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Compiled by staff
The year got off to a bad start in January with the announcement that Chiefland High School, which had been an “A” school had dropped a letter during the past year. Bronson Middle/High School also dropped a letter from “B” to “C” and Cedar Key High dropped from an “A” to a “C”.
"Overall, I feel good about the grades," said School Board Chair Paige Brookins of Chiefland. She said CHS, which celebrated it's A last year, was very close to achieving it again.
The month ended with the Levy County Schools Foundation’s showcase of student talent at the STARS Gala and the naming of H.C. Henderson Jr., Chiefland High School graduate, as the Alumnus of the Year.
Longtime School Board Member Beth Davis of Cedar Key announced her retirement to make way, as she put it, for someone new. She has since opened the Salty Needle Quilt Shop in Cedar Key.
More than 200 Chiefland Elementary School students walked around the school and track before classes to train and to raise money for the 5 Points of Life Kids Marathon in Gainesville. They went to the Gainesville event and walked the last 1.2 miles.
Also, CHS announced that Shelby Beauchamp would be the valedictorian and Hailey Gerhard would be salutatorian for the graduation of the Class of 2012 in June.
The School Board also announced that Early Buddy Wyckoff of Williston High School was named Teacher of the Year. Williston Elementary School's Demeris "Dee" Arrington was selected as ESP of the year. Chiefland teachers honored were Lisa Baxter from Chiefland Elementary School, Debra Weeks from Chiefland Middle and Adam Boyd from Chiefland High. ESPs were Janie Jacobs (CES), Susie Nichols (CMS) and Linda Jones (CHS).
The board also discussed how it would abide by the Class Size Amendment to the state Constitution and avoid $600,000 in fines for having too many students in classes.
The Levy Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD) hosted its annual Speaking Contest on the topic “Should Food Crops be used for Fuel?” That was the question posed to students in grades 6 – 12. The winners were: First place in the Senior Division was Kira Telgen from Chiefland High School and first place in the Junior Division was Colton Langford from Chiefland Middle School.
In an effort to communicate sweeping reforms in state education, Florida Department of Education Chancellor Pam Stewart spoke with county academic officials and educators at an open house on April 11.
The Levy County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Florida Forest Service partnered to celebrate Arbor Day with Chiefland Elementary
School kindergarten classes. John Keyton, senior forester; Greg Marshall, Levy County forester and Dana Langford, education coordinator, Levy County Soil and Water Conservation District, helped with the event.
Each class learned about the importance of the timber industry and each planted a long leaf pine tree.
The College of Central Florida awarded Florida high school diplomas to 11 graduates in a ceremony at Tommy Usher Community Center. The class had a first in that College President Dr, James Henningsen gave the commencement address. The theme was perseverance as he congratulated the graduates for theirs and recounted how he persevered despite his sixth grade teacher's assessment. "She told my mom I wasn't good enough for college," he said. "Imagine that."
Six Levy County students are finalists for the Florida FFA Association's coveted “Stars of Florida” award. The finalists are:
• Star Discovery Degree ? Quin Johnson and Kinsey Denee’ Ward, Chiefland Middle,
• Star Greenhand Degree ? Landon Smith and John Robert Trimm Jr., Bronson; and Harold Tillis, Chiefland and
• Star Farmer ? Michael Holder, Williston.
Bronson High School students signed the Prom Promise 2012 at an event aimed at keeping students sober and safe prom night.
The Levy County School Board suspended and later fired Williston Elementary School Head Janitor Dennis Solowski after he was arrested by the Levy County Sheriff's Office for having three firearms in his vehicle parked on school grounds.
The Chiefland High School Class of 2012 said goodbye to school and the town turned out to say farewell to the class that first entered school in the new millenium ? the year 2000. The 91 graduates were addressed by Valedistorian Shelby Beauchamp and Salutatorian Hailey Gerhard.
Bronson had 66 graduates at its ceremonies at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Gainesville.
Kinsey Denee Ward of Chiefland, won the Florida FFA's prestigious STAR Discovery Award while J.R. Trimm Jr. of Bronson won the STAR Greenhand Award. Trimm's sister Sarah Tromm also was elected 2nd vice president of the state organization dueing the Florida FFA state convention.
Levy County schools received a C rating as a whole from the Florida Department of Education for the 2011-2012 school year. A more difficult set of academic standards, and the transition to meet these requirements, factored into this year's grade, said Superintendent Robert Hastings.
"This comes as no surprise given the nature of the changes," Hastings said, "We anticipated that this would happen. Overall we're very happy." Both Chiefland Middle School and Williston High School received A ratings. It is the fifth-straight year both schools have scored the highest possible grade. Yankeetown School received the county's lone B rating, slipping from A scores in 2011 and 2010. Whispering Winds Charter School and Nature Coast Middle School, also a charter school, both received C ratings. Chiefland Elementary School and Williston Elementary received C ratings as well.
Matt McLelland, former assistant principal at Chiefland High School, turns down the opportunity to be principal at Trenton High School to return to his alma mater. The move means all three Chiefland schools principals are graduates of CHS. The others are Darby Allen of Chiefland Middle School and Angelita Hastings Thomas of Chiefland Elementary School.
Chiefland First United Methodist Church holds it's annual end-of0summer bash providing students with everything from a haircut to backpacks and pencils for the coming school year.
Also, Assistant Superintendent Gina Tovine and her husband, CHS Principal Bill Tovine leave to take positions with the Orange County school system.
The new Williston High School Principal Eulin Gibbs has 12 years experience in middle and high schools prior to this move.
Dan Faircloth, a former principal for Cedar Key School, returned to that position. Yankeetown School Principal is Suzette Pelton, a former coordinator for the county's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.
Seventeen students of the College of Central Florida's Levy Center picked up their Florida high school diplomas in ceremonies at the Usher Community Center, while two more opted to receive theirs at another time. Levy Center Provost Marilyn Ladner, urged the graduates to continue their education journey and urged them to continue reading to learn.
CHS teacher Chris Wilson’s AP World History Class went 13-for-13 in passing scores on a world history exam that boasts a fail rate above 50 percent. As a result of a bet made with students, he gets a Mohawk haircut and a purple dye job from stylist Kandy McCallum.
The Levy County Schools Foundation’s 2012 Beast Feast was the most successful ever, according to LCSF Director Angela Johnson. Over 300 people dined on seafood and wild (and some tame) game prepared and donated by 60 community groups, politicians and businesses. Later they bid in a live auction that raised more than $2,000 for the foundation that gives scholarships to students and provides classroom supplies.
Chiefland Officer Alton Horne announces he will be holding a meet 'n' greet to present speeders in the Chiefland school zones with a ticket whose minimum cost is $303. He urges drivers to slow down and save on the gas.
Chiefland Elementary School students will get a new program as a result of a $500 check presented by by Melanie King Hutchison of the Chiefland Woman's Club to CES Principal Angelita Thomas. The money will be used to purchase materials for the “Too Good for Drugs” and “Too Good for Violence” curriculum.
Bronson's Taylor Eckelmann is chosen as Bronson High School's 2012 Homecoming Queen. She was accompanied by her parents, Sam and Kristin Eckelmann.
Superintendent Bob Hastings is re-elected defeating retired teacher Cindy Roach, a former head of the teacher's union. Chris Cowart is elected to the District 2 seat on the school board besting Kyle Quincey in the November general election. Board Chair Paige Brookins of District 4 was re-elected without opposition a second time.
State Sen. Charlie Dean, an alumnus of the College of Central Florida, cut the ribbon to mark the grand opening and open house at the College's School of Welding Technology at the Levy Campus in Chiefland. Joining Dean were CF President James Henningsen, Chiefland Chamber of Commerce President Bennitt Patterson, State Rep. Charlie Stone, Dean, CF Trustee Joyce Brancato, CF Levy Campus Provost Marilyn Ladner and CF Trustee Bobby Durrance.
Jeff Edison, director of administration for county schools and the person in charge of making plans for the new Williston Middle/High School, asked the Levy County Commission to help support a request for state school contruction money. Price tag for the 1,000 student facility: $50 million. Edison said the school board used a 1.5 mill utility tax to raise $6 million for the Bronson construction with the state Public Education Capital Outlay fund paying for the rest. He said the school board hopes to do the same for the new Williston school.
The school board is interviewing applicants for the attorney's position after Board Attorney Sheree Lancaster won election to the Gilchrist County Court judgeship earlier in the month.
Santa makes his appearance at Chiefland Elementary School to hear wishes and hand out candy canes.