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August 2013

College and Career Night

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) will hold its annual College and Career Night on Wednesday, September 4 from 6-8 p.m. in the gymnasium at St. Augustine High School located at 3205 Varella Ave.

College and Career Night provides an excellent opportunity for all St. Johns County high school students and their parents to receive information on post-secondary educational opportunities. Representatives from over 70 colleges, universities, community colleges, armed services, and trade schools will be participating.

“This event is a convenient way for our students to gain exposure to several post-secondary opportunities without the expense of travel,” said Denise Faulk, director of Guidance and Choice and the event’s coordinator. “Information about the college admissions process, program offerings as well as scholarship and financial aid information will also be available.”

While College and Career Night has traditionally been targeted to seniors; juniors and underclassmen are strongly encouraged to attend. Many colleges have very selective admissions criteria and students are encouraged to start planning early.

For more information contact your school’s guidance department or call Susan Gould, Department of Guidance and Choice at (904) 547-8083.

Town Hall Meeting Location Change

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) has moved the location of one of the Town Hall meetings scheduled to discuss potential attendance zoning changes for the two new K-8 schools currently under construction and slated to open for the 2014-2015 school year. K-8 School HH is located at 475 Longleaf Pine Parkway, St. Johns, FL 32259. K-8 School II is located at 105 Greenleaf Drive, Ponte Vedra, FL 32081. Other high-growth areas may also be addressed.

The location of the meeting scheduled on Thursday, September 12 has been changed from Nease High School to Ponte Vedra High School at 460 Davis Park Road. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.

As previously announced there will also be meetings at Creekside High School, located at 100 Knights Lane, on Tuesday, September 10 at 6:30 p.m. and at Hickory Creek Elementary at 235 Hickory Creek Trail at 7:30 p.m.

Proposed zoning plans will be released at the Town Hall meetings, along with an opportunity for the public to provide comment. The same information will be presented at all three meetings. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner, School Board members and district staff will be in attendance.

“Parents and other interested parties are encouraged to attend the Town Hall meetings so that they may hear the various proposals firsthand and express their opinions,” said Mr. Tim Forson, deputy superintendent for Operations.

Opening Day 2013

The student count for the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) on opening day, August 19, 2013, was 30,503, an increase of 1,077 students or 3.7 percent over last year’s first day number of 29,426. During the past six years when many districts have seen sustained or declining enrollment, St. Johns County has continued to be one of the fastest growing counties in the state.

The high school student count was 9,654, with 1,757 students at Bartram Trail High School, 1,868 at Creekside High School, 1,294 at Pedro Menendez High School, 1,619 at Allen D. Nease High School, 1,519 at Ponte Vedra High School and 1,597 at St. Augustine High School.

There were also 169 students in attendance at St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS). SJTHS is located on the campus of First Coast Technical College and offers academic studies combined with career and vocational training.

Middle school attendance totaled 7,425, with student headcounts ranging from 596 at Sebastian Middle School to 1,306 at Fruit Cove Middle School. The other first day figures were Alice B. Landrum Middle School with 1,271, R. J. Murray Middle School with 738, Pacetti Bay Middle School with 1,025, Gamble Rogers Middle School with 769 and Switzerland Point Middle School with 1,257.

Liberty Pines Academy, the district’s only permanent K-8 school, had a first day headcount of 1,248.

The elementary school population totaled 12,818; however, this count includes less than 25 percent of the kindergarten population since schools stagger the kindergarten start date over a five-day period. Another 437 students are enrolled at the district’s alternative, charter and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) schools.

“Today was a wonderful first day of school throughout the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “I visited many schools throughout the district and the outstanding planning and preparation by principals, teachers and support staff was evident. Instruction was already taking place in the classrooms and students are eager to learn. Our maintenance and custodial staffs had the schools in immaculate condition and the food service team was very well prepared.”

“I am also very appreciative of our transportation department and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office for making sure our children got to school and home safely,” he added. “Finally, our parents are the very best and much of our success today is attributed to their cooperation and support. I am extremely grateful for the efforts of everyone to make today special and welcome students into this year’s learning environment.”

SJCSD staff will continue to monitor attendance numbers, balance classrooms and refine bus routes throughout the week.

Jeff Holt Coach of the Year Awards for Pursuing Victory with Honor

Seven of St. Johns County’s (SJC) coaches were honored with the Jeff Holt Coach of the Year Award for Pursuing Victory with Honor at the St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) Pursuing Victory with Honor Workshop held yesterday at R.J. Murray Middle School (MMS). School Board Chair Tommy Allen provided welcome remarks to the more than 200 student athletes, coaches, athletic directors and district staff that were in attendance for this workshop which promoted leadership skills and character traits. Chad Johnson, senior vice president of Sales for the Jacksonville Jaguars provided the keynote speech while breakout sessions presented by Coach Greg Stanton of Creekside High School (CHS), Coach Sherri Anthony of Nease High School (NHS) and Tim Forson, deputy superintendent for Operations were also included. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner provided closing remarks.

The following coaches received the Jeff Holt Coach of the Year Award for Pursuing Victory with Honor which was presented by Paul Abbatinozzi, director of School Services.

Coach Ben Windle recently completed his eighth year at Bartram Trail High School (BTHS) where he teaches AP history classes along with coaching the Girls Varsity Basketball Team. Windle is considered one of the top teachers in his profession and his students typically score amongst the highest at BTHS on their end-of-the-year AP tests. He administers AP review sessions to students and serves as the Social Studies Department chair. In the arena he has led the Lady Bears to one of the top girls’ basketball programs in the state. During his tenure, his teams have had a .750 winning percentage while averaging more than 23 wins per season over the last five seasons.

Coach Sabrina Hartsell’s field experience comes from playing softball at the college level. She has been involved in coaching Fast Pitch Softball for over nine years and brought her skills to the CHS Knights in 2011 where her record is 51-7. Hartsell also led the team to its first state championship game in 2013. CHS finished the year in 2013 as the state runner-up in 5A, after winning conference, district, and regional championships. Prior to coaching at CHS, Hartsell served as the head coach for The Bolles School.

Coach Brian Thomas has been the Head Baseball Coach at NHS for two years. Thomas’s overall win/loss record is 38-16. In the 2013 season, his team finished the year with a 21-5 record. In addition to athleticism, Thomas is a strong believer in family and community service and avidly supports Field of Dreams, a program for special needs children, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the American Stroke Association.

Coach Jeff Gatlin was born and raised in St. Augustine and is the Head Softball coach at Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS). He believes in teaching his athletes to learn key lessons that include the importance of family, school, hard work, humility, and being coachable and teachable throughout life. When Gatlin and his team are not on the field practicing during the season, you may find them at the St. Francis House, serving a meal together to the homeless as he tries to teach that bonding through serving others is as important as bonding on the field.

Coach Daniel Villarreal is entering his sixth year as the Head Coach of Boys Soccer at Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS). The Ponte Vedra Sharks won the 3A State Championship this past year beating American Heritage 2-0 in the final. The team finished with a 24-3-4 record and was recognized as a MaxPreps award winner with a ranking of #22 in the nation. Villarreal has been coaching boys and girls in the area for 13 years. In the past, his players have been identified and selected to the Olympic Development Program and many of them have gone on to play at the college level. Villarreal was named the 2013 Class 3A Coach of the Year and the 2013 Florida Dairy Farmers Boys Soccer Coach of the Year (all classes).

Coach David Simpkins has lived in St. Johns County for 18 years and has coached for the SJCSD in a variety of titles since 1998. Simpkins is the Dean of Students and a math teacher at St. Augustine High School (SAHS). He has been Teacher of the Year at Sebastian Middle School and SAHS, Coach of the Year for the Florida Star Conference, the St. Johns River Athletic Conference and the North-South All-Stars. Simpkins is involved with Home Again St. Johns, an assistance organization that serves the less fortunate in St Johns County. When not on the courts or attending various events at SAHS, Simpkins can be found working with needy families in the community.

Coach Bryan Hinman from St. Joseph Academy has an extensive past with baseball. He has been involved in the St. Augustine Baseball League as a volunteer and assisted the St. Johns Middle School Athletic Association to bring sports back to middle schools. He was the Baseball Commissioner for St. Johns County middle schools during its inception and was a coach on the 2008 MMS staff when they won the Southern Division Championship. Most recently, Hinman served on the SAHS Yellow Jacket’s coaching staff as an assistant to Coach McCool for two years and was a part of the 2010 team that played for a district title. He works with both PMHS and SAHS while he continues to develop the St. Joseph Academy Baseball Program.

The Jeff Holt Coach of the Year Award for Pursuing Victory with Honor is named for Jeff Holt, an incredible educator, coach and dear friend within the SJCSD. Holt was someone who epitomized what Pursuing Victory with Honor stands for and was a leader in the classroom, as well as on the field and court. He made coaches around him better and helped student athletes capture the life lessons gained from participating in athletics. He was a true mentor to many current and past coaches and administrators. Regardless of the outcome of a game, Holt always kept his athletes focused on how special it is to be a student athlete and the positive impact they can have around campus and in the community.

Town Hall Meetings

(Updated August 15, 2013)

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) has scheduled an additional Town Hall meeting to discuss potential attendance zoning changes for the two new K-8 schools currently under construction and slated to open for the 2014-2015 school year.  K-8 School HH is located at 475 Longleaf Pine Parkway, St. Johns, FL  32259.  K-8 School II is located at 105 Greenleaf Drive, Ponte Vedra, FL 32081.  Other high-growth areas may also be addressed.

The additional meeting will be Tuesday, September 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Hickory Creek Elementary School located at 235 Hickory Creek Trail.

As previously announced, there will be meetings at Creekside High School, located at 100 Knights Lane, on Tuesday, September 10 at 6:30 p.m. and at Nease High School, located at 10550 Ray Road, on Thursday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Proposed zoning plans will be released at the Town Hall meetings, along with an opportunity for the public to provide comment. The same information will be presented at all three meetings.  Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner, School Board members and district staff will be in attendance.

“Parents and other interested parties are encouraged to attend the Town Hall meetings so that they may hear the various proposals firsthand and express their opinions,” said Mr. Tim Forson, deputy superintendent for Operations.

Bus Route Postcards

Parents of all potential school bus riders should be receiving yellow postcards in the mail this week notifying them of their child’s bus number, bus stop and morning and afternoon pick-up times.

Five new bus routes are being added for this school year to accommodate growth in the Durbin Crossing and Nocatee areas as well as an increase in the number of special needs students.

The routes are available online at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/transportation/routes. Parents without access to the internet may visit any of the county public library locations, and staff will assist them in locating the website.

“Our intent is to provide the information prior to the first day of school in order to assist parents in preparing for the new school year,” said Joe Purvis, director of transportation.

There will be 166 school buses transporting approximately 19,200 children twice a day when school starts on Monday, August 19.

SJCSD Receives Exemplary School Safety Award

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) was presented with an Exemplary School Safety Award by the School Safety Advocacy Council (SSAC) at the National School Safety Conference held last week in Las Vegas. The SJCSD was one of only seven schools or school districts to receive an award out of 145 nominations; seven individual awards were also presented. The district was lauded for its efforts on taking a proactive approach to safety following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

The SSAC has been recognizing agencies and individuals at its annual conference for the last eight years. More than 560 school officials and law enforcement representatives attended the conference representing 46 out of 50 states, Canada and the Netherlands. Also in attendance were parents and representatives from Sandy Hook Elementary.

“This award is affirmation that we are doing the right things to keep our schools safe for our students, parents, teachers and administrators,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “I am extremely grateful for the work of district staff, school administration and local law enforcement to ensure that we continue our resolve to make our district one of the safest in the nation.”

School safety is paramount to the success of the SJCSD and is an integral part of the district’s daily operations. All district schools have school-based emergency operations plans, regular emergency drills, consistent safety team meetings and emergency preparedness charts posted in all offices and classrooms. In addition, through a reciprocal agreement with the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office, Youth Resource Deputies are assigned to all middle and high schools. The excellent working relationship with local law enforcement provides many opportunities to collaborate, and several school enhancements have been made to provide safer school atmospheres.

“The safety of our students is vitally important, but it is not a single agency issue. Our long-term partnership with the school distirct has enabled our deputies to intereact seamlessly with school staff, students and their parents,” said St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar. “Our law enforcement community will continue to train and enact porcedures to reduce the likelihood of school violence.”

For more information on school safety in St. Johns County schools, please contact School Safety Coordinator Steve Ray at 547-7534.