Thursday, November 23, 2017


Colleen Wright

Colleen Wright

Colleen Wright covers Pinellas County Schools since joining the Times in 2015. Florida born and bred, she was raised in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida.

Rita Osborn, a long-time music professor at St. Petersburg College, died on Nov. 12 at age 91. A memorial service is scheduled for Dec. 26. [Courtesy of Don Osborn]

Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

The thousands of students who signed up for Rita Osborn’s music and humanities classes at St. Petersburg Junior College knew what they had to do to pass.They could study and memorize material for tests, but they wouldn’t earn more than a C if...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Volunteer Dawn Culpepper twirls Aurie Solomon, 6, of St. Petersburg, at the Pinellas Autism Project's camp during Thanksgiving week. The nonprofit group holds social events and camps during school breaks for high-functioning children with autism, a much-needed service in Pinellas County. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Wiseman’s cell phone rings at least once a week, usually after 9 p.m., with a call from a desperate parent. The voice on the line is tired, defeated. Once again, their child was excluded from an after-school program or...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
St. Petersburg High alumni on Tuesday announced a drive to complete a $2 million campaign to pay for new athletic facilities, including an artificial turf field, a rubberized track, home and visitor concession stands and other features. [Rendering courtesy of Bob Carter]

At St. Petersburg High, alums push to complete private funding for home field improvements

ST. PETERSBURG — The athletic facilities at St. Petersburg High are just like Bob Carter remembers from 50 years ago.He recalls it all fondly: The concession stands, ticket booths and bathrooms are still the same. The track is still outdated...
Published: 11/15/17
The entrance of High Point Elementary, 5921 150th Ave. N, where a student was burned Wednesday and taken to Tampa General Hospital. Officials said Thursday the student had a lighter at school. [Pinellas County Schools]

Student burned in High Point Elementary fire had a lighter

CLEARWATER — A High Point Elementary student who was airlifted with burn injuries...
Published: 11/09/17
The entrance of High Point Elementary, 5921 150th Ave. N, where a student was burned in a fire at the school Wednesday and airlifted to Tampa General Hospital. [Pinellas County Schools]

Student burned in fire at High Point Elementary, airlifted to Tampa General

CLEARWATER — A High Point Elementary student was airlifted with burn injuries after a fire broke out at the school Wednesday afternoon.The Largo Fire Department responded to the call around 2:20 p.m. and is still investigating the cause of the...
Published: 11/08/17
The main entrance to Florida State University, where all Greek life was indefiniely suspended Monday after the death of a fraternity pledge. [Times files]

FSU suspends all fraternities, sororities following death of a pledge

Florida State University president John Thrasher has indefinitely suspended all fraternities and sororities following the death of a fraternity pledge and another student’s unrelated drug arrest over the weekend.The pause was necessary to...
Updated one month ago
JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
Puerto Rican evacuee Shamira Melendez, 4, watches

Hurricane Maria evacuees start over in the Tampa Bay area

CLEARWATER — After two weeks of no work, no income, no cell phone signal and no power, Bianca Vazquez decided it was time to leave her home in Humacao, Puerto Rico and move to Florida — permanently.She booked the first one-way flights she could...
Updated one month ago
CAPTION:  (08/10/2005 St. Petersburg)  Mug of Mac Hall, Head of Canterbury School of Florida.    Staff photo James Borchuck  STORY SUMMARY: mug of Mac Hall  (Times photo by James Borchuck)

Letters and emails show strife as Canterbury School’s board resigns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Canterbury School of Florida has been gripped in recent weeks by strife and bruised feelings over a back-and-forth tussle over who will lead the private institution over the next few years.School spokeswoman Heather Lambie...
Updated one month ago
Deborah Davis, a gifted teacher at Lakewood Elementary in St. Petersburg, explains a game called Bag of Gold to her third-grade students during a math class on fractions. The students are Zoe Chappell, 8, center, and Kemarion Tyson, 8, right. The class is part of an effort by the Pinellas County school system to identify more students who are gifted. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

In Pinellas, a push to find where the gifted kids are

ST. PETERSBURG — Six third-graders trickled into the media center and began fidgeting with colorful puzzles called tangrams. It’s how they wrap their heads around adding and subtracting fractions.They have some of the best grades and test...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas School Board member Eileen Long, a mother to a high school and middle school student, says she will sign a petition to move high school start times up from 7:05 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The online petition has generated nearly 1,900 signatures.

Pinellas school board member (and mother of a high schooler) pledges to sign petition for later start times

The new online petition pleads with the Pinellas County School Board and superintendent Mike Grego to change the high school start time from 7:05 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., just like neighboring Hillsborough County. It says scores would improve,...
Updated one month ago