STATE CHAMP — DeLand High School weightlifter and state champion Mia Rhodes, left, poses with her coach Damion Dunn, and fellow weightlifter Addison Ruocco. Rhodes won in the 154-pound class in Olympic and Traditional styles of weightlifting, and set a new clean and jerk record of 240 pounds and a new snatch record of 205 pounds. Ruocco, a sophomore whose first trip to a state competition went well, competed in the Olympic style, finishing in 18th place in the state. PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTINA CAUSEY

DeLand High School senior Mia Rhodes is a FHSAA state champion! She not only is a single state titlist, but a double-title winner.

Rhodes traveled to Lakeland to participate in the FHSAA 3A Girls Weightlifting State Championship, and came away with two titles. She claimed the Traditional Division with a first place at the championships, while also claiming first in the new Olympic category.

In the traditional competition, she lifted a total of 415 pounds, while in the Olympic competition, she lifted a total of 445 pounds, while setting a state record.

In the Traditional Division, she outlifted second place by 20 pounds, while in the Olympic Division, her win was by 85 pounds. Her two first finishes led the DeLand team to 10th place out of 30 teams, while in the Olympic competition DeLand earned ninth overall.

The weightlifting coach at DeLand High is Damion Dunn.

Deltona High School and Pine Ridge High School of Deltona had competitors in the 2A Division, with Pierson Taylor Middle-High School having lifters in the 1A Division, but none of them earned state final points.

Volusia County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carmen Balgobin is offering a challenge to Volusia County students in reading, the deadline for which is March 19. Kindergartners and first-graders are challenged to read 12 books, while second-graders are challenged to read 15 books. Third- through fifth-graders are requested to read 300 minutes.

Middle-schoolers are also on a 300-minute challenge, while high-school students need 400 minutes.

Prizes are offered to those who meet the challenge, and the top 10 will be receiving a special award.

Check with your school on how to register, or go to

Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida is offering a “Special Kid, Special Families” series, which is a community networking and educational opportunity for families raising children with special needs. This is a forum where families can learn from local experts about a different topic each month, learn about resources in the community, and establish support and interactions with other parents who are on the same journey.

The sessions will take place 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Easterseals office at 125 N. Ridgewood Ave. in Daytona Beach. The March 14 session is “Understanding Autism.”

Home-schooled students have another environmental nature walk and classroom learning experience hosted by Lyonia Environmental Center 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, March 8. This meeting will be “Time Travelers,” at Gemini Springs Park in DeBary, 37 Dirksen Drive. The fee is $8 per child per program.

Register by calling Shari Smith at 386-789-7207, ext. 21026. For more program information, go to

Friday, March 10, is a holiday for students in Volusia County public schools, and it’s also a Teacher Duty Day.

Spring Holiday begins Monday, March 13, with students returning to class Monday, March 20.

Thursday, March 9, marks the end of the third grading period. Also during the month of March, there will be no early-release Wednesdays on the 1st, 8th and 22nd.

DeLand Middle School

The West Volusia Regional Chamber of Commerce has the honor of adopting DeLand Middle School. The chamber looks forward to helping the school and students with their STEM projects.

DeLand High School

The deadline for DeLand High School students to purchase Grad 23 Bash tickets for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is Thursday, March 9. The trip is scheduled for Saturday, April 22.

Deltona High School

The Mr. and Ms. DHS competition applications are due Wednesday, March 8, with the first mandatory meeting Thursday, March 9, in the Learning Commons.

Deltona High Grad Bash will take place Friday, April 28, and the deadline for purchasing tickets is Thursday, March 9. The cost is $100, which includes two parks and transportation.

The Deltona ROTC Program participated in the Hagerty High School Drill Competition. The program brought back two first-place finishes, along with a second and a third.

Deltona High congratulates two teachers for honors bestowed upon them: Amanda Forsythe has been selected as Deltona High’s First-Year Teacher of the Year nominee, and Anthony Saunders is the school’s Crystal Apple Award nominee.

Pine Ridge High School

Senior cap and gown photos for students at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona will be taken 8:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, March 30, by appointment only.

The Pine Ridge prom will take place Friday, May 5.

Senior Week has several dates already set: the Senior Dinner on Friday, May 19; Senior Awards, by invitation only, Thursday, May 25; graduation rehearsal at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 2; and graduation at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 3.

University High School

The track team at University High School in Orange City opened its season with a trip to the Sanford Seminole Open, which found four athletes winning events: Nyrania Barr-Miller in the 100-meter hurdles in 15.89, Julianna Supernaw in the 400 hurdles at 1:26.98, Angel Barnes in the adaptive 200 meters at 41/45, and Morgan Northey in the shot put with a push of 29 feet 7.25 inches.

DeLand High School Athletics

The DeLand High School Bulldog boys’ weightlifting team took third place in a match at Flagler Palm Coast. Those with second-place finishes were Erick Gilbert (2), Abdullah Knaio, Gabe Cyr, Jayden Lewis, Jaycee Kane and Jackson Oldham. Lewis and Kane also earned third-place finishes, and Reed Wilgers (2), Wyatt Dunne and Oldham took fourth place.

The DeLand High track team went to the Lake Mary Classic, with limited events being offered. MJ Smokes won the shot-put event with a 40-foot-6.25-inch effort. DeLand placed third in the boys’ competition, while the girls were seventh out of 11.

In the FHSAA District Tournament, the DeLand wrestling squad took first place with 257 points. Second went to Gainesville Buchholz with 193 points, followed by Flagler Palm Coast, Lake Mary and Sanford in the top-five slots.

Also, the DeLand JV wrestling team had two wrestlers place in the top three individually: Aiden Neal took a second in his weight division, and Jeremiah Garcia wrestled to a third-place finish. The Bulldog wrestlers who qualified for state compete March 4 and 5 in Kissimmee.

DeLand High grad Amberleigh Sauer took another first for the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University track team during the Last Chance/First Chance meet in Daytona Beach. She claimed first in the shot-put event with a 37-foot-8-inch effort.

The Bulldog sports calendar, which should be checked before traveling because of schedule changes due to weather, etc., places the girls’ flag-football team against Pine Ridge at the Sperling Sports Complex at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, March 3; the softball team at Orange City University at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. that same day; and the Bulldog baseball team at Orlando Prep Christian at 6:30 p.m., also on Friday, March 3.

The DeLand High track team will present the Big “D” Relays on the Bulldog track at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 4. This meet has been taking place for more than 50 years.

On Monday, March 6, the flag-football team goes to Spruce Creek to play at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., and the softball team plays at Sanford at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The junior-varsity baseball A Team greets Pine Ridge at 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 7, sends the flag-football team to New Smyrna Beach at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. That same day, the boys’ junior-varsity weightlifting team heads to the JV 5 Star Championships at Flagler Palm Coast, with the track team’s freshman/sophomore pole vaulters competing at Spruce Creek at 4 p.m. The baseball team plays at Apopka at 7 p.m., and the JV baseball B Team hosts Mainland at 4 p.m.

The boys’ varsity weightlifting team goes to Flagler Palm Coast Wednesday, March 8, for the 5 Star Championships. That same day, the freshman/sophomore track team plays at Deltona High for their championships at 3:30 p.m.

On March 8-10, the DeLand High tennis teams will be competing in the Five Star Tournament.

Thursday, March 9, finds the Lady Bulldog softball team at Seabreeze at 6 p.m. At the same time on the same day, the Bulldog baseball team meets Seabreeze in Daytona Beach. The DeLand JV baseball D Team meets Deltona in DeLand at 4:30 p.m.

The DeLand High beach-volleyball team plays in the Spruce Creek Tournament at the DME Academy on Friday, March 10. On the same day, the track team competes at Lake Brantley at 3 p.m.

Stetson University Athletics

Stetson University Hatter basketball player Wheza Panzo leads the NCAA nationally in 3-point percentage shooting with a 50-percent mark.

The Hatter men’s basketball team picked up two wins against Florida Gulf Coast University, 75-72 and 88-84. In the first win, Stephan Swenson scored 23 points with six rebounds, Jalen Blackmon made 15 points, and Josh Smith had 10 points. In the second game, Luke Brown led the Hatter scoring with 22 points, while Blackmon had 21 points and six rebounds, Panzo had 15 points, and Swenson scored 12 points.

The Lady Hatter basketball team defeated Austin Peay, 53-48, with Jaelyn Talley getting 13 points with seven rebounds. Kiya Turner scored 11 points with six rebounds and three steals, and Jamiya Turner added 11 points as well.

The team was defeated by Lipscomb, 68-52, with Jordan Peete getting 12 points, as did Talley, with eight rebounds. Khamya McNeal finished with 10 points. At this game, the team honored seniors Sydney Gouard, Maddie Novak, J. Turner, K. Turner and Mali Morgan-Elliott.

The Stetson softball team lost to FIU, 6-3, but defeated Fairfield, 2-1 and 3-0, and Mercer, 3-1 and 8-0.

In the 3-0 win over Fairfield, Briana Robinson hit a home run. In the 8-0 win over Mercer, Kami Eppley, Marissa Baxter and Jordyn Stanfill homered.

The Stetson baseball team opened its 2023 season with an 18-0 win over Manhattan. In that game, Stetson had 13 extra base hits, with Brandon Hylton hitting two out of the park, while Jayden Hylton, Christian Pregent and Andrew Estrella each had one homer. The Hats then downed Manhattan, 9-1, with Estrella getting another home run.

The baseball team plays at home against Mount St. Mary’s at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 3, against Pittsburgh at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 5, and against Mount St. Mary’s at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 6.

Also on Friday, March 3, the women’s tennis team faces Charleston at 10 a.m. On Sunday, March 5, the team plays against Louisiana Tech at 10 a.m.

Also on Sunday, March 5, the lacrosse team greets the University of Massachusetts – Lowell at noon.

On Wednesday, March 8, the Stetson softball team hosts Holy Cross at noon, and the men’s tennis team faces Coastal Carolina at 2 p.m.

College honors

Aiden Trapani, of Deltona, has been named to the dean’s list for the fall 2022 semester at Northern Vermont University.

Flagler College in St. Augustine congratulates Shianne Jackson and Cornelius Oostwouder, both of DeBary, for being named to the 2022 spring semester’s President’s List. Jackson is an English major, and Oostwouder is a public history major.

— Send school news to Tony Tussing via email: at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here