Seven Springs Middle Students Serve As Civics Role Models
The students are getting recognized in a civics textbook that will be used in seventh-grade classrooms throughout Pasco County.
Students at Seven Springs Middle in Trinity led an effort in 2008 to protect sandhill cranes that frequented the school campus and nearby roads. They were concerned that the birds were at risk of being hit by traffic.
With the help of a state senator, they eventually convinced Pasco County officials to install “Wildlife Area” signs on local roads. The school principal also installed three "Sandhill Crane Crossing" signs on the Seven Springs campus.
The students' accomplishment is being used an example of civic engagement in a textbook that will be used in seventh-grade classrooms throughout Pasco County this upcoming school year.
The textbook is called Civics in Practice Integrated: Civics, Economics, and Geography for Florida and is printed by Holt McDougal, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing company.
The Pasco School District decided to select the textbook for all of its seventh-grade civics classes, said Summer Romagnoli, school district spokeswoman.
The effort to get the signs was spearheaded by students in Cynthia Tehan’s “Lead the Pack” service learning elective at Seven Springs Middle in early 2008. Then-eighth grade student Matt Nuzzo came up with the idea, which he pursued with classmate Jake Ponce de Leon and other students.
The students contacted government officials and then got in touch with state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. He forwarded their plea to Pasco County officials. The Tampa Bay Times (then St. Petersburg Times), Bay News 9 and Suncoast News featured the story.
In March 2008, the county installed the “Wilderness Areas” signs along Mitchell Boulevard and Little Road.
A Houghton Miflin spokesperson did not return calls to comment about how widely the textbook would be distributed or why the Seven Springs Middle project was highlighted.
In the book, Annette Boyd Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Education Association and state director of the Project Citizen program in Florida, praised the students.
“It is amazing to see how citizens of any age can make a difference in their communities with the help of committed teachers,” Pitts said.
This isn't the only high-profile Lead the Pack effort. Seven Springs students attracted a lot of attention for their effort to bring sidewalks to Little Road, which resulted in the completion of an 8-foot multi-use path along the west side of Little Road from south of S.R. 54 to Trinity Oaks Boulevard, and along the south side of the Mitchell Boulevard from Little Road to Trinity Oaks Elementary School.
The path will be celebrated at Seven Springs Middle with a ribbon cutting at 8:45 a.m. on May 22.