News Releases

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sports are valuable for kids to play

Riptides 12 U team wins Districts in 2017
This past weekend, my daughter played six games of softball and four of the games were played in one day. Yes, softball is in full season. Both of my girls play softball and they are on two teams each. One is recreation softball and the other is an extreme team, which is a travel ball team. It is quite a commitment. I know a lot of families who are on travel teams travel all over the US. We are fortunate our travel team plays within a few hours radius from home.

Randi and Graci started out playing tennis when younger.
My two daughters’ have been playing sports since they were 4 and 5 years old. The first sport they wanted to play was tennis. I think they started out with tennis because their cousins played tennis. The next sport was soccer, then T-ball, baseball and it eventually lead to softball.

Being in sports has helped my girls in so many ways. They learn how to win and to lose. They learn how to play as a team and as an individual. They learn how work for a goal. They also learn camaraderie and sportsmanship. Another benefit is they are exercising and in today's world of electronics it's important to get them some physical activity.

Since my girls have been playing softball for the past four years, it's amazing to see how their skills have developed over the years.

My husband and I always try to encourage out kids.  Sometimes they get upset if they strike out, don’t get a hit or make a bad play. When we go to baseball games or watch on television our favorite teams the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs, we can show the girls even the professionals strike out and don’t get hits every time.  We tell them even their favorite players make errors, but they don’t let it get them down and get right back in the game.

I know from my own experience that when I was playing sports and going to school, I didn’t have time to do much else. I played soccer, basketball and softball. I wasn’t good enough to go to college on a scholarship, but I still enjoyed playing.

I think it was even more important for kids to play sports in middle and high school because those are the years that kids seem to get into trouble, if they don’t have anything to do. When you are involved in sports you don’t have time to be bored and get into trouble. The other good thing is you have to keep up your grades to play sports. Most kids like playing sports, so they get good grades.

Parents try to help your kids find a sport they like to do, whether it’s a team sport or an individual sport. It can make a big difference in your child’s life and who knows they may even end up receiving a scholarship for college.
Randi and Graci at a softball game.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Know what your kids are being taught and have discussions

Today's world is so different than when I went to school. I think the biggest differences are the internet and social media. Our youth today have so much technology and in an instant they can Google something, send a text or take a photo of something or someone and sometimes not realize the consequences of their actions.

My daughter, Randi is in eighth grade and one of the classes she has to take for eight grade is health. Students in Pinellas County School's have to take health for a semester in sixth grade and in eighth grade. Most kids take health at school, but my daughter is taking it online through Pinellas County Virtual School. One of the topics recently was suicide. I have such mixed emotions about teaching suicide, even though I know suicide prevention needs to be taught. Sometimes I think it can also have the opposite affect and put ideas in kids heads.

Because Randi takes the class online she doesn't have people in a classroom setting or the teacher really to have discussions about what she sees and hears. Luckily she talks to me about her online classes. Recently she was crying after watching a video her teacher had assigned. It was a real life suicide video created by a girl who took her life after being bullied. Her name was Amanda Todd. The video wasn't the actual suicide, but it was a video the seventh grader had done with flash cards and words about her life and about the one mistake she regretted doing on social media with friends and how she was then was bullied. It was about why she didn't want to live anymore. At the end of the video it showed her wrists with cuts. It was very sad and a little much for an eighth grader to watch alone. The end of the video shows the words "I have no body. I need someone." Randi told me, "Mom, I wish I could have been her friend. I would have been her friend." It just breaks my heart for this young middle school girl who felt she had no one. I can't even imagine what her family is going through.  

I was glad Randi told me about the video and how she was feeling after seeing it. We talked about it and I told her how no matter what happens in life, nothing is worth killing yourself over. It also gave me a chance to discuss social media and let her know that we need to be careful about what we put online. The girl in the video made a mistake by taking photos of herself without clothes on and it was out on the internet. Kids need to know what they post is out there and a lot of times can't be erased.

I know the class gets into how to try and prevent suicide and what to say to a friend who may be thinking about it, so I do think kids need to know this. They also need to know tomorrow is another day and it will get better.

I really try to stay on top of Randi's online classes, but sometimes it's hard to know everything that's going on in the classes. Parents if your kids are taking online classes know what they are studying and viewing. I don't think we can ever be too careful about what our kids are being taught. Discuss with your kids their classes and what they are learning. I know sometimes what my kids are being taught in school doesn't always agree with my way of thinking. It's a way for you to have discussions about topics and to listen to your kids and also for you to give your kids advice on situations.

Just remember to instill in your kids your values and let them know how much you love them every day. They need to hear it. Today's world is tough for young kids and if they don't get it from you they will get it from somewhere else. As a parent, it is our responsibility to help our kids and be there for them.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Hoping for the best

(2/14/18 update to this story...we fnally won the lottery!!!)

Thousands of applications have gone in recently for the Pinellas County District Application Program. This program is done once a year where parents can put an application in to the school of their choice for Magnet, Fundamental or Career Academy for  the following year. It's a lottery system and this year on February 14, parents go back and log into their application and see if they were one of the lucky ones to get in. This application program has been going on for years at least as long as my two girls have been in school and they are 12 and 13 now. The problem is there aren't enough seats for every student to get their first choice, so the district does it by a lottery system.

This year, I asked how many applications were put in for the schools in Pinellas and was told 11,215 unique students completed the application. That's a lot of students!

Some of the schools around our area where parents want their children to go to are the fundamental schools like Madeira Beach Fundamental and Osceola Fundamental High. These schools are highly sought after by parents because there are almost no discipline problems at fundamental schools because if there is a discipline problem the student is not allowed to go to that school anymore. Also parent involvement is mandatory at fundamental schools. There is also a stricter dress code for students. This year there were 1,414 total applications for Madeira Beach K-5 and 1,106 for Madeira Beach 4-8 grades. 

You could almost make another school for the amount of students that want to go to this school. I remember trying to get my kids into Madeira Beach Fundamental when they were in elementary school. One time we were 450 on the list and one time number three on the list. We never got in and after a few years of trying, I decided I liked the school we were zone for which was Seminole Elementary and didn't want to move them.  I am also very happy at their middle school which is Osceola Middle.

I hear great feedback about the fundamental schools from parents and from teachers. Teachers love working at fundamental schools. My brother-in-law Mark works at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental and says it's so nice to not have the discipline problems you would have in the regular schools. Most teachers who are at fundamental schools don't want to leave. Plus parents are involved with the school because they have to be or their child can't attend the school. Obviously parents don't mind or we wouldn't see the numbers we are seeing to get into these schools.

Osceola High Fundamental is another school many parents try to get their children into for high school. This year there are 1225 applications. The school has a good reputation in the area and was the first fundamental high school in Florida and one of only a handful in the country.

My oldest daughter Randi is going into high school next year and it's a big decision of where you want your child to go their four years of high school. In my opinion a school has a big impact on kids from the teachers to the staff to the other students. I want my child going to the school I think is best suited for them. I am thankful for this application process, I just wish it wasn't a lottery system.  A new school is opening up this year in Seminole I think would be the perfect fit for Randi. It's called Tech High. This school is smaller with 150 kids only being accepted for the freshman class and has exactly what she wants to do as far as a career. They offer a vet assisting program. They also offer other programs to like building trades and construction design, commercial and digital arts, electricity, game and simulation programming and nursing.   The school is being built right now and will be ready for the 2018-2019 school year. It's seems like an ideal place for my daughter, but there are 715 applications for just a few spots. I am praying and crossing my fingers she will get in.

If you are a new parent or new to the area, you should really look into all the options you have as far as schooling for your child. I only highlighted a few schools, there are quite a few more with different opportunities for kids. There are so many choices today. A lot more than when I went to school. Parents do need to be involved though because if you aren't you will miss the opportunity to at least apply.

If you did apply don't forget on February 14-21 to log on and see if your child got into the school of their choice. You must go online and accept your invitation to the school if you received an invitation. If you don't accept it, you lose your spot.

Even Pre-K3 and VPK students can put an application in. They have until February 2. For more information about the District Application Program log onto the Pinellas County School website at or click here to go directly to the student reservation system.

Good luck!!!