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February 2012

SAHS Student Earns First Place in SCAD Fashion Challenge

St. Augustine High School (SAHS) and St. Johns County Center for the Arts (SJCCA) 12th-grade student Rebecca Cunningham received the First Place Platinum Award in the worldwide Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Fashion Challenge. Her design will now be a permanent addition to the SCAD Challenge online gallery. In addition, Rebecca was rewarded a scholarship for $3,000 a year to attend SCAD.

This year, the SCAD Challenge fashion design competition called for bold, fashion-forward original garment designs that were created using non-traditional materials rather than fabric. From more than 100 entries worldwide, the SCAD Challenge mentors selected 21 finalists whose work exhibited ingenuity, highly developed fashion sensibilities and a willingness to take risks with unfamiliar materials. A panel of faculty judges reviewed the finalists’ garment designs and chose the winner whose work exhibited the greatest potential for success as both a SCAD student and creative professional.

Rebecca’s garment consisted of magazine pages, duct tape, and dryer lint. Model Katrina Harrison modeled the dress at “The Laundry Room” in St. Augustine and was photographed by Olivia Hutcherson with creative assistance from Amelia Hutcherson.

Rebecca has studied under art teachers Amy Banton of Murray Middle School and David Olson of SAHS and credits them and the SJCCA greatly for their guidance throughout her artistic career.

Rebecca plans on attending SCAD and majoring in Fashion Marketing and Management.

19th Annual Chocolate and Beyond Gala

The 19th Annual RSVP Chocolate and Beyond Gala will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. on Saturday, February 25 at First Coast Technical College located at 2980 Collins Ave. in St. Augustine. The theme for this year’s event is “The History of Chocolate.”

A sampling of savory delicacies including chocolate, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts will be available from many of the area’s finest restaurants and specialty shops. A live and silent auction, raffle and door prizes will also be featured.

The Chocolate and Beyond Gala is hosted by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of St. Johns County, and all proceeds will benefit the program. Proceeds from the gala will be used for volunteer recognition and recruitment, as well as the purchase of book bags for students through the Early Learning Coalition of Putnam and St. Johns counties.

Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased at the following St. Augustine locations: Cold Cow Ice Cream (U.S. 1 South), Whetstone Chocolates (Anastasia Island and King Street locations), and Community First Credit Union (north Ponce de Leon Boulevard). Tickets are also available at select Community First Credit Union branches in the greater Jacksonville area. For payment by credit card, questions or more information please call 904-547-3945.

Sponsors for the gala include FPL, Signs Now, “The St. Augustine Record,” and the St. Johns County School District.

2012 St. Johns County Teacher of the Year

Emily Senko, a Spanish teacher at Pacetti Bay Middle School (PBMS) is St. Johns County’s 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner at the annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration held last night at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. She will go on to compete in the 2013 Florida Department of Education-Macy’s Teacher of the Year.

Melanie Lawson of WJXT-Channel 4 was the emcee. The St. Johns County Education Foundation (SJCEF) presented the celebration to recognize excellence in the teaching profession and THE PLAYERS was the gold sponsor for the event.

Senko has been the Spanish teacher at PBMS since 2009 for grades 6-8. She possesses eight years of teaching experience with three in St. Johns County. Having completed the International Baccalaureate training, Senko facilitates the integration of this philosophy by leading meetings and training sessions throughout her school. She also serves as a Professional Learning Community Leader, organizing professional growth and vision for others.

Senko’s emphasis on real world application by integrating history and culture into language lessons helps her students to increase their linguistic fluency. She is the only foreign language teacher at PBMS and she teaches approximately 228 students. In order to meet the needs of her students, she utilizes technology to provide differentiation and cultural awareness. Senko works with beginning Spanish students, others who have had some exposure to the language, and those who are heritage Spanish speakers. It is imperative to her that lessons are tailored to meet the individual needs of her students.

She serves as a leader at PBMS in many capacities and is strongly involved in the school’s International Baccalaureate program. Senko serves as a coach for the basketball team inspiring young players to demonstrate character skills in addition to athletic skills and has helped to design murals throughout PBMS to promote an atmosphere of international mindedness.

“Ms. Senko’s dedication to students extends beyond the classroom,” said PBMS Principal Sue Sparkman. “She models strong character each day and all students, as well as adults, in the building respect her as a leader.”

She added, “Her support and enthusiasm allows her to easily build camaraderie and morale with others.”

In addition to recognizing the St. Johns County Teacher of the Year, the SJCEF honored Rookie Teachers of the Year. This was the fourth year the Foundation recognized exceptional teachers with three or less years of teaching experience.

The 33 candidates, nominated in most cases by their peers, completed a process similar to that used for Teacher of the Year. Each submitted an application packet and participated in an individual interview conducted by a panel of retired educators.

The 2011-2012 St. Johns County Rookie Teacher of the Year is Heather Clubb, a fifth-grade teacher at Wards Creek Elementary (WCE). Clubb believes that “laughter is the key to her classroom.” She graduated from Flagler College, and in 2009 started her teaching career at South Woods Elementary as an RTI instructor. She worked primarily with fourth-grade RTI students in small group settings implementing scientifically based interventions in order to help them be able to perform on grade level with their peers. She has also worked in the after school and Saturday school tutoring programs. In August of 2009, Clubb began teaching departmentalized fifth-grade Language Arts at Wards Creek Elementary.

In addition to her educational experiences with the school district, she has been a member of the educational staff at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm for the last three summers. There she has worked with camps and educational programs that are designed to teach children not only about animals found at the zoo, but also about the environments they inhabit. She is also very active in the youth ministry program at Anastasia Baptist Church, and serves as a mentor for teenage girls. She is also involved in Kids Praise, a musical group that meets weekly at her church and has had the privilege of leading over 150 first- through fifth-graders in an interactive time of singing and moving.

“There are such amazing teachers at Wards Creek Elementary and throughout the district, and Ms. Clubb is the perfect representative for this honor,” said WCE Principal Edie Jarrell. “She is a passionate, caring teacher and a true gift to our profession.”

Both the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year and the Rookie Teacher of the Year will be recognized at the March 13 School Board meeting.

Gifts were provided to the Teachers of the Year and the Rookie Teachers of the Year from several area businesses and organizations including THE PLAYERS; the Four Star Association Inc.; St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth, C.F.C; and the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. This event was made possible by the St. Johns County Education Foundation with monetary or in-kind support from Gold, Silver and Copper sponsors including THE PLAYERS, Leonard’s Studio, Bozard Ford, Community First Credit Union, Flagler College, Florida Power and Light, the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, Merrill Lynch, and Northrop Grumman.

2012 Science Fair Winners

Joseph Paul of Ponte Vedra High School won top honors in the Senior Division of the 2012 River Region East Science Fair held last week at First Coast Technical College. “Depletion of pgrn-1 Induces Cleavage of Exogenous Human TAR DNA Binding Protein-43 in C Elegans” was the title of his project.

Adam Snowden of Landrum Middle School won best overall in the Junior Division. Alex’s project was entitled, “Creating a Sound Activated Music performance Timer, Phase 2.”

Approximately 130 science projects represented by 156 participants were involved in the River Region East Science Fair. The overall winners will be recognized at the School Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 13.

Participating middle schools included Fruit Cove Middle School (FCMS), Landrum Middle School (LMS), Liberty Pines Academy (LPA), Murray Middle School (MMS), Pacetti Bay Middle School (PBMS), Gamble Rogers Middle School (GRMS), Sebastian Middle School (SMS) and Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS). Also participating were Palmer Catholic Academy (PCA), Cathedral Parish School (CPS), and Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB).

Participating high schools were Creekside High School (CHS), Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS), Nease High School (NHS), Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), St. Augustine High School (SAHS), and St. Johns Virtual School (SJVS).

The category winners are listed below.


1st Place- Rina and Sonia Samant –PVHS
2nd Place- Conner Clukey-NHS
3rd Place- Charley Hillis-PMHS
Honorable Mention-Kiel Parker and Matthew Carter-PMHS

Math/Engineering/Computer and Earth Sciences
1st Place Engineering- David DiMare-PMHS
1st Place Computer Science-Kurt Hennigar-SJVS
2nd Place- Alexa Burch-PVHS
3rd Place- Erol Bahadiraglu-SAHS
Honorable Mention-none
Medicine and Health Sciences
1st Place (tie)- Caroline Snowden- PVHS and Joseph Paul- PVHS
2nd Place-Lucy Ford-PVHS
3rd Place-Zachary Quicksall-PVHS

1st Place-Maya Goldman-PVHS
2nd Place-Christopher Barrington-CHS
3rd Place-Steven Bew-NHS
Honorable Mention-Joey Andreola-CHS

Zoology/Botany and Environment
1st Place-Victoria Williams-PVHS
2nd Place-Taylor Smeland-PMHS
3rd Place-none
Honorable Mention (tie)-Kaleigh Kessler- PVHS, Lexi Schur-PVHS, and Olivia Beech-PVHS


Behavioral Sciences
1st Place-Wilson Erickson and Sam Still-LMS
2nd Place- Paige Eastland-LMS
3rd Place- Katelyn Gray-FCMS
Honorable Mention-Tyler Hagedoorn-GRMS

1st Place-Gabriela Castello-LMS
2nd Place-Sanjana Bhargava and Elsa Ingwersen-MMS
3rd Place-Brandon Starner-PBMS
Honorable Mention-Caitlyn Hutchings-MMS

Engineering Sciences
1st Place-Adam Snowden-LMS
2nd Place-Perry Bechtle-LMS
3rd Place-Nicholas Platt-SMS
Honorable Mention- Cameron Adams-PBMS

Energy Physics Sciences
1st Place-Brighton Ancelin-FCMS
2nd Place-Patrick Farrar-LMS
3rd Place-Christian Metcalf-PCA
Honorable Mention-Theodore Cheng-FCMS

1st Place- James Carpenter-FCMS
2nd Place- Dawson Nevin-LPA
3rd Place-Kyle Sowards-CPS
Honorable Mention (tie)-Hope Diaz-FCMS and Megan Wolf-FCMS

Materials Physics
1st Place-Dylan Tovey-MMS
2nd Place-Noah Ari-LMS
3rd Place-Daniela McCarty-SPMS
Honorable Mention- Amy Dantin-PCA

Medicine and Health
1st Place- Ava and Audrey DuBose-FCMS
2nd Place-Cynthia Hund-CPS
3rd Place-Chloe Carames-PCA
Honorable Mention-Tanner Aichele-LPA

Sports Physics
1st Place-Kaitlin Haines-LPA
2nd Place- Matthew Hill-MMS
3rd Place- Jonathan Magiske and Anthony Taylor-LMS
Honorable Mention-Ethan Dudley-LPA

Zoology and Botany
1st Place Zoology/Biology- Harrison Snowden –LMS
1st Place Microbiology- Daniel McIntosh-PBMS
2nd Place- Divya Mahesh-PBMS
3rd Place- Joseph Sarci-PCA
Honorable Mention-none

Twenty-four students representing nine schools were selected to go on to compete at the State Science Fair scheduled April 3-5 in Lakeland. Science Fair Director Mark Lewis is coordinating the trip.

The participants are listed below:

Wilson Erickson, LMS
Sam Still, LMS
Perry Bechtle, LMS
Audrey DuBose, FCMS
Ava DuBose, FCMS
Brighton Ancelin, FCMS
James Carpenter, FCMS
Daniel McIntosh, FCMS
Dylan Tovey, MMS
Adam Snowden, LMS
Harrison Snowden, LMS
Gabriella Castello, LMS
Kaitlin Haines, LPA
Chris Barrington, CHS
Joseph Paul, PVHS
Lucinda Ford, PVHS
Kurt Hennigar, SJVS
Rina Samant, PVHS
Sonia Samant, PVHS
Maya Goldman, PVHS
David DiMare, PMHS
Alexa Burch, PVHS
Caroline Snowden, PVHS
Victoria Williams, PVHS

Joseph Paul was also selected to represent St. Johns County at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on May 13-18. FPL is donating $400 to defray the cost of travel for Joseph and his chaperone to attend this event. In addition, FPL awarded $50 each to Adam Snowden and Joseph Paul as the overall junior and senior winners, respectively.

Northrop Grumman provided a “Going Green Award” to two projects exhibiting the greatest potential for sustainability. The award consisted of $50 to each student, and $450 to each student’s school for a sustainability project. The winners were David DiMare of Pedro Menendez High School for the Senior Division and Kyle Sowards of Cathedral Parrish School for the Junior Division.

The annual River Region East Science Fair is an academic competition designed to challenge students to meticulously apply science process skills and content knowledge in order to investigate scientific questions of their own choosing. Participants also experience the importance of practicing science ethics and responsibility on a personal level.

Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year for Region II

Douglas Griswold, an eighth-grader at Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS), has been selected as the Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year for Region II by the Florida Department of Education. This honor makes Douglas one of the top five youth volunteers in the state.

In fifth grade Douglas became a teacher’s assistant at Cunningham Creek Elementary (CCE), working with children in the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classroom. He enjoyed working with the students so much that after beginning middle school he came back to CCE after school and continued working with these children. For the last three years, he has been working with these students whose needs vary. He is dedicated to making a “heart connection” with each child to help foster a wonderful relationship and successful advancement in areas of communication and daily living skills. He also chooses to use his elective class time at SPMS working with students with special needs.

“Douglas exudes as much enthusiasm for the children he works with as they express in their faces and actions when he enters the room,” said Sharon Oliver, extended day coordinator at CCE. “His patience and determination to make a difference with the children he so dearly admires is shown on a daily basis.”

In addition to the service that Douglas humbly provides to the ESE students, he performs in the SPMS and the Mandarin Methodist Players. He serves through his youth program and youth choir at church, is a member of the National Junior Honor Society at SPMS, and has participated in Dreams Come True. On his own time, Douglas has read books and done research so that the can be even more effective with ESE students. He has also researched college information as he prepares to fulfill his life goal of working with special needs children by becoming a Pediatric Physical Therapist.

“Douglas has passionately served students having special needs in St. Johns County,” said Superintendent Joseph Joyner. “He is very deserving of this honor and an outstanding example to us all.”

Naming of Elementary “L”

The St. Johns County School District has begun the process for naming its newest elementary school. Elementary “L” Principal Don Campbell is collecting input from the public to name the school and suggestions can be sent via email to [email protected] or by calling 904-547-4012 and leaving a message with the suggested name. Input from the public will be accepted until Thursday, February 23. The School Board will officially name the school at the School Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 13.

Elementary “L” will open for the 2012-2013 school year. The school is being constructed at 355 Palencia Village Drive. The 738 student school will contain approximately 100,000 square feet and 44 classrooms. Movable walls will open to create flexible-sized classroom spaces and enable teachers and paraprofessionals to work cooperatively to facilitate learning for students through a variety of activities. Elementary “L” will also include state-of-the-art technology and is being built to Green Building Standards.

For additional information on Elementary “L” visit