Students ring in the 2018-2019 school year

As a new academic year begins, students heading to Florida public schools will be welcomed to campuses that are now protected by armed security.

The Florida Legislature mandated the armed guards at public school campuses across the state in response to the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 students and staff members dead, and 17 others injured.

But, the additional security is just one of many changes awaiting students at schools across The Laker/Lutz News coverage area.

Some students will be heading to entirely new campuses.

The North Tampa Christian Academy, is opening at 5619 E. County Line Road in Wesley Chapel. It will serve students from age 2 through 12th grade.

Union Park Charter Academy, a charter public school, is another new school. It is opening, at 32775 Oldwoods Ave., in Wesley Chapel. It is a kindergarten through eighth grade school, but this year will be serving only students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Meanwhile, in Land O’ Lakes, students and faculty arriving at Land O’ Lakes High School will continue to see a campus in the midst of a major makeover. There’s still a considerable amount of work left to do, but the project involves a substantial upgrade of the facility.

Students and staff at Woodland Elementary School in Zephyrhills will find a campus that has already undergone a massive makeover.

And, while it’s not noticeable yet, Zephyrhills High School is gearing up to begin a renovation that also will breathe new life into the facility.

There are changes on the academic front, too.

Cypress Creek Middle High School, in Wesley Chapel, for instance, will have its first senior class.

And, Pine View Middle School, at 5334 Parkway Blvd., is starting the new school year as Pasco County’s first authorized IB Middle Years Programme World School.

The middle school has worked long and hard to achieve the distinction, dating back to May of 2015 when it became an IB candidate school.

In addition to that new distinction, Pine View also has been named a magnet school, which means that students who live outside of the school’s attendance zone can apply to attend the school.

On another front, Pasco County Schools offers a variety of enrichment programs before and after school for elementary-age children.

The district’s afterschool enrichment department also manages five other programs.

Two of those programs are funded through 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grants. Those programs are the STAR Academy, for elementary students; and DELTA Academy, for middle school students, according to the district’s website. Both are free and are aimed at academic enrichment.
The STAR Academy programs are located at Gulf Highlands, Quail Hollow, and Rodney B. Cox elementary schools. The DELTA Academy programs are located at Gulf, Hudson, and Raymond B. Stewart middle schools.

Two afterschool fee-based programs also are being offered at some district schools.

Beyond the Bell is an afterschool program for middle school students that incorporates homework assistance, sports, music, dance, leadership development and community service activities, the district’s website says. It will be offered at Charles S. Rushe Middle School, in Land O’ Lakes and River Ridge Middle School in New Port Richey.

Explorations will be offered at Wiregrass Elementary School, in Wesley Chapel. The program operates Monday through Thursday, from 4:10 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. The program includes a variety of enrichment activities for children, such as coding and robotics, dance, Spanish, and sports drills and skills.

School’s back in session: Drive safely
As school bells ring in another academic year, motorists and pedestrians are reminded to be cautious to help keep everyone safe.

Here are some tips for drivers from AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization:

  • Observe the speed limit. School zone speed limits are purposefully set low. Children are unpredictable, and may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car.
  • Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. They’re a sign you are approaching a school zone.
  • Stop completely at intersections with stop signs.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading. Going around a stopped school bus is not only dangerous, it’s against the law.
  • Eliminate driver distraction. Keep your eyes on the road. Put your phone down, and keep an eye out for other drivers and pedestrians.
  • Plan Ahead. Build in extra time for congestion.

Published August 8, 2018

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