Volusia County Schools will host and celebrate the 56th Tomoka Regional Science and Engineering Fair Saturday, Jan. 28, at Stetson University’s Hollis Center, located off of Bert Fish Drive in DeLand. The fair features student science- and engineering-research projects from our area middle schools, high schools and charter schools.

There will be a public viewing 1:30-2:30 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Hollis Center. An awards ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Atlantic High School, 1250 Reed Canal Road in Port Orange.

Local schools send delegates to the regional fair to compete among their peers for a chance to be selected for the state Science and Engineering Fair in April. The Junior Division (middle school) is now affiliated with a national competition as the high schools have been.

The longevity of the Tomoka Regional Science and Engineering Fair can be attributed to the support of volunteer judges who come from local colleges and universities, as well as many professional firms in the fields of engineering and health care.

Support also comes in the form of special awards for the students from local businesses each year. This year, all first-place-category winners will receive $100, thanks to a continued donation from the Manatee Festival Committee.

The Federal Uniform Graduation Rate has been finalized and published for schools and districts in Florida. Volusia County’s 2021-22 graduation rate is 88.9 percent. This is 1.6 percentage points above the graduation rate for the state (87.3 percent).

Volusia County schools had the highest three-year graduation-rate increase within the Central Florida Coalition of school districts. Volusia County’s current graduation rate increased 4.4 percentage points from the pre-COVID 2018-19 rate of 84.5 percent, when assessment waivers were not in place.

Volusia County schools saw a decrease of 3 percentage points from 91.9 percent to 88.9 percent compared to the 2020-21 graduation rate, when assessment waivers were in place from the COVID-19 emergency orders.

According to the Florida Department of Education, when comparing graduation rates, it is important to note that students included in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 graduation rates were exempt from statewide assessment requirements. Approximately 8.5 percent of the state’s 2019-20 and 7.1 percent of the 2020-21 graduating class were granted exemptions. Without assessment, graduation rates would have been negatively impacted during these two years.

The City of Deltona is proud to offer financial assistance to residents to further their education with a degree from one of Florida’s institutes of higher learning. Applications for the 2023 William S. Harvey Scholarships are available on the city’s website and in the guidance offices of Deltona, Pine Ridge and University high schools.

Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office at Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd., by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, or postmarked by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6.

Applicants must be accepted for enrollment at an accredited Florida college, community college, university or technical school.

Fully completed scholarship applications must include all required support materials before the deadline. Two-time recipients of the scholarship are not eligible.

Blue Lake Elementary School

Blue Lake Elementary School in DeLand congratulates Allison King for being the school’s spelling-bee champion, while Julie Hopkins was the runner-up.

The school also congratulates Khloe Galarza for being the Superstar of the Month.

Citrus Grove Elementary School

Citrus Grove Elementary School in DeLand congratulates Nevaeh Burdi for being named the Star Student at a recent DeLand City Commission meeting. She was nominated due to her continued perseverance and effort in all areas of her education.

Nevaeh continues to strive to meet both personal and independent goals in all settings, doing her “Eagle Best and Nothing Less.” She sets the example for all to follow inside and outside of the classroom.


The fourth- and fifth-grade spelling-bee champion at Citrus Grove is Monique Lozano from the fourth-grade class of Susan Bundy. There were 26 students in the bee, and the last two made it to Round 23. Monique won by spelling “maniacal.”

Enterprise Elementary School

Enterprise Elementary School is in the midst of fundraising with Little Caesars by selling pizza kits. These must be ordered online at The fundraiser ends Saturday, Feb. 4, and the proceeds will benefit student and staff recognition.

Freedom Elementary School

The Girls on the Run Club at Freedom Elementary School in DeLand helped raise and donate $255.57 to the Halifax Humane Society through “Pennies for Pets.” The winning class was that of Deborah Cohen, which donated $78. By being the top class, they won a pizza party donated by The Original Anthony’s Pizza in DeBary.

McInnis Elementary School

Class Picture Day at McInnis Elementary School in DeLeon Springs will be Monday, Jan. 30. Order forms were sent home prior to the event. You can order online at

Every year, the DeLeon Springs Community Association Inc. presents a new bicycle and helmet to a third-grade boy and girl who accumulate the most “Reading Counts” points for the current school year. The program is known as “The Ride Into Reading.”

Manatee Cove Elementary School

The spelling bee at Manatee Cove Elementary School in Orange City went 18 rounds before finishing with the spelling of the word “squinched.” Kaitlin Moran was the champion, and Sadie Owens was the runner-up. The school offers special thanks to Vicki Jaques, Amaris Mendoza and Jamie Haynes for judging.

Pierson Elementary School

Pierson Elementary School will host a Daddy/Daughter Dance (and fundraiser) 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in the cafeteria.

Pride Elementary School

The School Advisory Council at Pride Elementary School in Deltona will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, in the media center.

Spirit Elementary School

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, Spirit Elementary School in Deltona will have a fundraiser at Chick-fil-A in Orange City for Spirit Night.

Volusia Pines Elementary School

Volusia Pines Elementary School in Lake Helen has named Britt Deyo as the Employee of the Month. She is the front-office receptionist and always welcomes Volusia Pines Panthers with a smiling face.

Heritage Middle School

The National FFA Organization officers at Heritage Middle School in Deltona will meet 3:30-4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, in AG Room 5-4.

Heritage Middle will have Science Night 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, in the cafeteria.

River Springs Middle School

The eighth-grade class at River Springs Middle School in Orange City partnered with the Orlando Science Center to host a community Gross-Out Science Night. The eighth-graders ran all the stations, while students from River Springs Middle and from Manatee Cove, DeBary and Orange City elementary schools used their passports to go from station to station. Thank you to Susan Parker for putting on this interesting evening.

The River Springs United Special Olympics basketball team, which consists of ESE and general-education students, won two games at Mainland High School by outscoring Hinson Middle School of Daytona Beach. The team, which is coached by Dr. Lisa Whiston and Shannon Waldrop, was to learn Jan. 17 if it won the right to advance to the state tournament in February.

DeLand High School

DeLand High School students who are interested in dual enrollment at Daytona State College need to take the PERT, which will be given on campus Monday- Wednesday, Feb. 13-15. To take the PERT, you must sign up by Tuesday, Feb. 7. To be eligible for the PERT, you must be enrolled in sixth through 12th grade, have a GPA in a high-school-level course with college-credit programs, have a required minimum 3.0 unweighted high-school GPA and qualifying test scores or vocational programs with a minimum of 2.0 cumulative unweighted high-school GPA and qualifying test scores.

Cap and gown orders for DeLand High seniors go up in price Wednesday, Feb. 1. Order yours at

Deltona High School

Deltona High School proudly reports that, for the second year in a row, it has the highest percentage of graduates in all Volusia and Flagler county schools, with a 96-percent graduation rate.

Deltona High congratulates the following students for being selected as Students of the Month, with Aidan McLarnon as “Wolf of the Month,” Leniel Carrasquillo as “Scholar of the Month,” Marcelle Ewandje Girard as “Citizen of the Month,” and Payton Woerner as “Athlete of the Month.”

The following staff members at Deltona High were also honored, with Lissette Holmes as “Teacher of the Month,” Miranda Orlando with the “Classroom of the Month,” Stefanie Tsompanidis for “Spirit of the Month,” Amaryllis Shaw for “Newcomer of the Month” and Frances Billerth for “Staff Member of the Month.”

Pine Ridge High School

Pine Ridge High School in Deltona reminds all students of the following dates: PERT testing Monday- Thursday, Feb. 13-16; Algebra Bootcamp, Thursday-Friday, Feb. 16-17; FSA Algebra 1 retakes Tuesday-Friday, Feb. 21-24; FSA Reading/Writing retakes Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 27- March 1; and 11th-and 12th-grade ACT NCR Tuesday, March 7.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal has selected Jay Brockhaus of Pine Ridge High as a nominee for the “All-Area Football Defensive Player of the Year” for Volusia, Flagler and St. Johns counties.

University High School

University High School in Orange City has announced the appointment of Justin Roberts as the new head football coach. He replaces coach Brian Kells, who coached the Titans for 10 years with a 55-46 record.

Roberts is a veteran of the Titan football staff, serving for nine seasons. He has served as the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. He spent a year as the co-offensive coordinator coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers for Hagerty High School in Oviedo.

Roberts has also been the head boys’ weightlifting coach at University for six years and five years for the girls’ team.

He graduated from DeLand High in 2009, and from Valdosta State University in 2012, where he was an NCAA-Elite 89 award recipient, which is awarded to the athlete with the highest GPA on each team competing in national championships.

Roberts was on the 2012 Gulf Shore Conference All-Academic Team, was named 2012 VSU Athletics Male Student/Athlete Academic Athlete of the Year, received the 2012 VSU College of Business Management Outstanding Senior Management Award (highest GPA in graduating class for the major) and the 2012 Jerome Jackson Memorial Award from VSU Football for the team member who represents VSU culture and what it stands for. He was also named the 2010-12 VSU Football Representative on the Gulf South Conference and to the NCAA Student Athlete Advisory Committee. In 2019, Roberts was inducted into the Valdosta State University Hall of Fame.

His family history has a line of football coaches. His father and grandfather coached a combined 30-plus years. Both his parents have also been head coaches in the University athletic program. Roberts’ wife, Jessica, is a teacher at University High, and they have two sons.

DeLand High School Athletics

The DeLand High School wrestling team set school history by earning the right to compete for the first time ever in the Dual Matches FHSAA State Championships later this year. To earn the right to compete in the state meet, the team defeated Creekside, 45-25, and Buchholz, 47-25.

The DeLand Bulldog boys’ soccer team lost to Seabreeze, 4-3, with junior Jeshua Roldan scoring two goals and junior Gavin Nestle one.

The Bulldog boys’ basketball team picked up another win by stopping Seabreeze, 49-44, but was topped by University, 64-52. The Bulldogs also competed in the Martin Luther King Tournament at Spruce Creek High School, where they lost to Dunnellon, 51-49. They played Calvary Christian on the second day of the tourney.

Two DeLand High football players have been named as nominees for Offensive Player of the Year for the Volusia/Flagler/St. Johns All-Area, sponsored by The Daytona Beach News-Journal. The two are TJ Moore and Javon Ross, while MJ Smokes was selected as a nominee for Defensive Player of the Year honors. The top selection will be named later in the spring.

The Lady Bulldog girls’ basketball team was topped by University, 32-28, and the Lady Bulldog girls’ soccer team stopped University, 1-0, and was defeated by Mainland, 5-1.

The DHS sports calendar has the Bulldog soccer team entering FHSAA District play Thursday, Jan. 26, while the wrestling team will be in the Flagler Palm Coast Tournament Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28.

Monday, Jan. 30, has the Bulldog boys’ basketball team playing host to Innovation at 6 p.m. On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the wrestling team welcomes University for a dual match at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The boys’ basketball team goes to Mainland Thursday, Feb. 2, with games at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and the Lady Bulldog weightlifting team competes in the FHSAA Regional Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 2-4.

Stetson University Athletics

The Stetson University Hatter men’s basketball team topped Bellarmine, 80- 51, with Jalen Blackmon scoring 21 points, Luke Brown 20 points, Josh Smith 18 points with nine rebounds and four blocked shots, and Wheza Panzo adding 12 points. The Hats then lost their first ASUN game of the year to Eastern Kentucky, 85-70, with Panzo scoring 14 points, and Smith getting 10 points and five rebounds.

The Lady Hatter women’s basketball team topped Central Arkansas, 57-47, with Jamiya Turner scoring 14 points, Khamya McNeal 12 points, and Jaelyn Talley 11 points with seven rebounds.

North Alabama topped the Lady Hatters, 60-57, with McNeal scoring 17 points with seven rebounds, while Turner and Talley each had 13 points.

The Stetson athletic calendar sends the men’s basketball team to Queens at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, while at the same time and day, the women play host to Eastern Kentucky.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, the men greet North Arkansas, while the women play at North Florida, with both games starting at 7 p.m.

College honors

The following students were named to the 2022 fall semester President’s List at Southern New Hampshire University:

Courtney Kehrley, Tiffany Sadler and Doritha Irons-Simpson, all of DeLand; Tina Carter-Trenchard, of Enterprise; and Chad Mooney, of Deltona. Josh Schweickert, of DeBary, was named to the 2022 fall semester dean’s list.

Mark Leavitt, of DeLand, has been named to the dean’s list for the 2022 fall semester at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.

Gabriel Gil, of DeLand, earned a certificate in leadership from the Graduate Management Program at The University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Anastasia Goelzer, of Deltona, a junior at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, has been named to the college’s dean’s list for the 2022 fall semester.

Katherinne Rodriguez, of DeLand, has been named to the 2022 fall semester dean’s list at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

— Send school news to Tony Tussing via email: at


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