Schools, sports support families
Parents say Seminole is the sort of place where many turn out for Friday night football games.
By MAUREEN BYRNE
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 1, 2001
[Times photo: Jill Sagers]
Seminole players celebrate a win in March. Coach Scott Miller says, They grew up playing Little League together, and I think to a certain extent that helps. The team earned a No. 1 preseason ranking from Baseball America and won a state championship. Six players were drafted by professional teams.
Judy and Bob Serata moved to Seminole because it seemed like a great place to raise a family.
"We've been here 15 years," said Mrs. Serata, whose two sons graduated from Seminole High and whose daughter is entering the school. "I've been very, very pleased. I can't ever imagine leaving here."
Seminole enjoys a reputation as a family-friendly place -- good schools, youth athletics and sense of community.
"It is really true," said Mrs. Serata, 43, who moved from St. Petersburg. Whether on a ball field, in a grocery store or at a school function, "we do look out for each other. That is why we are here. We are a community."
That's evident from the year-round activity at the Seminole Youth Athletic Association complex on 90th Avenue N, where 1,500 children compete in soccer, football and baseball.
"Everybody helps run the place," said association president Bob Diem, who has coached all three sports there since 1989. "We try and do the best we can. Our funds are limited, but we just keep pushing forward."
Some say the organization fosters good athletes who continue playing together through high school. They say that explains the success behind Seminole High School's athletic teams.
"That was the case with this year's (baseball) team," said coach Scott Miller. "They grew up playing Little League together, and I think to a certain extent that helps. The chemistry was as good as I've ever seen on a team, but it was also a very talented team. Chemistry can only take you so far."
It took the team to a state championship and got six players drafted by professional baseball teams.
The team grabbed national acclaim in the spring, earning a No. 1 preseason ranking from Baseball America and winning every game on the field on the way to its first state championship.
The football team enjoyed a state quarterfinal appearance. And community spirit thrived at the games. Not only did parents and students watch the action, but retirees, business owners and plenty of alumni turned out to support the team.
"It's like the thing to do on Friday nights," Mrs. Serata said.
Organized sports aren't Seminole's only draw.
"Everybody knows Seminole schools are great," said Trish Haynes, 34. She and her husband, Joe, 37, are the parents of a kindergartener and a second-grader at Seminole's Bauder Elementary School.
Seminole area schools did pretty well this year in state grading, including A's for Seminole Middle and Seminole Elementary and a B for Seminole High. Bauder, though, dropped from an A last year to a C this year.
"I'm not worried about the fact that (Bauder) dropped," Mrs. Haynes said. "I don't think it makes the school any less of a school." The grading system, partly based on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, makes it harder for an A school to maintain its grade.
Mrs. Haynes said she is impressed with the strong parental involvement at Bauder, including its volunteers and its booster club, which donates money to Bauder's after-school tutoring program.
Like the Seratas and Hayneses, Seminole parents Sue and Keith Homme are involved in their children's school and extra-curricular activities.
At first, the family lived in Palm Harbor. "But then we moved to the Bauder area after hearing great things about the school from friends whose kids were in play groups with our kids," said Mrs. Homme, 43.
Mrs. Homme volunteers and works part time as a clerk at Bauder Elementary. Keith Homme, 44, has served on Bauder's School Advisory Council for a number of years. Both are in the Bauder Boosters parents' club.
They have four children: 11-year-old twins Michael and Christian, who will enter Seminole Middle School in the fall; Katie, 9, a fourth-grader at Bauder; and Nicholas, 7, a second-grader at Bauder.
Katie is a Girl Scout, plays soccer and takes dance lessons. All three boys play soccer for Seminole Junior Warhawks Association, and Michael and Nicholas play baseball for Seminole Youth Athletic Association.
"We are anxious to get involved at Seminole Middle School," Mrs. Homme said. "We really like Seminole, and this is where we want our kids to grow up."
- Staff writer Julianne Wu contributed to this report.
Communities of Seminole