Hillsborough County Schools celebrated the dedication of Dawson Hope Elementary School in Riverview last month.

The students from Warren Hope Dawson Elementary School ended the school year on high note last month. Families, community members and school officials celebrated the Riverview school, which opened in August 2017, at its official dedication in late April. Students raised more than $10,000, a quarter of which will be given to returning teachers, at the first annual PTA Dance-a-Thon.

The school, named after Warren Dawson, a Tampa civil rights attorney who worked for more than two decades to help desegregate Hillsborough County schools, was the only new traditional school to open in the county for the 2017-18 school year.

“It’s my honor to be here to dedicate an amazing school, but also to honor an icon in our community,” said Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins. “I hope everyone appreciates, students, someday you will say that you heard Warren Hope Dawson speak.”

School Principal Derrick McLaughlin and Assistant Principal Ashley Wiese also spoke at the dedication, letting attendees know how proud they are to lead a school with such a strong foundation.

“My hope was that we would meet or exceed everyone’s expectation of what it was like to open a new elementary school,” said McLaughlin. “Thank you to all of our families for the humbling amount of trust you have in us as faculty. With your support, we are providing hope for our future with your child in mind.”

The faculty has also embraced Dawson’s middle name, Hope, with painted letters throughout the school and the Moto “Building hope for our future.”

“The feeling that the people on this campus, big and small, care about one another, it’s something that you can’t always describe but you know it when you feel it and when you see it,” said Wiese. “I think you see it in every interaction on this campus.”

Dawson plans to continue to play a role in the school, one that he started when he walked around campus with the students on the first day of classes in 2017.

“The pride that I take in all of this is that I, through my legal work, contributed to them coming together,” said Dawson at the dedication. “Had they come along in my day, they would not be assembled as they are right here.”

Students, parents and business partners ended the school year with a Dance-a-Thon which raised $10,341.38, 25 percent of which will go directly to teachers to purchase supples for the upcoming school year. The top five fundraisers turned McLaughlin and Weise into an ice-cream sundae.

“We plan on making this an annual event to ensure our teachers have the supplies they need and our students have the programs and events that make elementary school ‘dawsome,’” said Dawson PTA Vice President of Fundraising Holly VanHorn. “It was a really great way to wrap up our inaugural year. We were blown away by our parent and community support.”

Community partners for the event were i9 Sports, Twistee Treat, Flow Fitness, Seal Swim School, Carr Pediatric Dentistry and AR Workshop.

For more information about Dawson Elementary, visit www.dawson.mysdhc.org or follow the school on Twitter at @HCPSDawson.

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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.