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For the 10th year in a row, Volusia County Schools’ graduation rate has increased. This past year saw the rate increase by 3.2 percent to 87.7 percent, the highest ever.

The graduate rate at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona rose 6.8 percent, while Deltona High’s went up 6.4 percent.

Volusia County Schools will distribute laptops to thousands of middle- and high-school students this month, as it prepares to become a full “Technology 1-to-1” school district, securing 33,000 laptops for full-time use by secondary students. Students will use the laptops in school and take them home daily for homework and projects.

The school district plans to launch a full “Technology 1-to-1” program for all elementary, middle and high schools this summer — meaning every student will have a device starting with the 2021-22 school year. Research shows that 1-to-1 laptop programs increase student achievement.

Starting next school year, older elementary-school students will have a dedicated laptop for classroom use, as well, while students in prekindergarten through second grade will be assigned Apple iPads for use in school.

There will be a device for every elementary-school student, but those laptops and iPads will remain in classrooms. Families will be provided a parent and student technical-support resource, and help-desk support will be provided by the district and at the school level.

The Volusia County School Board last fall approved a contract to secure 33,000 student devices and 2,500 teacher devices 

The new program is being funded by revenue from the half-cent sales tax approved by voters to support technology upgrades, and with federal CARES Act funds. The laptops are Microsoft-based, designed for K-12 students with a high-powered processor and large memory to handle technology-based lessons such as mathematical computing, science calculations, graphic design and project work.

On Sunday, Jan. 24, the Volusia County Teacher of the Year for 2022 will be named from the five finalists chosen in November. The finalists are Joe Biggs, kindergarten teacher at R.J. Longstreet Elementary School in Daytona Beach; Frank Garaitonandia, art teacher at Citrus Grove Elementary in DeLand; Megan Martens, kindergarten teacher at Sweetwater Elementary in Daytona Beach; Adrienne Palmer, ninth- through 12th-grade ESE teacher at Deltona High; and Joey Powell, director of bands at Silver Sands Middle in Port Orange.

Public high-school students within Volusia County will benefit from a statewide grant to FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools from the AT&T Foundation this year. The grant seeks to increase understanding of how classroom curriculum translates into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

For the 10th consecutive year, AT&T is working with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations to provide experiential teaming opportunities for students in school districts across Florida through “STEM@Work.”

The local project “Solving a Real-Life Environmental Problem Using STEM” will be facilitated by District Enviro/STEM resource teacher Louise Chapman, involving Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS)/Smithsonian Interns from high schools throughout the Volusia County School District. Students will design and engineer a real-life solution to one of three pressing environmental issues: invasive plants, fire and vandalism.

Jeep Beach has presented Food Brings Hope with a check for $5,000 to continue their work in the community supporting local charities. Since 2012, Jeep Beach has donated more than $1.8 million to local charities through their Jeep Beach annual event fundraising efforts.

Food Brings Hope does work in many of the elementary and secondary schools in Volusia County, along with work in the town of Pierson.

Linda Paul’s fifth annual Wine and Cheese Tasting, which benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties, has been postponed due to COVID-19.

Orange City Elementary School

Orange City Elementary School has a “Little Free Library” in front of the school. The “Take a Book – Return a Book” mini-library allows students and parents to borrow and exchange books 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Orange City Elementary reminds students and parents that they can keep up with school happenings on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OCSRoadrunners.

Pierson Elementary School

The School Advisory Council at Pierson Elementary School will meet Thursday, Jan. 28, in the Principal’s Conference Room.

Woodward Avenue Elementary School

The School Advisory Council at Woodward Avenue Elementary School in DeLand will meet virtually at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25.

DeLand High School

DeLand High School will be administering the ACT-NCR test March 2-4 to juniors and seniors. This special administration will allow students the potential to earn a concordant score needed for a standard high-school diploma. However, the ACT-NCR is a “Non-College Reporting” test and cannot be used for the following: Bright Futures, college admissions and scholarship opportunities.

DeLand High School Athletics

The DeLand High School Bulldog boys’ basketball team was defeated by the Master’s Academy, 70-48, with Kariden Hardrick scoring 16 points and Noah Van Bibber collecting 10 points.

The team was also stopped by Sanford, 62-48, to move their season mark to 3-7. Van Bibber had 23 points with seven rebounds, while Hardrick scored 13 points.

The boys’ junior-varsity squad lost a close one to Sanford, 49-48, to move to 2-2 on the season.

The Lady Bulldog basketball team was stopped by Sanford, 67-31, with Jiya Hastings scoring 17 points. Lake Mary also outscored DeLand girls, 63-37, with Hastings getting 10 points, Amari Jackson scoring 9 points, and Georgia Lee and Elizabeth Cartin each getting 8 points.

The Bulldog boys’ soccer team shut out Mainland, 8-0, to get back on the winning way.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal has announced that DeLand football player Myzel Williams will be playing at Georgia Southern next year.

The DeLand High athletic calendar is as follows for the upcoming week (be sure to verify times and dates with COVID-19 changing dates frequently):

Friday, Jan. 22, finds the boys’ soccer team at Lyman for games at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 23, has the Bulldog wrestling squad hosting a tournament in the Bulldog gym starting at 8 a.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 26, has the girls’ soccer team traveling to Lake Mary at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., and the girls’ basketball team hosting Lake Nona at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The boys’ basketball team will be at Pine Ridge High School with games at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 27, has Lady Bulldog soccer playing host to Harmony at the Sperling Sports Complex at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., while the girls’ weightlifting team participates in its regional match.

Thursday, Jan. 28, places the Bulldog boys’ soccer team at the Sperling Sports Complex to play host to Matanzas at 6 p.m. The Bulldog basketball team plays host to Lake Forest High School at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Bulldog gym, while the Lady Bulldog basketball team goes to Nease High School at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 29, places the DeLand wrestlers in Bunnell at Flagler Palm Coast for a tournament that concludes Saturday, Jan. 30. The girls’ soccer team travels east to face New Smyrna Beach at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.

Pine Ridge High School

The Pine Ridge High School art department, under the direction of Karen Richter, has been very busy. The following art students exhibited work at an art festival in DeLand last fall: Elijah Wilson, Katelyn Brooke, AJ Anello, Kirsten Jnbaptiste, Kailah Lalanne, Teresa Quinones and Carlos Soler.

Jnbaptiste, Anello, Quinones, Wilson, Lalanne and Soler displayed work in the Daytona State College High School Virtual Art Exhibit. Wilson took first place in this event in the 2D category, while Lalanne placed second.

Anello also displayed work at the Daytona Speedway Gallery 500 exhibit.

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Pine Ridge High will be giving the PSAT to juniors only.

Stetson University Athletics

Yazz Wazeerud-Din, a junior on the Stetson University Lady Hatters basketball team, has been named as the Atlantic Sun Conference Newcomer of the Week. She averaged 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals during the week when she was selected. She currently leads the Lady Hatters in scoring with a 12.4 average and in steals with 16. She transferred to Stetson after playing two seasons at South Georgia Technical College.

The Lady Hatters were slated to face North Alabama, but these games were postponed due to COVID-related issues. 

The Stetson Hatter men’s basketball team played two games with North Alabama, splitting in the win column. The Hats won the first game, 86-77, with Rob Perry scoring 19 points, while tying a school mark of eight 3-point baskets during the game.

Diawara Mahamadou scored 18 points with seven rebounds, while Christiaan Jones had 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals, and Chase Johnston scored 11 points.

The following night, North Alabama grabbed the win, 73-66, with Johnston getting 19 points, Jones finishing with 14 points, five steals and eight rebounds, and Wheza Panzo coming off the bench to score 10 points.

Both of the Stetson tennis teams have been predicted to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship race. The Lady Hatters were selected behind North Florida, Liberty and Florida Gulf Coast, while the men were placed behind Florida Gulf Coast, Liberty and North Florida, in that order. Both teams open the season Friday, Jan. 29, at home against the University of Fort Lauderdale. The women play at 11 a.m., with the men at 3 p.m. The Stetson teams play their home matches at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center.

The next day, Saturday, Jan. 30, both teams play host to Florida National at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., with the men playing first. 

The Stetson athletic calendar has the men’s basketball team at Bellarmine on Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, with games at 7 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively, while the Lady Hatter roundballers host Bellarmine in the Edmunds Center Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 24, at 1 p.m. both days.

The following weekend, the men play host to Liberty on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29 and 30, at 7 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively, while the women travel to face Liberty on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30 and 31, at 3 p.m. each day.

— Send school news to Tony Tussing via email: at flacoach43@hotmail.com.

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