Story by Tamas Mondovics

On Monday, August 21, North America was treated to an eclipse of the sun. The much-anticipated event was a perfect addition to science class activities in area schools, supported by the community in various ways.

Anyone within the path of totality was able to see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse.

According to NASA officials this path, where the moon completely covers the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – stretched from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.

Observers outside this path could see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk, which allowed teachers, students and area businesses to make sure that the special event will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Local schools such as Lithia Springs Elementary and Randall Middle School enjoyed support from businesses. Through the generosity of their partnerships with NASA and Janet’s Planet, Randall received 1,600 certified eclipse glasses from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.

In addition, two teachers at the school, in partnership with Janet’s Planet, NASA and the Norwegian Space Agency, were part of a team that traveled to Newberry, South Carolina, to broadcast live as they celebrated the 2017 Eclipse Fest and the Path of Totality.

The live broadcast reached Randall and other schools in Hillsborough County and throughout Norway for many students to experience the brilliance of the event.
Lithia Springs Elementary also arranged for an after-school-viewing event.

The school purchased 200 pairs of eclipse glasses, while three local businesses sponsored t-shirts for the teachers who helped supervise. Parents were also invited to take part
Randall Middle School is located at 16510 FishHawk Blvd., in Lithia. Lithia Springs Elementary School is located at 4332 Lynx Paw Tr., in Valrico.

Annual Back To School Press Conference

Superintendent Jeff Eakins, School Board members, students and staff welcomed the media to its annual Hillsborough County Public Schools Back to School news conference, on Monday, August 7, at 10:30 a.m., at Ben Hill Middle School, located at 5200 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa. 

The event is an opportunity for the Eakins to share some of the district’s goals for the upcoming school year, including the district’s promised efforts to continue building a strong school culture at each school while providing an engaging curriculum for the more than 212,000 students.

“Through the dedication of the district’s teachers, administrators and support staff both at the schools and at the district level, Hillsborough County Public Schools continues to increase the district’s graduation rate,” said HCPS communications officer Grayson Kamm.

Kamm emphasized that the most recent graduation rate increased 3 percentage points to 79.1 percent and the district currently has 996 more graduates than in the prior year.

District Boasts Of More “A” Schools      

Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) officials were pleased to posts the results of the 2016-2017 school grades, released last month by the Florida Department of Education, which they said showed students making tremendous gains.

This release demonstrates that HCPS administrators, teachers and support staff are dedicated to student success and advocate for every child, officials said.

During the 2016-2017 school year 51 traditional schools were graded “A” in 2017, up by 10 from 2016. Also, 38 traditional schools were graded “B”, 15 traditional schools improved their grade from a “D” to a “C” and there were fewer “F” traditional schools, dropping to 3 from 7 in 2016.

Seven of the district’s turnaround schools, as defined by the state, have improved and are now in a monitoring status. Just Elementary went from a “D” to a “B”, while Jennings and Van Buren Middle, and Gibsonton, Lockhart Magnet and Reddick Elementary Schools all went from a “D” to a “C”.

The 2016-17 school grades, district grades and school improvement ratings are now available at

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