CHS Purple Hearts
Tribute to our Heroes—Purple Heart Corners

By Purshia Allotey

The ‘CHS Superintendent Advisory Council’ had their monthly meeting on November 1, 2023, to discuss numerous topics.  The highlight of the meeting was the installation of the Purple Heart Corner in the Citrus High School Media Center.  This initiative began from an idea from the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776.

The idea started with Lance Corporal Gary Bain, who shared that, after seeing numerous Purple Heart medals in pawn shops, he wanted a better place for these medals to reside.  A Purple Heart Medal is earned through being wounded or killed during combat whilst serving in the U.S. military. Lance Corporal Bain shared his idea with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Coalition and Commander Richard Hunt, Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776. They then passed the idea to Citrus County School District (the first Purple Heart entity in the nation) who enthusiastically put this idea into action. The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776 is passionate about showcasing all the honorable soldiers who put their lives on the line for the United States of America.

After Lance Corporal Bain spoke, Commander Hunt explained the items in the Veterans Flag Case which belonged to the honorable Robert H. Waters.  The case contained his burial flag, three bullet shells from the funeral salute, a Good Conduct Medal, a Purple Heart Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.  Students were eager to see what braveness looks like within a case.  Commander Hunt encourages all students to look at the case and say the name Robert H. Waters out loud so that his name is remembered and never forgotten—we should always remember and never forget all of our veterans.

Citrus High School alumni Commander Richard Hunt, who graduated high school from CHS at 72, told his inspiring narrative on how this came about. Commander Hunt dropped out of school at 17 and joined the military, however, after his service he enrolled in college. Because of a state law that allows veterans to get a diploma, Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel” awarded Commander Hunt a high school diploma in May 2022 in front of all the students and families that night.

After this, Colonel Ebitz shared the story of Aaron A. Weaver, an alumnus of Citrus High School who gave his life for his country. He was part of the Blackhawk Down operation in Mogadishu Somalia. Then, he became a helicopter pilot whose job was to draw enemy fire in the helicopter. In Afghanistan, his helicopter was sadly shot down by an RPG.  Citrus High School is proud to have an American hero like Aaron A. Weaver who selflessly gave his life for others.  His name too should always be remembered and never forgotten.

The students of the CHS Superintendent Advisory Council would like to thank all of those who joined the council meeting to install the first Purple Heart Corner in Citrus County Schools.  Those guests included Lance Corporal Bain, Commander Hunt, Colonel Ebitz, and Mr. David Halbstein, Congressional Aide to Congressman Gus Bilirakis.  If residents of the county are interested in creating more Purple Heart Corners in other schools, please contact the Director of Special Academic Programs, Mr. Darrick Buettner, at [email protected]

Prepping for the Future: LHS makes use of College and Career Center

LHS College Visits
Caption: Lecanto High School students visit a booth at the College of Central Florida's Expo (Photo: Eleonora Cambo).

Isabella Gardiner, Student Writer - Lecanto High School [LHS], offers many resources for students working on their graduation plans, including the College and Career Center [CCC]. Located in the LHS media center and online via a Canvas page, the CCC is a crucial place for students who want help making plans for life after high school. The College and Career Center was the vision of Principal Jason Koon and was founded three years ago under the direction of Coach Peter Rausch and Hollie Dutcher. The Lecanto College and Career Center has been recognized nationally as a model in-school program. It services the entire student population with minimal to no classroom interruptions.

By joining the College and Career Center, students are taking a jump start on their future, and this is not targeted to only seniors. Students of all ages and stages in their academic careers can and should utilize this helpful and successful resource for any post-high school graduation questions.

“If people aren’t signed up yet, please get signed up; there’s a lot of helpful information. Don’t wait until the last minute; a lot needs to be done to transition from high school to college or a successful career,” said College and Career Center sponsor Angela Rausch.

When students start high school, it is time to consider college and careers. The CCC helps students stay on the correct track to graduate and go to college or start a job straight out of high school.

“[During the first year] It's essential for students to maintain a good grade point average [GPA] and start getting involved. That’s what we encourage students to do that year…[During sophomore year] students need to continue to increase their involvement and work on their grades. If they’re at the right point of their math credits, they also start taking the American College Testing [ACT]. Scholastic Aptitude Test [SAT] and be successful in their Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test [PSAT/NMSQT],” said College and Career Center co-founder Hollie Dutcher.

The CCC benefits everyone differently, but it helps upper-class students solidify their graduation plans. The best way to utilize the College and Career Center in your junior year is to focus on college application deadlines and testing dates and stay involved until the end of your senior year to get the most beneficial experience.

“College career benefits me because it makes your senior year much less stressful. Especially with only being on the school campus for two periods because of dual enrollment, the college and career center helps me get all the helpful information I need. It helps get information on scholarships; they help you fill out all college applications, and they also help you fill out bright futures and your FAFSA,” said senior Lauren Brady.

Most students may think the only information they can get about college and scholarships is online. Still, at LHS, the College and Career Center makes finding information that will help with the application process easy.

“[College and Career Center] is more accessible than the internet, I would say. It’s all a centralized Canvas page, so it’s easier to access than the internet. They do all the [research] work for you; you have to fill out the application…on Canvas, they give new scholarships every week; all you have to do is fill them out. A lot of them are local scholarships, so you’re more likely to get it than any national scholarships,” said senior Jaiden Key.

Exciting news! Citrus high schools’ band is set to compete at the MPA’s this weekend!

Written by: Lourelai Cavanaugh-Montgomery

CHS BandWith Their dedication and talent, our talented high school band has secured their spot at the MPA’s this weekend.  It’s been months of hard practice, and countless hours of perfecting their harmonies and notes.

The MPA’s, short for Music Performance Assessments, is an esteemed event where bands from across the state show off their musical talents and compete for recognition. It gives CHS’s band a chance to shine and show their wonderful musical skills!

With the help of our band instructor Ms. Hobbs, the band has prepared an amazing performance that will leave a lasting impression on whoever is watching and listening.

But it’s not just about the music or the MPA’s, being involved in band provides an opportunity for our band members to grow as individuals. Junior band member Taylor Munklwitz says, that being on Ms. Hobbs band team will help students “learn to become social and create bonds with other band members” with the many hours of practice they participate in helps “really make bonds and remain close with other students involved” (Kamari Harris). Being in band honors their dedication and love for music.

The excitement is rushing through the band members, their hard work, passion, and dedication have brought them this far and they are ready to make their mark and show what they’ve got. As our band represents our school at this exciting event, we show our support and cheer them on as they prepare for their moment in the light!

October Culinary Student of the Month

Written by Gabrielle Patetta

picture of Riley Helmdach

This feature interview is with Crystal River High School sophomore Riley Helmdach.

Q: What is your name and grade?

A: “Riley Helmdach and I’m in grade 10.”

Q: When did you find out you were student of the month for Mrs. Crabtree, and what do you think you did to get Student of the Month?

A: “I found out I got student of the month around two weeks ago. I’m pretty sure she said I was always positive and I put a smile on peoples faces. I’m positive in a non-interruptive way.”

Q: What does Mrs. Crabtree do in your class that helps you understand your daily tasks better?

A: “She helps us by explaining the instructions thoroughly and is overall an amazing teacher.”

Q: What level class are you in - Level 1 or Level 2?

A: “ I’m in class Level 1.”

Q: Is there any skill in class that you believe you will be using outside of high school?

A: “Yes, cooking in the future for myself, my friends, family, and my future wife.”

Q: What do you do in Culinary 1?

A: “In Level 1 we tend to talk a lot about Serve Safe [certification] and we only do a little bit of cooking.”

Q: Coming from a current Student of the Month, why would you encourage others to join culinary?

A: “ Learning how to cook is really fun, especially when you know you’re actually going to use this as a life skill in the future. Also the teacher is great, so that’s a plus.”