By Kate Quesada

The end of year project put together by a second grade teacher at Valrico Lake Advantage Academy is getting attention as far away as England. FishHawk resident John Latacz, made a video of a song he wrote with his seven and eight year old students and within days the clip has been viewed more than 200,000 times with shares from famous sites such as England’s Daily Mail newspaper with a goal of making it on to The Ellen Show.

Latacz, who moved to the area from New Jersey and began teaching at the charter school in August of 2016, said his goal with making the song was to reinforce what his students had learned over the year.

“Very often throughout the year if some of the students were struggling with something, I would break out the guitar,” said Latacz. “Second grade students learn in different ways and making a song seems to be a way to help get the information to stick with most of the kids.”

He posted the video on his personal Facebook page and tagged his students’ parents so they could see their children and share the project with friends.

“This was the first time I had videoed one of our songs and I thought it would be a great way for the parents to see how much their kids have learned through the school year,” said Latacz, who was described as “The Rock Star” of Valrico Academy by parent Lisa Erkens.

“Once The Daily Mail approached me, the views went through the roof,” said Latacz. “A lot of the parents have also been messaging The Ellen Show as they think it is the type of feel-good video they would air.”

Latacz, who also led his class to victory in two school fundraisers and the second grade Fairy Tale Bowl and Box Top Challenge, credits his support system for such a great first year teaching.
“From the class parents to the school administration, I have received support from so many this year,” said Latacz.

“For his first year teaching, he has made such a positive impact on this class as well as the school,” said FishHawk resident Bonnie Pelletier, whose son Benjamin was in Latacz’s class.
Valrico Academy is located at 13306 Boyette Rd. in Riverview. Call 699-5049 or visit To see the video, visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.