Blanton Elementary in St. Petersburg celebrates 50 years

11:41 AM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Blanton Elementary in St. Petersburg is celebrating its golden anniversary this year by commemorating a year the school persevered.

In one of the many landscaped courtyards at the school, you hear the sound of a bubbling waterfall. It's only a few inches high, but represents a year when the school came together to prove it can overcome anything.

Principal Debi Turner calls the water feature, "Pound the Rock Waterfall."

"In 2002, we earned a F in FCAT which was a very sad moment for us, because we had such a quality school," Turner told 10 News.

The day after receiving the failing grade, Turner says the teachers came together to throw a surprise party, even though it was their vacation, to commit that they will never fail again.

Turner decided to get the students in on the commitment by emulating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers use of the slogan "pound the rock" to get the team working harder.

"We kind of copied the Buccaneers. We liked the 'pound the rock' theme, so we went out and got a giant boulder and every child in the school got one noodle right before the FCAT to try and break the rock," said Turner.

Of course, a noodle was no match for a giant boulder, but the FCAT was not about to defeat the school again.

"We went from a F to an A, D to an A because we had to appeal it, and the Bucs won that year," said Turner. 2003 was the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl and Blanton took home the A.

The waterfall was installed over the summer to remind students they can beat the odds, no matter what.

"Never, ever give up," said Turner, "you can always win if you believe and so that's the whole spirit at our school. We believe you can do great things."

Turner says the school earned a B last year on the new FCAT 2.0 which was more rigourously graded and lumped in special education and ESOL students.

Many schools around the state saw their school grades plummet because of the new FCAT standards.

Turner is aiming for the school to earn back their A status.

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