Seven Oaks Elementary School, in Wesley Chapel, has been named one of the 2019-2021 National PTA Schools of Excellence.
The accolade recognizes schools across the country which have strived to make advancements for student education in their schools.
Three Pasco County schools achieved the honor, announced over the summer. Besides Seven Oaks, the others who received recognition are Wiregrass Ranch High School and River Ridge Middle School.
Heather Buboltz, former president of Seven Oaks PTA board, was instrumental in garnering the recognition.
“Everything is focused on the kids, and how we can improve things for them and their schooling,” Buboltz said.
The PTA board, which consists of parents and school staff, routinely holds meetings.
Denise Nicholas, who is first vice president of Seven Oaks PTA and president of the Pasco County Council PTA, said principals also sit on the board and have a voice in board decisions.
Parents also get to offer input during general assembly meetings held throughout the school year. And, online polling gives parents another opportunity to offer their thoughts, too.
For instance, based on feedback calling for an increased focus on technology and communication, Seven Oaks concentrated its efforts on the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) program.
The school previously welcomed representatives from Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which helped bring science to life through the use of telescopes and activities.
Seven Oaks also had an Omegaman presentation, as part of its effort to combat bullying.
At the assembly, a live superhero offered lessons on the importance of kindness.
“It’s a really great program,” said Maria Balestriere, current president of Seven Oaks PTA. “The kids really related and had a great time with him.”
The PTA also has implemented All Pro Dads, a program in which dads accompany their kids on campus, engaging in activities and breakfast, too.
And, students stay fit while being chaperoned outdoors for Walk and Bike to School days.
Children also get a chance to learn to be more independent through the PTA’s holiday shopping on campus, which gives kids a chance to select gifts for family members.
That program, Balestriere said, gives children a chance to learn about budgeting. And, on top of that, it teaches them how to be thoughtful about other people.
“Reading Under the Stars” gives kids the chance to appreciate literature in a fun way.
During the last evening event, both the principal and vice principal of Seven Oaks read to students who were dressed in pajamas and eating s’mores.
“Programs that we find that are successful, we try and continue,” Buboltz said.
However, new ones have received positive reception as well.
The most recent Ketchup Club gets adult volunteers to sit with kindergarteners and first-graders, and help them prepare for lunch.
The Seven Oaks PTA also has partnered with other PTAs to see how each school can assist one another.
“Seven Oaks has done a phenomenal job bringing their programs, and bringing the help and support to other elementary schools here in the area,” Nicholas said.
Buboltz said that the progress Seven Oaks has made is due to everyone working cohesively and sharing ideas.
Last year, the school’s PTA board attended the Florida PTA Legislative Conference in Tallahassee.
There, they met with Pasco County officials to once again advocate for students’ best interests.
“We’re dedicated to making a difference for all these kids,” Nicholas said.
Published January 29, 2020