The Leesburg City Commission welcomed several groups from Leesburg High School to its May 8 meeting. Representatives from FFA, Girls Weightlifting and Boys Weightlifting were recognized for their achievements. Several members of the Leesburg FFA Chapter won top awards at the Lake County Fair, and five members will receive their state FFA degrees this year – a milestone reached by less than 2% of FFA participants. The Leesburg High School Girls Weightlifting Team placed 4th in Olympic and 5th in Traditional at the state tournament, and four team members earned individual medals in their weight classes. The Leesburg High School Boys Weightlifting Team placed 3rd in Traditional and won the Olympic Championship at the state tournament, the first team weightlifting title for Leesburg High School and the best finish ever for a Lake County school. They also had several individual medal winners.

Lady Lake Police Sgt. Tom Sarakinis was among law enforcement personnel honored for outstanding service and devotion to duty during the Leesburg Rotary Club’s “Service Above Self” awards ceremony on May 17. Sarakinis was recognized for his quick actions on Florida’s Turnpike last year, when the 13-year veteran of the department noticed fire coming from beneath a vehicle that appeared to have a ruptured fuel line. After pulling the car over, he assisted the driver out of car, escorting her and her passenger to safety. The driver told the officers that she has difficulty walking and was thankful that police had stopped to offer aid. Another officer turned the ignition off and sprayed the car down with a fire extinguisher. But within seconds, the vehicle became fully engulfed. Sarakinis also was able to position his vehicle to stop traffic from approaching and prevent any other citizens from harm.

Congratulations to graduate Kenyaly Quevedo, of Leesburg, who was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree at Young Harris College in Georgia at the school’s May 6 commencement ceremony.

Congratulations to Amber Pollock, of Mount Dora, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Berea College on May 15. The school, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, is located in Berea, Kentucky.

Last week, Leesburg High School Construction Academy students worked on a community service beautification project in partnership with the NAACP. They helped to spruce up the Tri-City NAACP building at 1107 Beecher Street in Leesburg, which was erected in 1978. The project included pressure washing the building, sidewalks and entry sign; wrapping the iron porch columns with wood; repairing and replacing the soffits; applying crack filler to the walls, framing out a stone marker embedded in an exterior wall; and painting the building blue and yellow, the colors of the organization’s logo.  Many of the students chosen to work on this project hope to be selected for next year’s Habitat Team, students who partner with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter to build a house for a local family.

On May 15 at Veterans Memorial Park of The Villages, the Lady Lake Police Department participated in a ceremony paying tribute to officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the safety and freedoms of their fellow Americans. Peace Officers Memorial Day honors the lives of local, state and federal officers who died or have since become disabled in the line of duty. May 12, President Joe Biden proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 14–20 as Police Week.

Lake-Sumter State College recently selected John Temple as associate vice president for workforce. According to the school, “Temple will play a pivotal role in advancing the college’s commitment to providing industry-relevant education and fostering strong connections with local employers.” LSSC’s workforce programs include associate of science degree programs and industry credential programs including business management, commercial vehicle driving, criminal justice, cybersecurity, electrical distribution/lineworker, and engineering and information technology. Temple previously served as Sumter County Schools’ director of professional learning and accountability. He has over 23 years of experience in the classroom and as an administrator. Temple also serves as a state representative in the Florida Legislature for District 52, representing Sumter and Hernando counties.

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