Oak Park Middle School hosted Fruitland Park and Beverly Shores elementary schools to help students see the great educational opportunities that await them when they move up to sixth grade and beyond. Leesburg Elementary students will visit on May 26, and Sixth Grade Camp is planned for June 2, offering everything students need to know about “Becoming a Silver Knight.”

In other good news, the beginning, concert and jazz bands along with the guitar class were also featured in the Oak Park Spring Concert on May 24 in the gym. The special guest was the OPMS Faculty Percussion Ensemble!

And the school will host a “Knight at the Museum” event on May 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Attendees will see and meet greats like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday as they take on the Clanton Gang. Bonnie and Clyde will be there too, and we might even get a glimpse of their getaway car. The Greek gods and goddesses will come down from the top of Mount Olympus to visit, and it’s rumored that Voodoo Queen Marie Lave Au will stop by as well to work her magic for one night. The price is free, but the experience is priceless. See you there!



Career Day 2016 at Leesburg Elementary School was quite the success because of our Leesburg community, caring teachers, and respectful students! Our community guests were bragging about the great behavior during their presentations.  We had a chef, a banker, a pastor, a boat captain, a race car driver, a police officer, a firefighter, and many, many, more careers represented at Career Day!

Our students had the opportunity to visit with many professionals who gave them an idea of different types of jobs and careers they may want to do in the future. The students were very inquisitive! They asked tons of questions about all of the careers.

This is a list of the presenters:

  • Wal Mart in Leesburg
  • Target in the Villages
  • Leesburg Fire Station
  • Mr. Albelo/ Direct TV& AT&T
  • Sandi Moore/Leesburg Chamber of Commerce
  • Ace Hardware/ Zach Carter
  • Leesburg Police / Sr. Officer Shannon Creshaw
  • PAWS / Joanne
  • Insight Credit Union/ Heather Turry
  • Pastor Mike from The Father’s House
  • Terry Ross Plumbing/ Clint Ross
  • Alada’s China & Gifts
  • Charter Boat Captain/ Mike Howard
  • Chef/ Barringten Foster/Dylan Foster’s dad
  • Nurse/ Erin Fletcher
  • Publix Bakery/Almeda McGrew-Baker
  • Lt. Kathy Edwards of Lake County Fire Rescue
  • Sheriff’s Office/ SWAT/
  • SWAT truck
  • Skate World/ Megan & Mary
  • Lake Sumter Community College Theater/Gary Connelly
  • SWAT/LCSO/Bill Reed
  • Head of Dispatch/LCSO/Thomas McKane
  • Ag Marine/ LCSO/Kurt Niemann
  • Chief/LCSO/Peyton Corinnel
  • IT/LCSO/ Corey Pendergraft
  • Race Car Driver/ Ricky Andreson
  • Everglades Farm Equipment Leesburg
  • Leesburg City Electric

Everyone is excited about coming next year and Leesburg Elementary School has made some new community connections!

Triangle 9 Triangle 6 Triangle 4

Specialists from Florida Hospital Waterman, including a cardiothoracic surgeon, recognized a group of elementary students after a regular school day almost ended in tragedy.

Earlier this year, a class of third grade students at Triangle Elementary School jumped into action when their substitute teacher suddenly collapsed midway through class.

“Martha Bellew was a healthy 60-year-old teacher, getting ready to teach a third grade class when she unexpectedly suffered cardiac arrest. She went down in front of a group of 8 and 9 year olds, and instead of the students getting scared or panicking, they responded to the situation. They got a school nurse, pressed the panic room button and probably within what couldn’t have been two minutes, a response team came,” said Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeon Gary Allen, M.D.

Dr. Allen was joined by the grateful teacher, and used the opportunity to teach around 100 students about cardiac arrest and what to do in case an emergency arises. It was the first time the students and faculty had seen Ms. Bellew since her heart attack, and they were excited to see her happy and healthy!

In the presentation, Dr. Allen described what happened to the collapsed teacher, the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest, and he used an automated external defibrillator to demonstrate what was used on Ms. Bellew. They learned about performing CPR and were able put the lesson to the test on a dummy while being supervised by the doctor. The students were also given the opportunity to use stethoscopes to listen to their own heart beats. The presentation was geared toward preparing students for possible future emergencies.

Dr. Allen said because of the students’ quick action back in March, Bellew was taken to Florida Hospital Waterman right away where the Emergency Team was ready for her. Bellew needed emergency triple bypass surgery, and was able to recover quickly; she was up and walking about a week later.

“I’ve done 4,000 to 5,000 heart surgeries, been in practice for 15 years and not only have I not done this but I haven’t even heard of this,” said Dr. Allen. “So it really is truly, remarkably a one in a million or one in a billion event.”

“I don’t remember much, and I don’t remember what they did,” said Bellew. “It’s just from people telling me what they did and I’m just thankful for them and for everything and going to get the people to help and for not panicking.”

Dr. Allen also gave the students useful tips on staying heart healthy themselves from the American Heart Association. The presentation ended with a pledge to follow those tips and to share the life-saving information they had learned with friends and family. The students also left with jump ropes to practice staying active and healthy.



TAVARES – Voicing concern for the safety of special education students on school buses, the Lake County School Board has voted to approve a change in how bus drivers and bus monitors can apply for summer jobs working with those students.

The vote frees up service workers’ raises that have been on hold since July 2015. The increase will appear on paychecks once the union ratifies the contract and it is approved by the board.

Previously, bus drivers and bus monitors, who assist the drivers with special education students, could apply to work in either capacity during the summer and the jobs are awarded based on seniority. Now, bus drivers will be considered for bus driver jobs based on seniority and bus monitors, who work with special education students during the regular school year, will be considered for summer jobs that allow them to continue to working with the same types of students. Those jobs, too, would still be awarded based on seniority.

The decision was made in a 3-2 vote Monday, May 23, as part of a public hearing on a Special Magistrate’s recommended decision in the impasse proceeding between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the district. School Board members Marc Dodd and Stephanie Luke voted against the change.

James J. Brady, Special Magistrate, recommended that drivers and bus monitors be able to openly bid for transportation positions based on district seniority for summer work, regardless of the specific jobs they held during the school year. The district filed a rejection of the special magistrate’s decision with the Public Employees Relations Commission on May 3.

Superintendent Susan Moxley, Ed.D., asked the School Board to accept the district’s position on the issue allowing bus drivers to bid by seniority to drive summer routes and bus monitors to bid by seniority to assist on summer special education routes. The district believes that this approach recognizes employee seniority by position while also better meeting the needs of students with significant disabilities by allowing bus monitors most familiar with the students to continue working with them during the shorter summer term.

The disagreement between the district and the SEIU, which represents bus drivers, bus monitors and other service workers, created an impasse that stalled ratification of a new contract for the employees since last summer and, thus, stalled raises for service workers as well.

To speed up the process, the district late last year offered to bypass the Special Magistrate hearing and go directly to the School Board for a decision, but the SEIU rejected that proposal. Brady heard the case on March 12, 2016, and issued a recommendation on April 15, 2016. The School Board was charged with making the final decision.


Nolan Cox of South Lake High School was recently named as Lake County Schools’ Sunshine State Scholar, an honor that recognizes Florida’s highest achieving 11th-grade science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students from high schools across the state.

The Sunshine State Scholars program is a collaboration among the Florida Education Foundation, the Florida Department of Education, the Florida College System, the state University System of Florida and the Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida.

The scholars were honored at the 2016 Sunshine State Scholars program on May 19-20 in Orlando. They were invited to learn more about the higher education and career opportunities that exist in Florida in hopes that they would remain and contribute their talents and skills here in Florida.

See the full list of Sunshine State Scholars at this link.



Third grade Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) English Language Arts (ELA) scores have been released electronically by the Florida Department of Education. Lake County Schools has uploaded individual student scores to the Parent Portal, and the scores should be accessible by end of day Friday, May 20.

Schools will receive hard copies of individual student scores in the coming weeks. Parents will be notified by phone when they are available.

Statewide, 54% of third graders scored at Level 3 or above. In Lake, 57% of third graders scored at Level 3 or above — an improvement of five percentage points over last year when 52% of Lake’s third graders scored at Level 3 or above.

See 2015 and 2016 scores for all Florida districts at this link.




Tavares Middle School shines again!  A team of 8th grade students – Lainey Smith, Thomas Kirkland and Taylor Wolf — recently participated in the 2016 eCYBERMISSION STEM competition and earned an honorable mention! The event is an internet based science fair where students compete on a national level.

The purpose of their project was to design an effective and improved cutting board that stays in place while in use. They bought a cutting board and hot-glued five suction cups to the bottom of it. Their strategy successfully minimized the cutting board’s movement when it was in use.  The original cutting board slid and average distance of 4.75 in. The new and improved product slid an average distance of only .25 in.

“This project involved STEM because we used engineering to build the design using the design process,” the students wrote in their abstract. “We used math because we had to measure the direct distance they moved when cutting. We implied technology when we answered the questions and made the graph with an app. We also used science because by adding the suction cups, we reduced the motion in the board and this would reduce cutting related injuries.”

We are proud of you, Lainey, Thomas and Taylor!


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