Latest News & Announcements
Lake Region High School Graduation will be held at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland at 4:00pm on Wednesday June 17th.
•Lakeland Police Department will utilize digital signage for parking directions.
•Students will park by 3rd base and enter the 3rd Base Gate. If riding with a parent, parking will be designated in the front, but students must still enter at 3rd base. Parents/Guests will enter home base entrance.
•Guests may bring an unopened bottle of water, personal hand sanitizer, and small bags only (6”x 6” or smaller).
•Staff will also park in the 3rd base parking lot. Staff must wear ID badges to enter.
•Students may wear light clothing (appropriate shorts and light fabric). It will be hot in the afternoons and we will be outdoors. Gowns MUST be carried into the stadium and put on while in line to collect diplomas prior to the ceremony.
•Diplomas will be given to students when they sign in at the table and collect their lineup number for the processional.
•Principal will introduce the guests and senior class president who will say the Pledge after the presentation of colors by the LR MCJROTC. Principal will introduce the Salutatorian and Valedictorian who will give a brief speech.
•Each graduate will have his or her name called. Graduates will cross the field to home plate to have their photo taken with their principal (social distancing will be required in photos) and each graduate will appear on the stadium’s jumbotron. All names will be read regardless of attendance during the event.
•Graduation attendance is not mandatory. Anyone who does not feel safe attending the ceremony should not attend. This includes graduates, guests and staff members.
•Ceremonies will be livestreamed on the school district’s YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/polkcountypublicschools
•The Florida Department of Health is being consulted during the planning of graduation ceremonies.
•The stadium, including seats, will be disinfected daily.
•Temperatures will be checked as individuals enter the stadium. Anyone running a fever, including graduates, will not be allowed to attend or participate.
•Everyone will be required to wear a mask, including graduates. Water, towels, and face masks will be provided for students (Compliments of the Mims Corporation, Publix Supermarkets and the Tigers’ Organization).
•Graduates will receive four tickets each, tickets will include a seat number. Limiting the number of guests and assigning them to seats at least six feet apart will ensure social distancing. TICKETS CANNOT BE TRADED OR GIVEN AWAY TO OTHER FAMILIES. Complete required senior survey information for any handicapped tickets needed (this is part of the 4 tickets for each graduate).
•Graduates will stand six feet apart during the ceremony. There will be no handshakes.
•Metal detectors will be used as graduates and guests arrive. Law enforcement will be onsite.
•All graduates and guests must wear flat shoes. Guests will be climbing stairs in the stadium, and graduates will be standing on a grass field. Flat shoes are the most appropriate choice.
•Due to restricted air space, NO drones are allowed in the venue.
•Students, staff, and families will be given specific times to check in. You will receive a color-coded paper with times listed when you pick up tickets. If a family or graduate arrives earlier than the specified time, they must wait in their cars until the correct time to check in.
•Tickets will be distributed once they arrive at the schools, along with graduation programs, cords, stoles, metals, awards, yearbooks, and any other regalia.
•Complete senior survey information for any handicapped tickets needed (this is part of the 4 tickets for each graduate).
Announcing: The Roaring 2K20s Prom! Mark yourself as "Going" on the Facebook Event Group for location, times, ticket information, and required forms. Guest Request Form and Prom Policy Form are available on the Facebook group.
Lake Region High School has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded young women’s access to AP computer science courses.
Out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 achieved this important result during the 2018-2019 school year--nearly 20% more than the 685 schools recognized last year. In 2019, Lake Region High School was one of 639 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles. An additional 36 schools received the award for both CSP and CSA.
Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have achieved either 50% or higher female representation in either or both of the AP computer science courses, or the percentage of female computer science examinees meets or exceeds that of the school’s female population.
“Lake Region High School is empowering young women to see themselves as creators, innovators, and problem-solvers,” said Stefanie Sanford, College Board global policy chief. “We hope to see even more high schools inspire female students to harness the potential of an AP computer science education.”
The introduction of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016 was the largest course launch in AP Program history. In 2019, nearly 100,000 students took the AP CSP exam, more than doubling participation in three years. During that time, the number of female AP CSP students has far outpaced overall growth, with an increase of 136%.
Providing female students with access to computer science courses is necessary to ensuring gender parity in high-paying technology jobs and to drive innovation, creativity, and competition. A 2014 Google study found that women are more likely to pursue computer science if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school.
You can't coach speed, but a player needs more than just great speed to be a record-setting goal scorer.
Logan Fernandez certainly has more than great speed. She has developed a great technical game too that allowed her to not just become Lake Region's all-time leading scorer, despite injuries in two seasons, but she'll go down as one of the top players to play girls soccer at Lake Region.
Fernandez' high school career is winding down as Lake Region plays in the Class 4A, District 12 girls soccer tournament that begins this week. Although injuries slowed her senior year, it became more memorable when she learned last week that she became the school's all-time leading goalscorer late last season.
'I think that's so cool,' Fernandez said. 'I love having the opportunity to do that. I was surprised. I had no clue to what the school record was. I'm excited about that.'
With or without the record, however, Fernandez already was poised to graduate as one of the top girls soccer players in the school's 25-year history of the program. She's on a subjective short list that includes — but not limited to — sisters Amanda and Calista Wetherbee, Erin Hopkins and Rhiannon Pugh.
What is not subjective is that when Fernandez scored 44 goals last season, a single- season record, she passed Amanda Wetherbee and Hopkins to become the Thunder's all-time leading goal scorer.
With 26 more goals this season, despite missing time with injuries, she now has 118 career goals. Amanda Wetherbee set the mark of 72 goals in 2001 when she graduated, and Hopkins tied the record in 2005. Pugh fell just short with 66 career goals.
Fernandez began playing soccer when she was 5, starting out in the Auburndale rec program before moving on to club soccer. She also did gymnastics and dance but eventually settled on soccer. First a defender, she became a forward and soon developed a scoring knack.
'It took a while getting used to because it two completely different things, but yeah, I like it better,' Fernandez said of the move to forward.
Her speed was the main reason she moved to forward when she was young, but she has advanced far beyond being just a player who can outrun a defender.
'She's become a lot smarter and very creative, not just going straight to outlet someone on the run but being smarter in how she tactically goes about the player,' Lake Region coach Julia Valentine said. 'She breaks them down then mentally and just wears them down after that.'
With the ball, Fernandez is a versatile player.
'Her technical work with the ball at her feet is every good,' Valentine said. 'It doesn't matter if it's on the left side or the right side. Both shots from the left foot and the right foot are going to be the same speed and the same toughness. And with her sprints, she has a whole-other speed. I don't know how she does it. She just turns it on. It's like she's watching everyone else in slow motion.'
The combination of speed and great technical skill makes her an offensive force.
'My speed definitely helps me with the confidence to shoot because I usually have quite a bit of space once I get in there,' she said.
As impressive as Fernandez's goal-scoring tally is, she might have broken the record sooner and have more career goals were it not for injuries.
Fernandez, who scored 23 goals as a freshman, had 25 goals as a sophomore before being injured just before Christmas.
'It was tough watching them (teammates) go out and play,' she said. 'I hate sitting on the bench and just watching.
After scoring 44 goals last season, Fernandez was recovering from an injury when practice began in late October. She got off to a strong start to the season and had 19 goals before getting injured in mid-December. She has added seven more goals in three games since returning.
Fernandez partially tore ligaments in her ankle both times.
The Thunder made the playoffs as district runners-up and the district championship game against Auburndale remains a high school highlight despite the loss on penalty kicks.
'That game was a lot of fun to play,' said Fernandez, who had one of the team's two goals. 'The pressure was so high. It was a great game. I loved that game. It was probably my favorite game because it was so close.'
Fernandez's senior season has been enjoyable, despite the injuries, in an even bigger way other her individual accomplishments. For the first time, she and her younger sister Dylan, a talented freshman, are teammates.
'I loved that,' she said. 'For a minute, it took me to get used to her being on the field. I'm glad I got to do that my last year, playing with her.'
Fernandez hopes to play college soccer. She participated in a combine at Florida Southern over the weekend. Both Wetherbee and Hopkins, who started at UCF, played soccer and graduated from Florida Southern.
'I've seen the school and really like it,' she said. 'And it's close to home.'
From The Ledger
John Blackburn Jr. is Lake Region High’s Teacher of the Year — an achievement that holds special meaning to him.
For starters, LRHS is his alma mater, and the honor puts Blackburn, 30, in the running to become Polk County’s next Teacher of the Year. Blackburn’s mother, Patricia, is a teacher as well; when he attends PCPS’ Teacher of the Year ceremony tomorrow night (https://tinyurl.com/yce2avtv), she won’t be far from his thoughts.
Actually, Patricia Blackburn won’t be far away at all. She’ll be in the same room, up for the same prize, representing Boswell Elementary as her school’s Teacher of the Year.
“Everyone in our family is extremely proud of this huge honor, and our hard work and accomplishments,” Patricia says. “They feel it is a little more special since we are being recognized simultaneously for what we love to do: teach.”
Patricia has been a PCPS educator for nearly 40 years and currently serves as an ESE teacher at Boswell, where John attended school as a boy. Her son didn’t intend to follow in her footsteps.
After graduating from LRHS in 2007 John headed to Florida Southern College, where he majored in athletic training. He then earned a master’s degree in education from University of the Cumberlands, hoping to work as a collegiate athletic trainer and professor.
John ultimately returned to his native Winter Haven in 2013 to be closer to family. He became a substitute teacher and assistant football coach at LRHS before deciding to pursue teaching full-time. He currently teaches physical science at LRHS, chairs the school’s science department, and is the Thunder’s cross country, soccer and track coach. He’s also the assistant athletic director and head athletic trainer.
“He’s an asset to our school in the various roles he serves,” says LRHS Principal MaryJo Costine. “His pride for Lake Region High goes back to his time as a student … I am confident his talent and dedication are a result of the difference he has witnessed his mother make in the lives of so many students.”
John readily agrees. He has vivid memories from childhood of his mother working extra hours at home and at school events. She always seemed to be planning ahead for the next lesson or the next school year.
“That part I’ve taken from her — the preparation, always working for your kids,” John said. “She’s just so good at what she does.”
Last year was hard, John says. The Blackburn family lost two grandparents (including Patricia’s mother), yet Patricia and John had one of their most successful years as educators — evidenced by their awards — while dealing with intense grief.
John credits his mother for that, too.
“That we were both able to keep functioning at a high level … she showed me how to do it,” he says. “I’m really glad I get to share this (Teacher of the Year ceremony) with her. It’s a once-in-a-career thing, and we get to share it together.”
Polk State College [and Lake Region High School dual-enrolled] students Sylvia Andrade and Fryda Contreras inspired with their words and received Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream the Dream Scholarship awards for their academic achievements and service to the community.
Both Associate in Arts students were presented with scholarships worth up to $500 each during the College’s 16th annual MLK Celebration and thanked the community for supporting not only their dreams but the dreams of all Polk State students.
Dream the Dream Scholarship applicants must have an overall college grade-point average of 3.0 or greater and submit an essay about their academic and career goals, service to the community, and perspective on how the civil rights movement influenced the culture of the United States. Additionally, they must explain what the phrase “dream the dream” means to them.
“I would interpret the words ‘dream the dream’ as setting a goal I want to turn into reality,” Andrade explained in her essay. “When you begin to believe in these dreams that are set by oneself, there is an empowerment in making these dreams become a reality. If you can dream about these goals, you can make those goals possible no matter how small or big they are.”
Contreras shared similar aspirations.
“The phrase ‘dream the dream’ inspires in me an urge to realize and fulfill an unknown purpose in myself; an inner urge to serve humanity,” she wrote.
Upon achieving her Polk State Associate in Arts degree, Contreras plans to transfer to the University of Florida to complete a bachelor’s in Human Biology and enroll in a premed track before enrolling in medical school to study perinatology. She aspires to specialize in high-risk pregnancies and one day volunteer for Doctors Without Borders or UNICEF to care for expecting mothers and infants in developing countries.
Andrade plans to complete prerequisites that will enable her to transition into a dental hygiene program or a university to study orthodontics and obtain a bachelor’s degree.
“As a Hispanic female, [the civil rights] movement has allowed me to further my education and… to become a future orthodontist or dental hygienist without being laughed at or judged,” she wrote.
The Dream the Dream Scholarship is made possible by the Polk State College Foundation’s generous donors and is awarded annually during Polk State’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusions MLK Celebration, which honors Dr. King’s work to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, and create solutions to social problems.
Contreras wrote in conclusion of her winning essay that, “in a time [when] racial prejudices seem to be stirring up, we can hold fast to Dr. King’s dream and remain confident in the triumph of good.”
From Polk State College