In response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced that all students in Gulf and Washington counties are eligible for free school meals through the National School Lunch Program from now through Nov. 30, 2018, in addition to other flexibilities to best serve students. [Read more…] about Following Hurricane Michael, All Students in Gulf and Washington Counties Are Eligible for Free School Meals
Outstanding African-American students in the Duval County Public Schools were honored for academic excellence and community impact at the 34th annual High Potential Youth Recognition Awards Program last night at the University of North Florida Fine Arts Center Lazzara Performance Hall.
The top eight high school seniors received one-time academic scholarships and include Sandrilla Awad Elkarim, Atlantic Coast High School; Eric Mitchell, Paxon School for Advanced Studies; Alonna Turner, Alexis Williams and Victoria Laws, Robert E. Lee High School; Nkosi Alexander-Williams, Sandalwood High School; Mahelet Dalke, Samuel W. Wolfson High School; and Sydney Lewis, Stanton College Preparatory.
Alexander-Williams and Awad Elkarim are also committed to attend UNF and are recipients of the Jacksonville Commitment Scholarship. Awad Elkarim has a 4.0 recalculated GPA and was also presented the Dr. Caroline Annette Cody Memorial Scholarship Award, while Alexander-Williams, who graduated with a 4.73 recalculated GPA, enters the UNF Hicks Honors College with an associate’s degree.
UNF presented scholarships along with the Dr. Caroline Annette Cody Memorial Foundation, Dr. James A. Joyner, III Memorial Foundation, The Gary Legacy Scholarship, Ralph and Jeannine Frasier Scholarship and the Jack and Jill of America. A new scholarship, the Conqueror’s Award, was awarded to honor exceptional students with learning disabilities who have conquered some of life’s greatest challenges.
More than 830 students with a GPA of 3.50 or above were invited to the program and were recognized with gift certificates and prizes. Melanie Lawson, WJXT Ch. 4 morning anchor, served as the master of ceremonies, while Charles Griggs, 100 Black Men of Jacksonville president, gave the keynote speech.
The program is a joint venture between UNF, DCPS and Gamma Beta Boule, the local member boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. Business partnership donors are PGA TOUR, Inc., Florida Blue, The Gary Firm, The Renaissance Group and Southern King Holdings, LLC.
Since its inception 34 years ago, the annual High Potential Youth Recognition Awards Program has honored the top African-American students in Jacksonville. Through partnerships and joint ventures, it has provided more than $1 million in scholarship money to honor students for outstanding academic achievement and extracurricular community involvement.
Governor Rick Scott today signed the budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year and vetoed $410 million in legislative projects that do not provide a great return for Florida families. Additionally, Governor Scott vetoed the Florida Educational Finance Program (FEFP) funding portions of the budget. Governor Scott is also vetoing HB 5501 which decreased funding to VISIT FLORIDA by over 60 percent. The Governor’s full budget veto list will be released later today.
Governor Scott is calling a special session to discuss the following measures beginning on June 7, 2017 and ending on June 9, 2017 (click here to view the proclamation):
Funding for Florida’s K-12 students through the FEFP: Governor Scott is calling on the Legislature to provide an additional $215 million to K-12 education than previously authorized. This would increase the per student funding by $100.
Florida Job Growth Grant Fund: Governor Scott is proposing to establish the new Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to promote public infrastructure and individual job training which will encourage more businesses to choose Florida as a destination to grow jobs. Governor Scott is calling on the Florida Legislature to fund it at $85 million.
Increase VISIT FLORIDA Funding: Governor Scott has been focused on funding VISIT FLORIDA at $76 million in order to bring more tourists and support for Florida small businesses. The Governor is calling on the legislature to pass legislation that funds VISIT FLORIDA at a total of $76 million and includes comprehensive transparency and accountability measures at the organization.
Governor Scott said, “Florida’s students deserve the very best and we must always do everything possible to provide them with the resources they need to get a great education. It is my goal that a total of $215 million more is allocated to the FEFP which is a $100 per student increase over current year funding during the upcoming legislative session. Our students are the future of our great state and I know Speaker Corcoran is committed to our students, parents and teachers and ensuring Florida offers a world-class education to students at all levels.
“In addition to our common focus on ensuring a world-class education for Florida’s students, Speaker Corcoran understands the importance of ensuring future economic growth for Florida’s economy. Today, I am announcing that I intend to veto HB 5501 relating to Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA. While I believe very strongly in these programs and their ability to help bring more jobs to Florida, there needs to be a new bill relating to these organizations and how they operate.
“During the special session, I am calling on the Florida Legislature to consider new legislation that funds Visit Florida at $76 million. Additionally, I am proposing to establish the new Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to be funded at $85 million to promote public infrastructure and individual job training which will encourage more businesses to choose Florida as a destination to grow jobs. I have fought for jobs since my very first day in office and I do not intend to stop and this new fund will give our state the tools we need to compete with other states and nations for jobs. Like the Legislature, I strongly believe in transparency, accountability and a strong return on investment for any taxpayer dollars used. There needs to be legislation that allows us to market our state for tourism and grow jobs while maintaining these important principals. I look forward to working with the legislature during the upcoming special session to achieve these important goals for Florida families.”
Speaker Richard Corcoran said, “I am proud to stand with Governor Scott as we fight for continued strong job creation, giving every child a competitive and world class education, ensuring Florida competes as a tourist destination, and faithfully stewarding taxpayer dollars — goals that unify us.
“The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund will create both public infrastructure and job training and put taxpayers in the driver’s seat. All Floridians know that Governor Scott is committed to jobs. His willingness to work with us on this new model for economic development demonstrates that commitment and is greatly appreciated in the House. It’s truly a model for the rest of the nation wrestling with ending corporate welfare. In addition, this special session will secure Florida’s place as the premier tourist destination in America while ensuring that VISIT Florida is completely open, accountable and transparent to the taxpayer.
“The people of Florida should be proud today that you can have leaders with competing opinions and still compromise to meet common goals — government in Florida is working and the biggest winners are all Floridians.”
A group of young students at Volusia Pines Elementary School in Lake Helen will be the first students in Central Florida to take the safety pledge as part of National Work Zone Awareness Week. Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) staff members will visit the school on Tuesday, April 4, at 9 a.m., to offer a special program promoting safety around road construction.
The students will hear some safety tips from the FDOT Project Manager for the I-95 Major Interchange project and have an opportunity to draw what’s most important to them as a reminder that we all have something that drives us to arrive home safely. The students will receive a special Safety Pledge sticker and other items as part of the activity.
Media will have an opportunity to interview with students of Volusia Pines Elementary, FDOT Project Manager Brad Bauknecht, and FDOT Public Information Officer Jessica Ottaviano. The school is located at 500 East Kicklighter Road, Lake Helen, FL 32744. Please check in at the front office.
“With so much road construction going on throughout Central Florida, we want everyone to be aware of how important it is to be safe in those areas,” said Brad Bauknecht, FDOT I-95 Major Interchange Project Manager. “These students are future drivers and current passengers who can help remind us to slow down and pay attention so that everyone arrives home safely.”
The FDOT expects to offer the safety program in schools in Osceola and Brevard counties later in the school year.
The 2017 National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 3-7 and aims to remind all drivers that “Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands.” In Central Florida, FDOT is urging drivers to also consider what’s at stake by asking, ‘What Drives You?”
The National Safety Council reports in its 2017 edition of “Injury Facts” that there were 35,500 injuries from work zone crashes in 2015.
The FDOT urges all drivers to slow down, stay alert to changing conditions and warning signs, obey the posted speed limit, and keep a safe distance between vehicles. Drivers may participate in the safety campaign via social media by sharing what drives them to stay safe using the hashtag #WhatDrivesYou.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services today announced that Duval County students will enjoy Florida-grown strawberries during school meals throughout the remainder of growing season. The department’s Farm to School program helped facilitate Duval County Public Schools’ purchase of approximately 8,800 pounds of Florida strawberries from Wish Farms, located in Plant City, Fla.
Harris Wishnatzki began selling produce from a pushcart in 1900, which led to starting a wholesale business in 1922. Over the last 90 years, Wishtnatzki’s family helped Wish Farms evolve by adopting innovative practices. Wish Farms grows conventional and organic strawberry varieties and utilizes “How’s My Picking?” This patented tool ties consumer feedback to specific information from each day’s harvest to ensure quality. Today, Wish Farms is owned by third generation family owner, Gary Wishnatzki.
The Farm to School program also helped connect the Columbia County School District’s distributor with multiple growers in Hillsborough County to facilitate a purchase of more than 650 pounds of strawberries.
The Farm to School program connects K-12 schools with Florida farmers and growers to provide locally grown produce to students during school meals. Since 2015, the Farm to School program has facilitated the purchase of nearly 600,000 pounds of fresh, seasonal produce to Florida schools through opportunity buys.
The Farm to School program positively impacts local economies, reduces transportation costs and helps preserve farms and farmland. Producers interested in providing fresh fruit and vegetables to local schools should contact Beth Spratt at 850-617-7419 or [email protected].
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.
Nearly 3,000 Central Florida junior and senior high school students are building their careers at the 17thannual Central Florida Construction Career Days. The event, hosted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and its industry partners, helps teenagers explore and build a strong foundation for a successful future in transportation construction.
“Construction Career Days is a wonderful way to introduce the builders of tomorrow to our industry today,” said Dee Zinck, FDOT’s District Construction Administrative Manager and co-chair of the event.
Junior and senior high school students from more than 50 Central Florida high schools are attending Construction Career Days to learn about many opportunities available and experience some skilled trades firsthand. Engineers and skilled trade workers from local firms, technical schools and FDOT will hold 38 interactive learning labs. Students will even get a chance to try their hand at operating heavy equipment and simulators.
Construction opportunities represented through the program are not minimum wage jobs. “Those in the field earn an average of $18 an hour,” said Geoff Scales, Senior Project Manager with Cardno, an environmental engineering firm, and co-chair of the event. “These are careers that you can grow with. If you have the drive and the ambition, a career in construction can take you far.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project the number of jobs in the construction field will grow by nearly 21 percent over the next few years, but the current labor pool is shrinking with the average skilled worker retiring at close to 50 years old. That’s why Construction Career Days encourages Central Florida teens to explore the transportation construction industries.
Construction Career Days takes place at the Central Florida Fairgrounds Jan. 26-27 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day. Students from nine Central Florida counties will attend. For more information, visit www.ccdfl.com.
Governor Rick Scott is encouraging college and university students to apply for the 2017-2018 Gubernatorial Fellows Program. Participation in the program provides Florida students with firsthand, high-level experience and insight into how state government operates. Established in 2004, and endowed by the Hoffman Foundation in 2005, the program gives Florida college and university students the unique opportunity to work alongside state government’s top staff for two semesters.
Governor Scott said, “The Gubernatorial Fellows Program provides an invaluable opportunity for Florida’s college and university students to receive advanced, on-the-job training. I encourage students interested in public service and leadership to apply to be a part of this amazing program and learn the skills needed for today’s workforce.”
Gubernatorial Fellows are assigned to the Executive Office of the Governor and the Governor’s agencies, based on their major or area of concentration. Fellows work a minimum of 20 hours per week and are paid for their time on the job. Fellows will also receive tuition waivers from their college or university to cover the cost of their tuition as they continue their studies throughout the program year.
To be eligible for a Gubernatorial Fellowship, candidates should be enrolled at a Florida college or university, as a rising junior or senior, or a graduate student. Applicants should exhibit strong leadership, written and oral communication skills, community activism and a desire to serve the people of Florida. Approximately 12 students from around the state will be selected based on a competitive application process.
Students can visit www.FloridaFellows.com to learn about the expectations and requirements of the program, as well as read testimonials from alumni. Interested students must apply online, and the site includes complete information about the recruitment process.
Applications are due by Wednesday, March 1, 2017. The Fellowship will follow the university calendar starting in August 2017 and end in May 2018. The Governor’s screening and selection committee will announce the program participants in May 2017.
For more information on the Gubernatorial Fellows Program, please visit www.FloridaFellows.com.
The College of Education and Human Services at the University of North Florida will host its annual Camp Composition, a writing camp to aid fourth- through 11th-graders to earn higher Florida Standards Assessments English language arts and writing scores, from 9 a.m. to noon, beginning Saturday, Jan. 21, and running through Saturday, Feb. 25, in Tom and Betty Petway Hall, Building 57, on the UNF campus.
The writing camp schedule is as follows:
- Week 1, Saturday, Jan. 21: Writing Prompts
- Week 2, Saturday, Jan. 28: Prewriting Strategies
- Week 3, Saturday, Feb. 4: Drafting Strategies
- Week 4, Saturday, Feb. 11: Revising Strategies
- Week 5, Saturday, Feb. 18: Editing Strategies
- Week 6, Saturday, Feb. 25: Writing Celebration
Camp Composition will be led by local lead area teachers who specialize in writing instruction in grades four through 11. These teachers will work with specific writing teams and will provide weekly feedback to each individual student. Stress-reduction strategies will also be taught to students by an expert.
Camp orientation is from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday. Jan. 20, in Tom and Betty Petway Hall, Room 1100A, where the camp schedule and room assignments will be shared with participants. A completed form and registration fee of $240 is required; space is limited. Scholarships will be offered on a limited basis to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and/or attend a Title 1 school. These students would attend at no cost. Confirmation from the school is required, and a reduced fee is also available for siblings. No refunds will be offered after Friday, Jan. 13.
For more information, visit http://www.unf.edu/coehs/celt/Camp_Composition.aspx or contact Dr. Christine L. Weber, UNF associate professor in the Department of Childhood Education, Literacy and TESOL, at (904) 620-1754 or at [email protected].
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.
Florida Polytechnic University graduated its first ever class during a historic commencement ceremony on campus Tuesday. Eighteen students received degrees in Innovation and Technology, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.
Florida Poly was established to be an innovative institution and powerful resource for economic advancement, training the next generation to be leaders and entrepreneurs in high-tech industries. Dedicated exclusively to applied learning and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Florida Poly delivers a project-based curriculum focused on solving real-world challenges in collaboration with industry partners.
“Our goal is to produce highly capable and successful graduates; individuals who hit the ground running whether it’s at a company or research institution. Our graduates have the drive and ability to continuously learn and to apply their learning toward solving problems that will improve technology and advance society,” said Florida Poly Provost Dr. Terry Parker. “I applaud these students, our inaugural class of graduates, for their achievement in acquiring their respective degrees, and I look forward to following their ongoing success.”
Florida Poly opened in August 2014 with just over 550 students, including first-time freshmen, transfers and graduate students. In fall 2016, the student population topped 1,300 with an average high school GPA of 3.78 and average ACT and SAT scores of 26 and 1,672 respectively. Graduating its first class is not only a historic milestone for Florida’s newest university, but a required step in the process toward achieving regional accreditation.
“These graduates are among Florida Poly’s earliest pioneers,” said Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent. “It took ambition, vision and an entrepreneurial spirt to come to a brand-new university, and I have no doubt they will carry those same qualities into the workforce as leaders and business starters in high tech. I’m so excited to see all they will do in the years to come.”
Fifteen graduates attended the ceremony to receive their degrees, which took place in the second-floor Commons area of the Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building in Lakeland.
Florida Poly Graduate Gabriela Martines was the featured student graduation speaker. She has already been hired by Millennium Engineering and Integration Company to work on a NASA contract. Martines said being part of the inaugural graduating class is something she will always remember.
“I felt like I was making history when I first came to Florida Poly, and I feel like I’m doing so again as a member of the first graduating class,” said Martines, who majored in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Motion Intelligence. “The entire Florida Poly experience has taught me that with vision, collaboration and hard work, people can create great, new things and really make an impact. That’s one of the biggest takeaways I’m going to reflect on time and time again as I grow in my career.”
JD Alexander, Florida Poly’s founder and former Chairman of the Florida Senate Budget Committee, delivered the Inaugural Graduation commencement address.
“Only five short years ago, Florida Polytechnic University was just an idea. Today, we’re graduating our first class,” said Alexander. “It’s a remarkable achievement that all of us should take a great degree of pride in – the faculty, staff, supporters, partners, and most importantly, the students.”
Tuesday’s Inaugural Graduation ceremony is one of many significant milestones Florida Poly reached over the past academic year. Others include:
- Enrolling more than 1,300 students – a record – for the fall 2016 semester.
- Achieving “Candidacy for Accreditation” status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- Partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation to create SunTrax, a high-tech hub for the research, development and testing of emerging transportation technologies.
- Signing international agreements with universities and organizations in Morocco and Brazil to create study abroad and faculty exchange programs.
About Florida Polytechnic University
Florida Polytechnic University is the newest member of the State University System of Florida. Dedicated exclusively to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), the University blends applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. Faculty experts at Florida Polytechnic University provide insightful analysis, opinions and comments about a broad range of STEM and higher education subjects. To connect with Florida Poly faculty, click here. The campus, located in Lakeland, Fla. along the I-4 High Tech Corridor, opened for classes in the fall of 2014.