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Rhonda_Image1Eustis Heights Elementary School Principal Rhonda Hunt has been named Florida’s Principal of the Year!

The state’s top administrators were announced yesterday in a ceremony at the Commissioner’s Summit for Principals.

Hunt has been a principal for 10 years, during which time she has been involved in a new school opening, establishing parent-teacher organizations, building mentoring programs and drafting grant applications that have benefited her students. She is described as an exemplary instructional leader and has been commended for empowering her teachers to be leaders. Under her leadership, Eustis Heights has improved its school grade from an F to a C (based on 2014-15 simulated school grades).

The other finalists in the Principal category were Tamie Stewart of Parkside Elementary in Collier County and Steven Royce of Tara Elementary in Manatee County.

“What Rhonda Hunt has done at Eustis Heights is nothing short of outstanding,” said Susan Moxley, Ed. D., superintendent of Lake County Schools. “She has a way of inspiring and bringing out the best in her students, faculty and staff. Parents and the community as a whole have supported her efforts. Together, they have done what’s best for students and produced tremendous results. To say Lake County Schools is proud to have her on our team is an understatement. She represents the best of Lake County Schools and we are excited that she is being recognized statewide for her success.”

Chad Frazier, assistant principal at Eustis Heights, was a finalist for the state’s Assistant Principal of the Year award along with Kahlil Ortiz of Dommerich Elementary in Maitland. Anne Bieber, assistant principal at Vero Beach High School, received that honor.

Frazier’s colleagues expressed an appreciation for his passion for learning and willingness to take on challenges toward an identified goal, as well as his dedication to creating innovative solutions. In just one year, he has already made an impact on Eustis Heights. With the support of his principal and through collaboration with school faculty, Frazier was able to reduce truancy by 50 percent during the 2014-15 school year.

“Mrs. Hunt and Mr. Frazier are a great team,” Dr. Moxley said. “We are thrilled for both of them.”

As recipient of the 2016 Principal of the Year award, Hunt will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and $1,000 for her school. The 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and $500 for the school.

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lweekFour schools in Eustis were notified this week that they, as a team, have won either 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in a statewide literacy-civic service contest. The formal announcement will be made later this month in Tallahassee.

A group of 20 student ambassadors from Eustis Heights and Eustis elementary schools, Eustis Middle School and Eustis High School teamed up for literacy last month and began writing an alphabet book with members of the community. They will come back together on Friday, Jan. 15, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Eustis Heights to complete the narrative, add pictures and put the final touches on the book which, when finished, will highlight strategic points of interest in Eustis.

The project was submitted as an entry to the statewide Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! Literacy-Civics Service contest, and the schools learned this week that they are a winner of either a $25, $500 or $1,000 prize.

The Eustis schools plan to use the money they win to get their book published so they can present copies to local day care centers and pre-schools.

Florida First Lady Ann Scott will present the awards at a ceremony on Jan. 28 at the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee. In addition, Eustis Mayor Michael Holland will read a proclamation on Jan. 21, when the student ambassadors will present the book to the city commissioners. Mayor Holland will declare Jan. 27, 2016, as “Read Across Eustis Day,” part of the statewide designation of January as “Read Across Florida Month.” The students will travel throughout Eustis to read the book they created, helping to instill a love of reading and an appreciation for the Eustis community.

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 The Eustis Elk Lodge will join elementary students and their teachers on Thursday, July 23, to celebrate the last day of a five-week summer reading program the group helped support with a $2,000 grant. The Elks will grill hot dogs for the students and co-host a ceremony where each student will receive a certificate of participation. The program was a summer school offering for 100 students from Eustis Heights and Eustis elementary schools who needed extra time and support to maintain and strengthen reading skills during the summer break. Students were able to take home a new book each week of the program, which was held at Eustis Heights Elementary School. The celebration begins at 10:30, the ceremony begins at 11:00 and a grilled hot dog lunch will be served immediately after the ceremony.

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Mediacap007After about a year and a half of construction, the wait for students to move into the new Eustis Heights Media Elementary School building is over. Monday, May 4, is moving day, and this week students are getting prepared.

Teachers are helping students tour the new 93,000-square-foot structure. Students in third through fifth grade will find their classrooms in the new building. The newest section of the old building, which is only 14 years old, will be remodeled this summer for students in kindergarten through second grade. Together, the two buildings will make one new campus for Eustis Heights Elementary.

The school will feature three computer labs, a newsroom from which WEHES school news crew will broadcast the latest happenings on campus, and a music room with a petite grand piano adjacent to a stage with theater lighting. Eustis Heights, a STEM school focused on science, technology, engineering and math, has a science lab that will be available to students at every grade level for weekly activities. It also has a media center with a cozy storytelling nook and 21 classrooms, each with five desktop computers and a 65” interactive flat-screen television.

Students and teachers are packing their belongings and continuing their tours this week. On Monday, May 4, the new building will officially open. The school will celebrate all week long with a few of the students’ favorites – a chicken-and-biscuit breakfast Monday morning and pizza and cookies Monday afternoon.

“We are very excited about our new school,’’ said Principal Rhonda Hunt. “The students have waited a long time for this. That’s why it was so important to us that we move this school year instead of waiting until next year. We wanted our fifth-graders to have the opportunity to attend after watching the construction for so long. They will be our first class to graduate from the new school building.”

And what do the students think about the big move? “It’s awesome,” one group shouted in unison on a recent tour.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES:
• Students touring new school site, April 29 – May 1
• Students and teachers packing old classrooms in preparation for move, April 29 – May1
• First day of school in new building, May 4

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List-of-childrens-booksEustis Heights Elementary School faculty and Lake County Schools district leaders will take a bus ride through Eustis on Saturday, April 18, making stops along the way to greet students with free books!

“This is a way for us to continue to build relationships with our families at Eustis Heights Elementary School and to help our students build their reading home library,’’ Principal Rhonda Hunt said.
School officials have taken the bus ride before, stopping to chat with students and their families, but this is the first time they have included a distribution of books.
The ride will follow two of the school’s largest bus routes. Faculty and district leaders will board the bus at the school at 9:30 a.m. and make the following stops:

·        10:10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Rose Lane

·        10:25 a.m. to 10:35 a.m. Johnson Street

·        10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. Getford Street

·        10:50 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Selleen Drive

·        11:05 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Wall Street (Tall Pines)

·        11:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Bates Avenue

·        11:35 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Glover Street

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Several Lake County Schools students are among the winners of the Lake County Library System’s 16th annual Bookmark Design Contest. The winning bookmarks soon will be available to view and print from the library system’s web site, http://www.mylakelibrary.org.

The presentation of awards will take place during the BookFest Authors’ Reception on Friday evening, March 13, at W. T. Bland Public Library in Mount Dora. The 16 winning designs will be available at the event and distributed to all 15 Lake County Library System public libraries.

The Bookmark Design Contest winners are as follows:

Elementary School:
1st Place: Mai Nguyen, Sorrento Elementary School
2nd Place: Brianna Rodriguez, Lost Lake Elementary School
3rd Place: Madisyn Cassidy, Lake Prep School
4th Place: Kiana Morrow, Eustis Heights Elementary School

Middle School:
1st Place: Sarah Mehdinia, East Ridge Middle School
2nd Place: Sharuina Leonard, Mount Dora Middle School
3rd Place: Joshua Oscar Guerrero, Four Corners Charter School
4th Place: Alberto Escalera, Mount Dora Middle School

High School:
1st Place: Elvina Roberts, First Academy Leesburg
2nd Place: Sarina Young, Home Life Academy
3rd Place: Katherine Hacic, Mount Dora High School
4th Place: Anna Bergholtz, Mount Dora High School

Adult:
1st Place: P. J. Commerford, Leesburg, FL
2nd Place: Pam Franciose, Mount Dora, FL
3rd Place: Courtney Gainer, Grand Island, FL
4th Place: Daphne Baxter, Mount Dora, FL

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Students from 22 public and private schools in Lake County will compete next week in the 2015 Lake County Spelling Bee.

The local competition is part of the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Every year, tens of thousands of schools enroll in the program. During the fall and winter they conduct spelling bee programs at the classroom, grade and/or school level, and send their spelling champions to the next level of competition as designated by their local spelling bee sponsors.

In Lake, first-place winners from each participating school will compete in the county spelling bee, which is being coordinated by Lake County Schools’ Academic Services Unit in partnership with The Orlando Sentinel. The Golden Triangle Kiwanis in partnership with the Educational Foundation of Lake County will present the winner with a $100 check, and the runner-up will receive a $50 check.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 27, at the Eustis Community Center, 601 Northshore Drive, Eustis FL.

Participating schools are listed below:

Cecil E. Gray Middle             Imagine South Lake Charter          Seminole Springs Elementary
Christian Home and Bible     Lake Preparatory                           St. Paul’s Catholic
Clermont Elementary            Lost Lake Elementary                    Tavares Middle
East Ridge Middle                 Minneola Elementary Charter        Umatilla Middle
Eustis Elementary                 Montverde Academy                      Villages Elementary
Eustis Heights Elementary    Mount Dora Middle                         Windy Hill Middle
Eustis Middle                        Oak Park Middle
Groveland Elementary          Sawgrass Bay Elementary

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