With a chance to win the State title, a spot in the national championship in Washington, D.C., and a $50,000 scholarship, students from around the state will descend on Jacksonville University (JU) to compete in the state Geographic Bee later this month.

A great number of students from the Tampa Bay area will also represent their schools and communities including Randall Middle School’s Joseph Vitko, Mulrennan Middle School student Mychal Martinez and Williams Magnet Middle School’s Saketh Katta.

Proud of the event’s history at his school, JU Geography Professor and Bee Coordinator, Ray Oldakowski, spoke highly of the benefits of the program and what the competition will accomplish.

“JU has hosted Florida’s Bee for 16 years,” he said adding, “The competition greatly encourages the teaching and study of geography.”

According to event organizers, up to 100 fourth through eighth graders in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Atlantic and Pacific territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools have qualified for each state bee.

Each state winner will receive $100 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the televised national finals to be held, May 11-13 and the chance to be crowned the 26th National Geographic Bee champion.

The national winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship, a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine, a Galápagos trip and $500 cash.

The second-place winner receives a $25,000 scholarship and $500 cash. The third-place winner receives a $10,000 scholarship and $500 cash, and 4th through 10th place winners receive $500 cash each.

A three-person team selected from the top national finalists will represent the United States at the National Geographic World Championship in July 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden.

For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee.



USF Hosts 2015 Special Olympics


The University of South Florida was pleased to host the 2015 Area Special Olympics last month, an event that allows all participants to walk away as winners.

More than 600 athletes from Hillsborough and Polk Counties competed in tennis, track and field, cycling, volleyball, soccer, bocce, and the Motor Activities Training Program, turning the competition into a top notch event for all.

The Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center’s “Tennis For Fun” program sported 64 athletes competing in singles match play and Individual Tennis Skills. At the end all athletes received medals and ribbons.

“Tennis For Fun” is a free tennis clinic for mentally handicapped athletes of all ages. The program is in its 15th year and is held on Fridays at the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center.

For more information, visit www.tennisforfun.org  or contact Nathan Moore 205-533-3539 or Rosanna Chiaramonte 684-4642.


Photo: Members of the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center’s Tennis for Fun program enjoy the spotlight during the 2015 Area Special Olympics held at the University of South Florida Campus.


BOCC Poised to Nominate Outstanding Young Hillsborough County

Student for YEA! Awards


It is once again time for Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to recognize the many positive contributions made by young people throughout the County, through the Youth Excellence and Achievement Awards (YEA! Awards).

The YEA! Awards were created in 2010 to recognize Hillsborough County students for making a difference in their community.

Strongly supported by Hillsborough County Commissioner, Kevin Beckner, YEA! nominations, have been submitted for both middle and high school students under the three categories of Leadership, Success Despite Difficult Odds and Volunteer or Community Service.

“Every day we hear negative news stories about young people making poor choices and decisions, yet there is so much good our young people are doing,” Beckner said, adding that it is for this reason that he has asked his fellow commissioners to create the YEA! Awards. “We want to honor our students for their positive contribution in areas of academics, community service, athletics, performing arts and conservation just to name a few.”

Beckner said that students honored show initiative, innovation, and a commitment to themselves and others, while pursuing excellence in a leadership capacity.

Nominations were scheduled to be reviewed by the Commission on the Status of Women.

For additional information, visit www.HillsboroughCounty.org/YEA and click on YEA!



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