Frank Sisto and Ken Rodriguez – Serving and Protecting Years After 911

Frank Sisto and Ken Rodriguez – Serving and Protecting Years After 911

As law enforcement officers, Frank Sisto and Ken Rodriguez serve as members of St. Lucie Public Schools Safety and Security Team.  However, on September 11, 2001, they were members of a different team — the New York Police Department.  Both gentlemen were first responders involved in rescue and recovery efforts, putting others before self as they answered the call.


“This day will forever live in my heart as the day some sacrificed all to serve and protect the great citizens of New York City. We must never forget the innocent victims and the selfless acts of true heroism! I will always cherish being part of a group of first responders who gave all they could on that horrific day.”    

— Ken Rodriguez





Frank Sisto shared an article with us that he wrote for TCPalm several years ago on the 10th anniversary of this tragic event.

Port St. Lucie man helped identify 9/11 victims

By Frank Sisto

Special To Treasure Coast Newspapers

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a sergeant in the New York Police Department. I was the supervisor of an auto larceny unit based in Brooklyn.

When the first plane struck the World Trade Center, I was enjoying breakfast with some former co-workers. I immediately drove home to retrieve my gear and rush to the scene.

The streets of New York were a surreal sight out of some apocalyptic movie. As I loaded my gear into my car and cleared the ash and debris from my car windows, I looked out across the East River at the burning hole in the north tower.

When I arrived at my base, my unit was placed on standby awaiting further attacks. Policeman are strange individuals, we run towards danger instead of away from it. We always choose the fight response instead of the flight response, so watching the tragedy unfold on television as our city turned into a war zone was utterly frustrating.

We would get our gloves and get into the game in a big way in the days to come.

On Sept. 12, my unit was placed in charge of one of the temporary morgues. We were set up in a high school a few blocks from ground zero. The lobby was transformed into a makeshift morgue.

We were dispatched to “Found Remains” on the northeast side of the site. Lower Manhattan was turned into a World War II movie set. We traveled through the rubble-laden streets on golf carts … to make the recovery and to transport the remains to the temporary morgue where we aided FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) in a tentative identification process.

Placing the bags from the site onto the tables, we aided the morticians and medical examiners and tried to find identifying marks, tattoos or jewelry on the remains. … Any identification would provide closure to tortured families awaiting word of their loved ones.

Afterward, we loaded this cargo into ambulances for transport to the main temporary morgue. This was an extremely taxing time both physically and mentally, dealing with the gruesome sights and countless hours and days, 17 hour work days and seven-day work weeks.

By the time we got home and washed the day’s cement dust and ash off our bodies it was time to return to work.

This assignment lasted until the end of October. The outpouring of love and kindness from all the people of the country is what kept our spirits up and made our days more bearable.

The events of Sept. 11… took away the sense of security in our lives …. I have had to live with the gruesomeness of this terrorist attack on an almost daily basis.

Another constant reminder of this tragedy is the countless number of sick first responders. Numerous people who served at the various locations (ground zero, Fresh Kills Landfill etc.) have developed unexplained cancers and diseases, and more than 1,000 heroes have passed away in the 10 years since.

Every year I go for my World Trade Center physical wondering: Is this the year that I become a statistic?




Team Spirit

Team Spirit

A team is only as good as its players, and St. Lucie Public Schools plays to win.  That’s why positive coaching, strong support, and a well-defined game plan with proven strategies keep this team motivated to win — for kids’ sake.

School leaders donned their favorite team jersey for the September Principals Meeting, and Superintendent E. Wayne Gent had a little fun quarterbacking the meeting.

The Good News Gets Even Better for St. Lucie Public Schools

The Good News Gets Even Better for St. Lucie Public Schools

St. Lucie County, FL –  In a letter addressed to St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) Superintendent E. Wayne Gent, the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) announced that a review of school grade data and supporting documentation for Oak Hammock K-8 School resulted in a grade recalculation.  The school, previously designated as a B, now bears the distinction of an A rated school.  In addition, Performance Based Preparatory Academy received a School Improvement Rating of Commendable – the highest benchmark ranking for schools not receiving a letter grade.

Superintendent Gent explained the District closely monitors the process for calculating points earned for school grades, and when the State announced a set of late-reported Florida Standards Alternate Assessment Scores were not included in this year’s calculations, SLPS filed an appeal. “Oak Hammock was just two points shy of an A,” he said.  “It’s our job as District leaders to support our teachers, staff, students, and administrators.  We wanted to make certain their relentless efforts and focus on each child to increase achievement received full recognition and honor. The results speak for themselves,” he added.

With Oak Hammock’s grade re-calculation, 37% of SLPS are rated an A, 62% are rated an A or B, and the District has no failing schools.

About St. Lucie Public Schools

St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) proudly serves students as the highest-ranking District on the Treasure Coast and fifth in Florida with a graduation rate of 90.1 percent.  As a B rated District, there are no failing schools, and SLPS is ranked among the top one-third of Florida’s districts for student achievement. The District also has the distinction of being recognized as one of St. Lucie County’s Best Places to Work.  The mission of SLPS is to ensure all students graduate from safe and caring schools equipped with the knowledge, skills and desire to succeed. For more information, visit



Sunrise Performances

Sunrise Performances

The Sunrise Theatre and the Sunrise Theatre Foundation are pleased to announce the 2018/19 School Time Performances!

For the 12th year the Sunrise Theatre is committed to providing students in St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee, and Martin Counties the opportunity to attend live theatrical performances.

The School Time Performances offer current, challenging and artistically diverse programming performed by international, national and regional artists and theatrical companies. For some students, it is their first time seeing a live performance and for others yet another glimpse into the world of education, brought to life. Tickets for all performances are $3 per person per show. School bus transportation costs are covered by the Sunrise Theatre Foundation.

Field Trip Forms Must Be Completed In Advance.

For additional information or questions, please contact Lorina Beniamino at the Sunrise Theatre: or 772.467.4128


Super Scientific Circus

Friday, October 19 at 10:30am
Recommended Grades K-5

The Super Scientific Circus starring Mr. Fish and Trent the Mime, proves that science can be fun and funny. Alternately assisted and foiled by the comedic antics of Trent the Mime, Mr. Fish uses amazing circus skills involving boomerangs, bubbles, beach balls, bull whips, and magic to introduce the principles of friction, inertia, centripetal force, aerodynamics, sonic booms, air pressure, and ultraviolet light.

Click here for Super Scientific Circus study guide:

Click here for reservations for Super Scientific Circus performance:



Treasure Coast Youth Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Friday, December 14 at 10:30am
Recommended All Grades 

Children of all ages will marvel at Clara’s adventures with the Rat King, Nutcracker Prince, Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy, and all of the wonderful characters she finds in the Land of Sweets. St. Lucie Ballet opened its pre-professional dance academy in August of 2004. Since then they have gained a reputation of quality and professionalism in the education of dance. Students are taught by professionals that still have or have had successful careers in the dance world. Join us for an enchanted performance.

Click here for Nutcracker Ballet study guide:

Click here for reservations for the Nutcracker Ballet performance:


Murphy’s Celtic Legacy – Irish Dance Reborn

Wednesday, April 3 at 10:30am
Recommended All Grades

Don’t blink, for this is no ordinary Irish Dance performance; it is a battle of styles, a clash of colors. The cast of Murphy’s Celtic Legacy gives an invigorating performance of traditional Irish Dance. Featuring dancers and musicians from Riverdance, Lord of the Dance and Celtic Woman, Murphy’s Celtic Legacy is the next generation Irish dance spectacular.

Created by Chris Hannon, former principal dancer for Lord of the Dance, Murphy’s Celtic Legacy features original choreography combining traditional Irish and Modern dance techniques presented with multimedia elements, song and live music.

The show’s soundtrack is composed by acclaimed Irish musicians John Elliott and Gerry Conlon and is performed by a 7 piece band. The performance centers on an original tale developed by Hannon drawn from Irish folklore – a tale of Kings and Queens, rebels and magic; epic battles between good and evil. It tells the story of the Murphy clan, who flee the corrupt tyrants of their native Eire in search of a better future.

No study guide available for this performance.

Click here for reservations for Murphy’s Celtic Legacy performance: