Deputy William Mellana (left) and Wharton High nurse Alicia Robertson helped save a student’s life at the school on Aug. 17 (Photo courtesy of Hillsborough Schools)

Saving A Student’s Life: All In A Day’s Work

On any “normal” day on a high school campus, the most extraordinary things can happen.

On Aug. 17, a Wharton High student started experiencing a medical emergency, and the school’s resource officer and nurse are credited with jumping in to save the student’s life, working together until paramedics arrived.

Video from Deputy William Mellana’s body camera was released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, showing him performing CPR on the student with the assistance of an automated external defibrillator (AED), which he continued until paramedics arrived. Prior to his arrival on scene with the AED, school nurse Alicia Robertson already had started CPR.

Thankfully, the student has since returned to school.

Alicia deflects any praise directed toward herself and Deputy Mellana, saying it was a team effort to aid the student.

“Several educators and a student who sought out an adult, who initiated help, all played roles in responding in a timely manner to assist the student that day.”

Hillsborough County Public Schools released a photo of the pair and said, “We could not be more proud and thankful to have these two incredible people at Wharton High School to protect our students and staff.”

King High Seniors From New Tampa Collect, Disperse School Supplies 

Three King High seniors from New Tampa have launched the Road to Success School Supply Drive to support students and teachers in their school and throughout the wider community.

Toluwa, Onella and Emma launched the drive with collection boxes at businesses, including Mahana Fresh in New Tampa, Staples and The Salvation Army in Wesley Chapel, and the Ice Dreammm Shop in Lutz.

Their goal is to support students who need tools to be successful in school, and supplement teachers who often have to pay out of their own pockets to keep their classrooms stocked with basic supplies.

The drive was to benefit the Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF), a local nonprofit that distributes school supplies to the county’s schools and students with the greatest needs, with some of the collected supplies directly benefiting King High, where the students attend.

Although their collection for the drive has ended, the teens invite supporters to donate to HEF online at and note that it’s part of the “Road to Success School Supply Drive” in the instructions section. 

For more information, visit and see the latest news about the drive on Instagram @roadtosuccessdrive.

Wharton Physics Experiments Soar To 80,000 Feet

Wharton High physics teacher Christopher Hart says his AP Physics C class jumped at the chance to develop an experiment that could be tested during the launch of a weather balloon up to 80,000 feet at an educational event held at Tampa’s MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) on Aug. 28.

The launch was organized by Space Trek, an educational company based out of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Merritt Island, FL, and was part of a Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) event encouraging students to get excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts.

Hart says HCPS executive director of science education Larry Plank invited his students to design and place and experiments in the balloon, knowing of Hart’s previous experience with the type of programming required to execute them.

AP Physics C is one of four Advanced Placement physics classes offered at Wharton, and Hart says the students in the class have previously had at least one or two years of physics prior to entering the class.

But, it still wasn’t an easy feat to start school on August 10, and have everything designed and ready to launch less than three weeks later.

The class brainstormed a wide range of ideas and came up with two different experiments. One used four ultraviolet sensors to test different brands of sunscreen, while another measured how the size of different volumes of foam insulation changed with temperature changes as the balloon rose.

Hart says 80,000 feet is teetering toward the edge of space, where the highest-flying spy aircraft fly.

“There are pretty dramatic temperature changes, from below zero in some layers of the atmosphere, to spike really high when leaving the atmosphere,” Hart explains. 

He says he told his students that the items they touched in designing the experiments would go to the highest point away from earth, farther than anything they’ve ever touched.

“They outsmarted me,” he laughs, saying that one of his students touched a moon rock at MOSI just to prove him wrong.

He says opportunities like this can be inspirational for students.

“It shows them the real world application of what they’re learning in the classroom,” says Hart. “They’re taking something that is very math-oriented and sometimes very abstract, and they can see it, feel it and touch it. It shows them how that math is applied, and hopefully encourages them to continue their education in this path.”

The students who participated in the event include Dillon Cao, Alex Lopez, Sean Grass, Adriana Salazar, Alex Devers, Dane Devers, Timothy Norwood, and Harshavardan Yuvaraj.

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