Friday, December 4, 2015

Student Building Teaching Future

Viper Senior Recognized as 
Challenger 7 Elementary School's 
Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year

It is a big heart that makes both a great volunteer and a great teacher. Just ask senior Cassidy Michonski.

In addition to being a top academic performer at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School, once a week Cassidy volunteers at Challenger 7 Elementary school to help a class of third grade students build a stronger foundation to excel in their academic futures.

"Every week, I get to teach a class," said Cassidy. "I come with my own lesson to teach the third graders. It is a really great experience."

Asked about her secret for coming up with creative lessons, Cassidy smiled and said, "Pinterest." She added, "I try to do something with the holidays such as Thanksgiving and Veteran's Day."

Cassidy serves as an intern for Ms. Wise, a third grade teacher at Challenger 7. "Ms. Wise is so nice and so involved in helping me get the full classroom experience," said Cassidy.

Because Ms. Wise is so committed to providing a rich and relevant volunteer experience, Cassidy has gained invaluable skills and perspectives which will help make her a more effective full-time teacher in the future. "Ms. Wise never just has me sit and grade papers," said Cassidy. "She really wants me to have a meaningful experience where I am really involved in planning and teaching lessons and interacting with the kids. She helps me so much."

The appreciation and respect Cassidy feels for Ms. Wise is a two-way street. "Cassidy is a hard worker who is always willing to go the extra mile for the students," said Ms. Wise. "She is enthusiastic and very involved with whatever I ask her to do with the students."

Teaching is a passion that comes naturally for Cassie. "At first, I was nervous but the class is very welcoming so I quickly got used to it," she said.  "I always love hearing what the kids have to say because they're very creative."

In turn, Ms. Wise's class has grown attached to their guest teacher. "The students get very excited when I am in class," said Cassidy. "When I judged the Science Fair, the students were so excited because I usually volunteer on Thursdays but the Science Fair was on a Friday and they were like, 'We get to see Ms. Cassidy on a Friday! We never get to see her on a Friday!' It's nice to know how much they enjoy having me there."

Challenger 7's Assistant Principal, Mrs. Tami Lanterman, also holds Cassidy in a high regard. "Cassidy is a youth volunteer who concerns herself with the academic achievement of others," said Mrs. Lanterman. "Cassidy's volunteer work serves as a model to others in the Brevard Public Schools and we are fortunate to have her as a youth school volunteer."

While Cassidy savors the award, she laughs about how she was informed about it. "When I was signing in on a volunteer day, the front office clerk told me the Assistant Principal wanted to see me, which was nerve-racking. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to get in trouble at a school I don't even go to!' When I walked into Mrs. Lanterman's office, she asked me to sit down, which made me even more nervous!  Then she said, 'Congratulations, you've been selected as Challenger 7's Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year!'"

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Principal Robert Spinner said, "Cassidy brings tremendous pride to Space Coast. She has not only maximized her own academic opportunities but has been of great service to her community."

What was it like earning such a prestigious award? "First I was speechless," said Cassidy. "Then I started crying."

Back at Space Coast, Cassidy was touched by the warm reception from her peers and teachers. "It was exciting when it was announced over the afternoon announcements. All of my teachers are saying nice things to me. It is so awesome about how big of a deal everyone is making about it."

In the end, Cassidy knows it is the value of the volunteer experiences, not the praise from the award, that will solidify her successes when the day comes she is a full-time teacher. "This experience has helped prepare me for situations that you don't plan, like when kids ask you certain questions and you have to be able to answer them in a way they understand it," she said.

Upon high school graduation, Cassidy will begin her college career at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is majoring in Secondary Education. Already, she is planning for life after college. "I want to move to New York City and become a History or English teacher at the secondary level," she said.

A great volunteer and a great teacher, Cassidy certainly has big dreams to go along with a big heart.

Along with the Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year, Mary Marr, and the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year, Karen Merrell, Cassidy will be honored during the ABC Awards Ceremony at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne on January 27th at 6 p.m.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Super Bowl Comes Early

Viper Students Selected to Rehearse and Perform with Top Musicians at All-State

For band, chorus, and orchestra students in schools around Florida, All-State is the Super Bowl of music performances.

In January, the Florida Music Educators' Association (FMEA) will host a Professional Development Conference at the Tampa Convention Center which will showcase some of the greatest musicians in the state.

According to the FMEA website, the annual event is one of the largest music education professional development events in the United States. Attendees include secondary music directors, elementary music teachers, music supervisors, college music teachers, school administrators, and nearly 3,000 students performing in the All-State ensembles.

In an honor considered as prestigious in the K-12 music universe as Super Bowl MVP is in the world of sports, six extraordinarily talented Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School students were selected to participate in All-State.

Brianna Bradley, an 8th grader, had mixed feelings about learning she had been selected for All-State's Middle School Mix Choir. "I was really happy but I was also upset because one of my good friends didn't make it," she said. "I wanted to be able to go through this experience with her."

Despite the disappointment, Brianna is looking forward to her first trip to All-State. "The best part is it lets everyone know that I work hard to get to where I am. I want to work hard so I can be the best singer I can be."

Ciera Paul, a 12th grader, made the All-State Women's Choir. "I consider myself pretty manly when it comes to how I sing," she said with a smile.

The heightened quality of musical talent is compelling to Ciera. "All-State is a great experience because you're around people with the same passion as you have and with people who have worked as hard as you have to get to where you are. You know everyone is going to be trying their best."

Much as she loves it, heading to All-State isn't just about the music. "I'm looking forward to the gourmet lollipops sold in the convention center," Ciera joked. "There's blueberry cheesecake and Caribbean dream. I bought 75 of them last year."

Sara Flanigan, an 11th grader, also made the All-State Women's Choir. "It's not often you get an opportunity like this," she said. "All-State is a giant learning experience. I'm looking forward to the actual performance itself. Getting on stage, performing, and having that sense of achievement and knowing all of that hard work has paid off. The audience will love it."

Norman McCorvey, a 12th grader, will be attending All-State for the 5th time. He will be participating in the Reading Choir. "It requires participants to read music spontaneously," he said. "After we finish one piece, we get another one. On the stage, we have to be able to look at the music for the first time and just start singing."

Norman credits Space Coast's Choral Director and Junior Orchestra Director, Mr. Michell Avey, with helping him and other students maximize their potential as musicians. "Mr. Avey is tough on his students in the sense that he wants them to reach their potential," said Norman. "He gives students a lot of feedback and really wants them to excel."

"Mr. Avey has been really helpful," said Sara. "He points out the areas you did well and also helps pinpoint what you need to improve to get better."

"They've worked extremely hard," said Mr. Avey. "I'm proud of all of them. They'll be in an environment where every single person is passionate about music. It's just a caliber of musicianship that you only experience a few times in your life."

The skills students learn at All-State will also open up leadership opportunities. "It's a great way for students to learn new techniques from the directors they're working with," said Mr. Avey. "They are the ambassadors for our program and will be taking back these strategies to use them as leaders in the classroom to further our program."

Adelle Paltin, a 9th grader who has played the violin for four and a half years, is going to All-State for the first time. "I am super excited," she said. "I'm excited about playing harder music, seeing more and more challenging pieces, and getting to play with people who are a much higher level than I am so I know what to strive for in the future."

It has not been missed on Adelle just how much support she has received from several key teachers.

Ms. Christina Cuny is Space Coast's Band Director. "Ms. Cuny is very supportive," said Adelle. "She wants you to achieve big goals like making All-State."

Mrs. Linda Waid also works closely with developing the skills of orchestra students. "Mrs. Waid helps me prepare the music and gives me constructive criticism to help me get better," said Adelle.

Working with a local music instructor, Mr. Casey Moorman, has also benefited Adelle's growth as a violinist. "Taking private lessons with Mr. Moorman has been one of the best decisions I've ever made," said Adelle. "He helps me try things that I've never done before. He prepares me with better music and more skills. He encourages me to audition more to get my name out there so people know what I'm capable of doing."

Adelle isn't the only student who has a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Moorman. "Mr. Moorman is a very kind man," said Norman. "He is amazing. He is one the best violinists I know."

Paul Rigolini, a 12th grader, made All-State High School Band. He plans to attend college and pursue a career in music education. "I've always loved music," he said. "I'm excited about All-State." 

Ms. Cuny is proud of what her students have accomplished. "Both Adelle and Paul have worked very hard to be chosen to represent Space Coast in the Honor Groups," she said. "It's a great privilege and I know they will represent us well."

A harmonic truth: Space Coast's MVPs of music will be ready for super All-Star performances.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Author Highlights Book Fair

Alethea Kontis Visit and BAM Book Fair 
Fuel Excitement for Reading and Writing

For bestselling author Alethea Kontis (a.k.a., Princess Alethea), visiting schools isn't just about selling her books. It's about promoting literacy and inspiring teenagers to persevere through what could very well be one of the most trying periods of their lives.

Notoriously, middle school is an age in which students everywhere experience universal complexities which can seem unequivocally daunting and hopelessly difficult to go throughuntil they talk with others who have overcome similar challenges.

Princess Alethea draws from her own personal experiences in relating to students. "Middle school is super, super tough for kids," she said. "I was really popular in the 5th grade. When I got into the 6th grade, my best friend 'broke up with me' and suddenly I had no friends. It was really, really hard."

By encouraging students to keep believing in themselves and to stay true to their dreams, Princess Alethea helps make life easier and brighter for students.

"Middle school is very pivotal but it was also the worst experience of my life. That's why I like visiting schoolsparticularly middle schools. I write the books that I would have liked to read when I was 12. I am the person now who I wanted to be when I was 12, so in a sense, it was a happy ending for me."

For two days, Princess Alethea visited the Books-a-Million Book Fair at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School and signed books for student. She made a lot of connections with students, who found her easy to talk to about books, writing, and the middle school experience. "I'm BFF's with everybody," she said.

With her signature smile, Princess Alethea signed personalized copies of her books for students who were eager to read titles such as Enchanted, Dearest, and Hero

"Princess Alethea is very nice," said Adrianna Patracone, a 7th grader. "Her books sound very interesting. Some of the characters in her books are actually based off of some of her siblings, which seems funny."

"It was cool meeting the author," said Sara Flanigan, an 11th grader. "I really want to read her books."

When students have the rare opportunity to meet a successful author, it is common for them ask questions about how to become a published author down the road. What advice does the author have for young, aspiring writers? "Never stop writing," she said. "I wish I had written more when I was younger."

At the Books-a-Million Book Fair, students had a chance to view a wide selection of books covering a variety of subjects, genres, and topics. 

In addition to signing books and speaking to students about writing and the middle school life in the Media Center during the book fair, Princess Alethea also visited students in Mrs. Lorie Marshall's reading class to share her enthusiasm for reading.

"My students asked a lot of good questions," said Mrs. Marshall, who is Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School's Teacher of the Year. "They were really curious about how she got her story ideas. She took the time to explain where a lot of her ideas come from and how she goes about writing her stories."

The fiery enthusiasm Princess Alethea feels for her characters and stories is transparent in the way she exhibits elaborate costumes complete with a glowing dress, glittery face paint, and a magnetic smile as she brings her characters to life in front of students.

"I thought a lot about the author's visit and her approach with the students," said Mrs. Marshall. "I feel like if authors got into their characters as much as Princess Alethea does, then more kids would buy into the idea that reading is fun."

Students in Mrs. Lorie Marshall's reading class enjoyed a surprise visit from bestselling author Alethia Kontis. "It was fun visiting Mrs. Marshall's class," said Princess Alethea.

Princess Alethea's visit and the book fair was made possible by Mrs. Carol Manders, the Event Coordinator of Books-a-Million in the Brevard area. "It's a lot of fun doing book fairs," she said. "I have a love of reading and I like to share it with others. My favorite part is the interaction with the kids and being able to introduce them to new authors and titles."

Books-a-Million offers an extensive selection of books which appeal to readers of all ages, reading levels, and interests. "After students pass the Scholastic Book Fair age, there isn't really anything out there to fill the need, especially at the high school level," said Mrs. Manders. "I believe in Books-a-Million being part of the community."

"I love book fairs," said Bryce Davis, a 7th grader. "There are tons of chapter books offered."

Proceeds from the book fair also allows the Media Center to add a wider selection of books to offer for student checkout. "There are such a bigger variety of books available at the junior senior high school level library," said Bryce. "I've read triple the amount of books at Space Coast Jr./Sr. than I read in elementary school."

The life of a teenager isn't always easy, but when it comes to getting excited about reading and writing, a visit from a bestselling author coupled with a book fair certainly helps shine light on their world.

To learn more about Alethea Kontis and her books, visit her website.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Masterful Drafting Teacher Honored

Award-Winning Space Coast Teacher 
Helps Position Students for High Paying Jobs

Some people are born to draw. Others are born to teach. Mrs. Carolynn Gannon was born to do both.

Teaching over a span of 25 years, Mrs. Gannon has inspired thousands of students to assemble a multi-dimensional view of drafting as a vehicle for expanding career opportunities and enhancing personal rewards upon graduation.

"I came through industry," she said. "I was a drafter and designer for Kennedy Space Center. My former drafting teacher, Dell Likens, was very likable and influential. He convinced me I should become a teacher. The year he retired, I walked into my old classroom as a teacher. I even found an old gradebook with my name in it!"

The career move has paid measurable dividends in the form of positive impact on the lives of students. "I fell in love with the kids," she said. "It was so neat to see all the potential they have to be successful."

"I used to tell students, 'They paid me to draw. I made a living out of just drawing. It was a great thing because it was something I was able to do and enjoy so much.'"

With her passion and expertise for drawing and teaching serving as a blueprint for the success of a fleet of workforce-ready students, the Manufacturer's Association of Central Florida (MACF) recently recognized Mrs. Gannon at their Annual President's Award Dinner as the 2015 Educator of the Year.

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Principal Robert Spinner celebrates a crowning achievement for drafting teacher Carolynn Gannon, who was recognized by the Manufacturer's Association of Central Florida as the 2015 Educator of the Year. "I was completely surprised at the award," said Mrs. Gannon. 

The Executive Director of the MACF, Mrs. Sherry Reeves, works with education and manufacturing leaders through Seminole, Orange, Lake, Osceola, and Brevard counties. "My job is to be a connector," she said.

Mrs. Reeves views teachers like Mrs. Gannon as the critical link between providing students with a 21st century education that is rigorous and relevant and providing industries like manufacturing workers with a solid foundation to flourish and grow. "At the end of the day, it is important that we educate parents, teachers, counselors, and students that there are some very high paying jobs out there."

The Vice President and General Manager of Knight's Armament, Mr. Art Hoelke, nominated Mrs. Gannon for the Educator of the Year Award. Staunch advocates of Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School's STEAM Academy, Mr. Hoelke and Mr. Reed Knight (the owner of Knight's Armament) have volunteered a great deal of time, money, and resources supporting students, projects, and learning goals in Mrs. Gannon's classes.

"Mr. Knight and Mr. Hoelke are both so passionate about education," said Mrs. Gannon. "They are so involved with the schools. Mr. Hoelke encourages students to learn as much as they can from their teachers, and Mr. Knight tells the kids all the time, 'Find your passion and you can do anything.'"

At the MACF dinner, it became apparent to Mrs. Gannon that manufacturers are counting on educators to help students develop the necessary skills required to excel in jobs. She said, "At the dinner, they asked industry leaders, 'How many of you in here are trying to hire skilled people for your company?' Every hand went up. There is a shortage of truly skilled workers to fill these positions."

"Manufacturing is no longer considered grunt work," she continued. "It's high tech. Manufacturer's want students to be trained for the workforce. They're looking for people that have the proper skills. These are technical positions. The whole STEAM Academy, these students can jump out and became a designer, an engineer, a machinist, an assembler. It's not, 'Oh, you're going to be stuck drawing.' You'll be able to branch out anywhere."

What can students expect when entering into Mrs. Gannon's drafting classes? "I take the kids from the most basic fundamentals of geometric construction," she said. "People call them blueprints; we call them orthographics. It shows how the pieces fit together and why these views are necessary."

"I explain to students that everything in the worldunless it's an artistic creation, someone had to technically draw these creations. The pencil you're holding, someone had to make the machinery to manufacturer that pencil, and someone had to draw the technical plans on how to make the machinery. I'm showing them that everything they're doing in here is related to what they'll do out there in the workforce."

As Mrs. Gannon explains, her students will have a major advantage when it comes to finding jobs. "Florida has a huge manufacturing industry with companies of all sizesfrom mom and pop shops all the way up to massive companiesand countless career opportunities our students can pursue upon graduation. If they choose to go into manufacturing out of high school, they will be earning more money than many students coming out of college."

Drafting students rave about the difference their inspirational teacher is making in their lives.

Students in Mrs. Gannon's Advanced Drafting class appreciate the freedom they have to explore their strengths, learn from their mistakes, and achieve great heights of learning through the support and guidance of the 2015 Educator of the Year. "A lot of students are excited," said Mrs. Gannon. "Some of them have said to me, 'You deserve it!' It's really nice to hear."

"Mrs. Gannon is an amazing teacher," said Briggs Kline, a 10th grader. "She has been one of my favorite teachers. She helped me get into the STEAM Academy. I love the program. It is helping me learn more about the foundation of engineering and architecture. I want to be an engineer or an architect in the future."

Marissa Martin is the 10th Grade Class Representative. "I love Mrs. Gannon. She doesn't put up with any nonsense. She's able to joke around with students and still get her work done. She listens to what we have to say and helps fix issues right away when we need help."

Co-Class Representative, Kailey Draa, agrees. "I think she's one of the best teachers here. She doesn't babysit us; she lets us do it our own way. She lets us learn through trial and error. When I get out of school, my boss isn't going to have to walk me through anything. I'm going to be able to do a lot of the work on my own."

MACF's 2015 Educator of the Year is not only drafting a top quality education for her students, but she is helping them construct a foundation for higher paying, more satisfying careers. As industry standards go, Mrs. Gannon was born with the master blueprints to teach and draw.

To learn more about the Manufacturer's Association of Central Florida, visit MACF.

See the district-wide recognition Mrs. Gannon received in a recent BPS News in a Minute feature.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Why Centers Around Kids

Viper Teachers Reflect
on the Power of 'Why?'

For Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School teachers, a recent professional development meeting centered around a 3-letter word that is small on paper but enormously powerful as a fuel for performance: Why?

The Assistant Principal in charge of curriculum, Mrs. Lena Koch, led a professional development session that encouraged teachers to consider the purposeful reasons behind their daily efforts to educate and inspire students.

When it comes to teaching studentswith all the challenges, complexities, and demands inherent in the professionfocusing on the why matters far more than the what and the how.

During the meeting, teachers were posed with a simple yet thought-provoking exercise. They were asked to complete the sentence beginning with "I teach because..." and write their response on a printed thought bubble.

Mr. Nicholas Stewart, a math teacher and basketball coach who shows up early and stays late to help his students and players succeed, addressed his colleagues at the meeting. He shared some very compelling reasons for why he works as hard as he does to balance the demands of teaching and coaching with those of family and personal life. "The whole reason for doing everything that I do, and for having the high level of dedication I have is for the kids. Whether it be coaching-related or the teaching aspect, I always try to do what is required to make life better for the kids."

Because he cares so much about what is in the best interests of  his students and players, math teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Nicholas Stewart, works many extra hours to enhance the lives of kids at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School. "I want to give my students/athletes access to the same opportunities I had in life." 
Coach Stewart is not alone in his passion to serve students. Driven by 'whys' close to their heart, the entire faculty is comprised of teachers focused on helping each student fulfill their potential.

Middle school teacher, Ms. Lauren Daubs, has an insatiable enthusiasm for teaching language arts, math, and pre-algebra. "I teach because I want to have a positive impact on students and and their future. I want life to matter, give it meaning, make it great and fun, and worthwhile."

As part of the meeting, teachers watched a TED Talk by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, who conceptualized how great leaders inspire action from the inside out, rather than the outside in. During his speech, Sinek challenged his audience to dig deep and explore the why behind their daily actions. "What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?"

Mr. Matthew Barringer, a 9th grade World History teacher, is driven by a passion to help students. "Students deserve someone in their life who cares enough about them to allow the amazing person inside of them to be shown to the world."  

Renowned professor and education researcher John Hattie is credited with undertaking the largest and most ambitious study of factors that impact student achievement. His work culminated in the publishing of Visible Learning in 2009, and led to the release of Visible Learning for Teachers in 2012, in which Hattie articulated what he refers to as the Eight Mind Frames for Teachers.

Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Lorie Marshall, inspires middle school students to read and succeed. "I want to lead students to the realization that by reading, they are opening up an enormous opportunity to gain knowledge to benefit them in all aspects of their lives." 

Hattie's 8 Mind Frames for Teaching, in many ways, revolve around 'the why' behind teaching. Among other suggestions, he encourages teachers to evaluate their effect on student learning, take responsibility for being a change agent in each child's education, develop positive relationships, and inform students about the language of learning.

Mr. Michael Pommier teaches Career Research and Decision Making to 9th graders, and also coaches the boys basketball team. "I teach because it's fun, and I am passionate in trying to be a positive role model as a teacher and coach."

Reflecting on the value of considering the why behind what and how teachers do what they do, Mrs. Koch felt the timing was right to help reconnect teachers with the purpose in which they entered into the profession. "Thinking about the concept of why you are teaching made me think that sometimes, we need to come back to why we're here. This is the time of year it feels like everything is piling up on us and it is a good time to reflect on why we're doing what we're doing."

Assistant Principal Mrs. Lena Koch oversees curriculum  and helps develop teachers at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School. She often encourages teachers to remember why they are doing what they are required to do in order to maximize student learning. 

As Sinek stated, "It's those who start with the 'why' that have the ability to inspire those around them." For a such a small word, 'why' surely packs sizable power to change the world.

It is most certainly the why that helps teachers at Space Coast teach and inspire students every day.

See Simon Sinek's "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" TED Talk here.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nutritious Food Powers Learning

Cargill Visit Menus Quality Farming, Food, and People to Celebrate National School Lunch Week

It has long been known that students need quality food to fuel their education.

Equating the need to safeguard the health of the nation's children to a matter of national security, Congress established the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in 1946 to promote the consumption of free or low-cost, nutritious foods in schools.

In recent years, standards-based educational reform has improved the quality of education students are receiving in the classroom; now standards-based nutritional reform is improving the quality of food students are eating in the cafeteria.

According to the USDA, the passage of the Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act in 2010 led to the eventual raising of nutritional standards for all items sold in school cafeterias. "We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables," said First Lady Michelle Obama, who championed the bill. Added Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack: "Improving the quality of school meals is a critical step in building a healthy future for our kids."

Understanding healthy cafeteria food supports student success in the classroom, Mrs. Jennie Cheesman is leading the charge to meet and exceed USDA nutritional requirements for about 1,500 students in grades 7-12 at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School.

In celebration of National School Lunch Week, Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Cafeteria Manager, Jennie Cheesman (bottom left), and her entire crew of cafeteria workers dressed up as farmers to honor the work they do to produce quality foods to help feed students healthy meals.  

It was more than a fervor for food and cooking that led Mrs. Cheesman to become the Cafeteria Manager more than a decade ago. It was serving up a better life for others. "Before this, I was a Community Living Coordinator for physically and emotionally handicapped adults. They were all trying to live independently, and I helped them eat healthy by doing group home menus and grocery shopping."

What is the primary focus in managing the cafeteria? "I want to continue to improve participation both at breakfast and lunch. I especially want to see more students enjoying breakfast. It is scientifically proven to be the most important meal of the day, and breakfast is free for all students."

Offering more menu choices is one strategy Mrs. Cheesman uses to attract more students that benefit from a nutritious meal. "I'm thrilled to be able to offer so many menu choices. At breakfast, we have a minimum of 23 choices. At lunch, there are 30 entrees. We also have 4 a la carte lines that have between 8 and 10 choices which are different in each of line."

About her crew of 17 cafeteria workers, Mrs. Cheeseman said, "Everybody is creative. Everybody has ideas. We brainstorm on ways to get more students into the cafeteria to get what their bodies need to help them succeed academically."

While food is the most vital facet of cafeteria operations, special attention is also paid to building relationships with students. "Our favorite part of the job is serving and interacting with students. We keep up with the kids, their activities, their triumphs, their disappointments. We let them know we care about them and are here to support them."

The Florida School Nutrition Association (FSNA) selected Mrs. Cheesman to represent the state of Florida at the House of Delegates for the School Nutrition Association's annual conference in Utah. At this event, Mrs. Cheeseman won a drawing. The grand prize? An educational school visit from Cargill, a global food and agriculture company that also offers financial and industrial products and services around the world.

For Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School students and staff, the visit from Cargill-owned Shady Brook Farms was the highlight of National School Lunch Week (NSLW), a program launched by JFK in 1962 to garner more attention for the nutritional benefits provided by the NSLP through annual week-long celebrations of healthy foods offered by school cafeterias. The theme of this year's NSLW is 'School Lunch Snapshot,' the concept being capturing real images of today's school lunch experience for students.

Shady Brook Farms presented 'The Art of Turkey' educational program to students in Mrs. Michell's cooking classes. The program focused on educating students through engaging, personal interactions with Cargill Chef Faith Ford and Shady Brook Farms turkey farmer, Mrs. Nancy Miller, to share the importance of choosing good foods as part of daily meals.

Chef Faith's enthusiasm for her work glowed like a halo around her chef attire: coat, hat, and smile. She has worked for Cargill for 15 years. "It's a great company. They take good care of us."

Her role has been to help develop and test new products that provide tasty, healthy meals. "I'm a product development chef, a research chef, a kitchen manager, you name it," said Chef Faith.

To kickoff the school visit, Shady Brook Farms served up a meal Mrs. Michell's students will never forget. The nutritional food included low-fat turkey drumettes, fat-free fruit salad, and low-sugar juices. There was no mistaking how much the students enjoyed the meal.

"The turkey was delicious," said Nick Evtuch, a senior. "My favorite thing was the buffalo turkey drumette. It was huge and it tasted amazing."

"The turkey drumettes are fully cooked with a light seasoning," said Mrs. Suzanne McCarty, a Business Development Manager for Cargill. "They have a lot of versatility with the flavors such as BBQ, ranch, and teriyaki. We try to give schools opportunities to menu products like the turkey drumettes in different ways. We try to make it easier for the directors to plan menus that kids love."

Before presenting an informative lesson on nutrition and engaging students in educational cooking demonstrations, 'The Art of Turkey' by Shady Brook Farms offered students a highly nutritious meal that exceeded all USDA nutritional requirements. Students could not wait to dive into the food, and many of them enthusiastically asked, "Can we please get seconds?!"

College and career readiness is a critical focus at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School, and Chef Faith contributed ideas and encouragement as she talked to students about how her own career developed over the years.

"I liked listening about how she got to where she is today," said Brooke Foxworth, a senior. "She started out as an assistant and did a lot of cooking for the company. Then Cargill paid for her culinary schooling to help her become a chef, which is really cool."

With the goal of teaching students more about the importance of choosing nutritious food and educating them about where food comes from, Chef Faith presented a comprehensive lesson on good nutrition, great cooking, and healthy eating. Throughout the lesson, she emphasized the importance of students making healthier food choices. "You only have one body. If that goes south, then you're in trouble."

Juan Restrepo, a senior, is a defensive tackle on the Viper's varsity football team. "It was good learning about nutrition," he said. "I know eating healthy is important. If I don't eat healthy, I'm not going to perform well on the field."

Cargill Chef Faith Ford presents a lesson on how sugar, sodium, and fat content are influencing the menu choices schools are making to uphold the latest USDA nutritional requirements. "Nutritious food is what keeps these students going throughout their busy days," said Chef Faith.

After providing students an overview of some of the focal points of the USDA's requirements, basic nutritional requirements and comparing and contrasting the nutritional values of a variety of food and drinks, she led a cooking demonstration in which students collaborated in small groups with the task of turning creative recipes into healthy meals.

During the cooking demonstration, Cargill Chef Faith Ford walked from group to group and provided students with guidance, support, and tips as they learned how to prepare healthy turkey-based meals at home.

"The cooking demo showcased one of the thick-sliced turkey breasts," said Chef Faith. "Each of the five groups had a different recipe that showed how they can use a safe, healthy, tasty product in simple ways to prepare meals at home. The turkey-based recipes included sandwiches, wraps, and salads."

"I liked trying the different recipes," said Brooke. "The Turkey Focaccia Sandwich was my favorite."

"The Turkey-Boursin Wrap was really good," said Juan. "I took the recipe flyer and plan on making it at home."

Students in Mrs. Michell's cooking classes agreed that cooking lessons from Cargill Chef Faith Ford (far right) generated a healthy supply of smiles along with plates full of nutritional meals.

"Visiting the school is amazing," said Chef Faith. "To be able to come in and teach about good nutrition and culinary skills is fun and exciting for all of us. Working with the kids is great. They are fun and enthusiastic, and they want to learn how to make healthier meals."

From Front Left: Cargill Chef Faith Ford and farmer Nancy Miller, Cafeteria Manager Jennie Cheesman, Deputy Sheriff James Darville, and cooking teacher Dana Michelle celebrated 'The Art of Turkey' with an enthusiastic group of students that learned more about food nutrition and engaged in a hands-on cooking demonstration.

To make sure customers are receiving the highest quality turkey products possible, Shady Brook Farms trusts independent farmers like Mrs. Nancy Miller, who owns a farm with her husband in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The Miller family are among 700 independent farmers who produce the high standard of food Cargill delivers to its customers. "Food is a passion for me," said Mrs. Miller. "Once you eat healthy, your body changes. You think better. You feel better."

Like all Shady Brook Farms (regional brand) and Honeysuckle White (local brand found in Florida grocery stores) turkey growers, the Miller family farm follows a three-part verification processturkeys raised by independent farmers, producers trained on proper animal handling practices, and the non-use of growth hormoneswhich far exceeds all current regulation requirements. Cargill is the first major turkey brand to make this quality-enhancing commitment to produce turkeys free of growth-promoting antibiotics in an animal-friendly environment.

Cargill's commitment to using only the highest quality turkey aligns with the labor of love Mrs. Miller feels for farming and animals. "You respect the animals. They give their life for you to live, so you want to give them the best possible environment. We raise our turkeys with the utmost care and dedication to make other families feel good about choosing Shady Brook Farms turkey."

Mrs. Miller is an advocate for regularly having turkey-based options on school menus. "Turkey is a plus food. It tastes good, it is good for you, and it is affordable."

What was it like meeting students that benefited from the work she does on the farm? "Wonderful. The kids at Space Coast are phenomenal. There is so much life in this school."

Lisa Douglas is an Education Segment Manager for KeyImpact Sales and Systems who connects food vendors with schools to help meet the food requirements outlined by the USDA. Previously, she worked as a Cafeteria Manager in Orlando for 7 years. She is as passionate about providing students quality food as she is about educating them about the cafeteria menu. "To me, it's about making the kids happy, seeing the smiles on their faces, and knowing they're eating something healthy," said Mrs. Douglas. "It's also important to explain to kids why USDA regulations have changed, and teach team how cafeterias are upholding these requirements."

"It's always the best part of my day to see when kids are excited about the good food they are eating in the cafeteria," said Mrs. Douglas. "Some kids were holding up the turkey drumettes and saying, 'Wow! Look at this!'"

Students lined up to enjoy the Shady Brook Farms turkey drumettes served during National School Lunch Week. Shady Brook Farms turkey is a lean and nutritious protein, raised without growth hormones, and offers a rich source of protein, iron, zinc, and other vital nutrients.

"Cargill does everything from food ingredients to flavors to food that we serve to K-12 such as turkey products and eggs," said Mrs. McCarty. "Our role is ensuring we have safe, nutritious, high-quality products for kids that they'll enjoy eating. Schools must meet USDA requirements of protein, fats, calories, sodium, and all kinds of meat equivalents they have to reach. So we as a food manufacturer are very focused on helping cafeteria managers meet these kinds of requirements in appealing and versatile ways."

Included in The Art of Turkey program is a semester-long mural project that aims to meet portfolio requirements of the curriculum standards for Mrs. Carol Souve's honors art students. Cargill is paying for all of the supplies for Space Coast students to paint a mural that is inspired by the NSLW presentations.

The mural will incorporate different aspects of Mrs. Miller's farm, which she described to the class. "Our farm faces the West Virginia mountains. We have two dogs. We raise corn. Each student participating in the mural project will focus on a different aspect of the farm on their separate canvas and then everything will connect."

"With 18 by 24 canvases, each separate panel will be able to function on its own so each one will be a piece of artwork on its own but together they will create a whole work of art," said Mrs. Souve.

Yet another dimension of the Shady Brook Farms school visit that further increased student engagement was a photo booth set up on a decorated stage in the cafeteria.

Students and teachers, alike, got in on the fun of posing with an inflated turkey to celebrate The Art of Turkey during NSLW.

One of the key players in the planning of what was a uniquely powerful celebration of healthful, flavorful food during NSLW was Ms. Jessie Poole, part of the public relations arm of the Shady Brook Farms brand. "We are trying to get good, nutritious food in schools," she said.

Ms. Poole collaborated with Mrs. Cheesman in coordinating the first 'Art of Turkey' event at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School in hopes of continuing to use the in-school demonstrations and other student-centered activities to help promote healthier food choices in schools across the nation.

Fueled by quality farming, quality food, and quality people, the Shady Brooks Farms school visit boiled down to a common theme.  "The importance of showing kids where their food comes from and understanding the importance of good nutrition," said Mrs. McCarty.

To learn more about Shady Brook Farms, visit their websiteTo read about their family of 700 independent farmers focused on raising safe, nutritious, high-quality turkey, visit 700 Reasons.

See how the School Nutrition Association is promoting healthy foods in schools across the nation at NSLW.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fire Education Saves Lives

Brevard County Fire Rescue Inspectors 
Show Students How to Prevent and Put Out Fires

In 1944, Smokey the Bear began promoting fire prevention and soon became famous for its simple but powerful declaration, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."

Nearly three-quarters of a century later, fire prevention remains an urgent public safety topic...and not just in a forest.

Fire not only destroys property, it hurts and kills people. According to statistics cited from Fire Loss in the United States 2013 (by Michael Karter), in the United States alone, 369,500 home fires were reported in 2013. The fires resulted in 2,755 deaths, 12,200 injuries, and $6.8 billion of property damage.

While all teachers at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School always have student safety at the forefront of their thinking, no one is more committed to making sure students are safe at and away from school than cooking teacher Mrs. Dana Michell. She implores her students to take extra safety precautions when cooking, and to be prepared to swiftly and skillfully manage any unexpected fires in the kitchen.

Why all the fuss about cooking safety? The kitchen is the most common origin of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment (by Marty Ahrens), "Cooking is, and has long been, the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries."

Mrs. Michell knows education can help prevent fires from starting and keep fires that do start under control so that lives are saved and property damage is minimized. Refusing to allow her students to become a statistic, she recently welcomed two Brevard County Fire Rescue Inspectors/Arson Investigators, Mr. Jeffrey Krupinski and Mr. Tony Mills, to her classroom to provide students with an interactive, hands-on lesson that could wind up saving their lives or the lives of their loved ones.

In addition to educating the public on smoke detector awareness during Fire Prevention Week, these fire experts volunteered their time to address Mrs. Michell's students. They presented a PowerPoint on kitchen safety, showed a video on the potential dangers of cooking with grease, and covered a wide range of topics related to fire prevention and preparation. While every topic provided vital safety tips, the primary objective of the lesson was to teach students how to use a fire extinguisher.

"I honestly had no clue how to use one," said Travis Berry, a junior who plays on the varsity football team.

Travis is not alone. While fire extinguishers are prevalent in kitchens and buildings around the nation, very few people actually know how to properly use onea torching thought considering what is at stake.

"We all grow up with fire extinguishers all around us, but 9 out of 10 people have never held one, much less deployed it to extinguish a fire," said Inspector Krupinsky.

Fire Inspector/Arson Investigator Jeffrey Krupinsky helped teach students
basic techniques of using a fire extinguisher to put out fires.

"They showed us how to use a fire extinguisher," said Travis. "It was pretty cool. It was an electrical one, same weight and everything. It had a laser instead of a spray to it. The best part was learning how to put out a fire the right way."

"We received the simulator through a federal grant," said Inspector Krupinsky. "We have the ability to use a digital laser or we can also do live burns with propane and use a fire extinguisher with water. It is too hot to be messing with fire outside, especially during the summer and fall, so it is better to use the digital indoor simulator. The simulator we used in the classroom was a digital laser one."

Travis has a deep-rooted appreciation for the jobs paramedics and firefighters do. "My girlfriend's father is a paramedic in Merritt Island," said Travis. "He is one of the first responders. He tells me being a firefighter is a pretty cool job. He said the hardest part is getting a call in the middle of the night, swinging out of bed from a deep sleep, and jumping into the fire truck to go respond, but he loves it."

He also appreciates the time the Brevard County Fire Rescue inspectors take out of their busy schedules to help educate the community on the basics of fire prevention and crisis management. "I think it's smart teaching students these techniques," said Travis. "Firefighters can't go to everyone's homes to educate everybody. You don't want someone dying of a fire because they don't know how to put it out, so educating us and encouraging us to educate others helps save lives."

"We hope at this age, the students have the ability to go home and share that information with siblings and parents," said Inspector Krupinksy. "We told them, our job is to educate you and your job is to go and educate others, whether it is a parent or a sibling or a friend."

What did Travis learn that he would like to pass along to his fellow students and families around the community? "Just remember the four easy steps: pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep."

"PASS is a simple acronym on how to use a fire extinguisher," said Inspector Krupinsky. "Pull the pin. Aim the fire extinguisher hose at the base of the fire. Squeeze the handle. Sweep it back and forth at the base of the fire. It shoots a very fine powder that sticks to everything. As you are building fine layers of powder, you are cutting the fire off from the oxygen around it. Without oxygen, the fire goes out."

Years of responding to fire-related incidents, and seeing so many accidents and tragedies that could have been prevented, make Inspectors Krupinsky and Mills the perfect teachers to help students understand the basics of both preventing and putting out fires.

Inspector Krupinsky said, "As firefighters, we have responded to numerous kitchen fires. As paramedics, we have responded to numerous calls that would have turned out better if it had been handled with proper techniques. We try to teach students the proper techniques to fire prevention and handling a fire extinguisher. To do anything for the first time in a stressful situation is very difficult, so practice is important. You have a sense of not panicking if you've done it before. Like riding a bike, once you learn how to do it, you'll remember."

Inspector Mills, who has over 25 years of experience as a firefighter and paramedic, reflected upon the successful visit to Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School by deferring all kudos to his colleague. "The credit goes to Inspector Krupinksy. He does the fire extinguisher classes. He also covers the hazards of cooking."

To Inspector Krupinsky, teaching fire prevention is about making life safer for others. "We always like to teach," he said. "That's part of our job now. It's that time of the year for us to get out in the public and educate them." 

In addition to these and other duties, Inspector Krupinsky also teaches adults in the community to help them receive annual certification for various businesses and professions that require teachers or staff members to be certified, such as daycare positions.  

What does Inspector Krupinksy hope students will best remember about the lesson? "Be proactive instead of reactive," he said. "If you are frying, be prepared for what could happen. Never, ever put water on a grease fire. You will steam-burn yourself with oil. Have a pot holder for the pot handle and a tight-fitting lid that fits the pot or pan that you're frying in. That way, if you do have a fire, all you need to do is to remove the pot from the heat source and put a lid on it, and the fire goes away. What we're doing is taking the oxygen away from the fire, and it goes out."

Throwing water on a grease fire can result in serious injury or death. Grease is so hot
that it will instantly heat the water and cause an explosion that will spread the fire.

"Be proactive and prepared for what might happen," said Inspector Krupinsky. "A lot of times, it goes from a controllable situation to an uncontrollable situation when you aren't prepared, so go home and make sure mom and dad have a lid for whatever pot or pan they are using."

"I especially wanted students to know the dangers of frying and cooking with hot grease," said Mrs. Michell. "The fire inspectors covered that perfectly."

Other safety tips for cooking? "Turn your handles in over the stove," said Inspector Krupinsky. "At home, if you leave a little handle out, a younger brother or sister might see it and pull it down. As a paramedic who has responded to calls like that, you don't want to live with knowing you could have prevented an accident or tragedy from happening."

An understanding of the different types of fires is also helpful as some fire extinguishers are only made specifically to put out certain types of fires. Inspector Krupinsky said, "An 'A' fire is anything that produces ash such as paper or wood; a 'B' fire is boiling-related, a liquid burning fire; and a 'C' fire has a current. What we have at schools are A-B-C extinguishers, so they are safe to use on all fires."

Hopefully, incorporating the lessons they learned from the fire inspectors into their cooking routines will help students and their families prevent kitchen fires. In a worst-case scenario, they will now be prepared with proper firefighting techniques.

As Smokey the Bear might say, "Only YOU can prevent kitchen fires...but if one breaks out, don't PASS on the chance to put it out."

To read about all of the ways Brevard County Fire Rescue is helping to keep families across Brevard safe, visit their homepage at BCFR.

To learn more about NFPA's Fire Prevention Week, visit NFPA.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Director Harmoniously Successful

Viper Chorus Director Not Missing a Beat

Mr. Michel Avey probably didn't know it when he interviewed for the position over the summer, but the charismatic new Choral Director and Junior Orchestra Director had big shoes to fill.

Shoes full of nearly two decades worth of notes, tempos, and tones.

At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, beloved Chorus/Orchestra Director, Mrs. Sharon Maslin, retired following 17 years of service to Viper families. Anyone who attended an orchestra or chorus concert directed by Mrs. Maslin knows just how passionate she was about helping her students explore their musical talents and reach their full creative potential.

As much as Mrs. Maslin's body of work is appreciated and her endearing personality is missed by her colleagues and students, Mr. Avey hasn't wasted any time putting his own signature on a successful music program.

In fact, Mr. Avey has already had a soprano-like impact on his students.

Case in point: Norman McCorvey, a senior.

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Choral Director and Junior Orchestra Director, Mr. Michel Avey,
and senior Viper student, Norman McCorvey, share a passion for music.

During a recent tryout for All State Chorus, Norman scored 47/50 on the Musicianship Written Test and 36/40 on the Sight Reading Measures. To put his performance into perspective, his scores not only enabled him to skip the following audition but he also automatically qualified for the highly selective All State Sight Reading Choir, where Norman will encounter even more challenging music and be required to perform it in a shorter period of time.

Last year, Norman placed so much pressure on himself to sound better that he chose not to participate in the All State Sight Reading Choir. Since then, with encouragement and direction from Mr. Avey and a ton of hard work at and away from school, Norman raised his bar of performance to levels only the elite of choir students are able to reach.

"The day after the audition, Mr. Avey said, 'Hey, you made the reading choir!'" said Norman. "It felt really good. A lot of my friends had done three auditions but not been invited back to perform.  I've done it 4 years and every time I had to do a third audition, which is a lot of extra stress. Being a senior makes it even harder because I want to do this so badly."

Norman started playing piano beginning at 8 years old, but he was born with a passion for music. "I always valued music. In church, we sing, and I've always enjoyed the music. Different genres of music allow you to express different types of feelings and emotions."

"Norman is a brilliant musician," said Mr. Avey. "He just sees a piece of music and understands how it works, which is the sign of a very talented musician."

Successes are singing like melodies among Mr. Avey's students.

Last weekend, 12 Viper students auditioned to be in the select group of singers chosen for the Florida All State Chorus, which represent the best singers in the state. Every student gave it their all at the audition, which consisted of a 50-question written test and an individual Sight Reading Assessment in front of a panel of judges. The following students passed the first round of auditions:

The only thing standing between these talented students and being selected to participate in the All State Choirs is one more Vocal Quality audition.

Mr. Avey knows his students would benefit from such an achievement. "I made All State Choir three times in high school," said Mr. Avey, who earned a Music Education degree from the University of South Florida. "It was one of the best experiences. That is what inspired me to be a music teacher."

Norman first made All State Chorus in the 8th grade, and has made it every year in high school. "In the lower grades, music might not be as important to kids. They might think it is an easy elective class. In All State, everyone is serious about music. It's a passion everyone shares."

"It's like reading a book you're passionate about," continued Norman. "It's hard to talk to somebody about a book they don't like, so you look for someone who values it as much as you do. A book club, for instance. For me, the book club would be like All State, because there are a lot of people there who love music like I do."

Regardless of the outcome of the next audition, everyone at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School is extremely proud of the dedication of these students.

Seeing his students excel is a driving force behind Mr. Avey's efforts as a teacher. "My goal is making kids more passionate about music," he said. "Finding kids that are the most passionate and getting them to strive to be better." 

His predecessor's legacy is large, but no beats have been missed in the choral classroom. Early in his career, Mr. Avey has already proven his shoes fit just fine.

Stay tuned for periodic updates throughout the school year on the ongoing successes of our outstanding music department led by Mr. Avey and Ms. Christina Cuny, Band Director.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homecoming Highlights School Spirit

Viper Students Get Hyped about Fun, Memorable Activities of Homecoming Week

Academic excellence isn't the only thing Viper students take seriously.

Having fun gets it fair share of attention, especially during Homecoming Week.

The Agenda: Spirit week. Pep rally. Home football game. Formal dance to cap it off.

The Result: Fun. Fun. Fun. And more fun.

Spirit week included Hero vs. Villian Day, Into the Past/Into the Future Day, and Class Pride Day in which each grade level sported a different color to support the same school spirit. As the themes changed day-to-day, the common denominator once again was fun as students displayed creative and unique ways to express themselves as they displayed fervent and united school spirit.

"It was funny watching everyone dressing up in crazy costumes," said Corn Fulton, a senior. "I liked seeing everyone's creativity and to see what they can come up with."

During Spirit Week, seniors showed the rest of the school
their interpretation of what it means to "Dress to Impress."

The pep rally featured enthusiastic crowds of students sporting Viper purple and packing the gymnasium in bleacher sections representing each high school grade level. The crowd cheered wildly during a personalized introduction of each member of the cheerleading squad, the football team, and the Homecoming Court.

"It was the loudest pep rally I've been to," said Tyler Baker, a senior.

"It was super loud," said Colin White, a senior who plays drums for the band and also served on the Homecoming Court. "My ears were ringing when I got home. It was really cool to see everyone get so hyped."

The Spirit Stick is a traditional competition to test which class shows the most school spirit. Mr. Eusebio Solis, the Athletic Director/Activities Coordinator, takes turns hoisting the Spirit Stick in front of each class at the pep rally. The class with the most cacophonous cheers wins the Spirit Stick.

"The pep rally was fun," said Corn. "There is so much competition between classes. Everyone talking all day between classes, people talking about how they were going to win the Spirit Stick. I like competition. I like seeing how much spirit people have got."

"Everyone gets so hyped up at the pep rally," said Tayla Powers, a senior. "It was amazing winning the Spirit Stick. There's always a lot of competitive talk between classes, and it was nice winning the Spirit Stick. Especially being seniors, we want to be on top."

Members of every high school class gave it all they had,
but only one classthe Seniorscame away with the coveted 'Spirit Stick.' 

The pep rally also featured some entertaining Tug-of-War battles. The first one had members of the football team on both sides. 

The pep rally featured a number of entertaining activities, including Tug-of-War, Viper Style.

The second and even more entertaining Tug-of-War match featured five of the strongest football Varsity football players against the cheerleading squad. Pretty obvious which side would win, right?

"Tug-of-War was the funnest part of the pep rally," said Tamra Tillman, a sophomore cheerleader. "My favorite part was going against the football players. That was the highlight of the pep rally."

The Homecoming football game pitted the hard-hitting Vipers against district rival Merritt Island High School Mustangs. At halftime, couples of the glamorous Homecoming Court had the privilege of circling the track in some of the fanciest Corvettes students could dream about riding in. 

What were girls of the Homecoming Court talking about as they prepared to ride around the track? "We were asking each other how we should wave. Someone said, 'Do the princess wave!' and I was like, 'No!'" said Tayla with a smile.

The ladies of the Homecoming Court captivated a stadium full of spectators as they circled the track in fancy Corvettes during Halftime of the Homecoming football game.

Following their Corvette rides around the track, the magnificently dressed couples lined up at midfield as a stadium full of fans applauded the entire Homecoming Court for their outstanding representation of Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School throughout the week.

These members of the 2015-2016 Homecoming Court bring a great deal of pride to Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School. 

After the stadium full of fans applauded the entire Homecoming Court for their outstanding representation of Space Coast Junior Senior High School throughout the week, the announcement was made of the 2015-2016 Homecoming King and Queen.

Corn was honored as the Homecoming King. "I was surprised," said Corn. "Once I heard my name called, that's when it all really hit me. Just a happy moment. Knowing my Mom was there and hearing my friends cheer for me. I was really amazed."

"When they called Corn's name, we were really excited," said football team member Jordan Yount, a junior. "That's a brother on the field. Corn and I used to play Pop Warner together so I was happy for him."

Even more special was standing alongside the Homecoming Queen, long-time friend and fellow senior, Tayla. "Tayla has been my friend since 4th grade," said Corn. "We made jokes, laughed, took pictures, and enjoyed the moment."

"It's crazy to think I've been here since 7th grade and I wind up winning my senior year," said Tayla. who plans on studying sports medicine with the goal of becoming a sports doctor. "Almost everyone was telling me congratulations. It makes me proud and accomplished."

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School is proud to present:
Homecoming Queen, Tayla Powers, and Homecoming King, Corn Fulton.

Corn scored 3 touchdowns in a close, intense game but the Vipers fell just short of victory. "I wish we would have won but as hard as the team tried, it didn't work out how we wanted it to."

Around 500 students attended the Homecoming dance. The dreamy, extravagant decorations along with flashy, colorful strobe lights and popular, upbeat music delivered on the promise of making the dance "A Night to Remember."

"The dance was pretty cool," said Colin. "Got to hang out with people. Cut some rug. Stay up past bedtime."

"I loved the theme," said Tamra. "It was really original. It was organized. The music was good this year. I liked it a lot. Everybody was really friendly."

The Homecoming Queen and King display their crowns in front of the Viper Homecoming Express, part of the incredible decorations the SGA put together for the Homecoming Dance themed "A Night to Remember."

Homecoming activities come and go after a week, but the impact on the students lasts much longer. "During Homecoming the environment is nothing negative," said Corn. "Just positive vibes. I made a lot of new friends. You see people for the first time during Homecoming week, and after that, when you see them around school, you're a lot more comfortable talking and being friends. So Homecoming is a great way for people to get to know each other."

"A lot of school spirit," said Jordan. "I'll remember most seeing the effort given from everybody from the admin, the teachers, the custodiansnot just the studentsto show their school spirit during Homecoming week. That made it even better and more fun for the students."

"The fact we're a junior-senior makes our school a little different," continued Jordan. "It's easier to get to know more people. No matter what you do as far as your extracurricular activities go, we're kind of like a family, the whole school."

Mrs. Dana Michell (Teacher) and Mr. Robert Spinner (Principal) joined an entire team of administrators, teachers, and staff in supporting students and reminding the youngsters that adults know how to have fun, too. 

Months before everyone else had the time of their lives enjoying the Homecoming activities, a group of dedicated Student Government Association (SGA) members worked tirelessly behind the scenes to brainstorm, plan, organize, and implement the events.

Mrs. Maria "Pants" Pantloni, a ceramics teacher, is the sponsor of the SGA. She works many extra hours to help support extracurricular activities favoring high levels of student engagement. "I don't know what to say other than I work with a really great group of kids," said Mrs. Pantloni.

Led by Salud Martinez (President) and Danielle Adkins (Vice-President), the SGA far exceeded everyone's expectations during Homecoming week. Danny Bowen, a junior, is the Treasurer of the SGA. "The goal of SGA is to bring unity and spirit to the school, and to boost the morale of the students and teachers," said Danny. "I'm hoping in the future we can become even more efficient and improve our communication to continue creating a positive perception of our school."

Mrs. Maria Pantloni, pictured with many members of the SGA along with other Viper students, provided guidance for the SGA as they planned a Homecoming week that will always be remembered for its fun and community-building activities.

If Viper students took a Fun Test during Homecoming week, they would have passed with flying purple. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the SGA, students will remember this Homecoming for a lifetime.

Special thanks to Ms. April Daniels (Teacher) and the yearbook team for sharing many of the photos used in this story. Pre-order your yearbook by October 16th and save $20! 

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.