Teachers headed back to Pasco County Schools this week to prepare for the first day of school on Aug. 15.
Opening day is a big deal on every campus every year, but it will be especially meaningful at Wiregrass Elementary School, at 29732 Wiregrass School Road in Wesley Chapel because that school is having its “first” first day.
The mood across campus during a teacher move-in day last week offered a glimpse into the significance. People were focused on getting things ready — but there was an obvious excitement, too.
Like many schools, Wiregrass been counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until school starts.
This label is above the ticking clock on its website: “Countdown until Wiregrass Elementary changes the world forever.”
The opening of Wiregrass Elementary, of course, caused a shifting of school boundaries. That means some Wesley Chapel children will be experiencing their first day of school this year at at Denham Oaks Elementary, at 1422 Oak Grove Blvd., in Lutz.
The 2016-2017 school year also marks the beginning of a new S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Magnet program at Centennial Middle School at 38505 Centennial Road in Dade City.
The school will be using the Learning Active Technology Infused Classroom model, said Principal Rick Saylor. That instructional approach centers around rigor, student engagement and student responsibility.
Centennial Middle also has been equipped with new technology, offering new opportunities for students. For instance, it now has flight simulators that it will be using in its technology education class.
And now, because it’s a magnet school, it will be drawing students from outside its traditional boundaries, as well.
Pasco Elementary School, at 37350 Florida Ave., in Dade City, will be adding 50 minutes of daily instructional time for students in grades four and five, to comply with a state requirement.
In a July 18 letter posted in English and Spanish on the school’s website, Principal Nena Green tells parents: “We see this as a great opportunity for us to provide students with the additional support that they need to be successful.”
As a result of the additional instructional time, the school day for Pasco Elementary students in grades four and five will be from 8:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m., while student in prekindergarten through third grade will remain on the school’s 8:40 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., schedule.
This will be a special year at Rodney B. Cox Elementary, at 37615 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in Dade City, as the school celebrates its 90th anniversary — with festivities planned throughout the year.
While some schools are launching new initiatives, others are continuing on paths they began last year.
For instance, Wiregrass Ranch High, at 2909 Mansfield Blvd., in Wesley Chapel, will stick with a 10-period school day for the 2016-2017 school year. Next year, a new high school, now being built on Old Pasco Road, will open to relieve overcrowding.
By having a 10-period day, the school can provide a less crowded campus for most of the school day, according to Principal Robyn White
There will be some changes, though, White said. For instance, it will go back to having pep rallies during the day, instead of after school, because it found it had a higher participation rate.
It also has changed its schedule to close down one of its buildings later in the day because it found that most of the discipline issues it dealt with last year happened in that building later in the day, when there were fewer classes there.
“Typically, during passing, the teachers are standing outside the door,” White explained. When there are just a couple of classes in a building, there are fewer teachers to supervise the area, she explained.
The school will be keeping the fifth lunch period it added last year because it helped make the lunch periods more manageable, White added.
At Pine View Middle, 5334 Parkway Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes, the school will be entering its second year as an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Candidate School. The program aims to expand learning opportunities for all children, and to broaden connections by providing instruction that’s deeper and wider.
Some schools will stick with tried-and-true traditions.
Wesley Chapel Elementary School, at 30243 Wells Road in Wesley Chapel, for example, will have its annual Boohoo Breakfast.
“Whether you are saddened or excited, we would love to see you in the cafeteria on the first day of school, beginning at 9:30 a.m.” the school’s website proclaims, referring to the breakfast.
When children arrive on campus at Wesley Chapel Elementary, they’ll be greeted by Stan Mykita, the school’s new principal.
Parents who want to know more about their child’s school, how to get involved, how to help their child and details about such things as bus stops, school lunch prices and supplies, can find much of the information they need on their individual school’s website. Some information is also available on the district’s website, at Pasco.k12.fl.us.
Students entering a Florida school for the first time at any grade level, will be asked to present the following items upon registration:
- Current immunization records (vaccination requirements vary by grade level)
- Proof of a physical examination dated and signed by a licensed health professional within the last 12 months
- Proof of age, through a birth certificate or other acceptable documents
- Social Security number, if one is available.
- Proof of Florida residency, such as water, gas, electric or other utility bill; a properly executed lease agreement; or some other evidence
- Copy of the student’s last report card, if applicable
- Legal guardianship records, if applicable
Students entering kindergarten for the first time must be 5 years old before Sept. 1. Pre-kindergarten and Head Start/Early Start programs are available to students who are younger.
Help for parents
Useful information often can be found on the websites maintained by Pasco County Schools and Hillsborough County Schools. Local schools also often provide practical tips to help parents help their children succeed in school.
For instance, Connerton Elementary School, in Land O’ Lakes, offered these pointers for parents to help foster school success:
- Ensure that your child is at school on time each day.
- Attend parent/teacher conferences and school events.
- Monitor your child’s homework daily.
- Expect and support positive behavior at school.
- Read with your child or encourage your child to read daily.
Getting ready for Day 1
- Before doing your back-to-school shopping, check your school’s website to find out out what supplies are needed.
- Also, check the website to find out what time school begins and ends, the code of conduct and dress code for the school, and applications for free or reduced-price lunch.
- Information also is available through individual and district websites regarding child care, the school year calendar and transportation.
Published August 10, 2016