapel Toyota, Wesley Chapel Honda and Tampa Honda dealerships change hands
  6. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  7. Left: A burned Ford Taurus, found near Key Vista Nature Park, pictured in the Pasco County Sheriff's Office's forensics building. Right: 21-year-old Michael Psilakis, of Hudson, is accused of killing the unidentified man whose body was found in the car. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Michael Psilakis, of Hudson, faces first-degree murder and other charges. The victim has not been identified.
  8. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  9. Tampa-based consumer data company Bridge is working to solve a specialty retailing problem that goes back to the end of Prohibition, and it’s getting help from venture capitalists at Florida Funders.
    Bridge specializes in providing detailed consumer data that helps producers of liquor, beer and wine target their advertising.
  10. Jacob "Jake" Weinert, 28, seen here holding his son Jasper in 2018, was killed Tuesday morning when a pickup truck struck him from him behind while he was riding on U.S. 301 in Tampa, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Courtesy Izabel Sgie
    Jacob Weinert, a 28-year-old father of two, was struck by a pickup near Sligh Avenue, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.