As future high school parents and students arrived at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel, they were greeted by upbeat music and a slideshow featuring progress made so far on Cypress Creek Middle High School.
Parents and students had plenty of questions, and Principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles, who hosted the evening session on Feb. 15, was ready.
Before fielding the questions, though, Hetzler-Nettles took the audience on a pre-recorded virtual tour of the school, now under construction off Old Pasco Road.
Wearing a white construction hat, Nettles stepped through the school, offering details about the physical plant and future plans.
After the tour, she provided additional information through a power-point presentation, covering everything from what time school is expected to start, to what types of academic and athletic programs will be offered.
During the upcoming school year, there will be students in grades six through 11 on campus.
Projections show an estimated 840 middle school students in the coming school year, and 650 high school students, the principal said.
There are two large two-story classroom buildings on the campus, and an administration building with classroom space on the second floor, Hetzler-Nettles said.
The current plan is to house the middle schoolers in one of the large classroom buildings, with the overflow being on the second floor of the administration building, Hetzler-Nettles said.
The high school students will be housed in the other large, two-story classroom building, which is closer to the student parking lot.
A full array of academic and elective courses will be offered to high school students, and there will be three high school academy programs: Business Management, Criminal Justice, and Engineering and Robotics. Students in the academies will have the opportunity to earn certifications, too, the principal noted.
Courses offered will be dictated by student demand. If a course isn’t listed on a course card, students should write it in, the principal advised. If there’s enough demand, it will be added.
The high school athletics program will include the slate of sports available at other district high schools.
And, according to an update on the school’s website, it also will be offering lacrosse — for high school girls and boys. It will be a pay-for-play program, Nettles said.
The school will have four separate locker rooms. There will be one for high school girls and one for middle school girls. There will be one for high school boys and one for middle school boys.
The locker rooms will be separated by a coach’s office, the principal said.
The gym also will have a screen that can be pulled down to divide it so that high school and middle school physical education programs and practices can be held separately, she said.
The school also plans to have separate band programs for the high school and the middle school.
And, it plans to have a competitive marching band — an issue of apparent concern to some parents. They urged Hetzler-Nettles to hire a teacher who will not be afraid to seek out difficult competitions merely because the school will be in its first year of operation.
The principal said she got their message, loud and clear.
High school and middle school students will ride the bus together — something that already occurs at a number of district schools, the principal said. Middle school students will ride in the first 10 rows of the bus and high schoolers will ride in the back.
The school day will start and end at the same time for both middle and high school students, she said. Right now, it’s looking like school will start at 7:25 a.m. or 7:30 a.m., and will end at 1:50 p.m. or 1:55 p.m., but that is subject to change.
That concerns some parents who anticipate a traffic nightmare, as so many people arrive and depart from the campus at the same time.
The road has been widened near the school entrance, but Hetzler-Nettles said she’s not aware of any plan to widen Old Pasco Road beyond that point.
The principal also told the crowd that high school and middle school students also will eat in the same cafeteria and will use the same media center, but at different times, the principal said.
The principal has advertised half of the positions she expects to be able to fill, but can’t advertise the rest until she has firmer numbers — which likely won’t happen until at least sometime in April, she said.
While acknowledging that making the transition to high school can be difficult and that it can be tough to adjust to a new high school, too, Hetzler-Nettles told the audience that she’s excited about the new possibilities that Cypress Creek Middle High will offer. She also invited parents and students to get involved to help make the school all that it can be.
“Parents if you’re interested in volunteering, we’re going to need a lot of help. I would love it if you would reach out to me.
“Just let me know what you’re interested in helping with, or if you have no idea what you’re willing to help with, you’re just willing to help. I’m going create a list, I’m going to keep all that information, and then we’re going to be calling you up when we need help.”
She urged students to share their ideas with her.
She wants the school to be a place they enjoy and where they can thrive.
Students will help determine the school’s traditions, she said.
“The most important thing at a school is the student voice. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. School is what you make it, just as life is what you make it. I want to hear your thoughts and your opinions. You can tell me the things you want to see at your school and the things you’d really like to have,” the principal said.
Cypress Creek Middle High School
Mascot: The Coyotes
School colors: Green and yellow
For information: Visit CCMHS.pascok12.fl.us
If you have questions, suggestions or want to volunteer, call Principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles at (813) 346-4401 or email her at .
Published March 1, 2017