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Volusia County Schools will provide a free Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program this summer for families of incoming kindergartners who have not already taken advantage of the state’s free VPK Program. Registration started March 3 at the student’s home-zoned school between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

During registration, parents may select from the following West Volusia sites: Discovery Elementary in Deltona, and Woodward Avenue Elementary in DeLand.

The program will operate four days per week, generally Monday through Thursday. The dates of the program are June 14 through Aug. 5, with school hours being 7:37 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are served free to all children, but transportation is not provided.

To participate, a child must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2021; be a resident of Volusia County; and have a current, valid Summer 2020 Certificate of Eligibility form from the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties.

More information about VPK in Volusia is available at www.vcsedu.org/VPK or by calling 386-734-7190, ext. 20505.

For information about the Early Learning Coalition, go to familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com or call 386-736-5010.

VCS will also provide a free, full-day Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program during the 2021-22 school year. Families zoned for a hosting school with a child who will be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2021, are eligible to apply for the VPK/Title 1 Early Learning Initiative. To register, complete the application at www.vcsedu.org/VPK.

To participate, a child must be zoned for a hosting school; be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2021; be a resident of Volusia County living within the school zone; and apply for a valid 2021-22 school year of eligibility from the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties (same email address and number as above).

The hosting schools in DeLand are Blue Lake Elementary and Starke Elementary; in Deltona are Discovery Elementary, Forest Lake Elementary, Friendship Elementary, Sunrise Elementary and Timbercrest Elementary; as well as Enterprise Elementary; McInnis Elementary in DeLeon Springs; Orange City Elementary; and Pierson Elementary.

There is no school for students Friday, March 19, because it is a Teacher Duty Day and the end of the third grading period. Monday, March 22, marks the beginning of Spring Holiday for students and teachers in Volusia County. Spring Holiday ends on Monday, March 29, when students and teachers return to the classrooms.

FHSAA state wrestling championships

West Volusia was represented by three wrestlers at the state championships at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

Representing Deltona High were Kevin Kerns in the 120-pound division and Ethan Chiu in the 220-pound division. Representing University High of Orange City was Christian Kennick in the 220-pound division.

University is in 3A District competition, while Deltona is in 2A.

The results will be covered next week.

Ivy Hawn Charter School of the Arts

The track athletes from Ivy Hawn Charter School of the Arts in Lake Helen competed in the Mount Dora Christian Academy Middle School Track and Field Championships of 2021.

Owen York won two events. He claimed first in the shot put with a push of 36 feet, 1.25 inches, and in the discus with a throw of 113 feet, 10 inches. Keylani Cates took second in the discus, while the 4X800 boys’ relay team of York, Devin Buster, Ethan Zagers and Brandon Robinson took third.

Eleven schools from all over Central Florida competed.

DeLand High School athletics

The DeLand High School Lady Bulldog flag-football team, directed by head coach Alex Russell, opened its 2021 season with two strong wins. The team first topped Spruce Creek, 24-13, and then shut out Deltona, 33-0.

In the Spruce Creek game, Julia Comin accounted for 160 yards and two touchdowns, while Amari Jackson had 79 offensive yards, and Zachiyah Banton made four receptions for 40 yards.

On defense, Mary Bruno and Sage Dawson had eight tackles, while Nae Sarpong had seven, and Kenzie Cunningham made an interception.

In the Deltona game, the offense had 269 yards, with 152 of those being from the passing game. Comin accounted for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense, the DeLand team only gave up 30 yards. Dawson had five tackles and an interception, while Cunningham had an interception. Alicia Olazar applied relentless pressure on the Wolves’ quarterback.

The DeLand baseball team stopped Orangewood Christian, 9-6, and Deltona Trinity Christian, 15-0, but was topped by University, 10-0.

At the Lake Mary Invitational Track Meet, DeLand junior Kevar Williams won two events and anchored a relay to first place. Williams ran a 10.6 for the 100 meters, which ranks him sixth in the country, while turning in a 21.50 for the 200 meters.

The 4X400 relays also took first with a clocking of 3:25.79, which is near the school record of 3:25.00. The relay was run by Michael Soto Jr., Timar Rogers, Arden Myrie and Williams.

In the same Lake Mary meet, senior Jiya Hastings took a first and a second, as did senior Jordan Singletary. Hastings won the long jump with a distance of 16 feet, 8.75 inches, while earning second in the 100 at 12.69. Singletary won the 300 hurdles with a fast time of 47.85, while taking second in the 100 hurdles at 16.55. She ran a leg in the second-place 4X400 relay team with a time of 4:37.82. She ran with Sydney Neira, Ai Hancock and Jessica Apakama.

At the Deltona meet held earlier in the week, Williams and Ethan Myrick each took firsts, with Myrie winning one. Hastings and Neira each won two events, with Singletary and Hancock each winning one, as did Lilly Clements.

The Bulldog athletic calendar is rather thin this week, with Spring Holiday about to begin; however, the track teams will be at the Spruce Creek Invitational at 8 a.m. Friday, March 19. The boys’ weightlifting team comes off quarantine and will compete against Father Lopez in the Bulldog gym at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 24. The baseball team plays host to Deltona Friday, March 26, on Sperling Field at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

DeLand High athlete alumna Amberleigh Sauer, who attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on a track scholarship, made another strong showing at the ERAU Invitational Track Meet. She won the shot put at 38 feet, 4.75 inches, while taking fourth in the discus and javelin.

Deltona High School

Deltona High School track athlete Tashanua Houston won the 300 hurdles at 54.6 in the Deltona Development meet.

Pine Ridge High School

Pine Ridge High School in Deltona has named its Teachers of the Quarter: Kathryn Buday, English; Megan Paytas, science; Rose Roman, reading; Kimberly Lurkins, CTE; Jason Patrick, math; John Navarra, social studies; Andrea Parrish, ESE; and David Peralta, electives – music. 

Social-studies teacher Judy Williamson was Pine Ridge’s nominee for the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s Crystal Apple Award. 

The Pine Ridge boys’ soccer team won the FHSAA district crown for the second year in a row. The girls’ soccer team earned FHSAA district runner-up honors. 

At the recent track meet at Deltona High School, Marc Dessources won the high jump with a 5-foot-7- inch leap. 

Six Pine Ridge students displayed their artwork in the Advanced Placement Student Art Show at ArtHaus Art Gallery in Port Orange: Teresa Quinones, Kirsten JnBaptiste, Elijah Wilson, Katelyn Brooke, AJ Anello and Kailah Lalanne. The art program at Pine Ridge is directed by Karen Richter. 

Sophomore Emily Ruiz sang the national anthem at the Feb. 1 Deltona City Commission meeting. 

The January Students of the Month were freshman Lauren Powell, sophomore Kamila Tirado-Dones, junior Jose Adorno-Bermudez and senior Damion Nathan. 

University High School 

At the Lake Mary Invitational Track Meet, Lavant Byrd, of University High School in Orange City, took second place overall in the 300 hurdles with a time of 43.70. 

At the Deltona meet earlier in the week, a number of University students took first place: Brandon Amoah (two firsts), Byrd, Aaron Hernandez, Alexis Ayala Marrero, Angel Lebron, Chandler Mitzo, Olivia Litwiniec, Briahna Martin, Christina Manfredi, Vivienne Merk and Morgan Northey

Stetson University 

In the latest National Council on Teacher Quality Teacher Prep Review: Program Diversity and Admissions 2021, the elementary-education program at Stetson University placed in the top 5 percent (59 out of 1,256 institutions) nationally for admission standards and diversity, and Stetson was ranked as one of the three leading universities in Florida. 

Stetson University athletics 

The Atlantic Sun Conference announced its conference selections for men’s basketball at a recent tournament. Chase Johnston of Stetson University was named Freshman of the Year, and he and fellow Hatter Josh Smith were both on the ASUN All-Freshmen Team. 

The Hatter men’s basketball team upset Bellarmine, 73-70, in the first round of the ASUN tournament. Christiaan Jones scored 19 points and had nine rebounds, with Mahamadou Diawara collecting 17 points and 11 rebounds. In the second round of tournament play, the Hats were stopped by Liberty, 77-64, to bring the Hatter season to an end. In this game, Jones had 20 points, while Johnston had 16. 

The Lady Hatter basketball team closed out their regular season with a 68-64 overtime win against Jacksonville University. Jamiya Turner had 21 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots and three steals, while senior Megan Vincent finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots, making her only the third Stetson player to record 200 career blocks. Kiya Turner finished the night with 14 points. The Lady Hatters earned the fifth seed in the women’s ASUN tournament. 

The Stetson baseball team stopped North Alabama, 16-5, 6-0 and 7-2, for a move to 9-0. They then met USF, which handed the Hatters their first two losses of the season, 3-2 and 10-5. During these games, Nick DiPonzio and Hernen Sardinas each hit a home run. 

The Stetson home athletic calendar has the baseball team hosting Wichita State at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, with the tennis teams hosting Kennesaw State at 10 a.m. 

Saturday, March 20, has Florida Gulf Coast coming to DeLand to face the men’s soccer team at 7 p.m., while the baseball team greets FIU at 3:30 p.m. 

Sunday, March 21, has FIU returning to Melching Field to face the Stetson baseball team at 3:30 p.m., with the men’s tennis team hosting North Florida at 3 p.m. 

Tuesday, March 23, finds the baseball team hosting FIU at 7 p.m. 

Wednesday, March 24, brings the Stetson beach volleyball team out onto the sands to greet Florida Gulf Coast at noon. 

Friday, March 26, has the Florida Gulf Coast baseball team in DeLand to face the Hatters at 6:30 p.m., while the rowing team brings Miami and Jacksonville into town at 8 a.m. 

Saturday, March 27, the Hatter baseball team again faces Florida Gulf Coast at 6:30 p.m., while the men’s soccer team greets North Florida at 7 p.m., and the softball team welcomes North Florida at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. 

Sunday, March 28, has the North Florida softball team returning at 2 p.m. to play the Lady Hatters, with the Hatter baseball team facing Florida Gulf Coast at 1 p.m. 

College honors 

Christina Davis, of DeBary, has earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Services from University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky

Cody King, of DeBary, has earned a Bachelor of Science in Missions and Ministry from University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. 

Kate Spellacy, of DeLand, was on the Tallahassee Community Col lege speech and debate team that won the Overall Team Sweepstakes Award at the Florida Intercollegiate Forensics Association 2021 State Championships. 

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