Middle/high school offers new possibilities

Principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles sees countless possibilities for students who will be taught at Cypress Creek Middle/High School, now under construction off State Road 52.

Students aren’t the only ones who will have new opportunities, Hetzler-Nettles said. She believes the experience will be invigorating for her faculty and staff, too.

The school is slated to begin operation in the fall, beginning with students in grade six through 11, and adding a senior class the following year.

Carin Hetzler-Nettles, former principal at Wesley Chapel High, will lead Cypress Creek Middle/High School. She has experience at both the middle and high school levels.
(B.C. Manion)

Attendance boundaries for the school were adopted on Jan. 17 by the Pasco County School Board, but the boundaries are being challenged.

The Pasco County School Board and Superintendent Kurt Browning were scheduled to meet in a closed session with school board attorneys to discuss pending litigation regarding those boundaries. That meeting was set for the morning of Feb. 7, or as soon thereafter as possible.

Meanwhile, construction continues at Cypress Creek Middle/High School.

The physical setup keeps middle school and high school students in separate areas, Hetzler-Nettles said. There will be separate physical education classes, with separate locker rooms for the age levels and genders.

There’s also a screen in the gym that will descend, to separate middle school and high school physical education classes.

Students will ride the bus together, but there will be rules, Hetzler-Nettles said.

“Middle school students will sit in the front. High school students can sit in the last 10 rows,” she said.

That practice is already being used on buses carrying middle school and high school students to other district schools, she said.

Cypress Creek Middle/High will have a high school band and a middle school band, as well as a high school orchestra and middle school orchestra.

“There might be some performances together. That will be the beauty of that school,” Nettles said.

“There is going to be a lot of awesome possibilities in terms of student mentoring,” Hetzler-Nettles said. “I can easily see ninth-graders mentoring in sixth-grader classes.

“Collaboration amongst the teachers is going to be amazing,” she added.

The school is planning to have academies in Criminal Justice, Entrepreneurship, and Engineering and Robotics.

There also will be opportunities for middle school students who have advanced skills to take academic courses at the high school level, Hetzler-Nettles said.

The principal said she has heard some concerns regarding the impact that the lack of a senior class could have on athletic programs.

She thinks it will serve as an advantage for some underclassmen.

“Your juniors will be your leaders. That’s definitely going to offer up some opportunities,” Hetzler-Nettles said.

The principal is looking forward to being able to give tours of the new school.

“The campus is just beautiful,” she said.

She also noted the quest to secure funding for a performing arts center on the campus.

“It’s a collaborative effort between Pasco County School Board and PHSC (Pasco-Hernando State College),” Hetzler-Nettles said.

The middle/high school will open with offerings in dance, theater, orchestra, band and chorus, she said.

“I think those programs will just explode, with the building of that performing arts center,” Nettles said. “PHSC is going to have classes there. It’s going to give our kids an opportunity for dual enrollment within the area of fine arts. That’s exciting.

“It’s going to be a community theater, maybe even renting it out for events,” Hetzler-Nettles said.

The principal began her teaching career as a middle school teacher at River Ridge. She has been at the helm of Wesley Chapel High School for several years.

She’s looking forward to working with both middle and high school students.

“I know that parents are worried about that combination of middle school and high schoolers, but I really see it as such a benefit,” Hetzler-Nettles said.

“Kids are kids. They’re awesome. They’re fun. I’m excited to translate what we do here at Wesley Chapel High School down into a middle school arena,” she said.

She also wants to alleviate worries that parents may have.

“I’m available for questions at any time. If they have concerns, they certainly can reach out to me,” Hetzler-Nettles said.

She can be reached at .

Published February 8, 2017

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