The graduating eighth grade student at Weightman Middle School had no idea that her mom and assistant principal Andressa Williams had been secretly planning to change that in a big way.
They’ve been plotting with Joel, stationed in Nevada, to get him home for her middle school promotion ceremony. They were hoping that when her name was called at the ceremony on May 25, Mayah would get the surprise of her life as Joel joined her on stage.
Plans were for Joel to take a red-eye flight to arrive the morning of the ceremony and sneak in the back door of the Wesley Chapel Center for Performing Arts on Wells Rd. to be there for his little sister’s special day.
Joel is a 2015 graduate of Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH), but the last time Mayah saw him was at his graduation from basic training last August.
Because of his commitment to serve his country, Joel wasn’t able to drive her to school for her first day of eighth grade, as he had for her previous three first days of school. (See photo.)
The surprise went off without a hitch, as a shocked Mayah burst out in tears as her brother came up from behind and surprised her.
WRH Ranked Nationally
Wiregrass Ranch High has landed on the U.S. News & World Report list of 2018 Best High Schools.
Less than 30 percent of high schools in the country qualify for the list, and only four other schools in Pasco County appear on it: Land O’Lakes, Mitchell and Sunlake high schools, plus the Pasco e-School.
WRH earned a “Silver” badge, meaning it was in the top 11 percent of U.S. high schools. The U.S. News & World Report analysis ranked the school number 117 in Florida, with a 91 percent graduation rate and 37.4 college readiness ranking, out of 100.
The college readiness ranking is a measure of how many students took and passed at least one Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) test before or during his or her senior year for the last year this data is available, which is 2015-16. (It does not consider students taking dual enrollment classes, which are a popular alternative to AP classes among high-achieving students at WRH).
“I can’t tell you how proud this news makes me,” said Kurt Browning, Pasco County’s superintendent of schools. “This is a testament to our administrators’ deliberate planning, our teachers’ high-impact instruction, and our students’ hard work and focus.”
For more information about Pasco’s schools on the 2018 Best High Schools report, go to USNews.com/education/best-high-schools.
High Schools Celebrate Graduates
Congratulations to the graduating classes of Wesley Chapel (WCH) and Wiregrass Ranch (WRH) high schools.
WRH students graduated on May 24, at the Sun Dome on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida (USF). The school’s valedictorian is Sabina Grace Boddupalli, who plans to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville and major in Business Administration.
WCH’s valedictorian is Karissa Sue Olsen. After graduating with the rest of her class at the USF Sun Dome on May 25, Karissa is planning to return to USF for college, where she’ll major in Pre-Physical Therapy.
Cypress Creek Middle High School, which opened this fall, did not have seniors this year. Its first graduates will be the class of 2019 next year.
Quail Hollow Elementary Kid Cooks Fall Short At ‘Challenge’
The team from Quail Hollow Elementary (QHE; bottom photo on next page) that was one of four finalists in the fifth annual Gridiron Cooking Challenge at One Buccaneer Place didn’t bring home the trophy they coveted.
Fifth-graders Gracie Evans, Madison Gulley, Katelyn O’Neil and Lindsey Overland prepared their Alfredo Smothered Roasted Red Pepper & Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Swirls for the event, held on May 19 at the practice facility and HQ of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
But, they were bested by Lake Gibson Middle School in Polk County, which clinched the victory with its Quarterback Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa recipe.
“It’s been another impressive year by our Tampa and Central Florida schools,” said Teresa Moran-Wiebe, Dairy Council of Florida, Director of Youth Wellness. “Each team demonstrated the versatility and nutritional value of dairy products in a creative way.”
The students’ creations were judged by Florida Dairy Farmer Courtney Campbell, Executive Chef of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Michael Beadles and Publix Aprons Cooking School Chef Alan Landers.
Hosted by the Dairy Council of Florida in partnership with the NFL, the cooking challenge is a fun-filled food competition for elementary and middle school students throughout Florida and is part of the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program.
School & Hospital Partner Up
North Tampa Christian Academy (NTCA), which is under construction on County Line Rd. and set to open for the 2018-19 school year, has announced a partnership with Florida Hospital, naming it the “official health and wellness partner” of the school.
The new private school is currently being built on more than 43 acres of land. It is now accepting applications for students in grades K-12, while its on-campus preschool is accepting applications for kids ages two to pre-K.
The partnership is an obvious fit, as the NTCA is the culmination of plans that started in 2012, when the Florida Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists began working in concert with the Adventist Health System and Florida Hospital West Florida Region to establish the school in this area.
Sandra Doran, Ed. D, NTCA’s Founding Head of School, says, “We are so thrilled to have Florida Hospital joining us, as our official health and wellness partner. Our core values truly align and it’s all about the students, providing them unique healthcare opportunities both in and outside the classroom setting.”
NTCA will is inviting the local community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony, inviting the community to tour the brand-new campus, on Tuesday, July 17, 11 a.m.
For a virtual tour of the school, visit SeeThisSchool.com. An informational session for interested parents will be held on Wednesday, June 20, 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m., at Lincoln Memorial University Nursing School at Florida Hospital Health Park (3102 E. 138th Ave., Tampa). Call (813) 591-0309 for more info or to RSVP.