May 5, 2018

Couple’s $1M donation to Hernando schools provides scholarships, air rifle range

Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames!

BROOKSVILLE — Local donors and companies continue to show their support for the schools with financial and other gifts to the Hernando County Education Foundation.

Board member Mark Johnson said at the April 25 School Board meeting that a local couple was donating $1 million for various scholarships and to help pay for an air rifle range at Central High School.

“There was a couple, residents in this county, who gave seven cadets scholarships for $10,000 apiece, and one girl, one cadet, a scholarship for $80,000,” he said. “That’s $150,000. I’m flabbergasted by the generosity.”

Johnson said he had attended Central High School’s Navy Junior ROTC awards night and was impressed by the bearing and ability of the cadets.

Thomas and Christina Tomoshosky gave the money in memory of their late daughter, Valentina, and said the best times of her life were at Central High School.

In addition, they gave 10 jumpstart scholarships through the Hernando County Education Foundation so 10 students can go to college for a full year.

The $1 million donation will help pay for an air rifle range at Central High School, and the board was asked to approve the first $89,071 for the facility.

Kelly Slusser, the principal of Central High School, was grateful to the Tomoshoskys.

“I’m speechless. Words cannot express what is being done for Central High School by Mr. and Mrs. Tomoshosky,” she said.

Slusser knew Valentina, and said was one of the best students to come through the school.

“Her family is going to leave a legacy in her name at Central High School, where she will forever be remembered by our staff, our students and all people, all visitors that visit the school moving forward in the future,” Slusser said.

There will be air rifle competitions at the school, she said, and they are excited about that.

Thomas Tomoshosky announced the donation. Christina Tomoshosky said the NJROTC program meant so much to their daughter, “molding her from an incoming freshman seeking direction into a strong and confident woman.”

Their wish, she added, is to give current and future NJROTC cadets the same opportunity.

April veteran recognized

Dustin Thomas was honored as the April Hernando County School District veteran. He’s a teacher at D.S. Parrott Middle School, teaching intensive math to seventh- and eighth-graders, and seventh-grade core math.

He joined the Army in 2004 and served three tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.

Thomas left the Army in 2015, graduated from USF and began teaching in 2019.

Principal Chris Clifford has worked with Thomas for two years. “Watching his transformation over the past two years has been incredible,” Clifford said. “I went back and I read through some of my predecessors’ reviews of Dustin for growth, and I can tell you he continues to grow.”

Thomas got a standing ovation as he came to the podium. 

“I appreciate the recognition. When I was in school I was not a very good student,” he said. His guidance counselor helped him to graduate on time and would not have had the discipline to make it through college and the military.

“I strongly support any child’s decision to enlist in the military, and I truly would not have been there without them,” he said. “Working at D.S. Parrott has been a blessing, and I hope to continue to grow and be an impact on young lives.” 

Contractor troubles

The Winding Waters contractor has failed to complete work that was supposed to be completed last July, said Brian Ragan, director of facilities and construction, and has failed to get a written agreement to correct the problem. The contractor’s surety company agreed to a memorandum of understanding with deadlines and dates that would give the district latitude to terminate the contract if they don’t meet the deadlines.

The original motion was for termination but after the workshop they wanted the memorandum approved. They’re under time pressure because they need the project finished before school starts, Ragan said, and cannot wait and bring it back to the board multiple times.

They won’t terminate if the contractor meets the deadlines.

Johnson made the motion to give Ragan the authority to execute the contract if the concrete testing comes back in a positive manner. The vote to approve was 5-0.

In other action

• Student representative Gina Doherty reported on several events. Chocachatti Elementary had its “’50s Broadway Baby Show” and will be holding their musical theater show; the school’s annual fifth-grade market will be held on May 12; Spring Hill Elementary had a Family Reading Night to encourage reading and engagement; all grades will attend the “Schoolhouse Rock” play at Sprinstead; fifth-graders will have their FCAT science review on May 8; Westside Elementary is teaming up with the Boys and Girls Club for an award event to spend time in their interactive game room; Westside is putting on a performance of “Annie” on May 4; Hernando High held its grad bash and will have an awards ceremony on May 16 and graduation on May 27; Central had its grad bash and its graduation will be May 26; Weeki Wachee High had a field trip to Epcot for their AP European History class on April 15, and had the prom at Leadfoot on April 21; and Nature Coast will be having its last film club meeting and will showcase the films the students have made.

• Children from Winding Waters K-8 led the pledge of allegiance.

• The final approval of the Neola policy on challenges to adoption or use of instructional, library or reading list materials passed 4-1, with board member Shannon Rodriguez dissenting. Neola is an Ohio-based educational consulting firm that advises school boards on new and changing laws and regulations affecting schools.

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