Isabella Douglas

Wharton senior Isabella Douglas was awarded a $500 scholarship and the Wharton Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program received $1,000, thanks to an essay Isabella wrote for a nationwide NJROTC contest.

The Surface Navy Association (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Association incorporated in 1985 to promote greater coordination and communication to those in the military, business, and academic communities) offered the contest to NJROTC cadets across the country, choosing Isabella’s entry as the most outstanding nationwide. The award was provided as an incentive to “engage NJROTC cadets in understanding and appreciating the sacrifices of our WWII veterans, Navy core values, and what it means to be a shipmate.”

Isabella will use her award while attending the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she plans to major in journalism.

Although her current plans don’t include joining the military, Isabella comes from a military family. Her mom was in the U.S. Army and her dad was in the U.S. Coast Guard.

She credits Wharton’s NJROTC program with teaching her important life skills. “It taught me how to be a better leader, to be more organized, and (how) to talk in front of a lot of people.”

Isabella says she was excited to hear that her efforts not only benefited her, but also the school’s NJROTC program.

“I was really glad about that,” she says, “because it’s my last year and I was happy to give back to the program.”

National Merit Scholars Announced

New Tampa’s residents Arpan Bagui and Shezad S. Shah were named as $2,500 National Merit Scholarship winners by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) on May 13.

Bagui lives in K-Bar Ranch and attends the IB program at King High and is looking to study investment banking in college, while Shah is a Wharton senior who plans to study computer science in college.

Arpan Bagui

The $2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. 

National Merit $2,500 scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors. 

Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who considered the academic record (including the difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned). scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), contributions and leadership in school and community activities, an essay written by the Finalist and a recommendation written by a high school official. 

New Tampa PTAs/PTSAs Recognized

The Hillsborough County Council PTA/PTSA announced its award winners for the 2019-20 school year via Facebook Live on April 24, and New Tampa schools, especially Liberty Middle School and Hunter’s Green Elementary (HGE), fared well.

In fact, both were honored with awards for Principal of the Year.

Gaye Holt

HGE principal Gaye Holt was awarded Elementary Principal of the Year, while James Ammirati of Liberty took home the middle school honors.

Both schools also received awards for Family Involvement; Hunter’s Green Elementary for its lip synch battle called Panther Jamz, and Liberty for its Family Night event.

Liberty picked up eight other awards, including Middle School Instructional Person of the Year for teacher Toni Kuzmicki, PTSA President of the Year for Shari Burress, “a force to reckon with, as she powers her way through the school year taking on tasks and challenges and working harder than anyone else” according to her nomination.

At the high school level, both Wharton and Freedom received awards for their Volunteer Hours.

Wharton also received an award for Student Involvement and the county award for Advocacy/Legislation for the school’s Gay Straight Alliance.

The school’s success coach Roslyn Brown was awarded High School Non-Instructional Person of the Year.

Brown puts in long hours that do not stop when she leaves our school,” her nomination letter said. “She is always working to better the lives of our student population.”

Freedom won the award for Family Involvement for its Multicultural Festival — “Diversity at its Finest” —  and Alicia Newcomb, the school’s agriculture teacher, was named the High School Instructional Person of the Year.

According to her nomination, Newcomb created the school’s vet tech program, an agribusiness course, expanded the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program and helped students earn apprenticeships and certifications, while partnering with veterinarians and animal rescue organizations to provide students with hands-on experience.

High School Graduations

While graduations across the country have been cancelled altogether, Hillsborough County Public Schools has instead delayed graduations for the class of 2020 in the hopes that local and state guidelines will allow in-person graduation ceremonies in July. Dates have been set for July 13-22 at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall. 

A final decision about whether the graduations can be held will be made closer to the event date.

For now, Wharton’s graduation is scheduled for Friday, July 17, 12:30 p.m., while Freedom’s is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, 9 a.m.

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