Zephyrhills High School – 2004-2005


Highlights of 2004-2005

Zephyrhills High School 18-Year-Old Joins Council in Zephyrhills, Tampa Tribune, April 13, 2005

USF Freshman Hopes To Inspire Youth

By Nicola M. White

Daniel Burgess, Jr. an 18-year old University of South Florida freshman is this city’s newest and youngest councilman.

City voters on Tuesday chose Burgess over incumbent Celia Graham, 44, a teacher at West Zephyrhills Elementary School. Eight percent of the city’s registered voters turned out to the polls. In March the city had 7,542 registered voters.

Burgess, who plans to major in political science, was ecstatic upon hearing about his victory. As far as anyone knows, Burgess is the youngest person to win a city election.

“I hope to affect people’s lives in a positive way and hopefully encourage the youth of the town to get involved,” he said by telephone as cheers erupted at his Silver Oaks home.

The race for Seat 5 on the council was the year’s only contested race. Incumbents Cathi Compton and Clyde Bracknell slid into their two-year terms unopposed.

Burgess captured 60 percent of the vote.

The city council job carries a salary of $4,800.

Unlike last year’s city council election, which had four candidates vying for two spots, this campaign was relatively quite. In the final days of the campaign, Burgess criticized Graham’s vote on the controversial Martin Luther King, Jr. street name change, and Graham questioned Burgess’s age and lack of experience.

Graham, at a subdued post-election party at Manola’s restaurant, said she felt voters couldn’t let go of the street name debate, which was a hot topic in last year’s election.

“In their eyes, MLK is a controversy, and it keeps coming up. They just won’t let it go,” she said.

In October 2003, a local woman petitioned the city council to rename Sixth Avenue in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. a majority of the city council members, including Graham, approved the change. Angry residents packed council meetings after the change. During that time, the debate intensified and some said racial tensions surfaced. Zephyrhills landed on the front page of the New York Times.

In May, the council joined by newcomer, Gina King, changed Sixth Avenue back to its original name.

During the campaign, both candidates said they didn’t want to bring up the street name issue, but it came up anyway. On Tuesday night, Graham said that if she could go back, she wouldn’t change her vote.

Throughout the campaign, Burgess defended his age, which critics questioned.

Mayor Cliff McDuffie, upon hearing the election results, still had concerns Tuesday night. “An 18-year old does not have the maturity to make decisions for a community growing as rapidly as Zephyrhills,” he said. “He’s a fine young man, but there’s an age factor.”

King, who supported Burgess, said she looked forward to working with him. “I think he’s very bright. I know that he will do a good job,” she said.

Zephyrhills High School No Old School Ties, Tampa Tribune, April 12, 2005

When crews finish work at Raymond B. Stewart Middle, nothing will be left of the 1920’s original.

…Little by little, the 79-year old Raymond B. Stewart Middle School will expand to make way for this growing city and its growing student body. The town that once educated every child in town from first through 12th grades in this building….

(Note that: Per Jerry Pricher, “All grades, from one to twelve were housed in Zephyrhills Public Schools for many years. In the early 1930’s the top story burned and was removed. Two side wings and an auditorium were added to the main building at this time, to be followed by a junior high annex and home economics building in 1944, three elementary wings in 1952, a band building in 1954, and a gymnasium in 1967. A new media center and home economics building were constructed in 1968 and redesigned ten years later.” The original campus of ZHS was town down in 2005 as captured in the news article at right—this original building.

Built in 1926 was the ZHS campus until the new plant was constructed in 1975. The name has changed from ZHS to Zephyrhills Middle School to Zephyrhills Junior High, back to Zephyrhills Middle School, and became Raymond B. Stewart Middle School in September of 1986).

Shift to Real World Begins, St. Petersburg Times, May 22, 2005

High school graduation is traditionally a time of change.

“Welcome to the end of your mom doing your laundry,” salutatorian Chloe Estep told Zephyrhills High School graduates.

“Welcome to the beginning of your adult life.

But for the Zephyrhills High School Class of 2005, the changes began with the ceremony itself.

The 201 members of this year’s class had someone new leading the ceremony this year, and someone new reading each of their names as they made their ways across the stage.

Friday night marked Gerri Painter’s first commencement ceremony as Zephyrhills’ principal. Painter took over for Jim Davis when Davis was transferred last November to James Irvin Education Center in Dade City.

Zephyrhills seniors lost another graduation staple in March when English teacher Phil Sinaguglia, known to students as “Mr. Sin,” died just days after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year, at student requests, assistant principal Mike Macchiarola, stepped into “Mr. Sin’s” traditional role of reading the name of each graduating senior. Class president Ryan Orosz recognized Sinaguglia’s wife, who received a standing ovation from the audience.

Even in the face of change, valedictorian Suneal Bedi asked his fellow graduates to literally “find their beats.”

“The essence of music is the beat,” Suneal said in his music- themed address that even included a short rap. “That’s what’s unique to every song. I urge you to find your beat. Find what keeps you going.”

The week before the ceremony, Painter said she watched videos of previous ceremonies and tried to keep commencement as familiar as possible for students. That’s one of the reasons Painter asked former principal Davis to be the one to hand the Class of 2005 their diplomas, an announcement that was received with applause.

“I felt like he had been their principal for 3 1/2 years,” she said. “And I thought that was only fair that they receive their diplomas from the principal that they know.”

And in addition to recognizing change, the school also recognized the many accomplishments of this year’s seniors. The Class of 2005 earned almost $573,000 in scholarship money and had one National Merit Scholar, Chloe Estep. The school also recognized one student, Sasha Wright, who had already earned her associate’s degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College before graduation.

Now the Zephyrhills graduates are looking to the changes of the future as they go to college or into the military or off to full- time employment.

“I’m relieved,” said Kristi Beinhauer, who is leaving for Florida State in the fall. “Now the real work begins.”

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, May 11. 2005

Valedictorian is Suneal Bedi with a GPA: 4.627 weighted.

Clubs/Extracurriculars: Founder of Gay-Straight Alliance, National Honor Society, French Honor Society (president), Model United Nations, Brain Bowl, Math Team, Future Business Leaders of America, tennis team (captain).

Favorite place on campus: The lunchroom is my favorite place because I love to eat and chat with my buddies.

Favorite book: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Future plans: I plan on attending Swarthmore College near Philadelphia. I plan to major in political science.

Ideal career: I would probably like to go to law school and business school and become a lawyer.

Most inspirational person: My twin brothers. They always lead me in the right direction. The love they show me is more than I could ever ask for. Moreover, they push me to be the best I can. I would love to be like them when I get older.

What kind of legacy would you like to leave the world? I would like to be known as a person who always cares for others. I hope my legacy is a path of great success in financial, family and charity areas.

Salutatorian is Chloe Estep and her GPA is 4.546 weighted.

Clubs/Extracurriculars: Band, International Thespian Society, Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, Math Team, Brain Bowl, United Nations, Gay-Straight Alliance, swimming, tennis.

Favorite Place on Campus: My Spanish classroom because before or after school we always have jam sessions of Spanish folk music.

Favorite Book: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.

Future Plans: Princeton University. I would love to end up as an interpreter working for the United Nations or the State Department. Until then, I would like to translate for international business or for a publishing company.

Ideal Career: Diplomatic interpreter.

Most Inspirational Person: My mother, because she is incredibly intelligent, yet chose to stay home with me when I was little. She has overcome many hardships with work and family and is now a successful high school teacher about to be published.

What kind of legacy would you like to leave the world? My love is language and through my knowledge of many of them, I would like to build bridges between people of different nations and ethnic groups. Languages are fun and preserve culture but can also be a great barrier to peace.

A Generation Award, St. Petersburg Times, May 22, 2005

They were high school freshmen when four planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. As the Class of 2005 moved through adolescence, they watched their siblings go to war, their school security tighten, their sense of patriotism challenged. Suneal Bedi, a Zephyrhills High student of Indian descent, learned the value of tolerance after people likened him to a terrorist. This year, he started the Gay- Straight Alliance at his school to promote understanding. Julie Anne Billedo of Gulf High said the events of 9/11 taught her and her classmates that when tragedy strikes, you bind together and extend help. When hurricanes devastate, help. When a tsunami hits, help. Members of the Class of 2005 consider themselves a global generation, immersed in technology and keenly aware that they are not the center of the world. On Friday night, 2,753 of them – 90 percent of those who started the year in Pasco County as seniors – flipped their tassels, tossed their hats and sadly, hopefully, nervously walked off one stage and onto another.

Time is Winding Down on Thomas, St. Petersburg Times, October 15, 2005

Tom Fisher is a pro at washing and folding uniforms. He’s been pushing those stinky gray tubs filled with jerseys and pants for decades. Clothes get dirty. Fisher washes clothes. Laundry is a seemingly endless cycle, similar to the one Fisher faces with adjusting his football roster each season.

Seniors graduate. Underclassmen take over. Fisher wouldn’t allow the masses to believe this season is any different even with two-way star Bryan Thomas handing over his No. 21 jersey for good.

Thomas’ four superior seasons at Zephyrhills have been complemented with enough scholarship offers to cover his bedroom wall, each a reminder high school is ending.

He has taken his first official visit to Tennessee and plans to use the others before making a verbal commitment. But there’s still a significant piece of the season remaining, including tonight’s tussle with Hudson for sole possession of first place in Class 3A, District 8.

Thomas believes it’s the biggest game of his career. “Every game is a big game,” Thomas said. “But we really need this one. We’ve had two weeks to get ready to do what we have to do.”

That means disabling Hudson’s passing attack and rolling over its defense. Sounds simple enough for Thomas. He’s scored in five of six games on either side of the ball. Most opponents are well versed in his offensive talents. Thomas has four years of explosive highlights at receiver and running back. And he has taught defensive coordinators to respect No. 21. Thomas has given offensive coordinators headaches with four interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns. Few thought his 91-yard return in a 21-7 win against Hernando could be topped. But Thomas stunned the home crowd with a career- long return of 99 yards in a 28-6 win against district foe Gulf. He contends it was at least 101 yards because he made the pick in the end zone. But a referee behind the play marked the interception at the Zephyrhills 1-yard line. Regardless, there’s one mutual thought throughout the Zephyrhills locker room. “You know for a fact he makes your job easier,” Zephyrhills defensive back Sederrik Cunningham said. “You know the side of the field he’s on is going to be okay. “Bryan can cover half the field by himself.” Thomas has been a solid starter wherever he stands. Most schools recruiting him want to put him in the secondary. But his visit to Tennessee revealed some colleges might consider using him as a receiver. Thomas has two receiving touchdowns this year, a 56-yard reception in a 34-7 loss to Land O’ Lakes, and a 20-yarder in a 17- 13 win against Mitchell. His numbers don’t aren’t top-notch – 15 catches for 337 yards. But consider that he is often double-teamed, freeing up teammates to make plays. Fisher also points out Thomas often makes key blocks. “It’s hard to get him the ball,” Fisher said. “I have to do a better job of trying to get him the ball more.” With four regular-season games left, time is running out. Finding a more effective plan to get Thomas the football could be the difference in making the postseason. And as Fisher tries to adjust to life with Thomas, he already has started to adjust in anticipation of a gaping cavity in his secondary next season. How much will Fisher miss his star? I’ve been around long enough to miss a lot of people,” Fisher said. “You get over it. You get over it and go on.”

Daybreak Rotary News, St. Petersburg Times, July 25, 2005

Daybreak Rotary Club recently held its end of the year banquet at the Senior Center in Zephyrhills.

The meeting was called to order by president Madonna Wise. Jean Murphy joined Wise to lead the group in a rendition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, complete with Rotary inserts. Clarence McKenney then made some opening humorous remarks and led the club in an invocation.

 The Daybreak members enjoyed a musical presentation by Brittany Harrelson, a 2005 graduate of Zephyrhills High School and member of the Showstopper Show Choir. She was joined by Elizabeth McLaughlin, a student at Stewart Middle School and a member of Entertainment Review Show Choir. McLaughlin did a humorous song, Last Year’s Queen, inserting Rotary as a theme.

Harrelson finished the evening’s entertainment with My Man, which the club dedicated to District Rotarian of the Year, Russ Miller, who attended the banquet.

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