Among the thousands of students who went back to school in Pasco County on August 14, more than 1,500 of them spent their first day at Wesley Chapel’s newest school, Cypress Creek Middle High School, which is located off Old Pasco Rd.
Cypress Creek Middle High was expected to open with about 1,500 students, but actually had 1,603 students show up on the first day. The school’s capacity is 1,958 students, so it still has some room to grow.
The new school was needed to relieve crowding at not only Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle schools, but also has students who previously were zoned for Sunlake and Wesley Chapel high schools, as well as Weightman and Rushe middle schools.
All students at the new school follow the same bell schedule, from 7:25 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.
“The first few days have been outstanding,” said Cypress Creek principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles. “Our students are enjoying their new environment and are learning the layout of the campus. Other than the normal situation of getting used to the routine, and watching to see where we need to change procedures with car loop or bus loop, etc., we have truly had an amazing first few days.”
Hetzler-Nettles also said that the campus was filled with Parent Teacher Student Association members helping students find their classes, and even Pasco Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning was on hand to help welcome the students and direct them to their new classes.
“It takes a village to open a new school,” added Hetzler-Nettles, “and our community has just been so welcoming and helpful! We couldn’t have done it without them and are excited for our future!”
Among those who helped get the teachers set up in their new digs at the school on July 26 were volunteers from the Pasco Education foundation and the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel.
At Long Middle School, one of the schools that lost students to Cypress Creek, principal Christine Wolff said, “You always miss the kids on campus that you have grown attached to, and my wish for all of our former students is to have a good adjustment and get excited for learning, and take that excitement for learning with them wherever they are.”
She says that while Long’s enrollment numbers are down slightly (1,488 students were enrolled on opening day this year, versus 1,810 last year), the school is still over capacity because of all the growth in the area.
“We did have a smooth start to the school year,” Wolff says, “And, just like all of our Pasco County schools, we’re focused on meeting our school improvement goals and making sure they (the teachers and students) are meeting the learning standards in the classroom.”
And at Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH), the 10-period schedule is a thing of the past, as many former students have new homes at either Cypress Creek Middle High or WCH.
A contentious rezoning process last year was designed to ease the overcrowding at Wiregrass Ranch while also filling the new school.
“We had a great start,’’ said WRH principal Robyn White. “We are back to the 7-period day, and while there are a lot of students on campus at the same time, it is manageable. We started day one with a little over 2,200, which was a decrease of 300 from last year.”
CORRECTION: We inadvertently omitted New River Elementary from our chart of Pasco County school grades in our last issue. We’re really sorry about that, because principal Lynn Pabst and the students and teachers at New River earned a “B” grade for the third consecutive year.