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Island Coast High earns state recognition for parental involvement

By Staff | Jul 20, 2010

Island Coast High School was recognized by the state this month for the number of parents that get involved with the school throughout the year.
The Florida Department of Education recognized Island Coast High and one other school in Region IV — including the southwest and central portions of the state — for creating programs to increase the volume of parents becoming involved in school.
“It’s a big honor, especially at the high school level,” said Island Coast High Principal G. Peter Bohatch. “What you normally see is elementary parents are intimately involved in school, but it starts to drop off as kids progress to middle and high school.”
At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, teacher Nancy Hagy spearheaded a school committee named the A+ Team. The committee’s goal was to plan major events that foster parental involvement under a program called Reach Higher.
“We knew we had to get parents involved,” said Hagy. “The whole thing is to strengthen family involvement and we decided to do it through a two fold creative approach.”
First, the school held a town hall meeting where students, parents and members of the community could get information on the school. Island Coast High was a Title I school when the meeting was held last year, but it no longer holds that designation.
Hagy also reached out to 35 local businesses to assist with the event, and each donated food and refreshments. Food was the key to ensuring the community would attend the event, she said. Some of the donors included Olive Garden, Carrabbas, Dunkin’ Donuts, Target and Publix.
The second event at Island Coast High was a college night. Twenty-two different universities, colleges and trade schools set up booths at the school and answered questions. When organizing the event, Hagy said she wanted to make sure the schools at the event represented all types of students.
She booked schools ranging from the University of South Florida and University of Miami to an art school run by Barnum and Bailey’s circus, a diesel engine school and academies for nail technicians.
“I wanted to get the low level kids on a special diploma all the way to our top notch 4.0 GPA scholarship winners,” she said.
Over 400 parents attended the town hall meeting and 1,400 parents came to the college night. Some parents even received educational information for themselves.
Teachers wore shirts representing their respective colleges and students from the art department at Island Coast High designed over 500 pendants to represent colleges from across Florida and the United States. Members of the JROTC club helped to park cars.
Students groups and parent volunteers organized a majority of the two events by setting up tables, food and handing out surveys.
“It was really successful and was so much fun,” said Hagy. “I could not do this without the best administrative staff.”
The school hasn’t finalized any plans on next year’s event, she said. They are hosting another college night, but she is currently in the process of planning the over event.
Hagy personally received the award this week during a meeting of state officials for the Florida PTA Conference at Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, Fla.
“Parental involvement is one of the keys to academic success, not only for a school, but for students as well,” said Superintendent James Browder, in a prepared statement. “Working hard to keep parents involved in their child’s education is one of the most important things we do and Island Coast High is truly deserving of this honor.”