Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

It's Weeki Wachee High

Published:   |   Updated: May 13, 2013 at 07:59 PM

Get used to calling them the Weeki Wachee Green Hornets.
School board members made it official Thursday after a committee's top name choice, Chassahowitzka High School, did not win support of the four-member majority. School board member Dianne Bonfield was absent.
A district committee reviewed more than 150 suggestions from the community for a school name and narrowed them down to six, including Tooke Lake High School, Weeki Wachee High School, Northwest High School, Highland High School, Pine Ridge High School and Chassahowitzka.
Board member Sandra Nicholson made a motion to name it Weeki Wachee High School, the top choice of the prospective students who would attend the new facility.
"I have a real problem with Chassahowitzka," she said.
Board member John Sweeney seconded her motion.
The vote was 2-2 and died.
Board member Pat Fagan then made a motion for Chassahowitzka but it also failed after a 2-2 vote.
Fagan then changed his mind to Weeki Wachee to eliminate a tie-breaker.
One thing that won't change is the board's commitment to a "green" school.
"The school was built with green as the main emphasis," Fagan said, adding that the concept is followed right down to the building materials.
"They're doing everything they can try to cut back on costs and save electricity, utilities and different things," Fagan said.
Thursday's vote follows an earlier decision by the board to name the school's mascot, the green hornet.
There was some initial resistance to the name Weeki Wachee because the school will be located north of that area.
With its proximity to the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge, it just makes sense to have a name that mirrors that location, Fagan said.
As for the tricky name, Chassahowitzka ("Chassa-witz-ka"), Fagan admits it may pose a problem with people at first, especially when it comes to writing or even pronouncing it.
"It is no different than when we named Chocochatti," Fagan said, referring to the county's elementary school that opened in 2001. "I couldn't even pronounce it for three or four years."
But it was not to be.
Other board members believed Chassahowitzka was too closely identified with Citrus County.
On Thursday, a few school officials had trouble even pronouncing the name.
Meanwhile, the green hornet mascot symbol is still in the conceptual stage. Preliminary drawings have a picture of a green-shirted hornet, yellow and black body with yellow face.
Also Thursday:
School board members voted 3-1 to apply for a federal "Race to the Top" grant that could net Hernando County between $1.2 million to $2.1 million for local school uses.
There was a 90-minute debate as to how that money could be spent locally and the lack of clear-cut guidelines. However, board members were assured there are built-in safeguards if the district opted out of the program.
The Florida Department of Education is in the process of preparing a grant proposal for about $1 billion in federal funding, $500 million of which will be distributed to participating local districts.
Hernando County will have to submit an application for the funding, which will go before it goes to state officials for review.
School board member James Yant said it is to the district's advantage to apply for as many programs as possible.
"I think we need to apply for it and move forward," Yant said.
Fagan agreed.
"We need every dime we can possibly get," Fagan said.
Sweeney voted against the proposal because the district did not have enough information about the grant parameters.
Bonfield was absent.

Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or mbates@hernandotoday.com.


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