Class Notes 05.28.15

Class Notes 10.01.15
Class Notes 10.01.15
  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • Neighborhood
  • Share


+ OCPS schools named among elite

The Washington Post recently released its Challenge Index National Rankings, the newspaper’s annual list of the top 9% of high schools in the nation.

All four West Orange-area high schools made the list. Olympia High was ranked No. 50 in Florida, followed by Dr. Phillips High School (104), West Orange High School (110) and Ocoee High School (184).

The Challenge Index measures the amount of student participation in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.

+ Students held harmless on exams

Grades for Orange County Public Schools’ middle- and high-school students won’t be affected negatively by their performance on locally created end-of-course assessments.

The district’s elementary-school students also will not be affected by the EOC tests.

“We are pleased, although the timing is late and perhaps by default that the state has now removed the 30% calculation in student grades for three of these exams,” said Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. “Additionally, OCPS has determined a method to ‘do no harm’ to middle- and high-school students taking locally created EOCs, which we have termed Common Final Assessments. We have previously nullified any impact on elementary-age students taking the tests.” 

All students taking common final exams in applicable courses will receive the exam as 20% of the course grade for initial calculation. The calculation will be considered only if it improves the student’s grade.  

Elementary schools are not considering EOCs in calculation of student grades, and third-grade promotion considerations will not include FSA outcomes that have not been validated. Instead, principals, parents and teachers will look at various data regarding student performance to consider any need for retention.

For the 2014-15 school year only, because of the unavailability of independently validated statewide assessment results in algebra I, algebra II and geometry, the statutory requirements to include these results in the final course grade are inoperative. As a result, schools will calculate final course grades and make promotion decisions without regard to the 30% requirement that typically applies. 

The results of assessments aligned to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards Assessments are still required by statute to be used as 30% of the course grade in applicable courses.

+ Free meals this summer

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is participating in the Summer Food Service Program during the months of May, June, July and August again this year.

This program provides well-balanced meals to children 18 and younger in areas where 50% or more of students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunch. In West Orange County these sites include the West Orange Boys and Girls Clubs, Vignette Park, Jim Beech Recreation Center, Way of Grace, Seminole Ridge Apartments and Agape Christian Academy.

Second Harvest Food Bank has been a sponsor of the program since 2008, serving thousands of children at more than 72 locations in four counties.

+ Valencia students win scholarships

Two Valencia College honors students have been named winners of one of the most prestigious scholarships in the nation, which awards students up to $40,000 per year to cover the cost of completing their undergraduate education.

Bobi Stephenson, 36, an honors pre-med student from Winter Garden, and Faith Culhane, 30, an honors nursing student from Kissimmee, were among the 90 students in the country to earn the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

The scholarship, presented each year to the top graduating community college students nationwide, awards up to $40,000 each year to cover recipients’ educational costs while completing their bachelor’s degrees and up to $50,000 per year to complete advanced degrees.

Stephenson and Culhane are both members of the Seneff Honors College.

Stephenson, the mother of a 10-year-old girl, grew up in a family of seven children and is the first person in her family to attend college. Although she spent years in the hospitality industry, she was always fascinated with medicine. So when the Winter Garden mom began taking classes at Valencia, she intended to focus on science and math. 

But when a coworker suggested she join the Honors College and study in the Interdisciplinary Honors program — which focuses on the humanities — Stephenson was intrigued. Today, she credits the IDH program and the professors in the program with changing her life. Although she still plans on going to medical school, IDH taught her “to think with the other side of my brain,” she says.

She has applied to Yale University’s Eli Whitney Students Program and to Rollins College.

+ OCPS reveals Super Scholars

Orange County Public Schools is honoring 74 Super Scholars from the 2015 graduating classes. These students have been accepted into 32 of the top colleges, universities and U.S. service academies in the world, according to the U.S. News and World Report. 

Among this year’s Super Scholars are 15 students who have been accepted at an Ivy League School, 11 into Duke and five to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The following students from West Orange County were among the 74 recognized:


Jack Carnevale: accepted to Duke

Charlaine Chen: Duke, Vanderbilt

Andrew Lumbert: Northwestern

Miah Davis: Vanderbilt

Megan Malone: Williams, University of Chicago

Pierre Groenewald: U.S. Military Academy (West Point)

Alex Ramos: U.S. Military Academy (West Point)

Grayson Gordon: U.S. Military Academy (West Point)


Cindy Rajkumar: Columbia


Ashka Stephen: Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Northwestern, Rice, Vanderbilt

Mariana Baroni: Duke, Rice, Vanderbilt

Patricia Kim: Northwestern, Notre Dame

Alexa Wolber: Vassar

Kevin Spehar: Washington University in St. Louis

Soumya Sreerama: U.S. Military Academy (West Point)

Mikaela Garrott: U.S. Naval Academy


Ryan Feldman: Cornell

Daniel Cadena: Cornell

Jeffrey Victor: Cornell

Eman Bouras: Smith