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The Observer EAST COUNTY

2 AUGUST 2010 


• Before and After School Care* – Ages 5 to 12 years • Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Program – Ages 4 & 5 years • Preschool Programs – Ages 3 to 4 years • Infant/Toddler Programs – Ages 6 weeks through 2 years

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AUGUST 2010 3


dr ess c o de

by Pam Eubanks | News Editor

Manatee C ounty implements new uniform policy The change, made earlier this summer, makes it easier for schools to require uniforms. MANATEE COUNTY — The Manatee County School Board this summer adopted a new policy that makes it easier for public schools to implement uniform policies. The change does not mandate the use of uniforms in Manatee schools but calls for more regular polling of parents on the issue and reduces the percentage of parents who must support the concept for it to go into effect. “Our board did not want to impose a uniform code on every school (kindergarten) through 12,” said Joe Stokes, director of elementary schools. “We still wanted parents and (School Advisory Councils) to have input into that instead of an imposed policy from the board.” Previously, 67% of SAC members had to approve using uniforms before taking the vote to parents school-wide. Again, 67% of parents had to approve

the concept for it to be implemented. Under the new policy, however, 67% of SAC members still must approve uniforms for the idea to go to a school-wide vote, but only 51% of parents have to approve the use of uniforms for the policy to go into effect. The change was inspired, in part, by a visit Manatee County Superintendent Tim McGonegal and school board member Barbara Harvey took in January to a conference for school boards in Central Florida. There, the two learned Osceola County had implemented a school-wide uniform policy. Schools there reported reduced incidents of gang activity and improved student behavior as a result of the change. “When we came back, we started looking at that,” McGonegal said, adding one of the reasons he didn’t want to mandate a school-wide policy

is because the district’s dress code seems to be working. “We felt our individual school policy was very difficult for schools to get uniforms.” Under the new rules, schools that adopt a uniform policy will select their uniform color and attire through a uniform committee. Schools that do approve uniforms must revote on the issue every three years to make sure parents still support the policy. The district is encouraging non-uniform schools to survey parents every three years as well. “At least to stick their toe in the water to see if there’s an interest,” McGonegal said. Finally, the policy specifies that if a school has a uniform policy vote and a student’s parents are divided on the issue, the enrolling parent’s vote is the one that counts. “That’s consistent with other decision-making events that occur at the school,” Stokes said.



The Willis Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization is hosting a school uniform fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 13, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aug. 14, at the school. The fundraiser will offer parents a chance to purchase pants, capris, shirts, shorts and scooters while supporting the PTO. Clothing will be available to try on as well. For more information, contact Ann Gowgiel at agowgiel@tampabay. or 907-9861. For more information on Manatee County schools, visit the district’s website at www. Contact Pam Eubanks at

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4 AUGUST 2010  acts

Principal: Linda Nesselhauf Mascot: Mustangs Colors: Green, silver and black Open House: Freshmen and new students: 6 p.m., Aug. 18, orientation will follow at 7 p.m.; returning students: 6 p.m., Aug. 19 Projected enrollment: 1,798 PTO president: Sheri Lyn McDermott

LAKEWOOD RANCH Hig h Sc ho o l


5500 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. Lakewood Ranch • 727-6100


Welcome to the 2011 school year. Get involved! We have more than 100 clubs and athletic teams. Go Mustangs! Challenge yourself. We have added even more Advance Placement and college level courses. Information about the 2011 school year is on our website. There, you will find the student handbook, our newsletter, The Mustang Quarterly, Pinnacle information and other items. Please review the dress code prior to back-to-school shopping. Assistance on summer reading assignments is scheduled from 6-8 p.m., Aug. 12, in the media center. See you soon. Linda Nesselhauf, principal

Budget reduction strategies: Not yet determined — will depend on future budget cuts

A (2008-09) partnership

by Jen Blanco | Associate Editor

Why I love my school:

“I love the spirit we have. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. Everyone is always decked out supporting the school. We’re always there for each other, and we all stay connected through sports. Basically,` I just love our school spirit and how it brings us together.” — Devin McDermott


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Mini Mustangs embark on learning adventure This fall, students will return to school along with more than a dozen 4-yearolds enrolled in the Lakewood Ranch’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program.

learning to pre-kinderLAKEWOOD RANCH garten students. During — This fall, more than a their first year in the prodozen 4-year-olds will grab gram, students receive their backpacks filled with their state training and brand new school supplies certification in childcare. and pile into the halls of Second-year students are Lakewood Ranch High then able to teach a speSchool — eagerly anticipatcific subject area such as ing the start of their next math or art. By the time learning adventure. they reach their third For three hours every year, the students act day, the students will delve as a lead teacher where into their daily lesson plans, they are in charge of large which include learning group activities. their letters, numbers, colCourtesy photo By continuing on in the ors, shapes and basic sight The program allows Lakewood students to program, high school stuwords, among other topwork directly with Pre-K students. dents can earn their Early ics, as part of Lakewood’s voluntary pre-kindergarten pro- ratory component of Lakewood’s Childhood Professional certificaearly childhood education pro- tion, for which they receive nine gram. “Our main emphasis is on gram before the lab school itself to 12 hours of college credit. “It’s really good getting to social interaction and how to became the voluntary pre-kinplay with others,” said Elaine dergarten program five years ago. watch them grow, develop, Through the Mini Mustangs change and learn,” Bowling Bowling, early childhood educaprogram, high school students said. “It’s also (neat) watching tion instructor. The Mini Mustangs program work alongside a teacher and the older ones develop a love for first began 11 years ago as a labo- an aide to provide one-on-one teaching. I enjoy seeing my stu-

dents get excited about teaching because teaching has always meant so much to me.” In addition to learning their basic skills, the pre-kindergarten students also participate in cocurricular classes and activities. The students attend art, music and reading classes, among others. They also go to the library once a week to check out books and participate in athletics. This year, the students also will be featured in one of Lakewood’s drama productions. “Every week, they go to a different special, so they get lots of extra attention,” Bowling said. New to the program this year will be the addition of a toddler laboratory class for 2-and 3-year-olds, which will be funded through donations. The class will be taught by Lakewood graduate Jessica Haygood with fourth-year early childhood education students working as interns. Those interested in registering the free program should call 7276100, Ext. 2131.

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AUGUST 2010 5


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6 AUGUST 2010 

Principal: Jim Pauley Mascot: Pirates Colors: Maroon, black and silver Open House: New student orientation 6 pm., Aug. 19 Projected enrollment: More than 1,900 School A dvisory Council Chair: Jamie Phillips

br a d en r iv er Hig h School


6545 S.R. 70 E. Bradenton • 751-8230


Welcome aboard The Pirate Ship, docked at The River, getting ready for our sixth year sailing. Our “crewe” will have more t han 1,900 members with a destination of greatness and success. To reach our destination, each member of The Pirate Family is a vital part. We believe that all people have value and can add value. With the right attitude, we believe individuals are responsible for their choices and actions. Each member can be a winner. Jim Pauley, principal

Why I love my school:

“The reason why I love Braden River is because the teachers are different — they help so much. I’d be in my chemistry teacher’s room askLakewood Ranch Urgent Care ing for help, and she’d assist me with the problems. Also, OBSERVER - Back to School Guide the administration is strong. I learned so in my freshman 1/4 Page — 3.67 much x 4.75 year, it was remarkable. The school is really awesome.” ” — Madison Daunt

Budget reduction strategies: Implement the district’s strategies with a strong emphasis on reducing the school’s electricity usage throughout the school day.


B (2008-09)




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art ist ic d ispl ay

AUGUST 2010 7

by Jen Blanco | Associate Editor

Art program stresses professional application This fall, Braden River High art teacher Bill Ferrell will add a new Heart Art Start campaign to his curriculum.

Kristin Terrana served as president of the Art Club.

Courtesy photos

Graphic designer Jorge Montero was a guest instructor at BRHS. spend time learning about illustration, graphic design, fashion design, photography and conceptual design, among other topics, while using the rules of color, design and basic theory. This fall, Ferrell also plans to begin a new campaign called Heart Art Start, which will ask students to discuss how people are motivated by feeling and emotion and how to create persuasive images to represent those emotions. “I want my students to be thinkers,” Ferrell said. “It’s really important that they learn how to be critical thinkers. I want to help them understand how to take the skills that mean something to them and how (those skills) will benefit them.” Last year, Braden River became the first high school to have its artwork shown in a gallery in Sarasota, and Ferrell is hoping his students will be able to have a similar experience this year. “The kids get so excited, and it’s kind of an infectious thing,” Ferrell said. “We’ve created an artistic community. It’s not just about art. It’s about learning what you (can) do.” For more information on Braden River’s art program, visit


BRADEN RIVER — Growing up, Bill Ferrell simply turned to drawing as a way to escape. But over time, Ferrell developed a passion for art. However, it wasn’t until his grandmother gave him an art book on Leonardo da Vinci that Ferrell began to realize art was more than just being able to draw — it’s about inspiration and creativity. “Reading that book —  that’s where I (discovered) the idea that this is where inspiration comes from and I realized that I wanted to be a part of that inspiration and creativity,” Ferrell said. “I (thought) these are thinkers and that’s what excited me.” Now, Ferrell is trying to instill that passion for learning, thinking and creating into his students at Braden River. Braden River is one of only a few in the state to offer a vocational art program, which focuses more on the professional side of art through study and application, problem-solving and focusing on personal achievement. “I try to teach through a professional lens rather than a theory or bowl of fruit lens,” Ferrell said. “I look at art as one of the great vehicles of thought. I want to get students thinking and living in the arts.” Throughout the year, students

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H ead of School: David Mahler

Th e o u t-o f -d o o r

Mascot: Thunder Colors: Blue and white Welcome for new parents: 4:30 p.m., Aug. 21; Middle/ Upper School: Sept. 2 Projected enrollment: 600 PTO president: Noreen Polidoro, 922-2043 or npolidoro@comcast. net




5950 Deer Drive Lakewood Ranch 349-3223 •


The 2010-2011 school year will be an exciting one at ODA. This summer, we are completing the final phase of our facilities expansion. Over the past two years, we have completed a renovation of our Siesta Key campus, installed wireless networks and technology in every classroom, added a 25,000-square-foot visual and performing arts center and improved our athletic facilities with the addition of tennis courts, a baseball complex, track and field with stadium seating, softball field and a fitness/wellness center, which will open in a few weeks. With all of this construction complete, this fall, we will begin the implementation of our strategic plan for the future. David Mahler, head of school

Budget reduction strategies: Take steps to be more green on campus. The Out-of-Door Academy installed motion sensors in all classrooms to reduce electrical consumption.

Why I love my school:


8 AUGUST 2010 

“ODA is my second home. Everyone is so friendly! And the teachers are great — they are so helpful.” — Julia Bellanger

50 Years of Excellence in Education

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School provides a quality education centered in Gospel values.

Classes Begin August 17, 2010 Call Today 941.371.4917

• Challenging College-Prep Curriculum • Full Honors and Advanced Placement Program • 12/1 Student/Teacher Ratio • ACT and SAT Test Scores Surpass State and National Averages in All Categories • Fully Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools • Award-Winning Athletic Program • Over $5 million in Student Scholarships


“Serving God in the Community”

AUGUST 2010 9


f iel ds of dr eams

by Jen Blanco | Associate Editor

ODA reveals state-ofthe-art sports complex The Out-of-Door Academy recently finished the second phase of its new athletic facilities project.

Friday nights will be completely different for The Outof-Door Academy football team this fall. For the first time since the program began in 2006, the Thunder won’t have to board a bus and travel to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota for their home games. Instead, ODA will host all of its home games under the lights of its new stadium on its Lakewood Ranch campus. The school recently completed the second phase of its new athletic facilities project on its Lakewood Ranch campus, which includes football, soccer and softball fields and a new eightlane track. The second phase also includes a 645-seat stadium, press box, scoreboard, concession and restroom building and storage for athletic equipment. Meanwhile, the newly relocated softball fields feature dugouts, bullpens, a batting cage and hitting station and bleachers. This past spring, ODA unveiled the first phase of its 21-acre athletic facilities project with the completion of its baseball complex and tennis center. The baseball complex features a grass infield, new dugouts, batting cages, bullpens and bleachers to accommodate up to 100 fans. In addition, the outfield fence can be removed, allowing for football and soccer practices during the offseason. The eight-court tennis center also offers spectator seating as

well as shade structures, accommodations for future lighting and windscreens with the school seal. The first two phases took 12 months to complete at a cost of about $4.5 million. “The new athletic facilities are spectacular,” Head of School David Mahler said. “From this point forward, (our) studentathletes will have the opportunity to practice and play on the best facilities in the area.” ODA is now in the process of constructing its new fitness and wellness center — the final phase of the project. The 2,500-square-foot center, which will be completed by the time school resumes, will feature cardio machines and strength and conditioning equipment, providing more than three times the space of the current weight room. The former weight room will be converted to a Life Management Skills classroom, focusing on wellness issues while also providing a space for team meetings. The fitness and wellness center project is only going to take four months to complete at a cost of about $600,000. “The development of our athletic infrastructure speaks to our school’s commitment to provide the best possible educational experience for our students,” Mahler said. “At Out-of-Door, we think some very important life lessons are learned from student involvement in competitive athletics.”

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10 AUGUST 2010 


c a r d in a l mo o n ey Hig h Sc ho o l


4171 Fruitville Road, Sarasota 371-4917 •

NO TE FRO M THE PRINCIPAL : Why I love With the year approaching, I want to welcome your my school: return to campus. “I love my school because it truly offers so many opportunities. You can do so many things that you would not have the chance to do at a larger school. There are so many opportunities open to us because of how small and close-knit it is. The school tries to get everyone involved, and that’s really cool.” — Culhane Cole

During the summer, not only were the normal summer maintenance procedures performed, but also we did much to the technological infrastructure. We are also about to launch a new website that will be beneficial to those already connected with Cardinal Mooney as well as those interested in our school. As always, our teachers and staff are anxious to return to school so they can begin to work with the students and their families, assisting them not only to achieve academic excellence but also to help with the all-important spiritual, emotional and social aspects of high school. The beginning of each school year is an exciting time. With renewed enthusiasm, I look forward to the challenges our society brings and to helping each student achieve maximum success. Steve Christie, principal



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Principal: Steve Christie Mascot: Cougars C olors: Cardinal and black First day: Aug. 17 O pen house: Back-to-School Night: 6 p.m., Aug. 26 Projected enrollment: 490 PTO president: Barbara Bornstein Budget reduction strategies: Cardinal Mooney had a reduction in staff and reduced hours for some staff. But the school did not eliminate any academic, co-curricular or extracurricular programs.

by Jen Blanco | Associate Editor

C ougars share love of reading with elementary students SARASOTA — Ever since they were little, Culhane Cole and Katie Quintero have shared a similar passion for reading. Now, the Cardinal Mooney seniors are hoping to instill that love for literary adventure to students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School. For three weeks this summer, the two classmates participated in Cardinal Mooney’s 2010 summer reading camp and served as reading mentors for elementary school students. Culhane, who plays football for the Cougars, and Quintero, who is on the girls basketball team, along with several other members of the football team, spent about three hours a day four days a week working with the elementary students to help improve their reading efficiency and self-esteem. Each day, the high school students spent 10 to 15 minutes working with each elementary child. During the mentoring process, the elementary stu-

students while also helpdents saw how much of ing elementary students a story, similar to those improve their reading found on the FCAT, they levels. could read in one minute Mooney students startand how many words they ed working with Emma got wrong. The students E. Booker students in the repeated the process three summer of 2009 and contimes a day for a week tinued to do so throughbefore switching to a new out the 2009-2010 school story. year. The high school “It’s very rewarding students will return to to see the kids get betEmma E. Booker this fall ter before your eyes,” Courtesy photo to spend two days a week Quintero said. Cardinal Mooney students will continue working with the elemenCole agreed. working with children this school year. tary school students. “Their eyes would a bad day,” Quintero said. “I’ve And for Cole and light up whenever we got never seen kids so open and Quintero, the school year can’t there,” he said. “They were just willing to be your friend. They begin soon enough. so happy to see us. They always were so happy.” “I can’t wait to go back and ran up and gave us hugs.” The 2010 summer reading see the kids,” Cole said. “They’re In addition to serving as camp was part of Cardinal always so excited to see you. No reading mentors, the high Mooney’s Practicing Good matter how their day is going, school students sat down and Decisions program, which they always run in and smile.” have lunch with the elementary was created eight years ago Quintero agreed. students, which proved to be by Sarasota resident Greg “They really made you feel Cole’s and Quintero’s favorite Truitt as a way to recruit, train the reason why you were there,” part of the day. and encourage high school she said. “These kids need us. “You got to know what each students to become reading They want us and need us, and kid loved and whether or not mentors for elementary school I just had so much fun.” they were having a good day or

AUGUST 2010 11


Br a d en R iv er Mid d le School


6215 River Club Blvd., Bradenton • 751-7080


Principal: Randy Petrilla


Welcome to the 2010-2011 school year! Braden River Middle School is one of Manatee County’s most successful middle schools. For the 2010-2011 school year, our theme is “The Key Is Me, Every Student, Every Chance, Every Day.” Our middle school will focus on individual responsibility, core academics and the highest student achievement for every student. We want to raise the bar in character education by teaching nine character traits all students in middle school should live by. All students will be challenged to learn and are expected to make Adequate Yearly Progress in knowledge and skills. I look forward to seeing all of you this coming year! Let the journey begin. Randall J. Petrilla, principal

Mascot: Panthers Colors: Red, black and white Open House: 5-7 p.m., Aug. 18 Projected enrollment: 961 PTO president: Glorianne Flint, 751-7080 Budget reduction strategies: The school had none to report this year. Total discretionary budget for school: $42,420

A (2008-09) g ood Steward s

by Pam Eubanks | News Editor

Middle school launches character education program

A group of teachers at Braden River Middle School is making sure their students not only are receiving a top-notch academic education but also lessons in life. Last year, the school launched its Character to the Core program, which uses monthly lessons to teach students nine pillars of character, which include issues such as respect, citizenship, kindness and self-control. One Tuesday a month — on Power Up Tuesday — students delve into issues of character during their first–period classes with hands-on activities, discussions and videos. Braden River Media Specialist Joanne Torlucci, who is leading the program this year, said teachers liken the idea to a plate on which you serve food. Academics are the meat and potatoes, but character is the foundation. For example, a child cannot learn if she is distressed about a friend who lied to her or was disrespect-

ful, Torlucci said. “You need to address the bigger picture, which is creating a climate where kids feel comfortable and safe and they can be confident,” Torlucci said. As part of the program, the Braden River Middle School Character Council has established a school-wide honor code and pledge for students, who promise to “act as a responsible, respectful, safe, honest and kind Panther at all times.” The council also developed school-wide behavior expectations, which spell out how students can fulfill that promise throughout the day, whether in the restrooms or on the school bus. The Character to the Core program was started by guidance counselor Linda Welch, who is retiring partway through the school year, and a small team of teachers who shared her vision for bringing character education into the classroom.

Why I love my school:


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“I love my school because the teachers and staff really care about you, and they want you to succeed. We also have lots of fun ways to promote good grades — like Renaissance.” — Gabby Murphy


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12 AUGUST 2010 


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Welcome to the 2010-11 school year! We are so excited to have a new group of sixth-graders, and we are eagerly anticipating seeing many familiar faces returning. Our Technology Student Association brought back six first-place trophies from Nationals in Baltimore during the summer, and our yearbook students attended Yearbook Camp. The teachers and staff are looking forward to your return. Janet Kerley, principal

Why I love my school:

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“It’s definitely because of the orchestra teacher. Mrs. (Valerie) Terry is the best. She’s really nice, and she knows how to teach the kids really well.” — Luke Hanner



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da n c e f ever

by Jen Blanco | Associate Editor

Storm take center stage Angela Chaltis started the Haile Middle School dance program in 2008.

Angela Chaltis can’t remember a time when she didn’t love dance. She began taking lessons at age 3. Now, after spending 15 years dancing in a studio, Chaltis is sharing her love of dance with students as Haile Middle School as the school’s full-time dance instructor. “It’s the most fun you can have without having to say anything,” Chaltis said of dancing. Principal Janet Kerley came up with the idea for the program in 2008 after noticing the music classes were getting too full. At the time, Chaltis, who split her time teaching dance and language arts, taught three dance classes in the cafeteria, which limited when she could hold class and how many students could enroll. Last year, Chaltis was able to move into a classroom attached

Courtesy photo

Haile dancers Sammy H yatt, Katie C iemniecki and L auren McF arland took third at the Florida Dance Team Director’s Association state competition in February. to the gymnasium, which provided more space while also allowing her students to be able to change clothes for class. The school completed the studio with a new dance floor and mirrors. This year, Chaltis will be teaching six dance classes every day, with students divided into three classes depending on expe-

rience. Throughout the school year, Chaltis tries to teach her students a variety of dances, including hip-hop, ballet and jazz, among others. Additionally, Chaltis also incorporates dances from across the world into her curriculum. “I try to give them a variety of everything,” Chaltis said. “I also want them to appreciate what dance looks like in other areas of the world.” In addition, Chaltis also plans to once again take her advanced students to the FDTDA competition in February. Last year was the first year Haile attended the competition. The troupe finished fourth overall in the hiphop division. Finally, Chaltis plans to start a new after-school ballet club this year. “I want them to love dance,” Chaltis said of her students. “Middle-school age is a very selfconscious age. … I want them to love what they’re doing and be able to show off no matter what the situation. I just want them to learn confidence and have fun.”

AUGUST 2010 13

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Principal: Janet Kerley Mascot: Storm Colors: Teal, black and silver O pen House: Students can pick up their schedules from 3:30-5:30 p.m., Aug. 19 Projected enrollment: 960 PTO president: Doug DePew Budget reduction strategies: No teacher training outside of the school and reduce department budgets by 10%.

A (2008-09)

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14 AUGUST 2010  Just the f


t ec h n o l o g y


by Jen Blanco | Associate Editor

C olts take top honors at national conference

Principal: Nancy High Mascot: Colts Colors: Blue, silver Open House: Back to School Night: 5-6:30 p.m., Aug. 19. Seventh-and eighthgraders can pick up schedules from 9-11 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m., Aug. 19. Projected enrollment: 834 PTO president: Theresa Barrion Budget reduction strategies: None. The school held a fundraiser in May to add to its discretionary budget for the coming school year.

A (2008-09)

Growing up, Justin Devine always was looking for something to build. He built everything from small hobby toys to dune buggies, but it was when things didn’t quite go according to plan and he was forced to improvise that Devine found the most satisfaction. “I was always tinkering and creating something,” he said. “There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t trying to build something. What I enjoyed the most about it was the problemsolving — hitting a wall and figuring out how to get over it.” Now, Devine is hoping to instill that same love of building and creating to technology students at Nolan Middle School. Devine was named Nolan’s new technology teacher and Technology Student Association adviser last year. Since then, he has helped transform Nolan’s technology program into one of the top in the nation. Last year, Devine, who was

Let’s Get Creative! • Birthday Parties

Courtesy photo

Sixteen Nolan TSA students competed nationally in June. his students to the next level, focusing on a more advanced curriculum that will include robotics, animatronics and animation design, among other topics. “We’re going to get to experience things few kids in the country get exposure to,” Devine said. A native of Connecticut, Devine graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1999 and earned his master’s degree in 2001. He moved to Florida in 2004 and spent five years teaching technology before assuming his current position last fall. “It’s an amazing school with amazing kids and amazing parental support,” Devine said of Nolan.

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named Florida’s Adviser of the Year, had 68 students enrolled in his program with 16 attending the 2010 National TSA Conference June 28 through July 2 in Baltimore, Md. There, Nolan took home top honors, earning 157 points — the highest total score out of more than 100 middle schools from across the nation. The 16 students competing in the conference received six first-place trophies, four second-place trophies and one third-place trophy while finishing in the top 10 in 21 different categories. “Kids today are light years ahead of the kids 10 years ago when I first started teaching,” Devine said. “They have a greater knowledge of computers and computer tools. There are things that the kids are teaching me. You can never think that you know what a kid is capable of because kids are much more capable than they ever have been.” This year, Devine plans to push

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AUGUST 2010 15

R. Da n N o l a n Mid d l e Sc h o o l


6615 Greenbrook Blvd., L akewood Ranch • 756-8200

Why I love my school:


“I love Nolan Middle School because I get to hang out with fun kids and learn from great teachers.” — Kyle Thoma


It is our pleasure to welcome Nolan Middle School returning students and new students back to school for the 2010-11 school year. At Nolan, it is our goal to inspire students to learn, dream and achieve. With great anticipation, we look forward to assisting you in your academic and extracurricular endeavors and supporting you in reaching your aspirations. We hope you had a relaxing, restful and fun summer. Now, it is time to set your goals for this year and beyond. Prepare by working hard to earn good grades and develop your interests and abilities. Nancy High, principal




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wednesday, november 10, 2010 7:30pm to 9:00pm at the federation Campus


Questions? Call Jessica Katz: 941.371.4546, ext. 123


580 McIntosh Rd., Sarasota, Florida 34232

16 AUGUST 2010 

School Leader: Stephen Sajewski Mascot: Sharks Colors: Blue and yellow Meet the Teacher: 4-7 p.m., Aug. 19 Projected enrollment: 619 PTO president: Mandy Sands Budget reduction strategies: Imagine uses a economic sustainability task force to guide spending throughout the school year.


at La k ew o o d r a n c h NOTE FRO M THE PR INC IPA L:


W hy I love my school:

The 2010-2011 school year will be one of growth, success, and prosperity for Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch. This year, we will have many features to offer. In kindergarten through fifth grade, we will be continuing to meet the needs of all through students with our instructional delivery model, Project CHILD. In addition, we have created a strong character development program that will be instituted throughout the school. At the middle-school level, we will be offering honors courses, sports teams and even an online virtual class through the University of Miami’s Global Academy. Steve Sajewski, school leader

g r o w t h spu r t

by Michael Eng | Executive Editor

Imagine adds eighth grade Of all the schools in the East County, none has experienced more grown than Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch. Starting out three years ago with just 57 students in makeshift classrooms at Braden River Baptist Church, the charter school will welcome more than 600 students as it begins the

school year this month in its permanent facility in Lakewood Ranch. That growth stems primarily from Imagine expanding its voluntary pre-kindergarten program as well as adding the eighth grade this fall. Middle-schoolers at Imagine will be able to take honorslevel courses, participate in sports teams and even will have a chance to take three virtual courses through the University of Miami’s Global Academy program, including Digital Arts, Essentials of Business and Environmental Science. Sajewski attributes his school’s popularity to several factors. “We’re a learning community,” he said. “We’re invested into our school, and the parents, students and teachers are all invested. Everyone has a sense of ownership, a sense of family that we’re all in this together. “Second, our instructional

“I like that I have options in class — I’m not always doing just one thing. We have different stations, and that’s cool.” — Tyler Zampino

delivery model is different,” he said. “We’re not worksheet-driven. We have some students who are below-grade and some who are above-grade, and we try to find how what learning style is most beneficial to all. Teachers make teach the whole group for 20 to 25 minutes and then break the students down into stations. “Finally, we have a great group of very dedicated teachers,” Sajewski said. “They’re in it for the kids.” As Imagine continues to grow, it will add another building to its campus, likely in 2011 or 2012, Sajewski said. And although the school has no current plans to expand into high school, if parents show an interest, it would be something Imagine would consider, he said. “Parents like that we have VPK all the way through eighth grade,” Sajewski said. “They like that their children can go all the way up on the same campus. And if parents request (high school), it would be something we’d consider. We want parent satisfaction.”

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18 AUGUST 2010  acts

Principal: Dr. Ron Hirst Mascot: Bobcats Colors: Garnet and gold Open House: 5-7 p.m., Aug. 19 Projected enrollment: 655 PTO president: Noemi Szilagyi, 374-7552 Budget reduction strategies: Bashaw Elementary School is trying to be fiscally responsible by making sure it puts our dollars toward the students.

WILLIAM H. BASHAW 3515 Morgan Johnson Road Bradenton • 741-3307




We hope you had and wonderful and safe summer, with opportunities to do what you like to do best. We are getting things ready here at Bashaw Elementary. Books and learning materials have been ordered and received, new teachers hired, the school building being prepped and exciting events being planned for what we hope will be an exciting and productive school year. Our open house is scheduled for Aug. 19. Now is a good time to think about what you need to do to get ready for the first day of school. We look forward to seeing you soon. Dr. Ron Hirst, principal

Why I love my school: “I love my school because we have a festival every year celebrating the history, art, music and culture of another country. (Last) year was Australia. My favorite activity was singing and dancing to Australian music.” — Allison Stewart


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B (2008-09)

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AUGUST 2010 19

by Pam Eubanks | News Editor

Pam Eubanks

William H. Bashaw Elementary School opened in August 1985 under the principalship of Tom Walker.

Bashaw turns 25

study a country or continent and celebrate that culture through a musical performance by fifthgrade students, usually in April. In years past, for example, children have studied places such as Spain, Japan and Australia. In celebration of Bashaw’s anniversary, music teacher Barbara Sullivan and art teacher Rose Stock will work together to bring back countries and continents students have celebrated since the festival’s inception. This year’s festival performance will include children from all grade levels as well, Sullivan said. A patch of greenery behind Bashaw’s main building is home to the school’s peace pole, which was placed there decades ago and was the first of its kind at a Manatee school. “During the arts and music festival, it’s always a highlight in some way,” Boles said. “You have to pass it every day if you’re on campus. It’s at the heart of campus.” The school’s namesake, Dr. William H. Bashaw, a former superintendent, still makes regular visits to the school, particularly to the annual fifth-grade banquet, where he awards good character and citizenship.



When Bashaw Elementary School first opened in 1985, few could understand why the Manatee County School District would build a school so far east. Now, 25 years later, its location is west of eight elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools. “We used to be the east school,” said first-grade teacher Carolyn Thompson, who was at Bashaw when the school opened. “We had a very spread-out area before.” With the growth of the East County, Bashaw’s attendance zone has changed numerous times — as have members of the staff. But teachers at the school say it has maintained a unique camaraderie. “It’s almost this indefinable something,” fifth-grade teacher Phyllis Boles said. “This school has just always had a really strong people who take great pride in being helpful to (new people). We also have had strong custodians who took great pride in keeping it clean. It seems like a small thing, but for an old school, it looks really good.” Unique to Bashaw is its arts and music festival, which started in 1996. Each year, students

20 AUGUST 2010 


BRADEN RIVER 6215 River Club Blvd. Bradenton • 751-7012 ELEMENTARY School


Why I love my school:


“I like hanging out with my friends. I also like how my teachers teach me cool things and different ways of learning.” — Levi Waxler

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Principal: Hayley Rio


We have great things going on this year at BRE. The extreme makeover of our school campus is complete. Not only do our buildings have a new look, but also you will have new desks, chairs, computers, books and more. The staff has selected “Blazing a New Trail!” as our slogan for the 2010-2011 school year. We will be returning to our “Wrangler” roots and kicking off our school year with a western theme. Be ready to lasso up some fun as we begin learning and growing together. I am looking forward to meeting you and your families at our “Sneak a Peek” from 2-4 p.m., Aug. 20. It is my goal for each of you to learn, dream and achieve. We are going to have a wonderful year as we accomplish this together as a BRE family. Hayley Rio, principal

Mascot: Wranglers Colors: Red, blue Sneak A Peek: 2-4 p.m., Aug. 20 Projected enrollment: 505 PTO president: Alison denBoggende, denboggende@ Budget reduction strategies: BRE lost two teacher assistant positions this year. The school also will have a media specialist only three days a week.

A (2008-09)


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n ew d ig s

by Michael Eng | Executive Editor

Michael Eng

The school’s new, bright color scheme is a big change from the carpet that used to line the hallways.

Braden River completes school makeover project Every classroom at Braden River boasts a myriad of new features to enhance learning. The 2010-11 school year will be a year to celebrate all things new at Braden River Elementary. The school will be under the direction of its new principal, Hayley Rio. And when students return, they also will enjoy a brand-new campus thanks to the completion of the school’s $8.3 million makeover project. “We’ve got new buildings, a new school, new administration — we are truly energetic,” Rio said. “The staff has selected ‘Blazing a New Trail’ as the school theme this year.” And as the Wranglers return to their Western roots this year, they will be going in style. With the makeover, every

classroom is equipped with a variety of technology to enhance the learning experience, Rio said. Each is equipped with computer work stations and Mimio interactive whiteboards, and Braden River now will operate with one computer for every three students. However, perhaps the most exciting addition to Braden River is its expanded cafetorium. The school added 3,000 square feet that will allow more seating and a larger stage. Instead of the traditional Open House, Braden River this year invites parents and students to a Sneak-a-Peak event from 2-4 p.m., Aug. 20.

AUGUST 2010 21

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22 AUGUST 2010  acts

Principal: Jim Mennes Mascot: Falcons Colors: Red, white and blue O pen House: 3:30-6:30 p.m., Aug. 19 Projected Enrollment: 652 PTO presidents: Angel Birch and Melissa Frantz Budget reduction strategies: Freedom Elementary School will follow the district’s lead regarding its budget.

Fr eed o m

9515 S.R. 64 E. Bradenton • 708-4990




I would like to welcome back our families to another exciting year at Freedom. This will be my second year as principal here, and I am ready to continue helping your children to learn, dream and achieve. The class-size amendment allocations have given us the opportunity to hire two new teachers. We would like to welcome Janis Pastujov to second grade and Amanda Hirst to fourth grade. The staff, parents, and students here all share a vision for success, and their efforts ensure Freedom will continue to move forward with its many accomplishments. The National Elementary Honor Society and Technology Student Association are just two programs that we offer that set us apart from other schools. We look forward to getting to know all of you as we continue our mission to inspire our students with a passion for learning. Jim Mennes, principal

A (2008-09)

Why I love my school: “One of the reasons why I like Freedom is because of all the great teachers. They always have good techniques on how to do things. “Another reason why I like Freedom is of our new principal, Mr. Mennes. He’s so cool, plus he really connects with the students. “Also, I like Freedom because once you get into the fifth grade, you can apply to be on news crew or safety patrol. “The last thing that makes Freedom such a cool school is that it’s the only elementary school to have Technology Student Association and National Elementary Honor Society.” — Caroline Birch


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Parks and Recreation

has great activities for kids! View activities and register online at

• Arlington Park • Bee Ridge Park • Colonial Oaks Park • Englewood Sports Complex • Longwood Park • Newtown Estates Park • Nokomis Community Park • Payne Park • Robert L. Taylor Complex • Venice Community Center • Woodmere Park

PROGRAMS • School Break Camps • Swim lessons • Tennis lessons • Basketball leagues • Homework Help • Drama, Dance, Fitness • Cheerleading • and more!

SPECIAL EVENTS • Fishing Tournaments • Halloween Hunts • Big Truck Day • Movies in the Park

GOT TALENT? Parks and Recreation is contracting instructors. Call today! or call 861-5000

SPECIAL EVENTS • Holiday Hoop Shoot • Bubbles of Fun • Egg Hunts • Nature Walks


• Laurel Park


t o p o f t h e c l a ss

AUGUST 2010 23

by Pam Eubanks | News Editor

Pam Eubanks

National Elementary Honor Society co-sponsor C hrista Rogalla said the program helps inspire students to work harder academically.

Making the honor roll isn’t the only option for topachieving students at Freedom Elementary School. Freedom is the only East County elementary to offer the National Elementary Honor Society program, which recognizes students for outstanding academic achievement and personal responsibility while developing leadership skills and providing service. “That’s where the honor society is different than just an honor roll,” NEHS co-sponsor Danielle DiPalma said. “They have to do community service.” Teachers founded Freedom’s NEHS chapter two years ago. “We decided we needed something for our higher-achieving children and to promote giving back to the community,” said Christa Rogalla, fifth-grade teacher and co-sponsor of the club. The program is open only to children in fourth and fifth grades, although children in third grade must qualify that year to participate in fourth grade. Students must earn all As and Bs in their academic subjects and earn satisfactory scores for citizenship to qualify for the program. The chapter organizes a minimum of four service projects each year, and the group often assists various other school activities, Rogalla said.

Last year, Freedom’s chapter raised more than $4,600 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through its Pasta for Pennies. Other activities have including organizing a food drive for the Salvation Army, making Christmas cards for residents of local nursing homes and assisting with the school’s annual walk-a-thon. NEHS members also participate in monthly meetings to help organize events and handle other responsibilities. “It gives (students) a chance to look out into the community and realize anyone can make a difference,” Rogalla said. DiPalma, a fourth-grade teacher, said having the program in place gives children, especially in third and fourth grades, a goal academically. “They do see it as a prestigious club,” she said. ‘They really look forward to being with their group of peers. We tell them they are the role models of the school.” A formal induction ceremony where students receive their membership cards and pins is held at the end of each school year. The program also serves as a natural progression for students as they enter middle school, where students can participate in the National Junior Honor Society program, DiPalma said.


F reedom home to H onor Society program

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Principal: Kathy Hayes Mascot: Gators Colors: Royal blue and green Open House: 3:30-5:30 p.m., Aug. 20 Projected enrollment: 471 PT O president: Jessie Cordero, 812-6656



b.d . Gu l l et t

12125 44th Ave. E. 727-2067


NO TE FRO M TH E PRINC IPAL: ing a variety of after-school enrichment clubs sponsored by our PTO. Club activities are free or may include a nominal materials fee. Students may participate in gardening, board games, computers, Spanish, dance, arts and crafts, cooking, book study, yearbook and more.

B.D. Gullett Elementary students strive to excel in a nurturing and challenging academic environment, supported by a partnership between staff, parents and community members. This year, Gullett is launch-


24 AUGUST 2010 

Why I love my school: “The teachers, my friends and MusiQ Club after school.” — Nicholas Cairo

Please join us for our second Neal Communities Golf Challenge. The event is scheduled for 1 p.m., Sept. 25, at the University Park County Club. Kathy Hayes, principal

Budget reduction strategies: Departmentalizing in intermediate grades to consolidate resources, reducing printing costs and fundraising with PTO and business partnerships.

A (2008-09)

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Call 966-9791 or email for info or a Tour!

AUGUST 2010 25


l ea r ning t h e l a nd

by Michael Eng | Executive Editor

New lessons bloom at Gullett Elementary School

Lakewood Ranch SmartFarm officials hope their project will give Gullett Elementary students a chance to learn about agriculture. As Gullett Elementary School teachers and staff prepare their classrooms for another year of learning, the biggest boon to the school’s educational offerings is taking shape on a parcel of land next door. The Lakewood Ranch SmartFarm, a proposed community farm, sits adjacent to the school. And although the project is still in its infancy, both Gullett educators and SmartFarm officials already can see its value as an educational tool. “The SmartFarm is an exciting venture incorporating green environmental concepts, healthy living, and educational programming,” Gullett Principal Kathy Hayes said. “Our students and staff will support the development of the farm by assisting with programming and curriculum. I anticipate the site will be a future field trip opportunity for schools.” The SmartFarm, the brainchild of East County residents Jaden Hair, Tara Raven, Ngan Gilkison and Patricia Wilson, will be situated on a 5-acre site off 44th Avenue. Raven, who developed a similar project at The Out-of-Door Academy’s Lakewood Ranch campus, designed the SmartFarm, which will feature a children’s garden, stage for performances, a classroom and a teaching kitchen. The farm also will utilize aqua-

ponics — which cultivates both plants and fish in the same environment and include an orchard, apiary, hen house, vegetable beds and a children’s garden. The mission is to provide educational and culinary programs that will foster an appreciation for homegrown food, culinary skills and sustainable gardening. Phase one of the project will focus primarily on the farm’s educational component, said Gilkison, a Gullett Elementary parent. “It definitely will be more children- and education-focused,” she said. “We will have some sort of program for children.” SMR President and CEO Rex Jensen offered the land for the farm, and the women now are working with several others to bring the farm from concept to reality. Jeff Stevens, of Thirion and Associates, is assisting on the financial side, and Ugarte and Associates Inc. architecture firm worked with Raven’s plans to design the farm’s final layout. Depending on funding, the women hope to build the farm during three days in October. To get involved, make a contribution or for more information, visit or e-mail mail@

True Blue


It Really Does take A Village to Raise A child –

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Robin givens Join us on

September 25, 2010

for Walk For the Kids, a 3k walk that will help children to attend the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. Following the walk, each Club will host Day for Kids’ free fun family activities.

Walk check-in 8:00am - 9:00am Day for Kids Activities 10:00am - 1:00pm 4 event locations:

Lee Wetherington club ~ Sarasota Roy mcBean club ~ Sarasota gene matthews club ~ North Port Robert and Joan Lee club ~ Venice

event Sponsors:


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• Lessons • Boarding • Hunter/Jumper

26 AUGUST 2010 

Gil ber t w. Mcn ea l 6325 Lorraine Road Lakewood Ranch • 751-8165 ELEMENTARY School


Principal: Norma Scott Mascot: Wildcats Colors: Periwinkle, gold, green and white


Open House: 5-6:30 p.m., Aug. 19 for kindergarten; 5-6:30 p.m., Aug. 20 for others Projected enrollment: 673 PTO president: Nicole Squitieri Budget reduction strategies: Any reductions that impact the school will be brought to the Leadership Team and School Advisory Committee. There may be a possibility of opening a split classroom.


Why I love my school:

Welcome back Wildcats! We’ve been busy at McNeal Elementary this summer planning for a great school year. You will be seeing some new faces this year as our staff has grown. VPK and Kindergarten Open House is from 5-6:30 p.m., Aug. 19. Grades 1-5 will host their Open House from 4-6 p.m., Aug. 20. Our new PTO will be present at both open houses. With the support of Falkner Farms, Home Depot and the McNeal PTO, we will begin to implement our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative this year. Over $50,000 of new technology has been purchased for the classrooms and the district is in the process of securing permits for our garden and greenhouse. Norma Scott, principal


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“I have a lot of teachers I really like. I like the new principal and the enrichment program and drama.” — Rachel Consiglio

A (2008-09)

Temple Sinai Comes to Lakewood Ranch! Be part of a dynamic Reform temple that celebrates diversity and offers a variety of opportunities for bringing the joy of Judaism into your life Discover how to give your family a synagogue experience that fits into your busy lives

NEW FOR 2010-2011

Offering Hebrew School for Grades 3-6 at


OPEN HOUSE REGISTRATION – SATURDAY, AUG 14th 10 am - 12 pm Reasons to choose us... ✭ Quality education in a family-friendly atmosphere ✭ Limited class size ensures individual attention ✭ Professional sprung dance floors prevent injury ✭ Age appropriate and tasteful ✭ Private music lessons in a professional studio environment

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Out-of-Door Academy 5950 Deer Drive Tuesdays 4:30–6:00 pm along with Sunday morning classes at Temple Sinai

For more information about temple membership and Religious/Hebrew School schedules contact

Sue Huntting, Religious School Director, @ 922-9322 Temple Sinai • 4631 S. Lockwood Ridge Road

piano ✭ violin and other strings guitar ✭ flute ✭ clarinet saxophone ✭ trumpet ✭ voice 7313 International Pl, Suite 100, Sarasota 34240 in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park off University Pkwy



t ec h ta l k

AUGUST 2010 27

by Pam McTeer | News Editor

McNeal Elementary School plants practical roots with new program This year, the school will be the first in Manatee to become part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program. build boats and other As the United States projects that use engicontinues to lag behind neering concepts. other countries in the “You have the fun areas such as technolfactor; the kids love ogy and mathematics, playing,” McGrew McNeal Elementary said. “They don’t School is stepping up understand the level to make sure its stuthey are at.” dents will be ready to But McGrew and compete. Scott agree it’s just not This year, the enough. school will be the “It’s just the engifirst in Manatee to neering piece,” become part of the McGrew said. Science, Technology, The STEM program Engineering and Math Pam Eubanks program, better known Teacher C heryl McGrew and Principal Norma Scott will take that concept several steps further as STEM. are eager to get the STEM program started. by having those sub“The kids really need to have those subjects integrat- McGrew has offered students at jects incorporated in all aspects ed,” said engineering teacher McNeal hands-on engineering of a child’s education and not Cheryl McGrew. “They are going lessons through her Engineering just during a lab. McNeal will launch the to be the problem-solvers.” by Design class. Students visit For about the last six years, her classroom once weekly to STEM program this year with

a medieval catapult unit to raise awareness and enthusiasm for the program. In the fall, students will use a human-sized catapult to launch tomatoes during the Parent-Teacher Organization’s annual walk-athon event in October, McGrew said. McNeal will focus its teachertraining sessions on STEM so every teacher will better be able to integrate STEM subjects in their classrooms. Two of McNeal’s business partners — Home Depot and Falkner Farms — have stepped forward for the project as well. Home Depot will build a garden, likely by December, and it also eventually will paint a portable, which will be used for a science and environmental lab. Additionally, Falkner Farms will build a greenhouse as part of the project once it is approved. This summer, McGrew and a team of teachers representing elementary, middle and high schools worked together to develop a STEM curriculum for Manatee so other schools can eventually join the program.

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Open House: New students: 5 p.m., Aug. 19; returning students: 5:30 p.m., Aug. 19

Welcome back students and parents of Tara Elementary for the school year of 2010-2011. Our school emphasizes the importance of the academics and being a good citizen. We will have our Open House Aug. 19. Students will return to school on Monday, Aug. 23. If you are a kindergarten parent, we will be holding a “Boo Hoo” breakfast in the cafeteria once school has started. Please join us. We will be working on several new projects athis year. Your child’s well-being and education is our primary goal, and we want to work with each family to assure that the students at Tara will dream and achieve. Linda J. Fouse, principal

Projected enrollment: 597


Principal: Linda Fouse Mascot: Knights Colors: Red and black



Why I love my school: “Everybody is really friendly. It’s really fun. It’s probably the best school I’ve been to. Here, the work is challenging, and I like it better. My old school wasn’t as challenging or kid friendly.” — Nick Cinelli

by Pam Eubanks | News Editor


28 AUGUST 2010 

Tara works to strengthen family ties

PTO president: Rachel Manning, 751-7660 Budget reduction strategies: Reduction of copying for use in the classroom.

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Although Tara Elementary School has had a strong family feel, Principal Dr. Linda Fouse is determined to rekindle that flame this school year. With a new environmental and campus beautification initiative and an after-school enrichment program, Fouse hopes to

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make Tara a place families call a second home. “Last year, we decided as a school (that) we wanted to come up with school projects or activities we could then celebrate with parents,” Fouse said. “We really haven’t done that in the past, and we’re really striving to involve our parents and our community and make the school a place to come together.” Students will start the school year with an environmental unit that includes recycling and plant life. Then, one Saturday this fall, students and their families will be asked to bring out their shovels and other gardening tools to help plant vegetation and beautify Tara’s campus. One of the areas to be beautified is the Parent Garden, where many parents wait for their chil-

dren after school. The fenced-off space is decorated with chairs and tables but very few plants presently. “We want to really spruce up that area,” Fouse said. Tara’s new after-school enrichment program likely will start in September after parents have a had a chance to pick which types of programs they would most like to be available to students. Potential offerings include subjects such as technology and cooking. “We want to have two to three classes to start,” Fouse said, noting each would probably be held two or three days a week and last for about six weeks. “(Which ones isn’t) set yet.” Classes are expected to cost $25 to $35, depending on the course, Fouse said.

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Congregation Ner Tamid Proudly serving the families of Manatee and Sarasota Counties


Rena Morano, Education Director

Pam Eubanks

Tara Principal Dr. Linda Fouse is hopeful the school’s new initiatives will make Tara more of a focal point for the families it serves.



Principal: Bill Stenger


Mascot: Geckos Colors: Lime green and navy blue

Welcome to the 2010-2011 school year! We hope you all had a very safe, relaxing, and enjoyable summer. The 2010-2011 school year promises to be an exciting, fun-filled and productive year. Please plan to attend our Open House from 4-6 p.m., Aug. 19. There, you will be able to find out who your teacher will be and check out your new classroom. We look forward to seeing you all soon. Bill Stenger, principal Lynne Menard, assistant principal

Open House: 4-6 p.m., Aug. 19 Projected enrollment: 662 PTO president: Ann Gowgiel, agowgiel@

Why I love my school:

“(I love Willis because of) the principals — Mr. Stenger and Mrs. Menard. … They treat each of us special and listen to what we have to say. They read my ‘Keep Recess’ paper and answered my request for a music club with a letter.” — Caty Castro

Budget reduction strategies: The staff will be careful and prudent about spending its limited resources throughout the school year.


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941.371.4979 4466 Fruitville Road Sarasota •

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Principal: Myra Russell Mascot: Eagles Colors: Teal, silver and white


GENE WITT 200 Rye Road E. • Bradenton • 741-3628 ELEMENTARY Sc h o o l NO TE FRO M TH E PRINC IPAL:

The strength of Gene Witt Elementary not only comes with a strong staff, with the expectation that all children can achieve but also with our active parent volunteer participation who assist us on a daily basis working with students and staff. Together, we embrace the four strategic objectives of EdVantage: enthusiasm for learning, goal setting, democratic process and global outreach. Myra Russell, principal

Open House: Kindergarten: (A-L) 4:15-5 p.m.; (M-Z) 5:15-6 p.m. Aug. 19; first grade: 5:157 p.m., Aug. 19; Second through fifth grades: 4-6 p.m., Aug. 20 Projected enrollment: 545 PTO president: Melanie Steltzman and Nancy Newby

Why I love my school: “There’s good teachers there, and all my friends are there.” — Ellie Bonnett


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Budget reduction strategies: Gene Witt will be paperless as much as possible and create a schoolwide supply inventory.

A (2008-09) smarter start GET your Gene Witt introduces BACK TO SCHOOL... integrated pre-K class by Michael Eng | Executive Editor

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The beginning of the new school year will be a little extra special for Gene Witt Elementary School teacher Luanne Howe. This year marks the first for the school’s integrated prekindergarten class — Howe’s brainchild. “I’ve had this vision, but you don’t know how it’s all going to work until the students come through that door for the first time,” Howe said. “Then, it’s lights on — the show is on.” The class comprises both regular education students and Exceptional Student Education pupils — all working together to start their educational careers. “They all will be learning from each other,” Howe said. “There will be some cooperative play and some independent learning.” The goal of any Pre-K class is to prepare the students for kin-

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Luanne H owe is excited to begin the new school year. dergarten, Howe said. Students will “graduate” from the class knowing all their letters, numbers, colors and more. “It just helps them get one leg up,” she said. “And hopefully, it helps them to love school.”

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