By Sean Bowes

Teachers, faculty members, administrators and even some students from the past and present who have walked the halls at Thomas E. Weightman Middle School have a lot to celebrate, as the school recently celebrated its 20th birthday.

“I’m very proud of the school,” says Weightman language arts teacher Freda Abercrombie. “I have been teaching here since the school opened, when it was the only school on Wells Rd. (where there are now three schools). It’s always been a positive place with a staff of teachers who love what they are doing.”

Abercrombie is one of 11 staff members who have been teaching at the school since it opened its doors in 1991. Weightman’s history runs deep in Pasco County, as most of the roads near the school were unpaved and the Bridgewater and Watergrass subdivisions, now located near Wells Rd. in the same area were still cattle ranches.

It was the second school to open in the Wesley Chapel area, after Quail Hollow Elementary. Also, The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce had its first meetings at the Weightman media center with Beth Brown, now executive director of secondary schools in Pasco County, who was an assistant principal at Weightman at the time.

The school has had six principals who have led the Wildcats in the last two decades, including current principal Shea Davis. In the past three years, it typically has had a little more than 1,000 students every year, although, before John Long Middle School in Wiregrass Ranch opened in 2007, Weightman had a sea of outdoor portable classrooms to handle the student body of more than 2,000.


Honoring Its Namesake

On November 10, a reception was held in the school’s cafeteria for what assistant principal Lori Mobley called, “an evening of remembrance and recognition.” A brief program designed to honor the school’s founder was held and enjoyed by the crowd of

teachers and staffers from years past and current. The guest of honor, Thomas E. Weightman, the former Pasco County superintendent of schools for whom the school is named, was in attendance to enjoy a night of reflection on the school’s success. On display for guests was a slew of trophies from the basketball, volleyball and football titles the Wildcats have won.

Since it opened, Weightman has been a unique asset to the education system in Pasco County by being a professional development school in a first-of-its kind partnership between the school and the College of Education at the University of South Florida (USF). As a result, hundreds of pre-service and in-service teachers have collaborated and trained together in order to provide research-based education for thousands of students.

The kinship between USF and Weightman creates an atmosphere where incoming teachers have a setting to learn their skills and experienced teachers can learn new techniques, says Abercrombie.

One example of Weightman’s innovations is a new “On-Track” incentive program that the school is trying for the first time this semester. Students in the program are rewarded for being on the AB honor roll, missing no more three days of school and no more than one discipline referral. Pupils who meet those requirements are allowed to use electronic devices, such as IPods and cell phones, on school campus during lunchtime or before the start of first period.

“I don’t see myself leaving for another 15 years,” says Abercrombie. “I love my job. There’s always something new and fresh. It’s a positive place.”

In addition to the reception, Mr. Weightman also was at the Weightman Honor Roll Assembly on November 17, at the Center for the Performing Arts at Wesley Chapel High. The assembly recognized more than 300 students who earned honor roll status for the first quarter of the school year.

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