Photos and story by Tamas Mondovics

HCPS Schools Recognized As Five Star Schools

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials were pleased to announce that more than 90 of the schools within the district have earned the Five Star School Award for the 2015-16 school year by the Florida Department of Education. Statewide nearly 700 schools were recognized.
Some of the local elementary schools recognized included Bevis, FishHawk Creek, Cimino, Lithia Springs, Pinecrest, Stowers, along with Randall Middle and Newsome High, just to name a few.

Florida’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, said that the involvement of the community and family are critical to the success of students.

“I am grateful for the parents, caregivers and community members who invest their time in our state’s schools,” Stewart said.
To gain the Five-Star School recognition, a school must show achievement in all of benchmark areas as well as in five specific categories, including volunteerism and family involvement.

The school must also receive a grade of a “C” or better, or a satisfactory improvement rating for the year being recognized. For the list of schools in Hillsborough County that received the honor, visit www.

Hillsborough County Public Schools hold a Kindergarten Round Up period for the 2017-2018 School Year

Families interested in enrolling their child in their assigned, attendance area school should attend the Kindergarten Round Up event scheduled for that school.  

Area schools hosting the event includes Valrico Elementary School. School officials said the event is now scheduled to begin 5 p.m. on Thursday, February 23. 

Families interested in enrolling their child in their assigned, attendance area school should attend the Kindergarten Round Up event scheduled for that school, which offers the student a firsthand look at kindergarten life, introduces parents to the school, and allows attendees to become acquainted with the campus.

Parents who attend are encouraged to bring their child’s birth certificate, health and home address documentation to register their child for kindergarten.  

Parents unable to attend the Round Up are encouraged to enroll their child in school by the end of June.  Parents who would like to research their kindergarten options may visit various Round Ups and apply for School Choice or a magnet school during the application period.

 The Hillsborough Choice application period for elementary schools closes January 20.  Families can apply directly online for School Choice and magnet options by visiting and searching “Go Choice.”  For a detailed list of Kindergarten Round Ups and a list of accepted documentation for enrollment, parents should visit the district website at and see the “Kindergarten Round Up” information on the home page. For more information, contact Terrie Dodson-Caldevilla at 272-4048.    
District Announces 2017 Excellence in Education Awards Finalists

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials were pleased to post the names of twelve finalists of the 2017 Excellence in Education Awards.

District officials explained that each year, all area schools nominate the top candidates for three categories, including, the Ida S. baker Diversity Educator of the Year, Instructional Support Employee of the year and Teacher of the Year.

The finalists were notified of the news in surprise visits earlier this month at their school and were joined by Superintendent Eakins, School Board members, Hillsborough Education Foundation, sponsors and school district staff.

Finalists For Excellence In Education Awards:
Instructional Support Employee of the Year Finalists
• Nancy Alexander, Wimauma Elementary School
• Terranique Ragins, Franklin Boys Preparatory School
• Roma Soogrim-EsteMcDonald, Muller Elementary Magnet School
Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Finalists
• Olivia Williams Holcombe, Colson Elementary
• Aaron Lee Berry, Alonso High School
• Pedro Castrejon, Jefferson High School
Teacher of the Year Finalists
• Carrie D. Donatelli, Turner Bartels K- 8
• Katerina M. Pawloski, Tinker K-8 
• Lauren Schnebly Hackworth, Mitchell Elementary School
• Maria Torres-Crosby, Memorial Middle School
• Elizabeth Walker, Spoto High School
• Cathelyn Gregoire, Armwood High School

The winners of will be announced at the Awards ceremony planned for Tuesday, February 28 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Local Schools Lead Graduation Rate as Hillsborough County Claims Increase in Student Success

The Florida Department of Education released high school graduation rates last month showing the positive news for Hillsborough County Public Schools, including a 3-percentage point increase over the previous year.

According to the report, the District, managed increase its graduation rate from 76 percent in 2014-2015 to 79.1 percent in 2015-2016.

The graduate rate includes all schools that fall under the umbrella of Hillsborough County Public Schools, including charter, career centers and alternative schools.

While HCPS’ 27 traditional high schools are at a graduation rate of 86.2 percent, Newsome High has managed to lead the way at 97.5 percent.

Armwood, High is now boasting of increasing its graduation rate by 8 percentage points to 72.5, while Middleton High increased its graduation rate by 9 percentage points to 74.7.

School officials said the increase means that students have more opportunities for post-secondary education, more opportunities for better jobs with higher wages, and more opportunities to support a family in the future. This benefits the entire community by growing our economy.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins said that working together with the School Board he has created a District Strategic Plan where raising the graduation rate continues to be a top priority.

“Our graduation rate shows me we care about each child. It shows me we are not going to stop. It shows me we are going to get to every child and make sure they have every opportunity to receive a standard diploma,” Eakins said.
School officials were also pleased with the report showing the District’s success of closing the achievement gap between its African American, Hispanic and white students.

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