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New high school has a name to live up to: Lennard Longhorns

The county's southernmost high school is "beautiful," its namesake says.

By BEN MONTGOMERY
Published August 11, 2006


RUSKIN - Sprinklers shot water onto the football field, cars queued in front of the school and a frantic teacher in a burnt-orange shirt that said Lennard Longhorns rushed toward the main office.

"I've been locked out of my room and I don't have keys and I've got 24 kids coming to my class!" she said.

Follow me, said Earl Lennard.

When a school bears your name, you can get a key.

Lennard spent the morning of the very first day of school here at Lennard High helping teachers, wandering hallways and beaming about everything from the Longhorns logo on the gymnasium floor to the landscaping in the courtyard.

"This is what a school is about," the district's former superintendent said as awkward kids found their new classrooms. "This is beautiful. Be sure you get that feel."

The school built for 2,050 students had only 586 enrolled on the first day in grades 9 through 11. The shelves in the media center were bare. The football team fielded only 21 players.

But all that will change soon enough for Hillsborough's southernmost high school, its biggest cheerleader said.

Lennard, who started as a teacher at Ruskin Elementary in 1963 and retired as superintendent last year, offered his hand to a student.

"This is a good school," he said, "and you get to be a part of it."

He stopped to greet teachers in the courtyard, near a poster-board sign that said "Bienvenidos Longhorns." Principal Denny Oest came on the loudspeaker.

"On the behalf of the faculty, staff and administration, welcome Lennard Longhorns," he said. "Thank you for being here the first day and being a part of making school history."

Lennard smiled.

"Good morning, young man," Lennard said to a boy slouching by the media center door. "Just now registering?"

"Yep," the boy said.

"What grade?"

"Junior."

"Well, you'll be one of the first to graduate from here," Lennard said.

"Probably," said the boy.

"Not probably," said Lennard. "We won't let you fail."

Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@sptimes.com or 813 661-2443.

[Last modified August 10, 2006, 08:55:16]


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