Zephyrhills High School – 2005-2006


Highlights of 2005-2006

Use Whatever Life Throws You, St. Petersburg Times, May 21, 2006

As she sat waiting on the bench, gowned in shimmering white as Zephyrhills High School’s valedictorian, Rebekah Hayden thought about her father.

He died of a brain tumor in July, fighting it for 1 1/2 years before he succumbed.

“It was really hard,” the 18-year-old Hayden said. “But I decided I wouldn’t let it beat me. It made me work harder to reach my goals.”

As her high school celebrated graduation Friday night, Hayden’s personal tragedy came to book-end a year that went from adversity to achievement, in a ceremony that bids farewells and new beginnings.

She spoke simply and movingly of her father in her address to the class, asking for no pity, but rousing a spontaneous standing ovation from her 222 fellow graduates.

“Use whatever life throws at you as a steppingstone,” she said. “Tonight, the bad things in life fade into the good.”

Speaking before Hayden, salutatorian Gregory Cole and class president Steven Orosz recounted shared moments in the class’ past year.

On Friday, Zephyrhills closed a year of district triumphs in football and girls’ softball. The symphonic band got straight superiors, and the Junior ROTC scored the highest rating in Florida in its inspection.

Jubilant students at the graduation ceremony toted little toy cars as a class symbol, apparently a reflection of what one student quipped was their unofficial motto: “Ride together, die together.”

In the crowd, parents lugged cushions to pad the gym’s bleachers, and camera lights popped like a parade of paparazzi.

Zephyrhills High School “She did a good job,” Nancy Farnsworth of Zephyrhills said of her daughter, Lynley. “We didn’t get to the United States until 1998. Her dad was a retired towboat captain in the Panama Canal, and she only started here at 10.”

For others, Friday was a special moment that almost never was.

“When he was playing football – I told him his grades have got to go up before he (goes on playing),” said Tim Sommers, of Ocala, of his son Timothy. “I feel great. I’m proud of him. He’s going to college.”

Golfing, St. Petersburg Times, May 10, 2006

Golfing and Nascar? This Saturday, at Silverado Golf and Country Club in Zephyrhills, local celebrity and NASCAR Truck Series driver David Reutimann will host the David Reutimann Golf Tournament, benefiting the All Children’s Hospital. The tournament will begin at 9 a.m., and the cost is $100 per person or $400 a team. Hole sponsorships also are available for $100. Included in the price is golf, a BBQ dinner and prizes. A silent auction also will be held featuring autographed NASCAR items.

The 36-year-old Reutimann, a Zephyrhills high school graduate, races the No. 17 Darrell Waltrip Motor sports Toyota Tundra. He will be on hand to take pictures and sign autographs.

Lessons in Florida, St. Petersburg Times, March 22, 2006

Did you know that—Florida is the only state that has flown under five flags: the English, French, Spanish, Confederate and American?

Dinosaurs once lived in Florida.

Dade City was named for Major Francis Langhorne Dade.

Osceola was a Seminole war leader who refused to leave his homeland in Florida…

Jean McNary, Deborah Gillars

You can find some of these facts by visiting www.myflorida.com or by tapping the brains of ZHS art teacher Deborah Gillars and history teacher Jean McNary. The two not-so-recent transplants (Gillars came from Pennsylvania in 1961; McNary from Ohio in 1968) organized a ZHS Heritage Day celebration at ZHS. There was a desire to share the fondness they have for the place they call home. We want the kids to appreciate the great heritage and history we have here. Their guest speakers have included an archaeologist, Civil War re-enactors, folks who prepare Florida foods and the famed Florida Highwayman, Robert Butler. Wesley Johnson, President of the School’s National Art Society, who helped to run the event said, “It’s really a good idea.”

…Last week the two teachers brought in three special guests: Moses Jumper, 55, a Seminole Indian who lives on the Big Cypress Reservation, Storyteller and Florida cracker, Butch Harrison and Nature photographer, Jason Hahn. Also on hand were Derrick Tucker, ZHS Principal, and Fremont Ogle, music teacher, who presented some Florida music selections. Tucker, a self-taught musician who also sings with Tampa’s Master Chorale, said, “All cultures, without fail use music as the principal basis or reaching their soul and spirit…

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