Sarasota County Schools News

Sarasota High students stage ‘Irving Berlin's White Christmas’

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SHS White Christmas cast 2015

SNOW! In a scene that takes place on a train bound for snowy Vermont, Sarasota High students sing the song “Snow” from “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”

SARASOTA, Nov. 30, 2015 – Sarasota High School students will perform the musical play “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 9 through Saturday, Dec. 12, in the schools’ auditorium, with an additional matinee performance at 2 p.m., Saturday.

The show tells the story of two ex-army pals as they team up with a pair of sisters to put on a show. Their goal is to save a remote Vermont ski lodge that has fallen on hard times. When Bob Wallace and Phil Davis find out that their former general is running a failing inn, they bring their entire cast and crew up from Miami to help him out. With only five days to put together a dazzling show, the company does everything they can to come through for General Waverly.

“In producing this show, our students have embraced this show’s warm holiday feel and mood, and have taken on the task of sharing this story with sincerity,” said the show’s director, Lacey Knispel. “In the case of ‘White Christmas,’ it’s all about the characters and their relationships with one another.

“This show comes at the perfect time,” said Knispel. “When it seems like the world is full of bad news and ill will, ‘White Christmas’ reminds us of the spirit of humanity. With show-stopping numbers, a bit of romance, some mischief and a lot of heart, this is the musical we have all been dreaming of.”

Knispel said the best part of producing the show has been the way the SHS theater community has come together “to create something magical.” She reports that parents, alumni and even students who are not part of the theater program have come together to create the sets and backdrops. She said community members have donated materials, from building supplies and paint to props and costumes. Knispel added, “The most special part of the process has been how the students have helped with directing, choreography and design. It really has been a team effort, which makes everything that much more special.”

Actor Tanner Holman, an actor and one of the show’s student directors who worked closely with Knispel to help guide the cast, said, “As a student director I was opened up to an entirely new and interesting facet of theater. It allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the process and my role playing Phil Davis, particularly my interactions with other characters. I couldn’t be more proud of the unparalleled passion of everyone involved in this production.”

Tickets and information are available at Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

Sarasota High School is located at 1000 S. School Ave., Sarasota.


Sarasota Cuban Ballet performs ‘Nutcracker’ at Gocio Elementary

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Nov. 30, 2015 –The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School will perform a special version of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’ at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, in the Gocio Elementary School cafeteria. The performance is free and open to the public; refreshments will be available.

Gocio Elementary School is located at 3450 Gocio Road, Sarasota.

Riverview High holds open house for Phillippi Creek project

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RHS shark tank-Katrin Rudge and guests-fall 2015

THE REAL SHARK TANK: Guests explore the shark tank in Riverview High School’s AquaDome. Pictured from left are Rob Wright, Lynne Scarborough, Mike Scarborough, RHS aquascience teacher Katrin Rudge, Mary Hasselbring and Lee Hasselbring.

SARASOTA, Nov. 19, 2015 – Riverview High School will showcase its Phillippi Creek shoreline restoration project and its snook-raising program at an open house Saturday, Nov. 21.  The free public event will include tours of the nature trail and shoreline from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m., tours of its AquaDome aquaculture center from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and planetarium shows from 7 to 10 p.m. For those interested in stargazing, the Observers Club will be on site with telescopes.

Riverview students recently restored mangroves and other plants along part of its 1,500-foot shoreline on Phillippi Creek. Invasive trees from Asia known as Seaside Mahoes were replaced with mangroves and other native plants that will provide shelter for snook, nesting birds and other wildlife.

The majority of the restoration was made possible through grants provided by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, the Consortium of Florida Education, Sarasota County Schools, and a Sarasota Bay Estuary Partner Grant. Other donors include Sarasota County Government, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Your Farm & Garden, Total Landscape Supply, Sarasota Trophy and Awards, and the Horticultural Alliance.

In addition to the restored shoreline, juvenile snook are being raised in the AquaDome and will be released into North Creek by Mote Marine Laboratory scientists in April. These innovations complete Riverview’s designation as a “Space, Earth and Sea” Demonstration School. They are extensions of the school’s Stars to Starfish program, which focuses on the sky, with its planetarium, the sea, in its AquaDome and the earth, with its nature trail and restored shoreline.

“We are excited about these additions to our Stars to Starfish program,” said Katrin Rudge, director of the Riverview Aquascience Department and co-director of the Stars to Starfish Program. “We want students, staff, parents and other visitors to appreciate the beauty of Florida's native plants, shorelines and tidal creeks, and how ecosystems impact all life on land, in the sea and in the sky — from the Florida panther to the manatee to the osprey.”

Rudge describes Riverview’s mission with the Stars to Starfish program as “two-fold. The first goal is to raise academic achievement in science, technology, engineering and math. The second goal, which is equally important, is to promote environmental stewardship.”

Riverview High School Principal Eric Jackson said, “I’m certain our students and staff will be strong environmental stewards because of these projects. It’s important for us to continue to have access to the wonderful community partnerships generated by these grants and donors, so our students can enjoy learning experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives.”  

Riverview High School is located at 1 Ram Way in Sarasota. Parking and access for the open house will be available in front of the planetarium.

Suncoast Technical College accepts Gov. Scott's challenge

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SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, Nov. 18, 2015 – Today, Gov. Rick Scott issued his “Ready, Set, Work” Technical Center Guarantee Challenge. Todd Bowden, executive director of Career, Technical and Adult Education for the Sarasota County School District, has accepted the governor’s challenge on behalf of the faculty and staff of Suncoast Technical College.

Effective immediately, Suncoast Technical College guarantees employers and students that any graduate who is not proficient in any of the completed competencies covered by the program will be retrained in the needed competencies at no charge to either the employer or the graduate.

“We are happy to accept this challenge from the governor,” said Bowden. “Our students are ready and set to work on day one, thanks to programs designed in close consultation with local employers who have told us what specific training their workforce needs. We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to showcase the education, skills and enthusiasm of our graduates.”

Suncoast Technical College is located at 4748 Beneva Road, Sarasota (main campus); 2706 N. Osprey Ave., Sarasota (Newtown campus); 794 Circus Blvd., Sarasota (Fire Science Academy); 409 Bahama St., Venice; and 6400 W. Price Blvd., North Port (temporarily located on the campus of North Port High School).

The full text of Suncoast Technical College’s “Ready, Set, Work” Guarantee is included below.

Click here for the STC Guarantee Certficate (same wording as below).

Click here for the news release detailing Gov. Scott’s challenge.

Suncoast Technical College Ready, Set, Work Guarantee
Suncoast Technical College understands that employers should have access to skilled workers and confidence in hiring decisions, and further find that every one of our graduates should be ready to work from day one on the job.

Suncoast Technical College stands by our graduates and guarantee employers that these graduates have demonstrated proficiency in the competencies outlined in the curriculum frameworks of the programs which they have completed.

Suncoast Technical College guarantees employers and students that any graduate who is not proficient in any of the completed competencies covered by the program will be retrained in the needed competencies at no charge to either the employer or the graduate.

Booker Middle educator wins Beginning Teacher award from FCTE

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Booker Middle teacher Donna Heath Nov 2015

BEGINNING TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Booker Middle School teacher Donna Heath has been named the 2015 Beginning Teacher of the Year by the Florida Council of Teachers of English.

SARASOTA, Nov. 17, 2015 – A Booker Middle School English teacher has received the 2015 Beginning Teacher of the Year award from the Florida Council of Teachers of English. Donna Heath is the third Booker Middle teacher to win the award from FCTE; Joanna Fox and Christopher Pauling were honored in previous years.

Heath began working for the Sarasota County School District in 2003 as a media specialist. When these positions were eliminated by the district in 2013, Heath made a decision. 

Pauling, Heath’s colleague and friend, said, “You can imagine what it was like for Donna to dedicate herself to becoming a teacher after being a media specialist for 10 years. She took it seriously and pursued her master’s degree. She has grown with experience and knowledge, has made well-received presentations to the FCTE about modern teaching practices and strategies, and is applying them in her classroom.”

Heath’s presentations to FCTE include “Life after Bullying: Young Adult Novels Lead Teens on the Road to Recovery,” and “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Multicultural Literature as Informational Text.”

She teaches a wide range of students, from struggling readers to gifted readers. Her extensive knowledge of young adult literature and her background as a media specialist has helped Heath teach her students to appreciate good writing.

“After being inspired by the fine teachers in my daughters’ classrooms, I decided to begin my journey to become a teacher,” said Heath. “The constant support of my husband and daughters keep me striving every day to be the best teacher I can be for my students. I hope my passion for literacy and lifelong learning will inspire my students to love reading and will help them be successful in their lives.”

Heath is scheduled to receive her master’s degree in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida in Tampa in May 2016.

Booker Middle School is located at 2250 Myrtle St., Sarasota.

Riverview High Kiltie Band, guests perform fall concert

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Nov. 17, 2015 – The Riverview High School Kiltie Band will perform its annual Fall Concert at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Riverview Performing Arts Center on the school’s campus. A $5 donation will be requested at the door.

The event also will feature the Riverview Highland Dancers, Color Guard and Wind Ensemble, with a special appearance by the Sarasota Middle School Wind Ensemble. The event will be recorded by The Education Channel (Comcast 20, Verizon FiOS 33), and will air in early 2016.

This will be the last chance to see the Kilties in an indoor venue before they leave to march in the 96th annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. The event began in 1920 and is billed as the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the U.S.; it is four years older than the New York parade.

Riverview High School is located at 1 Ram Way, Sarasota.

District schools honor veterans on campus, in community

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McIntosh honors veterans-WW2 vet and Jill Rothenburg Nov 2015 McIntosh Salute to Veterans group shot Nov 2015

HONORING VETERANS: In top photo, McIntosh Middle School teacher Jill Rothenburg, at right, honors Bart Corricelli, a World War II veteran (U.S. Marines) who fought in the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima, at the last Salute to Veterans program she organized at the school. Rothenburg has organized the event, held this year on Nov. 10, for the past 12 years. She is retiring in December. In bottom photo, veterans gather for a photo at the event.

Why are Sarasota County schools open on Veterans Day?

Our intent in having school on Veterans Day is to honor our veterans. For the longest time we, like many other school districts in Florida and around the nation, observed Veterans Day as a school holiday. Students in bands would attend parades and other observances, but what often happened is it became just another day off (to sleep in, go to the beach, visit friends, etc.). So School Board members met with local veterans groups and talked about how these groups would feel if school were open on Veterans Day, but we asked our schools to focus a part of their day on honoring veterans. They agreed, with one caveat — that the School Board have a policy to that effect. (Click here for the policy). As a result, today there are celebrations of veterans and Veterans Day in our schools on Nov. 11 and other days in that week and beyond. The following news release gives some examples of events being held this year. 

 SARASOTA COUNTY, Nov. 4, 2015 – Students and staff at Sarasota County schools will honor military veterans and active members of the armed forces with special activities and projects through Thursday, Nov. 12. Several veterans have been invited to schools to participate in many of the events. High school bands, color guards and other school groups will participate in various community ceremonies on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Events scheduled for Nov. 10-12 include the following:

Tuesday, Nov. 10  

9-10 a.m.: At Garden Elementary School, the Venice Middle School Young Marines will present the colors. Garden students will sign patriotic music, and students will perform short skits with a patriotic flair. Local veterans are invited to be recognized and celebrated. 700 Center Road, Venice.

9 a.m.: Venice Elementary School will hold its annual Veteran’s Day event. Veterans from the Venice area as well as Venice City Council members are expected to attend. 150 E. Miami Ave., Venice.  

9:30-10:30 a.m.: McIntosh Middle School will hold its annual Salute to Veterans in the gym. The school’s drum corps, band and chorus will perform and selected students will read thank-you letters to veterans. A special color guard of Vietnam veterans will carry the flag. All veterans and any current service members are welcome to attend. 701 S. McIntosh Road, Sarasota.

Wednesday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day:  

8:30 a.m.: Pine View School’s Elementary Student Council will host a Veteran’s Day Celebration and parade. The event will start with a breakfast in the student union, followed by a parade and ceremony at 9:15 a.m. in the gym. Student council representatives will honor approximately 30 individual veterans for their service to our country. Through the school’s character education program, students will demonstrate good citizenship skills and express gratitude to those who have served and protected our county. In addition to recognizing each veteran, students will recite a choral poem called “Freedom’s Call.” Pine View parent and veteran, Brent Alexander, will be the guest speaker. The ceremony will include patriotic music from Pine View’s high school band and elementary chorus. 1 Python Path, Osprey.

8:45 a.m.: Phillippi Shores Elementary, outside courtyard. Students will march in procession and the flag will be raised, followed by the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. The PYP Sticks will perform. The guest speaker with be a veteran, Lt. Col. Tony Mediavilla, U.S. Marines (Ret.) Other veterans will be acknowledged, students will recite speeches and poems, and the school chorus will sing patriotic songs. 4747 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.  

8:45, repeated at 9:30 a.m.: Cranberry Elementary School will hold its annual Veteran’s Day Celebration in the cafeteria. Veterans have been invited to attend the event and be recognized for their service. Students are encouraged to wear red, white, and blue school uniforms. The ceremony will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner. The Cranberry Cougar Choir will perform patriotic songs, including a special song thanking veterans for their service. 2775 Shalimar Terrace, North Port.

9:15-10:30 a.m.: Lamarque Elementary, physical education area. The event will include performances by the Lamarque Elementary Chorus and the Woodland Middle School Wind Ensemble. Invited guests include Lamarque family veterans and active duty personnel. All community members are welcome to attend. The school will have a “Wall of Heroes” on display in the main hallway, with photos and mementoes representing Lamarque family veterans and those who are currently serving. Third-grade students will set a table in white colors to honor fallen, captured and missing troops. Passages from Margot Thies Raven’s book, “America’s White Table,” will be read as students perform the ceremony of preparing place settings, providing an emotional connection to the reason America honors veterans each year. 3415 Lamarque Ave., North Port.  

9:30 a.m.: Bay Haven School of Basics Plus will hold its Veterans Day Program in the school’s new cafeteria, with student speakers and school chorus performances. A Bay Haven student’s grandparent who is a veteran will share a message with students. 2901 W. Tamiami Circle, Sarasota.

9:30 a.m.: Toledo Blade Elementary School will host a school-wide Veterans Day celebration. School families and staff have been encouraged to invite family members who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Toledo Blade staff have raised funds for Wreaths Across America and the Sarasota National Cemetery. Veterans have been invited to attend the celebration and be recognized for their service to the country. Toledo Blade Students will sing patriotic songs during this celebration. 1201 Geranium Ave., North Port.  

9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Woodland Middle School will hold its Veterans Day Freedom Walk throughout the day during Social Studies class. The school’s Social Studies Department is sponsoring a Veterans Day Freedom Walk & Care Package Drive. Starting Nov. 2, students pledged to walk a mile in support of veterans and troops, and collected donated items to be sent overseas through the Support Our Troops organization. Students are encouraged to wear red, white and blue on this day. 2700 Panacea Blvd., North Port.  

9:45 a.m.: Booker Middle School’s musical groups will perform in the cafetorium as students and staff celebrate invited veterans. 2250 Myrtle St., Sarasota.

10 a.m.: The Sarasota High School Mighty Sailor Band, Riverview High Kiltie Band and JROTC cadets, Venice Middle School Band and Venice Middle School Young Marines, Sarasota Military Academy and SMA Prep will participate in the downtown Veterans Day Parade. Some schools also will be represented at the ceremony to be held at the end of the parade at J.D. Hamill Park. Main Street, downtown Sarasota.  

10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Imagine School at North Port (grades K-5 campus) will celebrate Veterans Day by encouraging students to invite a veteran or active member of the military to have lunch with them. The school will provide a buffet lunch for visitors. 1000 Innovation Ave., North Port.

11 a.m.: A color guard from Imagine School at North Port (grades 6-12) will be part of the Veterans Day ceremony at the North Port Library, 13800 Tamiami Trail, North Port.  

At 12:50 p.m. and 1:45 p.m., Imagine School at North Port (grades 6-12) will host two assembly programs; one for grades 6-8 and one for grades 9-12. The programs will include a Young Marines color guard, a student speaker, the choir and a soloist singing the national anthem, and a guest speaker (a retired Navy Chaplain). The programs will close with trumpeters playing Taps. 2757 Sycamore St., North Port.

2:30 p.m.: The SHS Mighty Sailor Band will march in the Longboat Key Veterans Day Parade. Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key.

7 p.m.: Sarasota High School Singing Sailors, with guest choir from Booker Middle School, perform a Veterans Salute Concert in the auditorium. Open to the public, free admission. 1000 S. School Ave., Sarasota.

Thursday, Nov. 12:  

7 p.m.: Sarasota High School Singing Sailors, with guest choirs from McIntosh and Sarasota middle schools, perform a Veterans Salute Concert in the auditorium. Open to the public, free admission. 1000 S. School Ave., Sarasota. 



Fruitville Elementary students vote for Pirate as new school mascot

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Fruitville Elem mascot vote graphic Nov 2015

ELECTION UPDATE, NOV. 3, 2015: Students voted for the Fruitville Pirate as the school's new mascot.

SARASOTA, Nov. 2, 2015 – Election day is traditionally the first Tuesday in November, and Fruitville Elementary School is no exception. But students there won’t have to wait another year to make their choices. This Tuesday (Nov. 3), they will vote for their favorite candidate from a field of five: a frog, a fox, a falcon, a pirate and a shark. The hopefuls are running for the job of school mascot, based on character ideas submitted by the students themselves. The election will be held throughout the day; Fruitville’s school hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Before they reached this point, the top candidates first had to survive a grueling primary season (but no debates or stump speeches). Fifty classes of students from kindergarten through fifth grade each generated ideas within their classrooms, then voted on their favorite mascot. There was a total of 25 unique entries from all classes; but some characters had more “nominations” than others. When administrators tallied up the nominees and duplications, five front-runners clearly emerged. 

Why is Fruitville Elementary, a school whose origins date to 1887, looking to elect a mascot in 2015? “We have a bit of an identity crisis,” said Principal Steven French. “We were the Falcons at one time; Fruitville’s image was represented by an orange tree for a while; and former principal Laura Kingsley introduced a graphic of a treasure chest and the phrase ‘Discover Fruitville: A Local Treasure,’ because of the school’s rich history.”

French previously served as the school’s assistant principal, then as acting principal after Kingsley was named the district’s executive director of elementary schools last year. He was later named the school’s principal and thought the new administration and the school’s current expansion was a good opportunity for some fresh branding. French thought, “Who better to decide on a new mascot than our students?”

Each student will get one vote; the polling place will be the school’s computer lab. French expects to have results by the end of the day. He does not anticipate a recount.

Fruitville Elementary School is located at 601 Honore Ave., Sarasota.

Booker Elem. welcomes WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students)

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WATCH DOGS dad Leon Pitts and kids at EEB fall 2015

DAD OF GREAT STUDENTS: Pictured from left are a WATCH D.O.G.S dad and his three children who are students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School: first-grader Zoriah Pitts, father Leon Pitts, second-grader Acacia Pitts and kindergartner Zion Pitts.

SARASOTA, Nov. 2, 2015 – WATCH D.O.G.S., a new program for “Dads of Great Students” at Emma E. Booker Elementary School, is encouraging fathers and other male role models to be more involved in the school lives of their students by being a visible presence on campus.

WATCH D.O.G.S. dads participate in a variety of events and activities, including greeting students as they arrive on buses in the morning; helping the principal make morning announcements; volunteering in classrooms; chaperoning a field trip; joining students for lunch; and patrolling the hallways, parking lot and other areas of campus.   

“We’re excited to participate in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program,” said Principal Dawn Clayton. “The students and fathers are very enthusiastic about it, and the dads’ involvement sends a positive message to everyone who sees them around our campus.”

WATCH D.O.G.S. is a school-based father involvement program that works to support education and safety. A program of the National Center for Fathering, WATCH D.O.G.S is in more than 4,704 schools in 46 states, as well as China, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Barbados.

Watch D.O.G.S. are fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, and other father figures who volunteer to serve at least one day a year in a variety of school activities as assigned by the school principal or other administrator. More information is available at

Emma E. Booker is located at 2350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Sarasota.

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