Local Schools Get New Marquees


It took a little while, but area schools have finally got a facelift at least by installing new electronic marquees on their front lawns. FishHawk Creek Elementary led the way in its installation of a fancy new sign and, while there are no plans for renovation, Newsome High has also joined as it proudly displays its colorful, easily readable, electronic messages.

Randall Middle School is not far behind either as technicians are also working on the school’s new sign to follow suit, which will likely become fully functional for the upcoming season.

While it is also in the plans and, a much-desired upgrade, the Bevis Elementary School administration decided that for now the money available for projects would be better spent inside the classrooms.

“Our PTA is working on raising money for an electronic marquee, but we felt that it was best to first upgrade our technology, including the purchase of new computers,” said Bevis Principal Melanie Cochrane.

Bevis Elementary has sported around 800 students this season, a number that has been the norm for the school that has been considered as one of the best in the state.

According to Hillsborough County Public Schools officials, upgrades such as electronic marquees are not part of the county school budget and has to be covered by the schools themselves.

School marquees and signage are by no means cheap. Depending on their design, the cost of such displays may run in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Residents interested in donating to local schools for their local projects are encouraged to contact the local school PTA.





Students Advance to International STEM Competition


While pushing young students into the limelight, the positive impact of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM education has been receiving some well-deserved attention in recent months. Such students include that diverse team of 10 middle schoolers from Mulrennan Middle School in Valrico.

The team has earned a second place project award at the Minotaur Pre-Qualifying Tournament at Stewart Middle School, the Tournament Champion’s Award at the Suncoast Qualifying Tournament at HCC Brandon, and the Judges’ Award at the West Florida Regional Tournament at Middleton High School.

In March the Mulrennan Mustechs also won the Second Place Champion’s Award at the Florida State FLL Championship at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and an invitation to an international tournament, the Razorback Invitational at the University of Arkansas on May 14th-17th.

According to Mustechs’ coach Patrick Stanley, the 64-team tourney will see teams from all corners of the U.S., plus teams from around the world, including India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the UK, South Africa, Taiwan, Korea, and more.

“The Mustechs are seeking additional sponsors to help raise funds for travel costs so that they can represent Florida at this exciting international STEM competition,” Stanley said.

To earn this opportunity, the group representing students from grades 6-8 designed, built, and programmed their LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot to autonomously score as many points as possible on a 4 ft. by 8 ft. Playing Field in 2.5 minute Robot Game rounds.

Stanley said the team researched this year’s theme “World Class” to learn about real world challenges in education.

“After learning how many college students are so busy with family and jobs that only online classes fit their schedules, and learning about the challenges with online testing, the Mustechs developed an innovative solution that adds new features to a biometric smart pen, and applied it to the new application of online testing,” he said, adding that this innovative solution improves the way that busy college students learn math.

The Mustechs also honed their team work skills in order to excel at team work challenges, and apply the FLL Core Values both during FLL events and in their everyday lives.

For more information, visit www.mustechs.com for more information.





District Dedicates Thompson Elementary


Teachers, students, community members, and district leaders have scheduled to gather last month to dedicate the South County’s newest edition; J. Vince Thompson Elementary School.

James Vincent “Vince” Thompson was born and raised in Tarpon Springs.

Located at 2020 E. Shell Point Rd. in Ruskin, the school opened in August 2014 as the first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, or LEED-designated school in the district. LEED is a certification program that recognizes best building practices and energy efficiency.

According to district officials, Thompson has dedicated his career to Hillsborough County Public Schools as a teacher, coach, and principal as he served in that capacity at East Bay High School followed by opening Riverview High School.

Thompson’s career also brought him to Hillsborough and Robinson high schools and was known for making it his priority to ensure every student had the opportunity to find their passion in school whether in music, art, drama, sports, or any other activity that might interest them.

Vince Thompson passed away in 2012. Family and friends were scheduled to attend the ceremony and to honor Thompson’s long career and legacy in the school district.

For more information, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.



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