This is How We Roll “Manatee Strong” 2020 Parade

Photo: Grayson County Schools, KY


This is How We Roll “Manatee Strong” 2020 Parade will be taking place in Manatee County between 9-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

The School District of Manatee County’s Transportation Department has organized this meaningful event to show support for our community – and congratulate students and school communities on a successful end to the year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.



The parade will consist of several school buses, school district vehicles, members of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and a fire truck from Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue.

Due to safety concerns, individual vehicles won’t be permitted to join the parade. Instead, we invite families to join us along the route to say farewell to the 2019-2020 school year.




Depart Matzke Support Complex: 1 Matzke Way, Bradenton – 9:05 a.m.

West on 26th Avenue East | North on 27th Street East…

Wakeland Support Center (across from Pirate City) – 9:07 a.m.

North along 27th Street East | West along 13th Avenue East | South along 15th Street East | West on 37th Avenue East…

Southeast High School – 9:16 a.m.

West on 37th Avenue East | South along 9th Street East | West on 57th Avenue East | South on 5th Street East…

Pass Daughtrey Elementary School (bus loop side/with PE shelter) – 9:23 a.m.

West on 63rd Avenue East | North on 26th Street West…

Pass Bayshore Elementary School (front of school/parking lot) – 9:29 a.m.

West on 57th Avenue West passing State College of Florida…

Enter Bayshore High School bus loop – 9:31 a.m.

East on 57th Avenue West | North along 26th Street West | West on 11th Avenue West | South on 32nd Street West…

Pass by Manatee High School (south of football field) – 9:45 a.m.

North on 35th Street West | East along 9th Avenue West | turn South on 9th Street West | East on 13th Avenue West…

Pass Rogers-Bullock Elementary School (front of school) – 9:51 a.m.

North on U.S. 301 over the Manatee River into Palmetto | West on 10th Street West | North along U.S. 41 Business | West on 17th Street West

Palmetto High School – 9:59 a.m.

North on 14th Avenue West | East on 23rd Street West past Blackstone Park | South on U.S. 41 Business | East along 17th Street West | North on 36th Avenue E past Gamble Plantation | East on 69th Street East…

Pass Virgil Mills Elementary School and Buffalo Creek Middle School – 10:23 a.m.

Continue along 69th Street East | East on Erie Road in Parrish…

Enter front entrance of Parrish Community High School – 10:30 a.m.

Exit South on Martha Road | East on 69th Street East behind PCHS | South on 121st Avenue East and cross over U.S. 301 going south on Ft. Hamer Road…

Pass Annie Lucy Williams Elementary – 10:43 a.m.

Continue south over Ft. Hamer Bridge onto Upper Manatee River Road which turns into Lakewood Ranch Blvd. south of State Road 64…

Pass Lakewood Ranch High School and Manatee Technical College-East Campus – 10:54 a.m.

West along State Road 70 E | North on Creekwood Blvd. which turns into 44th Avenue East passing by Creekwood Park | South on Caruso Road…

Pass by Braden River High School and Manatee Technical College – Main Campus (near west entrances) – 11:15 a.m.

West along State Road 70 East | North along 45th Street East | West on 26th Avenue East…

Return to Matzke Support Complex – 11:28 a.m.



Signs, balloons and other decorations along with loud cheers are encouraged, in accordance with CDC recommendations for social distancing.

We’ll miss you – and hope to see your memories from our last moments together on social media using the hashtag #ManateeStrong and #WeManatee!

Dear Seniors… Letters from a loving teacher


No one could have imagined that 2020 would turn out this way, especially high school seniors.

Manatee County’s senior class would have walked across the stage in their cap and gowns this week.

Soon they’d be shopping for dorm room decor – or soaking up the sun with friends who will soon part ways.

COVID-19 has changed some of that. What hasn’t changed… is the feeling in our hearts.



This week, Shelly Corbran found a letter in her mailbox. It was addressed to her daughter, Meghan, a senior at Manatee High School.

The contents of the envelope included a letter her daughter wrote to herself in 2013, as a fifth grade student at Braden River Elementary School:


Dear Meghan,

If you’re reading this, your dreams have come true and you’ve made it. Do you still remember Mrs. Hood? Well, I’m in her class right now and I love her.

-Excerpt of Meghan’s letter from 2013


Love is a shared sentiment between Mrs. Hood and her students.

In 2013, Amy Hood had already been teaching for several years, but wanted to commemorate her “first” fifth grade class at Braden River Elementary School in a special way.

She asked them to write a letter to themselves as future seniors – with no idea of knowing what that gesture would mean in 2020.

“I told them I would send it to them their senior year,” said Mrs. Hood, now a teacher at Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School in Parrish. “A few weeks ago, I pulled their letters out of my file and composed a letter of my own with some advice from me.”


As you are about to finish high school (online, unfortunately!) I’m sure you have learned many life lessons on your own. None of us could have imagined that our lives would have so drastically changed, like they have and sadly, it has affected you all in big ways.

-Excerpt of Mrs. Hood’s letter to seniors in 2020



Meghan’s mom was touched. Shelly Corbran says her daughter and all seniors have lost out on so much, but this kind gesture filled a void that COVID-19 has taken away from her daughter.

In 2013, Meghan loved country music, lasagna and neon colors. She had dreams of becoming a Pediatric Nurse.

In 2020, Meghan is preparing to attend Florida Atlantic University where she plans to major in Pediatric Occupational Physical Therapy. She was right. Her dreams are coming true, despite the unknown.



As for Mrs. Hood, she is proud of all of her former students and looks forward to continuing this “Dear Senior” letter tradition in the future. Her final words in the letter to her former class, “I love you all”.



Congratulations to the Class of 2020 and Mrs. Hood’s 2013 Wranglers!


WeManatee is a campaign telling the stories of people making a positive impact through public education and those who are benefiting from it. It’s short for “We are the School District of Manatee County.”

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Manatee County Sweeps TSA State Events


The 42nd Annual Technology Student Association (TSA) State Conference held this weekend in Orlando welcomed more than 2,000 middle and high school students, advisors, chaperones and guests from across Florida. The School District of Manatee County sent more than 400 students from 16 Manatee County schools.

The schools that competed include: Bayshore High, Braden River High, Lakewood Ranch High, Manatee High, Palmetto High, Parrish Community High, Southeast High, Braden River Middle, Buffalo Creek Middle, Dr. Mona Jain Middle, Haile Middle, Johnson Middle, Lee Middle, Nolan Middle, Rowlett Middle Academy and Sugg Middle.


There were 222 trophies available (first, second, and third-place) for a total of 74 competitive events. Upholding a long-standing reputation, this was the 15th straight year Manatee students captured more trophies and earned more Top Ten finishes than any other school district in Florida. Manatee County students brought home 98 event trophies (39 first-place event trophies, 31 second-place trophies, and 28 third-place trophies). Even more impressive, our students brought home 242 Top Ten student event finalist pins. These finalist pins are for all students who placed in the Top 10 in a competitive event.


This year’s Florida TSA Conference consisted of competitive events representing a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills from animatronics, and biotechnology to video game design, and webmaster.


Buffalo Creek Middle TSA earned third place overall at the middle school level


The Outstanding School Award is given to the schools in the Top Ten, based on a calculation of all event placements for the entire conference for all student competitors with a first-place win equating 10 points and a 10th place finish equating 1 point. Braden River High earned first-place for high schools and Buffalo Creek Middle earned third-place overall at the middle school level.



Other highlights include:

  • Manatee County swept the coveted CO2 Dragster at both the middle school level taking 1st (Buffalo Creek MS), 2nd (Dr. Mona Jain MS) and 3rd (Nolan MS) and the high school level 1st (Palmetto HS), 2nd and 3rd (Braden River HS).
  • Students from Southeast High School earned first and third places in an inaugural Drone event.


  • Middle school students took first place (Haile MS) and second place (Braden River MS) in the other inaugural event, Fluid Power.


Dr. Mona Jain Middle School TSA
Dr. Mona Jain Middle School TSA placed in 28 categories during their first TSA state event


  • Newcomers from Dr. Mona Jain Middle placed in 28 categories for their first TSA state event, earning first place in Challenging Technology Issues, Cybersecurity and Mechanical Engineering.
  • Manatee County swept high school level events in Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and also Future Technology Teacher taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd.                    
  • At the middle school level, our students swept the Chapter Team taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd, Flight taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and Microcontroller Design taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd .
  • Kyle Wright, a student from Southeast High School, was elected to the office of Florida TSA Sergeant at Arms for 2020-2021.
Kyle Wright (left) was elected to the office of Florida TSA Sergeant at Arms for 2020-2021


  • No other school district in the state has had more schools receive the Outstanding School Awards than Manatee County.
  • No other school district in the state had more schools receive Top 10 finalist pins than Manatee County.
  • No other school district in the state had more schools receive event trophies than Manatee County.


The students started with their TSA projects in the fall, competed at Manatee County District events in December, and continued to work tirelessly during the weekends and after school in the months leading up to the State Conference. Students will be heading to the National Conference that will take place June 27-July 1 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville.



“We congratulate our students for continuing to excel in these TSA events which will lead them to become successful leaders in STEM fields. We will continue to encourage these bright minds to improve their skills, knowledge and fluency in our ever-changing world,” said Kelli Kennedy, Assistant Director of Adult, Career and Technical Education.

“All students should have access to these quality learning environments – and we’re proud to support their successful TSA programs,” said Doug Wagner, Deputy Superintendent of Operations. “An amazing effort for the finest advisors, teachers and students in Florida and we look forward to cheering them on this summer at Nationals.”

A complete list of event results is posted on at


WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.

Seven National Blue Ribbon Schools Named in Manatee County


Every year the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

Photo: Williams Elementary School


The School District of Manatee County is proud to announce the following Blue Ribbon Schools: Points of Light schools – Bashaw Elementary School, Braden River Middle School, Lee Middle School and Palmetto Elementary School; Beacon schools – Haile Middle School and Tara Elementary School; Lighthouse school – Williams Elementary School. Only 31 schools in the United States were awarded the highest honor, Lighthouse status.


Administrators from Manatee County’s Blue Ribbon Schools receive recognition during a School Board Meeting


To achieve Blue Ribbon status, schools are evaluated in the following areas of school performance:

  • Student Focus and Support
  • School Organization and Culture
  • Challenging Standards and Curriculum
  • Active Teaching and Learning
  • Technology Integration
  • Professional Community
  • Leadership and Educational Vitality
  • School, Family, and Community Partnerships
  • Indicators of Success


Administrators and staff from Bashaw Elementary School


According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Blue Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and a model for schools still striving for excellence. This is the 37th year for the program and the coveted award has been bestowed to 9,000 schools nationwide.


Haile Middle School administrators


WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.

$100k grant to inspire learning in Manatee County


A generous grant from Manatee Community Foundation (MCF) will help student achievement reach new heights in Manatee County. An investment of $100,000 from MCF’s ‘Success Through Literacy Fund’ will provide funding to Soar in 4, an initiative that promotes student success and school readiness. The grant was awarded to the Manatee Education Foundation to support the District’s Soar in 4 Family Nights and summer programs for pre-kindergarten students.



A Soar in 4 Family Night is planned for Wednesday, December 4, 2019 from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Learning activities will be taking place at Manatee Central Library, 1301 1st Avenue West; The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 210 10th Street West; and ArtCenter Manatee, 209 9th Street West – all located in Downtown Bradenton. A special gift will be given to the first 50 children to visit ArtCenter Manatee (McDonald’s gift cards) and Manatee Central Library (drawstring backpacks). All families are invited to play, explore and participate in activities designed to support classroom learning.



There will be a special holiday event at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature on Saturday, December 21st from 10 a.m. until Noon with a visit from Santa and Clifford the Big Red Dog. All Soar in 4 events are free and snacks are provided. They are meant to improve literacy skills and inspire students to excel at STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.



According to the Manatee Community Foundation, donors Steve and Carolyn Roskamp created the ‘Success Through Literacy Fund’ to encourage nonprofit organizations to collaborate and support public education in an effort to boost grade-level reading scores. Last year, the Roskamp’s were an integral part of Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading efforts and were recognized by the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as “Champions” for their remarkable work in our community.



Nonprofit partners of Soar in 4 include United Way Suncoast, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, ArtCenter Manatee, Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, Forty Carrots Family Center, WEDU PBS, Manatee County Libraries, Meals on Wheels PLUS, METV and others.

To learn more about Soar in 4 please visit or Soar in 4 Manatee on Facebook.

Palm View School is leading the nation in Tech education


Superintendent Cynthia Saunders, along with a team of educators from Palm View School in Palmetto, recently attended what’s billed as “Arizona’s Signature Tech Event”. They were invited by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to be personally inducted as a Woz Pathway School during the DesTechAZ conference from October 14-17, 2019 in Phoenix.



Palm View School, which currently offers grades K-6, was the first Woz Pathway school in the nation. The school offers personalized learning programs to educate and train students for their successful future. Pathway Schools are an elite group of schools that exemplify teaching and learning designed to help students explore their future in the high-demand tech economy.



Superintendent Saunders, Principal Kaththea Johnson and four Palm View teachers participated in interactive sessions during the conference which featured animation, coding, cybersecurity, drone piloting and mobile development.



“As Florida continues its efforts to adapt education to the growing needs of our workforce, Manatee County is already leading the way,” said Superintendent Cynthia Saunders. “We are so grateful to Steve Wozniak and Woz ED for allowing us to experience the cutting-edge technology that’s available to our students in order to make them career ready.”



Attendees from Manatee County also listened to discussions about technology and education led by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, NASA Chief Scientist James Green and founder Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Choppers.

WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.


Manatee County educator receives honors during college football game


It’s hard to miss Bernadette Pletcher’s bright smile in the end zone at Doak Cambell stadium. The longtime educator was posing for a photo in front of Seminoles’ mascots Chief Osceola, Renegade and more than 60,000 football fans in Tallahassee on Saturday.


Mrs. Pletcher, the Principal of Bayshore Elementary School, was invited to stand alongside Florida State University President John Thrasher to be honored as one of the state’s top educators. A special announcement was made during the halftime program at the FSU vs. NC State game.


Mrs. Pletcher is Florida’s 2019 Assistant Principal of the Year. She was serving students at Tillman Elementary School in Palmetto when the award was announced last year.

Bernadette Pletcher, Florida’s Assistant Principal of the Year (center); Courtesy: FSU College of Education


Saturday’s recognition was part of Florida State University College of Education’s launch of ElevatED – an initiative designed to bring attention to the teaching profession and to recognize those who work in schools every day. Mrs. Pletcher has worked for the School District of Manatee County for ten years.


Courtesy: FSU College of Education


Mrs. Pletcher joined Florida’s Teacher of the Year, Dr. Dakeyan Cha Dre Graham of Hillsborough County and others during an FSU Scholarship Awards breakfast and during halftime of the college football game.

Read more about the honor in the Tallahassee Democrat.



WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.


Health students learn life-saving techniques at King Middle School


More than 150 students at King Middle School recently became certified to treat a severely bleeding victim. The students are members of the school’s health and HOSA classes. HOSA is a student organization for Future Health Professionals.



“Stop the Bleed” training was sponsored by the Manatee County School District’s S.T.A.N.D. program, which stands for “Students Against Negative Decisions.” It’s a program to reduce high-risk behaviors among our youth in an attempt to promote their success.



Health professionals from Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, along with volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps, provided the training on September 18, 2019. Students learned how to call for help and apply a tourniquet for a severely injured victim.



Manatee High School’s Key Club, led by teacher Charlie Mills, initially led the training program. They will return to King Middle School in November to certify the entire staff.



“Thank you to the S.T.A.N.D. program for providing this opportunity for hands-on experience in our classroom that can save lives and protect safety,” said Jon Syre, Health and PE teacher at King Middle School.



WeManatee celebrates the people in Manatee County who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it. Search #WeManatee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the great things happening in our public schools.

A powerful lesson in giving: Lee Middle School students provide relief for Bahamas


The 8th grade hallway at Lee Middle School is clear again, for now. Large boxes from The Home Depot have lined the walls outside of the school’s business classroom for the last few weeks. Written on the boxes in black marker are words like: kids clothes, toilet paper, diapers, bleach, canned fruit and veggies. For Richard Daenell and his students, this scenario is nothing new.



Mr. Daenell and his students, mostly members of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), frequently jump into action following natural disasters. They have taken much-needed items to areas ravaged by storms including Key West and Florida’s Panhandle. This time, the students are collecting supplies for people impacted by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Students have been busy, during and after-school, sorting and packing the donations.



After Mr. Daenell sent out a call-to-action, items came pouring in from local businesses, students and staff, community members and even other schools, like Miller Elementary. Last Friday, approximately 10,000 pounds of donations were loaded into Lee Middle School’s travel trailer and taken to a warehouse, set up as a hurricane relief staging area in Bradenton.



The effort is being spearheaded by Yellowfin Yachts and Haulin Grass Fishing Team. Mr. Daenell and his students delivered the items on Saturday morning, where they would be loaded onto a truck headed for South Florida. From there, the items will be flown to the Bahamas. Shallow water barges carrying the supplies could make it to the hardest hit islands this week, according to Daenell.



“This is only the beginning,” said Richard Daenell. “We will continue to collect donations as long as we have a direct connection to the people who need it most in the Bahamas.” They can be dropped off at Lee Middle School, located at 4000 53rd Avenue West in Bradenton, during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Monetary donations will be used to purchase items, such as generators.



WeManatee stands for “We are the School District of Manatee County” and celebrates people in our community who make a difference in public education – and those who benefit from it.

High school seniors earn honor as National Merit Semifinalists


Five Manatee District seniors have been named Semifinalists in the prestigious 65th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

These academically talented high school students have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next Spring.

The 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from School District of Manatee County’s traditional public schools include:

 Jacob Whiddon of Braden River High School

 Madigan Wilford of Braden River High School

 Claire Davidson of Lakewood Ranch High School

 Olivia Hansen of Manatee High School    

 Hailey Maurer of Southeast High School    

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

More than 1.5 million juniors, in more than 21,000 high schools, entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The Semifinalists, representing less than one-percent of U.S. high school seniors, include the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the Spring of 2020: 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships; 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards; and 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards.

Winners will be announced beginning in April 2020 through July 2020. These scholarship recipients will join approx. 345,000 other students who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

For more information, visit