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Educators mark PTA Founders' Day

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

INVERNESS -- During a quick visit to the Citrus County School District, Florida PTA president Patty Hightower celebrated PTA Founders' Day at a small, comfortable dinner at Withlacoochee Technical Institute. The dinner was prepared and served by the school's culinary students.

Hightower was joined by superintendent of schools David Hickey, assistant superintendent Linda Kelley, school board member Patience Nave, Inverness Mayor Joyce Rogers, Citrus County Schools Teacher of the Year Traci Cook, 1999 Florida Teacher of the Year Scott Hebert and Citrus County Schools PTA members.

Rogers offered an official proclamation proclaiming Feb. 17, 2001, as PTA Founders' Day in Inverness. Hebert shared a history of PTA and Pat Lancaster, Citrus County School District school and community relations specialist, who is also the Florida PTA vice president, read "Happy Birthday, PTA" as a meditation.

Hightower, 53, from Pensacola in Escambia County, said she started in PTA when her child, who is now 25, was in kindergarten. She said her main role as Florida PTA president is "to help bring the networking together so that we speak with one voice."

She stressed the importance of voting. If a parent appeals to a legislator about an issue important to him, and the legislator determines that the parent is not a repeat voter, the legislator, Hightower explained, may not be encouraged to act in the parent's behalf.

This election year, especially, the PTA needs to make parents aware of important education issues. "It is you who advocates for your children," she said.

Hightower will become the immediate past president in November, when Lancaster will become the PTA leader for the state. Hightower is comfortable with that.

"Y'all are going to be so proud of Pat," she said.

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