For decades, the Chasco Fiesta has been a mainstay in the New Port Richey community. The Fiesta is a weeklong celebration of the local Chasco culture, while mixing in various fair-like activities.
Craig McCart, one of the chief organizers of the Chasco Fiesta, has been involved with the celebration for more years than he can remember.
“I’ve been involved since back in 1974,” McCart said. “But, I’ve been on the steering committee since 1998.”
McCart explained there are nearly 30 non-profit organizations that have come out this year to take part in the Chasco Fiesta. One of those organizations, West Pasco Sertoma, is headed up by Michael Tyler.
“We support the All Children’s Sertoma Speech and Hearing Center,” Tyler said. “We come out to the Chasco Fiesta and cook for two weekends in a row. We cook so kids can hear.”
Tyler is just one of many that come out to the Fiesta for a noble cause. Tara Londergan is part of a women’s motorcycle group called the Diva Angels. The Diva Angels are a non-profit organization that come out and donate their time for a good cause. This year, they were working with Tyler and West Pasco Sertoma to raise funds.
“We have poker runs, last year we had a spaghetti dinner for the homeless vets,” Londergan explained. “We hang out and raise funds for other charities.”
With all the fun and festivities, there can be times where things get a little out of hand. That’s where Officer Greg Williams of the New Port Richey Police Department comes in.
“The only issue we have sometimes is the excess alcohol use,” Williams said. “But, for the most part, it’s a good event. All different classes of people come out.”
Like Officer Williams, mostly everyone seems to agree that the Chasco Fiesta is a positive event for the community and the surrounding areas.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” Londergan said. “It’s great for the downtown, it keeps it alive.”
The Chasco Fiesta comes to Sims Park in March of every year. It includes a big parade on the first Saturday, along with concerts throughout the week in the Sims Park Amphitheater and finishes up with a boat parade on the final weekend.
When it comes to the University of South Florida (USF), there are an endless amount of activities that can be done. However, on the weekends, when campus seems to be a bit bare, it can be difficult to find activities to participate in.
I started my day of finding USF students by wondering the campus. At first, I was nervous I wasn’t going to find anyone, since I seemed to be the only student walking on campus. Then I came across two girls carving pumpkins. It was a beautiful day outside, so they thought that was the perfect opportunity to complete this activity.
After that, I made my way in the direction of the Marshall Student Center. There, I came across of a group of girls in the sorority Kappa Delta. They were taking turns having their picture taken with the statue of the bull. Everyone should get a picture with the bull before they graduate. Their chance came to do this on a weekend when the campus was empty.
Heading away from the main campus, making my way to some off campus areas where students would be, I noticed the beauty of the campus. When you’re rushing to class it is hard to appreciate all the real beauty USF has to offer.
I knew a spot students went in their free time was the USF Riverfront Park. I was introduced to the girl in the canoe from one of my best friends here at USF. She agreed to let me tag along with her in the canoe to snap a few shots.
Finally, I started to head home when I saw another activity students could do. They could ride bikes for pure joy, rather than just as a form of transportation.
Overall, USF may seem to be an empty campus on the weekends but that is not true. It takes a little searching to find students because instead of spending most of their time on campus, they are completing activities they wouldn’t normally have time for.
The photos above showcase some of these activities to offer an insight to other students at USF looking for fun things to do on the weekends.
At the 4th Annual Clearwater Beach Chalk Art Festival, more than 40 artists took part and showed off their artistic talents for everyone to see.
This event was held Oct. 23-25 and was hosted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce. These professional chalk artists came from all over the world and transformed the Beach Walk into their own artistic playground.
Spectators were able to get a rare experience of witnessing the beauties of art unfold before their eyes.
The co-founder of a new facility is taking a unique approach in helping veterans in the Tampa Bay area cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Janel Norton has served our country as a combat photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, now she serves in her community by helping other veterans.
“I experienced what I now know was post-traumatic stress when I returned home” Said Janel.
After being stationed in both Liberia and Bosnia, she decided to come back to the United States, but the transition wasn’t easy.
“I got really angry when I came back,” Norton said. “People don’t even know what’s going on over there. I felt very disconnected with everybody and nobody understood anything I had been living through for the last couple of years”
She then discovered the healing power of yoga and had the idea of opening an establishment where local veterans could meet and experience this healing together. After meeting with a prior green beret, they started the Veterans Alternative.
Member and Afghanistan war veteran David Jones is only one of the many veterans that has benefited from this class.
“She’s done wonders as far as you know helping me sleep with this iRest,” Jones said.
iRest is a form of yoga made accessible to everyone. This stress reducing class helps veterans tap into their inner resource.
“We have a small population that we’re serving, but there’s many more,” Norton said.
Lacoochee Elementary School received a new bench this past March, but its purpose is much deeper than providing a place to sit. It’s being used to spread kindness and friendship to the students.
“What it is, it’s a friendship bench, but the name we gave it is called the ‘Kindness Corner’,” said Nancy Montoya, guidance counselor at Lacoochee Elementary.
The bench is a place for students to help others and make friends in the process. If a student is sad, lonely or needs a friend, they can sit on the bench. Students who see someone on the bench are encouraged to go up to him or her and strike up a conversation. They are to ask what is wrong, what they can do to make it better and be a friend in their time of need.
“It is a way for a student to be an up-stander and help someone else rather than ignore someone when they are in pain,” Montoya said.
Montoya got the idea for the bench from an article geared toward anti-bullying. She felt the students at Lacoochee could use it as a tool to gain social skills and build relationships. She contacted the Kiwanis Club of Dade City and they loved the idea.
“When Nancy contacted me at Kiwanis about having us possibly fund the bench, I couldn’t say no,” said Keith Williams, president of the Kiwanis Club of Dade City. “Friends are such a vital part of childhood, and the Kindness Corner is going to be a place for friendships to flourish.”
Lacoochee Elementary School is located in an area that struggles economically. Surrounding the school are three government housing developments. The school’s graduation enhancement teacher, Daniel Vazquez, says the majority of the students live in those developments.
“About 96 to 97 percent of them are on free or reduced lunch, which means they are living at or below the poverty level,” Vazquez said.
When Kiwanis donated the bench to the school, there was a large dedication to show the students the purpose of the bench and how to utilize it. The student response was overwhelming.
“The next day students were running up to me saying they see someone on the bench and they’re going to find out what’s wrong and make a friend,” Montoya said.
Many students believe the Kindness Corner is a great addition to Lacoochee.
“It’s a good idea because, if you don’t have a friend, then wait on the bench and then a friend might come to you,” said Nathaniel Vento, first grader at Lacoochee.
With the success of “Kindness Corner”, the faculty at the school believes the bench is going to be building friendships for years to come.
Tampa, Fla. – Phyllis P. Marshall is the backbone of the University of South Florida. She was there from the very beginning in 1960.
Marshall lived in the first student union called the University Center. She was essentially the first resident assistant on campus. The girls’ dorms were on the fourth floor of the building.
President John Allen wanted the focus of the school to be on academics and merits, not any social aspects.
“He and the other deans and the other students did not want beauty contests, popularity contests and they didn’t want Greek organizations either,” Andrew Huse, associate librarian at USF said.
Huse said Marshall was an advocate for students. “If she didn’t go to the event, they might not have been able to have the event.”
Marshall is known as “Ms. USF” for her involvement with students. Among many ideas, she helped advocate for students to bank at the credit union. In her mind, it was not fair for students that did not have transportation.
“I think she was an advocate for integrating students with the university.” Huse said.
The University Center was later named the Marshall Student Center in 1994 to coincide with Marshall’s retirement.
Although D.G. Yuengling and Sons began selling beer in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1829, this Tampa brewery has been making a southern name for itself and the Yuengling brand since 1999.
Hospitality Manager and brew house tour guide Elizabeth Moroney has been with Tampa’s branch from the start. When she left her job as an RN for a pediatrician in 1999, she says that the Yuengling sales force consisted of her loading six-packs into her car, and driving around Tampa asking restaurants to try the new beer in town.
Now, she says “People are crying out for this product. We are like the Coors of the 21st century now.”
Yuengling is keeping up with the demands as a “21st century Coors” beer company with the release of the Summer Wheat beer, a seasonal brew currently available on the Florida market. Although the beer made its debut in 2014, its recipe has since been tweaked for the 2015 summer season.
Yuengling tour guide Bredon Hobson explains, “It’s the first time we’ve ever done a wheat beer. We kind of got it a little bit smoother.”
Fellow tour guide Maureen Brake says “The impression of [the Summer Wheat] this year is very positive.” She says that those who are sampling the beer at the end of their brewery tour “are definitely asking where they can go about finding the product and how they can find it in the market.”
Brake also told me this is not the only exciting development at Yuengling. The company has plans to release yet another seasonal beer this November. It will join the Summer Wheat and the Octoberfest on the list of Yuengling seasonal beers.
Brake says “Our brew-master developed it almost six years ago, it’s his baby.”
However, further details about this addition to the Yuengling beer menu, including its ingredients, recipe and name are still tightly bottled up.
Brake says “I don’t know if they’ve released the name of it yet, I think it’s secret. But we’ve tried it.”
And Moroney and Brake say they like it. Brake was actually recruited as a tour guide by Moroney in 2010. Brake says that teaching new tour guides is her favorite part of the job.
She says “Teaching them what I do and doing it well, and taking pride in the company is important to me.”
Moroney says she enjoys “the versatility of the job, working for a great company. It’s a family owned company, which makes a big difference.”
Brake says “Yuengling of Tampa specifically offers a very relaxed environment that is just fun.”
Those of legal age interested in visiting the Yuengling brewery of Tampa and doing what Brake says is “something that’s different and unique” can visit http://www.yuengling.com/breweries/tampa for more information on brewery tour times and Yuengling news. The website is also equipped with a “Beer Finder” to help customers locate the Summer Wheat or any beer near them.
The La Segunda Central bakery’s production of fine baked goods has been a staple in Tampa’s Ybor City for over 100 years.
“My great grandfather Juan started the business in 1915, he came from Spain,” fourth-generation owner Copeland Moore, said. “He fought in the Spanish-American war in Cuba, learned how to make Cuban bread.”
He came here in the early 20th century with cigar workers who were flourishing in Ybor City. “He brought the recipe and made the bread for the Cuban workers and the Cuban sandwiches and passed it on to his two sons, who are my grandfather and his brother,” Moore said.
Figure 1 Copeland Moore’s grandfather was the second generation to run the bakery
The rest is history.
La Segunda produces a variety of baked goods, but is most known for its world famous Cuban bread.
Figure 2 La Segunda Bakery is known for its renowned Cuban bread
“We distribute locally and nationally, but locally here most likely if you’ve had a Cuban sandwich it’s on our bread,” Moore said.
The Bakery also has a long-standing tradition of hiring employees that have family ties to the bakery. “I just do whatever they ask me to,” cashier Cathy Rosemurgy said. Moore is Rosemurgy’s son-in-law and technically, Rosemurgy is retired.
“I just to love come and help out because of all of the wonderful people here,” she said.
Figure 3 La Segunda is seen as a crucial part of Ybor City’s history
In addition to employing family and close acquaintances, the bakery also supplies many local restaurants with their Cuban bread. One example is the Columbia restaurant also located in Ybor City. “Providing the local community here in Ybor City with high quality products is important to us,” Moore said.
Moore currently runs the bakery with the aid of his father. When asked what his favorite aspect of the restaurant was, he pointed to new challenges and family.
“Helping with the customers, helping our employees work on their processes, that’s the most enjoyable, that’s what helps me get up and come to work every day and that’s what I like the most about it,” Moore said.
Emmanuel Smith did not plan to become a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida (USF) during his undergraduate years. It took him four years to finish a two-year degree.
For fun, Smith asks people to guess his GPA when he was in college.
“I always tell them that it was extremely low and I tell them to shoot for as low as they can,” he said. “They always tend to put two extra points on top. My GPA after two years of community college was 0.69.”
When he was 22 years old, he said he had no idea what he wanted in life.
“Going out and drinking every night tends to be repetitive,” Smith said. “At the moment you might think you are having the best time of your life, but after you do it a bunch of times, you realize the experience doesn’t change. It’s just the same experience over and over again.”
Thanks to an undergraduate teacher, Smith pursued biochemistry and decided to go back to school, where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA.
“I wanted to feel good about what I was doing, so that led me going back to school and trying really hard,” Smith said. “It felt really good succeeding in my classes, and eventually that led to the path that decided to be a biologist.”
Colleagues at the USF lab said Smith is a hard worker and always motivates the team.
“Just his love of science, just the love of doing what he does, you can tell that he is passionate about the work that’s done here,” Derek Nichols said. “And, the work that he is looking forward to doing in the future.”
Emmanuel Smith surpassed his own expectations. He tells students if you want to succeed, you need to work hard now.
Festa Italiana was hosted in Ybor City for the 18th year with the help of Joe Capitano Jr. The festival, celebrating Italian culture in Centennial Park, took place Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.
The celebration of Italian culture allows the community to come together to share the culture and support local businesses, while raising funds for the Italian Club of Tampa.
“It brings awareness to Ybor,” Alice Mueller, the Italian Club manager said. “Sometimes there’s a negative connotation attached to Ybor City, but really it’s a great place to come.”
The Italian Club begins preparing for the event in August each year and continues working up until the event takes place in April.
Over 15 thousand people attended each day. Every day offers unique events to draw in crowds.
The annual Bocce Ball tournament takes place Saturday morning, while Sunday morning kicks off with a Catholic mass in the Italian Club.
Following mass, Centennial Park opens up to the public where over 100 food and beverage vendors line up along the street to sell their unique dishes and drinks.
“It’s really a family event,” Gilda Ferlita Capitano, President of the Italian Club, said.
Though family is near to many Italian’s hearts, food is a close second.
“Food, Italian food, a bunch of other Italians they get it,” Andrea Diaz, a festival attendee said. “When they see loud voices, big gestures, it’s welcomed.”
Gilda Capitano couldn’t be prouder of her son Joe Capitano Jr. who works hard to ensure this event lives on.
“Seeing so many people together, it’s really just gratifying,” Gilda Capitano said.
On the corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Martin Luther King Boulevard, Tampa residents can enjoy America’s favorite pastime at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Opened in 1996, Steinbrenner Field is home to the minor league Tampa Yankees and the New York Yankees spring training season. Its original name was Legends Field and was renamed George M. Steinbrenner Field almost a decade later to honor former Yankees owner, George Michael Steinbrenner.
“Mr. Steinbrenner, I know, was a very big part of the Tampa Bay community,” said Matthew Gess, the assistant general manager to the Tampa Yankees. “A lot of things here are built and maybe were passed by him.”
Everywhere you go on the facilities bears a little bit of the city that never sleeps. At the front entrance, visitors can see the numbers of retired jerseys from some of the New York Yankees, shop for some memorabilia at the Legends Room store and even pay their respects to the 9/11 Memorial.
“Being that we’re related to the New York Yankees, we do get our share of it because across the bay is the Rays,” said Gess. “A lot of snowbirds come down from New York, so they’re in the area and that plays a huge part into it. I know they love their Yankees down here. They get to see them a little earlier here than their regular season.”
Those who are not New York Yankee’s fans, but are still loyal to Tampa’s baseball teams, can check out the Tampa Yankees at Steinbrenner Field. Tampa’s minor league team plays at the facilities throughout the summer, attracting fans from all over the city.
“I know they like our affordability, our prices and the fact that we’re an open-air stadium and we’re outside,” said Jessica Lack, the digital/social media and community relations coordinator. “It’s just such a fun atmosphere here with all those kids cheering and everything.”
Kids are some of the Tampa Yankee’s biggest fans. The field hosts Kids Day Wednesdays, where local Hillsborough schools are invited to the stadium and students receive a free ticket and meal from the concession stands.
“The kids are gold,” said Lee Buese, a camera operator for the Tampa Yankees. “It really epitomizes the good times that the rest of the people have.”
Steinbrenner Field also hosts a variety of charity events throughout the year to give back to the Tampa bay community. Some of these events include Autism Awareness, Striking Out Cancer, Everyday Heroes and the Children’s Home of Tampa Bay.
“We do a lot of theme nights that give back to the charities to attract people to come,” Lack said. “Coming up next week we’re doing our Fight for Kids Night for a child who has stage four cancer.”
Tickets are on sale for Tampa Yankee’s games. For more about Steinbrenner Field, the Tampa Yankees and the New York Yankees spring training, visit steinbrennerfield.com.
When thinking of Ybor City, cigars usually come to mind. This is because the city wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the cigar business that Vicente Martinez-Ybor brought to the Tampa Bay area. Martinez-Ybor came to what is now Ybor City in 1885, and the rest is history.
The cigar industry brought several different cultures to Tampa, with the largest group being Cubans. Cubans brought their techniques for hand-rolling tobacco into cigars, creating a huge boom in population for Ybor City.
There are about a dozen cigar shops in Ybor. Some are strictly distributors and others produce hand-rolled cigars. One thing they all have in common is a strong customer base. The stores serve local customers, as well as those from other states and countries.
John Watson, a retiree, works at Metropolitan Cigars in his free time. A cigar smoker all of his life, Watson uses his broad knowledge of cigars to help customers find the right cigar for them.
“We get a lot of tourists in here from Europe,” Watson said. “They come in here specifically looking for cigars.”
For the past several decades, highly sought after Cuban cigars have been absent from Ybor City and the rest of the country. These cigars have been considered the forbidden fruit in the cigar world due to their taste and unavailability. However, negotiations between the United States and Cuba have made the possibility of Cuban cigars in Ybor more prevalent.
Dr. August Mauser, a retired University of South Florida professor from the USF Department of Special Education, has been operating his own cigar business— AJ’s Cigars To Go of Tampa—for the past decade. Mauser has been able to find Cuban cigars a few times in the past and finds their future interesting.
“With Cuba opening up, that’s going to mean that we’re going to have Cuban cigars, but it won’t be at least a couple years,” Mauser said. “Cuban tobacco is the finest in the world.”
The future of the cigar industry is up in the air, but cigar lovers can find a multitude of quality cigars in Ybor City. Cigars have built Ybor City and are continuing to bring people to Tampa.
Pinellas County is saving lives and raising money one stride at a time. The American Cancer Society event, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” took place this past Saturday.
Participants and sponsor groups gathered at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg to show their support for the cure for breast cancer.
“I’ve been a survivor for twelve years,” Martine Saber, a walk participant said. “I’ve done the walk for twelve years. It feels great to come out and see all the recognition for men and women with breast cancer.”
A combination of 194 sponsor teams and supporters raised over $143,000 for this year’s walk. The proceeds from the walk go to the American Cancer Society or ACS, to contribute to the process of finding the cure for breast cancer and special services.
Services include transporting patients without vehicles to their cancer treatment facilities. To ensure that all patients feel and look their best during treatment, ACS gives a bag filled with $250 worth of Sephora, Clinique and SmashBox makeup products and hair products.
“I believe in what this event is all about,” Jane Saml, ACS board member and five year survivor said. “This is for efficacy, this is for education, and this is for research. It’s important.”
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks happen in various counties throughout Florida and the United States all during the month of October. According to the ACS website, Florida counties averaged $50,000 to $100,000.
“We’ve got to end breast cancer,” Saml said. “We’ve got to find a cure for breast cancer and all cancers. I’ve been a cheerleader for patients these past two years and I’d love to know that I made a difference. ”
For more information on upcoming fundraising projects for the American Cancer Association visit AmericanCancerSociety.org
TAMPA, Fl– Confusion. Dizziness. Shakes. Hunger. Headaches and irritability. All of these are symptoms of low blood sugar. They can affect a college student’s concentration and lead to poor grades, as well as being a serious health risk.
Students managing their diabetes find it can be a journey of ups and downs, with high blood sugar being just as dangerous as low blood sugar. Every day can be a challenge depending on how they handle their meals, take their insulin and exercise. Always having to worry about if they’ve done everything right affects their lives on a larger scale.
Diabetes plays a role in the workplace as well. Bosses and co-workers might wonder if you’re healthy enough to do your job, what you’re doing with the syringes and why you have to have snacks during the day.
Elizabeth Sullivan is a graduate student at USF with Type I diabetes and she has dealt with the ups and downs of diabetes every day, but she has not let it define her life.
Sullivan joined the USF chapter of Students With Diabetes about two years ago because she wanted to get involved with the group. After graduating from Stetson, she came back to the Tampa Bay area and the founder of the organization, Nicole Johnson, asked her to run the Tampa Bay Students With Diabetes chapter. She acts as a coordinator for the chapter, planning events and reaching out to students with diabetes.
Sullivan knows what it’s like to live with diabetes and manage a school and work schedule. “Every day is a new challenge,” she said. “You never know what your blood sugar is gonna be like, you never know if it’s going to affect your ability to perform well in class or in tests. If you have low or high blood sugar right before a test, you memory goes right out the window.”
Even though diabetes research is ongoing, there is no prospect for a cure any time soon. New medications, therapies and strategies for dealing with diabetes show up regularly in the news every day however, leading to hope that a cure will be found soon.
Sullivan gets excited when she hears about new developments in diabetes research.
“One of the ones I’m most looking forward to is the artificial pancreas,” Sullivan said. “We brought in Dr. Ed Damiano, who is the one developing the bionic pancreas and he’s already gone through at least ten years of research for this and they’ve done clinical trials and gotten really amazing results.”
Diabetes affects millions of people in the U.S., and it seems the numbers are increasing. A report by the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia states more than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which is more than the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010. As bad as that sounds, the report also says that one in four people may not realize they have it.
The National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014 also has statistics on people aged 20 years or older, prime college student age, with 1.7 million new diabetes cases as of 2012. Attending college, working and maintaining a social life is tough enough as it is, but students with diabetes face even more challenges in managing these activities.
According to Francesca Sgambato, administrative specialist at the USF Student Health Clinic, there is not currently a special program for diabetic students but the clinic is willing and able to help students who have or think they might have diabetes.
“We can offer to do any type of labwork or testing they might need,” Sgambato said. “The providers can provide them with medication, if they feel that they might benefit from seeing a nutritionist, we do have one in-house that we would be able to refer them to.”
Sgambato recommends that students who have diabetes or think they have symptoms should go to the USF Student Health Clinic and get their blood sugar levels checked. The staff can then suggest treatment.
Sullivan says the easiest thing to do for people unfamiliar with diabetes is simply talk to a student with diabetes about what it’s like.
“The one thing I would like people to know is I want them to ask,” Sullivan said. “I want them to ask me questions, ask why I do certain things, ask why I can’t do certain things. I think a lot of my friends who I’ve been talking to also agree that just by people asking it gives us a chance to talk with them and connect with other people in a way we might not been able to before.”
Cheese and wine collide at the Cheese Please located at 3225 S. MacDill Ave. in Tampa.
Cheese Please began ultimately as a love for cheese and bringing it back from Europe to the Tampa Bay community.
” No plan and no concept it was just one conversation and we (co-owner Carlos Kanamori) jumped into it,” co-owner of Cheese Please Michael Jones said.
The shop has every cheese from A to Z, mostly from Europe, and they come at quite a cost.
“The most expensive cheese we have is the Pecorino with Truffles at $30 a pound,” Cheese Please salesperson Ciata Choice said.
And with respect to the wine, the most expensive wine bottle is $41.95.
Cheese Please also has a wine bar, better known as Clooney’s Wine Bar for the actor George Clooney, for those that just want to relax after a long day.
The highlight of the shop, however, is its cheese and wine tastings and private parties that occur on a weekly basis.
“We always have a tasting Friday and Saturday nights, typically private parties we have two or three a week, so now there are anywhere between four to six events every week,” Jones said.
The tastings consist of eight courses of cheese with and without a condiment as well as pre-selected wines throughout the tasting.
“My role (in the tastings) is more focused on the wine,” Kanamori said. “I do it because I like to do more of the pairings of the wines. That’s what I enjoy pairing with the wines and the cheeses during the tastings.”
And Jones is the star of the show.
“I’m anything, anytime, anywhere,” he said. “I’m more of the entertainer.”
The high heels can be seen throughout the shop and they are something special to Jones.
“I love shoes on women, and it started out as Carlos hated the concept that I would order shoes to hold the wine bottles, so just to annoy Carlos I ordered more,” Jones said.
Tickets are $30 each. To make a reservation call (813) 805-2743 or (813) 766-0060. You can pre-order online at cheesepleasetampa.com as well.
TAMPA, Fl.- Two University of South Florida professors in the college of education are working together as husband and wife to develop a new app that will allow young children in grades K-5 to access primary resources, or firsthand accounts of events and experiences throughout history.
Michael Berson, professor of social science education and advisor for Muzzy Lane Software, and his wife, Ilene Berson, professor of early childhood in the department of childhood education and literacy studies, are working with Muzzy Lane Software and a team of people throughout the country on the “KidCitizen” project. In September, “KidCitizen” was one of three educational app development grants given by the Library of Congress. The grant is approximately $320,000.
This project isn’t the first time that the Bersons have teamed up.
“We have been working for a very long time, since we were undergraduate students in college” said Michael Berson.
He said that they have a good working relationship, citing her “thoughtful approach to the exploration of curriculum” and her “unique perspectives on the project.” While he is excited to work with his wife, he is just as excited to work with the rest of the team. All were handpicked to be part of the project.
“It is truly a national treasure and to be working with them to create next generations of learning tools, it is a very big honor for us here at the college of education,” Berson said.
The team will be identifying developmentally appropriate primary resources for young children through photos, journal entries, news articles and other resources the Library of Congress has to offer. The focus of the project is on teaching young children about Congress and civics.
“We know, historically speaking, from research in our field that children don’t learn when they simply peruse a text,” Berson said. “They have to engage in content and look and explore and get dirty and dig deep when they’re dealing with history, because for a lot of kids they look at history and they say well that happened a long time ago, that has nothing to do with me.”
Daryl Saunders, social studies supervisor and generalist for area IV schools in Hillsborough County, specializes in implementation of standards, curriculum and development. She will be making sure that the final product can fit in with the curriculum, in the Florida state standards.
“We want more variety of resources and we want to find ways to get more complex resources in the hands of kids in a meaningful way,” Saunders said.
Most children have a phone or some type of device. Rather than shunning the use of the device completely, a ramification of education is occurring.
“What we hope to do is connect children through images to learn about congress to learn about civics, you know, what can they do in their community, by looking at the past and connecting it to their present day lives,” Berson said.
Berson hopes that the app is something that is easily accessible for students and teachers. While it will be free, that doesn’t always mean that people will use or be aware of it. The team will be working no only on design and content but also on how they can make accessibility a reality.
“Kids change, society changes and we have to change,” Saunders said.
Greg McBride had never been to an event quite like the Latin American Student Association’s Salsaween Halloween celebration on Wednesday evening.
McBride, a junior studying international business at USF Sarasota-Manatee, was visiting his friends at USF Tampa, and they decided to go to the event hosted in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. He said he heard about the event from one of his friends and decided it would be a cool event to go to.
“I’m not in the club and neither are any of my friends,” McBride said. “But all of us are either from Peru or Venezuela so we know Spanish culture.”
Salsa music coming from the event in the ballroom could be heard upon entering the MSC. The lights were dim and there were Halloween decorations all around the room including a giant blow-up arch adorned with skulls in the entryway. There were balloons, tables with decorations and even food like chips and salsa and Cuban sandwiches. One of McBride’s favorite activities at the event was the photo booth.
“I went in with all my friends a bunch of times. There were a lot of props to choose from and I really liked the big crazy glasses and the hats,” McBride said. “I’ll go to any event that has a photo booth and free food.”
At one point during the evening there was a break from salsa music, and a student band came up and played a few popular songs. The dancing didn’t stop though. The crowd of about 150 people loved the music and seemed to enjoy it just as much as the Spanish music.
There was also a costume contest. Students were wearing everything from super hero costumes, to elegant dresses, to traditional salsa dancing outfits. Some students, like McBride and his friends, weren’t wearing costumes at all.
“I don’t really dress up,” he said. “I’m going to another Halloween event on Friday and I’m not wearing a costume for that either.”
Even though Salsaween was first and foremost a Halloween event, students and club members were able to come together and enjoy an evening of music, dancing, food and friends. It is one of the club’s most anticipated events each year.
“I’ve had a lot of fun here so far and I would want to go to another event hosted by the club,” McBride said. “And I loved being able to come with my friends and meet other people who appreciate Spanish culture.”
A recent app, Pocket Points, rewards students for paying attention in class.
Launched in 2012 by creator Mitch Gardner, Pocket Points is now sweeping college campuses. When activated, the app counts the minutes a student does not utilize any other features on their phone. The points accumulated can then be used for discounts at local businesses.
“You can lock your phone, and it’ll start counting points. So as you start counting points, the more discounts you earn,” Jordan Loren, the University of South Florida Pocket Points ambassador, said.
Here’s the catch. You must be in class to earn points.
“The geo-fence . . . goes off wifi, so it’s set up from all of the hospital buildings, including all the academic buildings, MSC, and ROTC and the Rec Center as well,” Loren said. In other words, the only way to reap the benefits of the app is to pay attention in the classroom. USF student Tyler Moss says he does not mind putting his phone away for the greater good.
“I think the app is great . . . It really incentifies students to stay in class and uh, focus and you know, earn little rewards for doing so,” Moss said.
Loren says her favorite reward is the buy one get one free salad at So Fresh.
“I mean buy one get ones are great anywhere, and I love So Fresh,” Loren said.
Other local businesses who participate in the Pocket Points reward program include: Smoothie King, Are Pita, Graffiti Junktion, Cazador Grill, Total Nutrition, Babylon Hookah Lounge, Vitamin Discount Center and Planet Beach. Students also have the option to redeem points via online shopping at stores such as The Cabana Shop, COAST Apparel, ForELyse.com and many others.
Anyone can download the app for free today at the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android users.
A local band, The Applebutter Express, is drawing in crowds from all over the bay area. Kyle and Shannon Biss started the band as a vocal duo back in 2004 when they met in high school before getting married in 2011. Since then, they added Joe Trivette as a fiddle player and Matt Desear as the bassist to complete the band.
“I always knew that Shannon could sing because she was in chorus, but she wanted nothing to do with it at first,” Kyle said. “She didn’t want to sing in front of a bunch of people. Once I finally got her up there the first time, she was fine and I realized we had this chemistry on stage together.”
The Applebutter Express has a unique soundgiven to their use of stringed-instruments like the ukuleleplayed by Kyle. Their folk-like, bluegrass styleis more uplifting than most music played today. What first started as a hobby for the band, has led to performances allthroughout Florida and even to other states for festivals such as Bonnaroo.
“We would start to go to local festivals and campsites, walk around and perform for people around there by singing and playing around,” Shannon said. “We didn’t think of doing anything professional yet. We decided one night after so many positive responses from people that maybe we can do something with this. That was enough encouragement to go to open mics and tryout for local gigs and now it’s a whole thing.”
The band members do not focus on a certain niche when it comes to their audience and their eclectic music has drawn in a variety of listeners from children to seniors.
“What’s really funny to me is that kids just take to us,” Shannon said. “I guess that we are good dancing music for kids. Really we get crowds of all ages because we do a lot of 60s and 70s covers and that kind of thing. That’s the music that we are really into, Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, so we get a lot of older fans from that. But we get a little bit of everybody. A lot of people you wouldn’t expect.”
The Applebutter Express already released two CDs and plans to have more.Their recently signed publishing deal and featured song “Hey, my brotha” in Ron Howard’s film “The Good Lie” foreshadows they have nothing but a successful future to look forward to for years to come.