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HomeBusiness & CommunityEnvironmental Science Award Winners and New School Guardians Among District Recognitions

Environmental Science Award Winners and New School Guardians Among District Recognitions

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During the September 19, 2023, meeting of the Hernando County School Board, several students and employees were recognized for their achievements and contributions to the district.

Student Rylie Reinberger was introduced as the new student ambassador to the school board. Reinberger is an accomplished senior at Weeki Wachee High School and will attend board meetings as a student representative for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year.

The board recognized two Hernando County students, Evan Black and Katie Nugent, for their receipt of the Environmental Science award. The students received the award after participating in the Hernando County Envirothon. The Envirothon is a competitive, problem-solving contest for high school students, challenging their environmental knowledge. This educational program involves Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, and Sumter counties in the Nature Coast Region and other districts state-wide. The Envirothon provides students with a “hands-on” site-specific experience utilizing natural resource information to problem solve. Five natural resource areas are covered: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and a current environmental issue.

Two Hernando County Schools won the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) award for their work within the framework of the project. MTSS is a project sponsored by the Florida Department of Education. The objective of MTSS is to allocate several levels of support in direct response to a given student’s needs. The award is only given to 61 schools in the entire state. Two schools in the Hernando District won this year’s award, Moton Elementary School and Powell Middle School.

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The board recognized teacher Michael Hafliger, who teaches math at Weeki Wachee High School, as Veteran of The Month. Hafliger was honored for his twenty years of Service in the US Coast Guard, where he served as a technician, airman, and trainer. Hafliger retired from the Coast Guard Station in Clearwater and then pursued his calling as a teacher. Two district principals spoke of Hafliger’s exemplary performance since joining the district, as well as his dedication to students. Board member Susan Duval said it was an honor to hire Hafliger and praised him as an outstanding teacher and mentor.

Following a one-and-a-half-year project, the Hernando County School District was recognized by accreditation through Cognia. Cognia is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that accredits primary and secondary schools throughout the United States and internationally. Cognia accreditation is described as a rigorous process that focuses on the entire organization with the primary goal of preparing lifelong learners in engaging environments. Cognia currently partners with 4200 schools and districts across Florida and more than 32,000 worldwide.

Certificates were presented to nine school guardians who recently completed 144 hours of training in preparation for service in Hernando County Schools. The Guardians were trained with the assistance of the Hernando County Sheriff’s office, where they underwent legal, first aid, and firearms training. Guardian Brandon White was recognized for his quick action in saving the life of a student who was choking earlier on the same day. Lee Burgess, Jerry Pearson, Brett Scroggins, Brent Coleman, William Liser, Joshua Moore, Marcus Santos, Scott Waltering, and Brandon White were all presented with certificates in recognition of their completion of training. School Guardians serve as a supplement to existing School Resource Officers on district campuses. As civilians, they are armed but do not have arrest authority, only authority to detain. Guardians must pass a rigorous background check, and most have either law enforcement or military backgrounds.

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