linda aviles
BANK OF AMERICA STUDENT LEADER — Linda Aviles, a rising senior at T. DeWitt Taylor Middle-High School in Pierson, has been selected as a 2022 Bank of America Student Leader. Aviles is passionate about supporting local low-income families and is determined to make a difference in her community. To do just that, she became a volunteer for the Farmworker Association of Florida. Her leadership within FWAF includes administrative work and volunteer events, as well as day-to-day translations and helping create/ disperse donation bags. As a student leader, she will work closely with the United Way of Volusia and Flagler Counties and gain exposure to workforce skills, leadership and civic engagement. PHOTO COURTESY KATIE KISELEWSKI

FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools has promoted Shimene Shepard to executive director of FUTURES. This became effective July 1 with the retirement of Cynthia Perrick Ramirez.

Ms. Shepard has served FUTURES as the coordinator of the Take Stock in Children (TSIC) program since 2016. Under her direction, the TSIC program has achieved Luminary and Gold status.

Ms. Ramirez served as the executive director for the past eight years and volunteered on the board of directors from 2000 to 2014. She was the board president in 2005-06.

The Stetson University Alumni Engagement Office has arranged for an Alumni Day with the Tampa Bay Rays.

This will take place Saturday, July 30, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Game time is 1 p.m., when the Rays host the Cleveland Guardians.

For ticket information, contact the Alumni Engagement Office at

PEO SCHOLARSHIP — Mary-Kate Hoang, a recent graduate of the International
Program at DeLand High School, is the proud recipient of the $2,500 PEO STAR Scholarship. This award was presented by DeLand
PEO Chapter DT, in recognition of Hoang’s superior
achievements academically, as well as through activities
and service. Hoang
will be attending Stetson University in the fall with a
major in cell and molecular biology and a minor in music.
Her long-term goal is to become an orthodontist.

DeLand High School Athletics

DeLand High School freshman Kylie Neira broke the school female pole vault record while competing in the AAU Region 9 National Qualifier held in June at the University of North Florida.

She cleared 3.05 meters, or 10 feet, during the meet, which qualified her to compete in the 2022 AAU Junior Olympics in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Neira competes for the Thin Air Vault Club located in Casselberry.

DeLand Lightning Bolts Track Club

Thirteen athletes in the DeLand Lightning Bolts Track Club qualified to advance to the AAU 2022 Junior Olympics in Greensboro, North Carolina, by placing in the top six at the AAU Region 9 Qualifier held on the University of North Florida track in Jacksonville.

Six of the athletes qualified first in nine events. These included Saleigh Simpson, who took first in the 14-year-old competition in the pentathlon with 2,645 points, almost 900 ahead of second, as well as in the high jump at 4 feet, 9 inches. Simpson also took second in the long jump and the 200-meter hurdles.

FIRST PLACE IN THE LONG JUMP — Cornelius Dunn Jr., age 7, took first place in the long jump at the AAU Region 9 National Qualifier in Jacksonville with a winning leap for his age group of 11 feet, 6 inches. This earned him a spot in the AAU Junior National Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. Dunn does his jumping for the DeLand Lightning Bolts Track Club.

Also earning two firsts was Avian Edwards-Pla, who competed in the 15- to 16-year-old division and won the 100 and 200 meters at 10.85 and 21.15, respectively, while taking second in the 400 meters.

The only other athlete to win two events for the Lightning Bolts was Marvin Walker Jr., in the 12-year-old category, who won the 100 and 200 meters at 12.14 and 25.00, respectively.

Single event winners were Krista Hansen in the turbo javelin for 12-year-olds at 87 feet, 10 inches, while taking second in the shot put; Sarai Simpson in the 17-year-old shot put at 36 feet, 10 inches, including a fifth in shot put; and 7-year-old Cornelius Dunn Jr. in the long jump at 11 feet, 6 inches.

Taylor Royster placed second in the 14-year-old triple jump, and also collected a third in the pentathlon and long jump and a sixth in the 200 hurdles.

Gaining third-place finishes were 11-year-old Tyshalee Pagan in the shot put (and also achieving fourth place in the turbo javelin); 11-year-old Caiden Adams in the 800-meter run; and 18-year-old Fabian McKnight in the 110 high hurdles.

Others who qualified in places fourth through sixth were 6-year-old Delise Johnson in the 800, 11-year-old Amir Allen in the 80 hurdles, and 16-year-old Alicyn White in the triple jump.

The DeLand Lightning Bolts are directed by Deke Harris, who is assisted by four other coaches. The team practices at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday on the DeLand High School track. Stop by if your child has interest, and find out about the details and cost.

Stetson University Athletics

The Stetson University women’s tennis team continues to create program history. The team will open its 2022-23 season in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Athens, Georgia, Jan. 27-28, 2023. The Lady Hatters will be facing the University of Georgia, who finished last season 12th in the country.

The other two teams competing will be the University of Southern California and Notre Dame. On the second day, the two winners from the first day will face one another, while those that lost will play one another.

The ITA Kick-Off Weekend will feature 120 teams competing in 30 sites.

Jeff Altier, Stetson athletic director, has announced that three head coaches have received contract extensions, while two members of the athletics staff received promotions.

Lynn Bria, Stetson women’s basketball head coach, received her fifth extension going through the 2025-26 season. She has also served as the chairperson of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee.

Travis Sandlant, Stetson women’s tennis head coach, has had his contract extended through the 2024- 25 season. He was named the ASUN Coach of the Year this past season, as well as the ITA Regional Coach of the Year.

Bryan Harmon, Stetson’s head coach for men’s and women’s cross-country, has received an extension, too. He had several runners this season establish program records. His contract extension goes through the 2024-25 season.

Staff members receiving promotions were Benjamin Cousins and Augusta Thramer. Cousins, who has served as assistant athletic director for facilities, events and operations, has been promoted to associate athletic director of facilities, events and operations. Thramer has served the past two years as athletics marketing and promotions graduate assistant, and is now a full-time assistant director of athletics development and corporate fulfillment.

College honors

Jared Council, of DeLand, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and religious studies from Albion College in Albion, Michigan. Council is the son of Anne-Marie Lett of DeLand, and is a graduate of DeLand High School.

Eric Joseph Gaskell, of DeLand, has been named to the spring 2022 dean’s list at The University of Utah. He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in games.

Katharyn Wallace, of DeLand, graduated from The University of Tampa with a Bachelor of Science in forensic science. Vanessa Harris, of Deltona, also graduated from The University of Tampa. Her bachelor’s degree is in psychology.

Also at The University of Tampa, the following students have been named to the dean’s list: Lauren Fantone, of DeLand, a junior majoring in accounting; Courtney Taylor, of DeLand, a junior majoring in film and media arts; Vanessa Harris, of Deltona, a senior majoring in psychology; and Kaylee Rice, of DeLand, a junior majoring in allied health.

Lacey Crandall, of DeLand, has earned a Master of Education in instructional technology from Valdosta State University in Georgia.

— Send school news to Tony Tussing via email: at


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