‘Mr. Don’ provides safety and encouragement

On weekday mornings and afternoons, Don Niles ushers students to safety at Double Branch Elementary School in Wesley Chapel. Officially, Niles is the school’s crossing guard. But, the 76-year-old is much, much more to students and faculty. Known as ‘Mr. Don’ to the Double Branch community, Niles is known for going the extra mile to forge relationships and lend an ear to … [Read more...]

Local volunteer wins national award

When Courtney Urban began volunteering at the Gulfside Hospice Thrift Shoppe, at 1930 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., in Lutz, it was just a way to spend some extra time with her grandmother. “The big thing in the beginning was just going with her,” said Urban, who began her volunteer work in 2013. “But then it became my own thing. I loved going there. When I got to be the cashier, it was fun to … [Read more...]

Lessons learned from Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria left a trail of death and destruction and continues to impose extreme hardships to those living in its path — and it also offered the Zloty family of Land O’ Lakes, dramatic reminders of the power of faith, the fragile nature of life, and the importance of gratitude. Hurricane Maria’s impact on Colleen and Martin Zloty’s family began on Sept. 18 when they heard a hurricane … [Read more...]

Changes afoot, as school bells ring in a new year

School bells are summoning students back to classes in Hillsborough and Pasco counties — and some students will be attending classes on entirely new campuses. Sunlake Academy of Math and Science, a new public charter school in Hillsborough County, begins its inaugural school year on Aug. 10. It is located at 18681 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz. Meanwhile, Pasco County is opening Bexley … [Read more...]

Wiregrass, Pasco high schools chart big enrollment gains

Hordes of Wiregrass Ranch High School students head to portable classrooms each morning, as the school copes with an enrollment of 2,255. The school now has 30 portable classrooms, and must have four lunch periods to accommodate its swelling enrollment, said its principal, Robyn White. The high school, at 2909 Mansfield Blvd., in Wesley Chapel, had 165 more students this year than last, as … [Read more...]