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The Beginning Of PHU

Kate Hamric and Kailtyn Pamplona

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Over the 22 years of PHU’s presence the school has changed gradually starting with the students and teachers. Multiple teachers that have been teaching here since the opening day are still educating an abundance of hurricane students. From the first graduating class of PHU there is one who former student who teaches with his former teachers. The history of PHU all begins with the new students at a new school.

Before classes began being taught at PHU, the students attended classes at Countryside High School. The students and teachers attending the new school attended a ropes course together to build team spirit. The team building activities at the course created many new friend groups even before the school year started.

“The ropes course was very effective and gave the whole school a closer feel” said David Macfarlane.

Once PHU opened, the students attending only consisted of freshman and sophomores in the International Baccalaureate program. The students also had to decide on new traditions for the school. When first starting, the school did not have many traditions. The new students had to help decide the schools colors, what the mascot would be, and put in place school spirit events such as homecoming week.

Teachers such as David Macfarlane and Randy McGonegal have been teaching students at PHU since the opening day on August 23, 1996. Jonathan Tharin was also one of the students in the first graduating class of PHU and is now currently a teacher at the same school he grew up in.

Macfarlane was the first teacher hired by the Pinellas County school district to become a teacher at PHU alongside 6 others. Before Macfarlane was hired to teach at PHU he previously taught for over 20 years in the math department.

“It was a special time to see because the kids were very committed in the program. Their families had been fighting for this school and they had finally had gotten it. It really made the experience so much better for both the kids and the administration.” said Macfarlane.

McGonegal hade previously taught at Saint Petersburg High School before being hired to work at PHU in the science department. Despite the low number of students in his classes many of his students were dedicated to the school.

“The first year we opened, it was very different than it is now. The student parking lot was barely filled, their were a lot less kids in my classes, and without a lot of the resources we have now it really gave the school a different atmosphere.” said McGonegal

Tharin has also been a student of both his current colleagues Macfarlane and McGonegal.

“Being the first graduating class of PHU really brought my class together. It is also really fun to see the kids who I teach be able to go through some of the same things that I did when I went to school here.”  said Tharin

Since August 23,1996 students of Palm Harbor University have been an essential part of the school history and without them it would not be the same.

 

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The Beginning Of PHU