Cimino Elementary School commemorated its 20th anniversary on April 6 with a rededication ceremony. Cimino, located at 4329 Culbreath Rd. in Valrico, opened in 2002 with Sandra Frost as principal, and it is named after Richard Daniel Cimino. Current Cimino principal Joanne Griffiths described him as a civic leader and true advocate for children, education and service. Rosalind (Roz) Creager and Matt Creager, daughter and grandson of Richard, attended the celebration. Roz shared memories of her dad and a poem that inspired him.
“If (my) dad were here with us today, with a big teasing smile, he would say, ‘This is my school, and these are my kids,’” Roz said.
The celebration began with a surprise performance by the Bloomingdale Senior High School Drumline. It included a presentation of colors by Cimino students; performances by the Cimino choir; a message from school board member Patti Rendon; a message from Cimino’s teacher of the year, Kara Mara (read by third grader Olivia Campo); sharing of Richard’s legacy (read by fifth grader Colin Kurto); reflections of a former student (Madison Skonie); a recognition of years of service for Cimino faculty and staff; and special recognition to Debbie Coleman on her upcoming retirement.
“My grandfather loved his family and friends and was an active volunteer in the community. He would have been tickled to see all the students at the rededication. He loved kids. He loved to hunt, fish and cook. He had a booming voice, loved to joke and tell stories. Poppy, as I called him, would have said he didn’t deserve to have a school named after him. Then he would have grinned, winked and said, ‘But I’ll take it proudly.’ And we don’t have the words to express how proud he would have been,” Matt said.
In attendance at the celebration were former Principal Cindy Dowdy (2012-17), former Principal Debby Talley (2006-12), school board member Patti Rendon, Region 4 Superintendent Jaime Gerding and many teachers and staff from the inaugural year of the school. After the ceremony, these special guests were invited to a reception in the media center.