22 reasons to celebrate

Take Stock in Children of Orange County, one of Valencia’s signature programs, in partnership with Orange County Public Schools, pairs community leader mentors with students.

This year, 22 seventh-grade students from local middle schools will be inducted into the program, bringing the total number of participating students to 130.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, Take Stock in Children of Orange County will hold a ceremony to recognize and celebrate its new and returning student participants, as well as their parents, mentors, community leaders and corporate sponsors.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. in the Special Events Center (Bldg. 8 ) on Valencia College’s West Campus, located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road in Orlando.

Take Stock in Children is a statewide initiative that helps underserved children succeed, starting at age 12, by providing college scholarships, volunteer mentors, early intervention and long-term support. High standards, parental involvement and community support are crucial to the program’s success.

“The generous support of Take Stock in Children by founding partner Florida Citrus Sports Foundation and Mears Transportation has enabled us to scale the program up at a time when others are cutting back,” said Valencia President Sandy Shugart. “This is making a substantial impact on our community.”

Last year, the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund, awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Valencia Foundation in support of Orange County’s Take Stock in Children.

Attending Thursday’s ceremony will be:  Commissioner Daisy Lynum, City of Orlando; Bill Sublette and Nancy Robbinson, Orange County School Board; Ron Blocker, superintendent, Orange County Public Schools; Steve Hogan, CEO, Florida Citrus Sports; Linda Landman Gonzalez, vice president, Orlando Magic, and president of the Valencia Foundation Board of Directors; Betsey Bell, executive director, Orlando Magic Youth Foundation; and T. Picton Warlow IV, Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation.

Guest speakers at the ceremony will be: Yvonne Chang of Disney Vacation Development, Inc.; Nick Anderson, former Magic player and community ambassador for the Orlando Magic; Ramon Ojeda, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando;  Lucas Boyce, director, Orlando Magic;  Maritza Martinez, assistant vice president, University of Central Florida; Ed Bustos, director, Rollins College; Shanna Bender, mentor, Design Studio 15; and Russ Fritz, mentor, Highwinds.

This year’s inductees include students from Howard Middle School (Natalie Menendez, Tonya Harris-Torres, Joann Mauricette, Dashicka Streeter, Briana Lawrence, Keith Blanding, Sarashly Fonseca-Gonzalez and Cassidy Harding); Lee Middle School (Samantha Perez, Destiny Campbell and Isaiah Hill); and Lockhart Middle School (Alice Brown, Ashley Demosthene, Lorenzo King, Benjamin Roldan, Tony Livert, Dionna Blackman, Coby Cook, Shelby Putnal, Eileen Urbieta, James Churchill and Raphael Powell).

Valencia College introduced Take Stock in Children to Orange County in 2008. The first class of student participants is now in the eleventh grade and will graduate from high school in 2013.

Since 1995, Take Stock in Children has impacted the lives of more than 17,600 deserving students in the state of Florida, providing more than 9,000 high school graduates with full college scholarships.

To volunteer as a mentor, provide a tax-deductible contribution or to obtain more information about Take Stock in Children of Orange County, please contact 407-582-3336, takestockinchildren@valenciacollege.edu or visit our website at http://valenciacollege.edu/tsic.

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