Compiled by Jenny Bennett

School District Opens Second Choice Window

Students in Hillsborough County are now able to apply to an array of magnet schools and Choice Attractor Programs with specialized themes and new, innovative programs as the district’s second Choice Application window opens. The original April window was cancelled due to school closures.

The second Choice Application window opened on May 8 and will remain open through Friday, May 17 at 11:59 p.m. Families can fill out an online application for a potential offer to the school of their choice at

Magnet School and Choice Attractor Program themes include everything from medical and environmental sciences to IB and Cambridge/AICE programs. These innovative programs give families multiple options outside of their zoned school to find the specialized theme that best fits their child’s interests. Students from any area can attend any of the schools, it is not geographically specific.

Some of the programs include:

Elementary school:

Lomax Elementary Magnet: Lomax is a gifted and talent development academy with activities such as LEGO® and VEX Robotics, along with enrichment classes like World Drumming, Violin and Little Kids Rock band.

Riverwalk STEM Academy at Just Elementary: Students are immersed in a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum with exciting options like EV3 Robotics and coding, along with family STEM nights.

Middle school:

South Tampa Academy at Monroe Magnet: Incoming sixth grade students will be the first class to take part in one of the district’s newest IB programs. South Tampa Academy is an IB candidate school that aims to develop active and internationally-minded learners.

Dowdell Middle Magnet: Students focus on an environmental studies curriculum with outdoor learning centers along with hydroponics and aquaponics labs.

Greco Middle Magnet: Also one of the newest IB programs in the district, Greco is an IB candidate school that also houses a STEM academy with academically rigorous courses and high school credit options.

High school:

Jefferson High: Jefferson is home to several magnet academies to fit a number of student interests. They include a business and finance leadership academy, culinary arts, maritime, law and criminal justice leadership academies.

Freedom High: Students can participate in New Tampa Digital Academy, where they can prepare for careers in web design, game design and 3D animation.

Chamberlain High: Chamberlain is introducing a new 3DE program, which partners students with the local business community. Students are provided relevant case studies geared toward entrepreneurial thinking and authentic workplace experiences.

After applying for one of dozens of options, families will be notified between Friday, May 29 and Monday, June 8 via email to view potential offers. There is limited space in these programs, but more is still available. To learn more about all options provided by Hillsborough Schools, visit

Hillsborough Community College Announces Student Emergency Fund

As a reaction to the challenges students are facing through these unprecedented times, the Hillsborough Community College Foundation established the HawkStrong Student Emergency Fund. These funds will be provided to currently enrolled students to cover costs of housing, food, childcare and other immediate financial needs that could keep them from completing the semester.

Many HCC students are already fighting to stay in school because of the economic disadvantage brought on by this pandemic; with assistance from the community, the college can make sure it doesn’t lose the fight.

To find out more or to make a donation visit

GFWC Brandon Service League Extends Deadline For Scholarship Applications

The GFWC Brandon Service League has extended the deadline to apply for its scholarship opportunities until Monday, June 1.

The GFWC Brandon Service League offers two $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors who wish to pursue a degree in the arts or education. The GFWC Brandon Service League also offers a $1,000 for women who are post-high school age but are returning to school to get training for a new career.

Please visit for rules and to download the application. Send the completed application to Judy Darsey, 12750 Balm Boyette Rd., Riverview, FL 33579.

Relief For Special Needs Families

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives, especially those of families that have children and young adults with autism. Part of Experienced Autism Alliance’s mission is to assist families, this is why it has created the Special Need Family Relief Program. Its goal is to help provide relief during this time of need.

Donations can be dropped at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on 10463 Gibsonton Dr. in Riverview between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please contact Experienced Autism Alliance at

Grace Spring Market Rescheduled

Grace Community Methodist Church at 5708 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Lithia has rescheduled its Spring Market for Saturday, June 6 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Come out for a fun experience and to buy local.

For more details and vendor information, please visit its website,, or contact Susan Ferrano on 361-1724.

YMCA And OneBlood Host More Blood Drives

To address the severe blood shortage due to closures and cancellations caused by the coronavirus, the YMCAs of Tampa Bay will continue to host more blood drives.

On Thursday, May 21 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the Spurlino Family YMCA at 9650 Big Bend Rd. in Gibsonton and the Campo Family YMCA at 3414 Culbreath Rd. in Valrico will host a donation drive in partnership with OneBlood to ensure a ready blood supply for the community.

For more information, call 1-888-936-6283.

The St. Vincent Food Pantry At St. Stephen Church Is Open

The St. Vincent de Paul food pantry is open to people in our area that are in need or may have recently lost their jobs. The pantry operates at St. Stephen Catholic Church, located at 10118 St. Stephen Rd. in Riverview off of Boyette Rd.

Pantry hours are Fridays from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The pantry is currently operating as a drive-thru in front of the church’s Family Life Center. Visitors will stay in their car and volunteers wearing face masks and gloves will load the food directly into the car so there is no contact between people.

Donations of food and/or money are also accepted on Friday mornings between 7:00 a.m. until 12:00 Noon. Drop-offs can be made at the drive-thru in front of the Family Life Center. Checks should be made out to SvdP.

Virtual Women’s Support Group

In this difficult time, we could all use some support. Dr. Reba Haley, a therapist, and Jenise Griffin, a mental health advocate, will be hosting weekly Zoom meetings covering a variety of topics aimed towards women, including marriage, overcoming stress, coping techniques and other mental health issues.

Zoom meetings will be held on Thursday evenings from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The meeting ID is 502 307 7085 and the password is 7C5UVJ.

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