Photos and story by Tamas Mondovics

Strawberry Crest High School JROTC Cadet Shows Courage In Face Of Personal Obstacles

Strawberry Crest High School (SCHS) JROTC Cadet Damiyan Garcia was recently recognized by his fellow cadets for setting an outstanding example of courage while battling personal obstacles.

Garcia was the first Freshman Cadet promoted to the rank of Corporal this year and serves as an inspiration for all cadets. In fact, the Corps of Cadets has dedicated the remainder of the JROTC school year to Cadet Corporal Garcia. 

Dealing with brain cancer, the SCHS freshman has impressed many by demonstrating a positive attitude and is enjoying the support of his fellow cadets, students, and faculty and staff, school officials said, adding that Garcia’s cancer was reportedly in remission last year, but has returned more aggressively. 

Despite the pain from radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Garcia is known for always having a smile on his face.

SCHS recently presented the young cadet with a congratulatory card for his recent promotion to the rank of Corporal, signed by many of the Charger cadets who are committed to keeping Garcia motivated during his continued fight against cancer.“Cadet Damiyan Garcia is a leader with a can-do attitude who never quits and never fails his team. He is an inspiration to all,” said Strawberry Crest High School JROTC Army Instructor First Sergeant, Lashawn Lyas.

Donations have poured in from groups and individuals to help the Garcia Family off-set expenses. If you are interested in helping Damiyan’s family offset his medical expenses, there is a Go Fund Me account set up in his name at

For more updates about Damiyan, please call Lt. Col. (Ret.) John Ingraham at 707-7522 ext. 263 or email him at Visit the SCHS website to find out more about the school.
District Hosts Series Of School Transportation Resource Fair

With school transportation concerns making headlines in recent months, Hillsborough County Public Schools officials began hosting a series School Transportation Resource Fairs at school sites throughout the District.

The next scheduled fair is to take place at Eisenhower Middle School, 7620 Old Big Bend Rd., Gibsonton, on Wednesday, April 19, in the school cafeteria from 5:30-7 p.m.

According to Jeff Eakins each event provides resources to parents including a list of alternative school transportation options, including walking school buses and bike trains.

“These are options where a group of children walk to school with one or more adults,” Eakins said, during a brief instructional video promoting the school transportation fair. ‘“A variation on the walking school bus is a bicycle train where adults supervise a group of children riding their bikes to school.”
Eakins added that parents can find more information on creating such options on the Florida Department of Transportation’s Safe Route to School website.

Eakins emphasized that the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority TBARTA provides access to a list of names and contact information of school parents who are interested in assisting with the alternative transportation programs.

Lisa Silva of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) one of the presenting partners for the event is a liaison for the School Transportation Working Group. 

“We want to provide resources to parents,” Silva said. “We already have these great partners participating in our school transportation working group so we wanted to bring it all together. Our goal is to hear parents’ concerns and give them some educational materials and information.”

HCPS is encouraging parents to attend one of the remaining School Transportation Resource Fairs.
Officials said that whether a child walks, bikes, gets a ride or takes the bus, families will find promotional materials, information and helpful tips at these events, along with representatives from HCPS and various other state and local agencies and organizations who will be on hand to answer questions and concerns.

For more information parents are encouraged to visit the district’s website at and type ‘alternative transportation’ in the search engine.

Magnet Schools Receive National Recognition

Magnet Schools of America (MSA) has recognized a list of Hillsborough County public magnet schools and programs as Magnet Schools of Excellence or Magnet Schools of Distinction.

According to district officials the awards recognize member magnet schools and programs that demonstrate a commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, desegregation/diversity efforts, specialized teaching staffs, and parent and community involvement.
Magnet programs are one of the many options families in Hillsborough County Public Schools can choose.

Magnet Schools of Excellence Awards recipients included Riverhills Elementary Magnet School, Orange Grove, Stewart, and Williams middle magnet schools; Rampello K-8 School; and Tampa Bay Technical High School.

Magnet Schools of Distinction awards recipients included, Cahoon, Dunbar, Lee, Lincoln, MacFarlane, Muller, and Shore elementary magnet schools; Ferrell Girls Preparatory Academy, Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, Progress Village and Walker middle magnet schools; and Blake, Jefferson and Middleton high schools.

HCPS Announces Excellence In Education Winners

Three top educators and support staff were recently honored as winners of the 2017 Excellence in Education Awards.

Representatives of the Hillsborough Education Foundation and Hillsborough County Public Schools presented the awards at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

The 2017 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year award went to Pedro Castrejon of Jefferson High School.

The 2017 Instructional Support Employee of the Year award went to Terranique Ragins, Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy Middle School.

The 2017 Teacher of the Year award went to Memorial Middle School teacher Maria Torres Crosby.
For more information about the winners visit

Previous articleBloomingdale Community Cemetery Volunteers Maintain 1,500 Burial Sites
Next articleSupport A Kid’s Place By Attending Vintage Hollywood Black Tie Gala