Youth Corner

Tavares and Mount Dora Chess Players Battle to a Draw

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MOUNT DORA — Andrew Jones of Tavares High and Zach Herbst of Mount Dora High battled to a 5-5 tie in the Chess Club’s speed-chess tournament Saturday, January 29th.

The speed chess tournament was the second chess event held in Friendship Hall of First United Methodist Church in Mount Dora.

Participating with Jones and Herbst were Daniel Flores, Rajiv Varghese, Ray Konopka, Austin Ray and Thomas Marek all from Mount Dora High, along with two Eustis High players, Alex Emery and Kyle Schneider, as well as Michael Taylor of Mount Dora Middle School.

Student chess players in the Golden Triangle area want to form a scholastic chess league, and have invited players from other Lake County high schools to join. For more information, contact Mike Archer at Mount Dora High School by e-mailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


South Lake High Student Participates in State Reading Chorus

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GROVELAND — Harrison Acosta, a high-school junior, represented South Lake High at the Florida Music Educator’s Association Clinic/Conference as a participant in the Reading Chorus on January 13-14.

“Students in the reading chorus must make a very high score on the sight singing and written portions of the Musicianship Exam for All State,” said Patricia Sayers, music teacher at South Lake High School. “Harrison received a 98 on the written portion and sight sang 37 out of 40 measures correctly to achieve this honor, ranking him as was one of the highest ranking tenors in the state.”

While in Tampa, the Reading Choir sight read more than 50 pieces of music and even sight read a piece on stage for their performance. They also premiered a piece written by a high school student who won the state composition contest.


East Ridge Middle hosts "Clash in Clermont"

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altCLERMONT — On January 15th, nine Central Florida Schools competed at East Ridge Middle School in the first annual “Clash in Clermont” robotics competition.

This was the first-ever robotics tournament hosted in Lake County. Carver Middle also hosted a free robotics workshop, which was open to all schools in Florida. Engineers from VEX Robotics visited the school to preview the new game for this year and help students brainstorm ideas for robot designs.

Each school that attended the “Clash in Clermont” had one to three different teams of students who have been working to create robots to accomplish various tasks and compete against each other. From picking up colored-rings and putting them on posts, to playing defense and taking rings off of posts to prevent their opponents from scoring, each robot was designed for battle and ease of scoring.

“Robotics students work from September to present spending 15 hours and more a week before and after school designing, building, programming, practicing and fundraising,” said Bart Nash, Robotics Coach at Carver Middle School, who is helping other schools in Lake County form teams.

In the end, the “Clash in Clermont” was won by an all-girl team from McLane Middle School in Brandon, Fla. Carver Middle School took the judges trophy and East Ridge Middle School brought home the sportsmanship trophy.

The next robotics competition in Lake County is scheduled for Saturday, March 5th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Carver Middle School, located at 1200 N. Beecher St. in Leesburg. The event is free to attend. About two dozen teams are scheduled to compete in the event including teams from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, McArthur High School in Hollywood, Rockledge High School in Rockledge, Palm Bay High School in Melbourne, East Ridge Middle School, Carver Middle School, Lyman High School in Longwood, Hillsborough High School in Tampa and University School of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.


South Lake High’s Speech & Debate Team Impresses in First Tournament

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CLERMONT — South Lake High School’s Speech & Debate Team attended its first-ever tournament this past weekend at Timber Creek High School in Orlando at competed against 25 other schools.

Of the 25 schools competing in the tournament, 11 teams were nationally ranked teams. South Lake High is the first school in Lake County to compete in speech and debate.

South Lake junior Chalaina Ranson placed sixth in oratory and sophomore Keri Loiacono placed seventh in oratory beating some nationally ranked competitors. Other South Lake students that participated in the competition included senior Jeremy Daulton and sophomores Courtney Ferguson, Norbert Hugger, Hein Le, Racheal Mckenzie, Rhiana Nogueira and Jamie Small.

“Overall, the team did an outstanding job and they are looking forward to their next competition in March,” said Coach Kris Hall.

South Lake High’s Speech and Debate Team meets every Monday afternoon to practice. The experience helps students develop poise and confidence and learn how to overcome fears, especially when it comes to speaking in front of others. In addition, students learn how to develop analytical arguments, think quickly on their feet and how to show expression.

“I am a former competitor and also have coached in Texas and Alabama taking students all the way to the state and national level,” Hall said. “I knew this was a program South Lake needed and would excel in. South Lake has a tremendous amount of untapped talent; speech and debate brings that out in students.

“Learning to speak in front of others is a life skill every student should develop,” Hall added. “It does not matter what career they choose in their future, being able to speak in front of others will be crucial. It will set them apart from students who have not been exposed to learning speaking skills.”


Sawgrass Bay Elementary School knows how to Spell C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N

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Dr. Julio Valle congratulates Sawgrass Bay Elementary spelling bee champion Eri Ishikawa (right) and runner-up Bianka Brooks.CLERMONT — The first ever Sawgrass Bay Elementary school-wide spelling bee was held on January 25th and fifth grader Eri Ishikawa was crowned school spelling champion.

Each classroom in grades third through fifth held a classroom bee from which a champion was chosen to compete in the school bee.

“Competition was tough, and the words were difficult,” said Dr. Julio Valle, Principal of Sawgrass Bay Elementary. “I am very proud of all the students who participated.”

Eri will compete in the County spelling bee on March 8. Second place school finisher, Bianka Brooks, a third grader, will attend as the alternative. Both girls were presented with a certificate from Scripp’s. Eri also received a blue ribbon, as well as a one-year subscription to Powerspeak to learn another language.

The classroom winners were: Shronell Saunders, Bianka Brooks, I’Shonna Kinchen, Madison Johnson, Andrea White, Chloe Walker, Daunte’ Smith, Juliana Torres, Caleb Evens, Niki Zheng, Kylie Palmer, Monica Roman, Elizabeth Gedeon, Gabriella Martinez, Nicole Myers, Fabiola Rosa, Cameron DeVoe, Karla Mercedes, Eri Ishikawa, Selma Kabbaj, Hanan Garib, Nicole DeLaCruz, Jillienne Riethmiller, Natalia Palma, and Haley Kane.

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