Local cheer teams earn spots for state competition

Local cheer teams earn spots for state competition

Lincoln Park Academy and St. Lucie West Centennial High School cheerleading squads recently competed in the regional cheerleading competition held in Tampa. Under the direction of coaches Traci Krencik at Lincoln Park Academy, and Sara Connell at St. Lucie West Centennial, both squads practiced very hard for the regional competition and the upcoming state competition to be held soon in Kissimmee. In the regional competition, the Lincoln Park squad came in third place out of five teams in their category, and the Centennial squad placed fifth out of the eight teams in their division. Good luck to both teams at the state meet.

Lakewood Park students get tasty STEM science lesson

Lakewood Park students get tasty STEM science lesson

Students in Edward Albert’s fifth grade class at Lakewood Park Elementary recently performed a tasty science lesson. They were doing a lab where they made a model (out of chocolate) learning how the three different types of rocks are formed. Pictured are Adonay Ayala-Garcia, left, and Nick Rowse.

Oak Hammock kindergartners use technology to enjoy literature

Oak Hammock kindergartners use technology to enjoy literature

Kindergartners in Molly Hartley’s class at Oak Hammock K8 School recently jumped into a story in the media center! Using an iPad app and an amazing book, students got to see the pages of “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce come alive on the SmartBoard! Pictured, from left, are Amarion Johnson, Benjamin Spencer Taylor, Presley Spencer, Ethan Riggs, Clifford Pierre, Deanna Romero, Brianna Monroig, Isaiah Ocasio, Richard Lucas III, Zachary Kaes, and Chloe Caldwell.

Oak Hammock K8 holds spelling bee

Oak Hammock K8 holds spelling bee

The 2014 Oak Hammock Spelling Bee was held recently, with 18 students representing grades 4 through 8 participating. Congratulations to all contestants! Eighth grade student Emily Fortin, left, is the Oak Hammock Spelling Bee Champion, while fifth grade student Kyle Kierst is the winner for grades K-5.

Fort Pierce Central cadets enjoy annual ball

Fort Pierce Central cadets enjoy annual ball

The Fort Pierce Central High School (FPCHS) JROTC recently celebrated its 29th Anniversary Military Ball, which was a culmination of all the hard work the cadets have put into the program over the past semester. The event was nearly totally planned and executed by the cadet staff, headed by the Cadet Battalion Commander Nicole Geldmaker and Cadet Executive officer Leandro Troncoso. The event consisted of a formal diner and ceremony as well as a dance. The guest speaker was FPCHS Assistant Principal Mimi Hoffman. The cadets enjoyed themselves while still remaining respectful of the organization and the venue of their fun. Pictured, from left, are FPCHS First Sgt. Darin Randall, Art Walker of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, Cadet Battalion Commander Nicole Geldmaker, Lynn Steele of the Special Forces Warfare Association, Carl Wade of the Sons of the American Revolution Association, and FPCHS Lt. Col. Al Nevárez. Awards were presented to several cadets for their outstanding performance this year.

Retired Navy officer thrills students with tales of submarines

Retired Navy officer thrills students with tales of submarines

Northport K-8 School was delighted to host retired United States Navy Lt. Commander Jerry Padrta recently as a guest speaker for students in Nick Carey, Georgia Stone, Carla Caldwell, Mindi Slater and Tracey Healy’s fifth and middle grades classes. LCDR Padrta spoke to the students about his upbringing as a child in Northern Minnesota, the hardships and the driving cold weather. He spoke about his school and college experience and perhaps most intriguing to the students and teachers, his naval career spent in a submarine. Padrta gave an eye opening talk about the history of the submarine. The first sub was used in the Revolutionary War in 1777 and was made of wood and steel, he continued the discussion about the great submarine, the Hunley which sank three times and killed all men on board. He spoke about the first ship built by the United States Navy called the Holland in 1900 and the first diesel electric submarines used during WWII. He encouraged students to be tough, face life’s challenges head on and be prepared for the 21st century job market. He also spoke to students about nuclear submarines and energy sources. The students thrilled at the sound of the Claxson bell being rung as Padrta explained that the bell is the common form of communication recognized by all submariners. It means, “Dive, dive, dive!” He also came prepared with a five foot replica of a WWII submarine that the students deeply inspected. The discussion was a great learning experience for students and a primary source is always a welcome and much needed part of the learning and critical thinking experience. Pictured from left are veterans Bill Arnold, Jerry Padrta and Charles Lomonica with several Northport students.

Floresta Elementary families enjoy Math Night

Floresta Elementary families enjoy Math Night

Floresta Elementary School recently hosted Family Math Nights. Kindergarten through second grade and third grade through fifth grade students and parents attended two special presentations explaining the new Common Core State Standards along with an overview of what students are expected to become fluent in with regards to mathematics.

Parents and students participated in math tutorials that included double-digit multiplication using partial product and long division using partial quotient. Parents learned math games to use at home with their students as well as tricks and tips on how to talk with their children about math.

Family Math Night at Floresta was a huge success with parents, teachers, and students. The evenings were hosted by math coach Victoria Pease, and refreshments were provided by the Floresta PTO.  Students were given a math goodie bag with dice, playing cards, beads, and index cards to use at home.

Written by Sandy Pagliughi

Lawnwood Elementary students study life cycles up close

Lawnwood Elementary students study life cycles up close

Students in Shannon Dolan’s multi-age gifted class at Lawnwood Elementary are studying the life cycle of a butterfly by catching specimens. Pictured is second grader John Donnelly as he explains to the class how he captured both a caterpillar and a butterfly in his own yard. The students then watched how he fed his new family member with a stick of sugar water. First grade teacher Carolyn Bates’s classroom has butterflies that freely fly while the children do their lessons. One child exclaimed, “It’s like a butterfly garden, only inside!”

Jaguar cadets shine at MLK parade

Jaguar cadets shine at MLK parade

The Port St. Lucie High School Jaguar Battalion showed their pride at the recent annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day parade in Fort Pierce. The battalion formation was led by the Jaguar’s Color Guard led by Cadet Second Lieutenant Cole Herndon carrying the national flag. Cadet Staff Sergeant Crystal Ortiz carried the state flag and Cadet Second Lieutenant Glynn Auger carried the Jaguar Battalion Flag. Cadet First Lieutenant James Williams and Cadet Second Lieutenant Taylor Chaney posted as Guards. Following behind the Color Guard was the Battalion Staff and shortly after that, the company formations. The cadets preformed with the utmost excellence showing the heart and pride of the Jaguar Battalion. Also pictured are Cadets Ryan McCarthy and Jaclyn Yearta carrying the battalion banner. Photo by Clay Lesniak.

Teacher of the Year finalists announced

Teacher of the Year finalists announced

Three teachers were surprised at their school sites the morning of January 24 when an entourage led by Superintendent Genelle Yost, school board members, district administrators and representatives of the St. Lucie County Education Foundation visited their classrooms to announce their selection as finalists for the 2015 St. Lucie County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Pictured is Superintendent Yost, right, with finalist Heather Bolitho of Oak Hammock K-8 School.

The finalists are: Heather Bolitho, media specialist at Oak Hammock K-8 School in Port St. Lucie; Matthew Boswell, Fort Pierce Central High School band and choral director; and Kelly Ridle, media specialist at Fairlawn Elementary School in Fort Pierce.

The difficult task of selecting the finalists was determined by a committee of former Teachers of the Year, principals, and district administrators. The finalists will be visited in the coming weeks in their classrooms for committee members to observe their classroom instruction. The local announcements are always in the year prior to the beginning of the Florida Teacher of the Year reign due to the statewide selection process not culminating until the following school year.

Heather Jean Bolitho, Oak Hammock K-8 School:
Heather Bolitho truly believes and exemplifies that teachers change lives forever. She sees every student who comes into the media center, or whose classroom she visits, for the individuals that they are. Ms. Bolitho cherishes the qualities and differences that make each student unique. She has created a warm, safe learning environment in the school’s media center for students. They love to take reading risks and accept reading challenges because they know she is there to support and guide them.
Ms. Bolitho has been at Oak Hammock K-8 School since 2006, first serving as a reading teacher for five years prior to becoming the school’s media specialist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies in 2002 from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, and a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University in 2013.
The media center is Ms. Bolitho’s platform to support students, staff and families. Whether helping students select paper books or e-books they will certainly enjoy and read, sharing print and technology resources with teachers, or planning family literacy events, Mrs. Bolitho always has a smile on her face and a song in her voice.
Students describe Mrs. Bolitho as helpful, nice and awesome. They especially appreciate the way she speaks and interacts with them, and they recognize her belief in them.

As a Treasure Hunter in the Kids at Hope school, Ms. Bolitho is committed to searching for all the talents, skills and intelligence that exists in all the students at her school. These are not just the words of the Kids at Hope pledge to Ms. Bolitho, which students and staff hear from her in the pledge every morning during announcements, she exemplifies these words every day with the students and her school-wide colleagues
Ms. Bolitho also serves her school as reading department chair, collaboratively working with teachers to plan meaningful assessment and instruction, to analyze and use data to make instructional decisions for students. She has also served as vice president of the St. Lucie County Reading Council, chair of the Literacy Council, and a mentor to new teachers.

Matthew Boswell, Fort Pierce Central High School:
Matthew Boswell has been at Fort Pierce Central High School (FPCHS) his entire four-year teaching career. Boswell graduated from Florida State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. And according to FPCHS principal Todd Smith, upon his accepting the leadership of the band and choral program at the school, Boswell has accomplished the unthinkable – taken a program of less than 90 students and in four short years established a premier performing arts program and earned the school’s band’s first superior rating in over 17 years.
The typical individual may have seen the low enrollment in the school’s band and chorus program as a barrier to potential success and used the position as a stepping stone for another opportunity. But, instead, Boswell used the challenge to actually build two programs at FPCHS. Not only has the band program soared, but additionally, under his direction, the choral department and musical productions have thrived. The FPCHS choir has routinely earned superior ratings and qualified for state competition for the first time in 15 years. And, the number of student drama productions offered has more than doubled and the program produced back-to-back sell-out shows in Grease and Footloose.
Boswell is also an educational leader, Smith said, who willingly accepts other roles, such as a beginning teacher mentor, and technical director for school-based professional development. In each setting, he has demonstrated the ability to proactively and successfully manage the daily activities without interfering with his innate desire to champion the rights of his students or colleagues. But most importantly, Boswell is seen as a teacher at heart, with the goal to prepare his students for success in life.

Kelly Ridle, Fairlawn Elementary School:
As the media specialist at Fairlawn Elementary School, Kelly Ridle is an integral part of the school’s team and takes her role very seriously. Her patience, enthusiasm, and genuine concern for all students are exemplary. She works collaboratively with colleagues, always staying focused on the goal of student achievement, realizing that every student can learn more than they currently do. She works with students to deepen their understanding of literacy and works with families to access resources for them to use with their children.
Ms. Ridle earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Magna Cum Laude, at Florida Atlantic University in 2004, having studied Interdisciplinary Studies at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.
She began at Fairlawn Elementary School in 2003 as a first and second grade teacher, before becoming the media specialist for the school this year. With experience in such professional settings as a public relations manager, and a home health care liaison, prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Ms. Ridle brings her ability to establish relationships, communications and organization skills to her current role she describes as a literacy adjunct, combining classroom teacher knowledge in reading programs, Common Core standards, and student data-based needs with the media center resources to promote literacy for students and resources for teachers and classroom instruction.
Ms. Ridle has also served Fairlawn Elementary as an Odyssey of the Mind student group and sea camp group sponsor, in-service facilitator, Scholastic Book Fair chairperson, Thinking Maps trainer, school advisory council member, and Building level Planning Team member. She is an active community volunteer and biker.

***
The 2015 Teacher of the Year and 2014 School-Related Employee of the Year, which are statewide programs, as well as the two local school district employee recognitions of Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year and Outstanding First Year Teacher, will be announced Saturday, February 22, 2014, at the “Night of the Stars” celebration held at Lincoln Park Academy, sponsored by the St. Lucie County School District the St. Lucie County Education Foundation.

Sponsors for the different awards are: The Morganti Group, Teacher of the Year; The St. Lucie Education Foundation, School Related Employee of the Year; Keiser University, Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year; and Seacoast National Bank, Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year.
The event will be televised live on WLX, The Education Channel, Comcast Cable Channels 13 in north St. Lucie County, 19 in south St. Lucie County, and Hometown Cable Channel 19 in Tradition, beginning at 6:00 PM. The program will also be streamed live through the school district website under the WLX button, and later posted on the Video on Demand section at http://www.stlucie.k12.fl.us/MediaServices/.

All nominees and their school sites are:
GREEN ZONE
C.A. Moore Elementary Katherine Christopher
Dan McCarty School Robin L. Fillmann
Forest Grove MS Leigh Kimberly Bretherick
Ft. Pierce Central HS Matthew Boswell
Ft. Pierce Westwood HS Maureen Greenberg
Lakewood Park Elementary Jennifer Lusardi
Lawnwood Elementary Ashlay Parker
Palm Pointe @ Tradition Jade Alisen Joie
Samuel Gaines K-8 Christen McCray
St. Lucie Elementary Angela Ehrhard
Weatherbee Elementary Cindy Keesler Winterkamp
White City Elementary Rhiannon Myers

RED ZONE
Allapattah Flats K-8 Danya Etter
Bayshore Elementary Jennifer Archer
FK Sweet Elementary Cynthia Langel
Ft. Pierce Magnet School of Arts Heather Nesbitt
Lincoln Park Academy Sally VanDereedt
Manatee K-8 Dawn Montoya
Oak Hammock K-8 Heather Bolitho
St. Lucie West Centennial Hs Carol E. Rondeau
St. Lucie West K-8 Michelle Fryer Dommel
Treasure Coast HS Grace Pierre-Louis
West Gate K-8 Kimberly L. Wolcott-Rappuhn
Windmill Pointe Elementary Stephanie E. Sakowski

BLUE ZONE
Fairlawn Elementary Kelly Ridle
Floresta Elementary Grace Duvelsdorf
Mariposa Elementary Theresa Delancy
Morningside Elementary Allison R. Hargroves
Northport K-8 Alexander M. Phillips
Parkway Elementary Laurie A. Farr
Port St. Lucie HS Shea Lodes
Rivers Edge Elementary Natasha R. Rodriguez
Savanna Ridge Elementary Andrea N. Rice
Southern Oaks MS Tiffany Barrett
Southport MS Maureen Dakin
Village Green Environmental Studies School DeeDee Bradley
Alternative Education Steven Michael Farley

Honorees from Gaines Academy join in parade

Honorees from Gaines Academy join in parade

Staff and faculty from Samuel S. Gaines Academy participated in the recent Grand Parade to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day festivities. Representing the school, from left, are district employee award nominees, Teacher of the Year nominee Christen McCray, Distinguished Minority Educator nominee Robert Plowden, and and School Related Employee of the Year nominee Cequila Terry.

Northport K8 School celebrates literacy

Northport K8 School celebrates literacy

Northport K-8 students, parents, teachers and staff joined hundreds of other Florida schools to celebrate literacy this year during “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!” The week of January 13 through 17, 2014 was themed “Reading Accelerates Success!” The week long celebration at Northport K-8 School included fun and intriguing activities that helped students connect with all kinds of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The activities helped celebrate the success that Northport has accomplished. Some of the activities included “Get Caught Reading” tickets for prize drawings, Title Mash boards where students decorated their favorite book title, “Chew and Read” activities, buddy reading, a career station filled with books on STEM careers that would fit the 21st century job seeker, silent reading time to add to the 33 million minutes that other schools in the school district aspire to read, and a culminating vocabulary parade. The week of literacy celebrations and activities promoted positive interactions within the school community. Pictured, from left, rear, are middle grades Northstar students Savannah Cruzeiro, Brandy Staab, Ayana Kelly, Kelsey Kreiger and Arabella Tenneson. Front, from left, are fourth grade students from Jennifer Gomez’ class, Logan Sacchi, Timothy Ware-Terry, Christian Baca-Rool, Hannah Lovsey, Brooklyn Wards and Christopher Gunn. Students are pictured in front of the Title Mash Boards.

Lakewood Park Elementary students get cool math lesson

Lakewood Park Elementary students get cool math lesson

Students in Elizabeth Butterworth’s second grade class at Lakewood Park Elementary recently had a COOL blast constructing snowmen. The STEM math project introduced a money unit by students purchasing each piece of their snowman and keeping the cost below $25.00.  Students were required to do a purchase order and write a sales pitch. The students experienced a “snowman cool time” while writing and doing math. Pictured are Ms. Butterworth and her students with their snowmen displayed on the bulletin board.

Northport K8 School helps promote King’s dream

Northport K8 School helps promote King’s dream

A number of Northport K-8 School administrators, teachers, students and parents supported the community and the St. Lucie School District by marching and riding in a float during the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., parade in Ft. Pierce recently. The Northport community was glad to help promote the theme “Continuing the Vision Through Education and Advocacy” and encouraged the community to remember Dr. King’s dream. The Northport K-8 School middle grades band, under the direction of instructor Brian Hoce, marched in the parade and played the song “Stand By Me,” originally performed by Ben E. King. Northport third grade student Deja Adams said,” I loved the parade because I could be proud of my school and wave to all my friends from my old school. It was a beautiful day for a parade!” Pictured is the Northport band carrying the school’s banner.

St. Lucie Public Schools proudly represented in MLK Grand Parade

St. Lucie Public Schools proudly represented in MLK Grand Parade

The 30th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemmorative Committee Grand Parade streamed down 25th Street, or Martin Luther King., Jr., Boulevard, in Fort Pierce on Monday, January 20. The event culminated 10 days of community events, beginning with the Opening Ceremony January 10, 2014 and ending with the parade and festival in the park adjacent to Lawnwood Stadium. The St. Lucie School District was proudly represented by numerous floats and vehicles, bands, and student group performances. Pictured, from left, are Fort Pierce Central High School ROTC Cadet Honey Cardona-Franco, Cadet Ruben Ramirez, Cadet Chris Green, and the Cadet Stephanie Castillo exhibiting their physical fitness for the judges.

Local student honored by state arts group, school board

Local student honored by state arts group, school board

Dale Cassen Educational Complex (DCEC) student Jesus Dominguez was recognized by the St. Lucie County School Board at its January 14, 2014, business meeting for being honored as the Very Special Arts Florida (VSAFL) November Student of the Month. The VSAFL program is designed to increase public awareness and recognize the impact arts make on students with disabilities statewide. Students who participate in the arts develop creativity, have increased self-confidence, understand teamwork, have increased language and math skills and are generally more engaged. DCEC art teacher Dan Galloway, who recognized Jesus’ talent and vivid imagination, and his utilization of art to achieve success in both his art and behavioral accomplishments, nominated Jesus for the award. Galloway noted that through continuous recognition and positive feedback for his new-found skill, “Jesus has discovered his enormous talent, and is well on his way to becoming a wonderful artist.” Pictured, from left, are St. Lucie County School Board chairman Debbie Hawley, Abigail, with her handler art teacher Dan Galloway, Jesus, St. Lucie Schools Superintendent Genelle Yost, Jesus’ parents Mr. and Mrs. Dominguez, DCEC principal Ellen Harden, and VSA Arts Of Florida representative Marcy Purdy.

Power Squadron and local school team up for boating safety

Power Squadron and local school team up for boating safety

Southport Middle School students, their siblings and parents have the opportunity to receive a lifetime boating license at the school. The basic aspects and skills of boating, including boat handling, fire safety, rules of the water, radio use, water rescue and much more are being taught by a licensed captain in the school’s media center. Those who pass the exam will receive a Florida lifetime boating license which is required to operate a boat in Florida waters. The course is free and lasts for eight weeks. Pictured, from left, are Jamil Abram, Captain Dana Kaiser, Summer Muscanera, Brandon Wayne, John Shaw and Captain George Hehner discussing the importance of wearing safety vests while on a vessel.

Floresta Elementary student wins cabbage growing contest

Floresta Elementary student wins cabbage growing contest

Congratulations to Floresta Elementary fourth grade student Dominic Kelly in Suzanne Diaz’s class, who was selected as the state of Florida winner in Bonnie’s Plants’ cabbage growing contest program. In a surprise assembly to recognize Dominic for his mammoth 38 lb cabbage, Erica Der, the Education Liaison from the Department of Agriculture presented Dominic with a certificate from the State of Florida. Jonathan Shepherd, representative for Bonnie’s Plants, presented Dominic with a $1,000 savings bond, which could double by maturity to be worth nearly $2,000. Bonnie’s Plants has sponsored the contest for the last 15 years for any third grade teacher who wishes to participate. The program began in Alabama and has grown to include 48 states. Dominic planted the cabbage at his grandmother’s house so he could water it each day when he visits. He claims he didn’t use any special fertilizer or soil, and didn’t do any thing other than plant it in the ground and water it at least once daily. The family is still discussing what they will do with the colossal cabbage. Pictured are Shepherd, Dominic, and Der.