Newberry High School students in the Academy of Criminal Justice recently competed at the Florida Public Service Association’s conference (FPSA) and won third place in the criminal justice chapter category.
Shane Andrew, principal of the school, said this award is the highest award in the four years the students have competed.
The students had top-five finishes in 13 categories and won two scholarships as well.
Patrick Treese, director of the Academy of Criminal Justice at Newberry, brought home this year’s statewide criminal justice director of the year.
FPSA is a statewide organization for students taking criminal justice, firefighting and other courses related to public service. The annual state conference was held March 5-8 at the Ocala Hilton.
Students from criminal justice programs throughout the state competed in events ranging from designing a prison, navigating an obstacle course and putting together an emergency kit, according to a press release from Alachua County Public Schools.
Seniors Ena Nater and Charlene Stainfield were awarded two of the six scholarships presented at the conference.
Courtney Evans, a junior, and Holly Cormack, a freshman, were presented with a scenario and had to place 137 steps in the investigation process in the correct order, which lead to a first place award for criminal case analysis.
“I love the competitions,” Evans said in the press release. “It’s great to share interests with people my own age who like the same things I like and want to do the same things I want to do.”
Treese said the competitions help him make improvements in the program.
“If we don’t do well in some particular event, that tells me that maybe I need to spend a little more time on that topic,” he said in a press release. “It really is a good barometer of where we are as a program and what my students have learned.”
Andrew said about 150 students — which is about 25 percent of the student body — are in the crimal justice program, and the school sends about eight to 10 students from each grade to compete in the conference.
“All the credit goes to the students and Treese,” he said.
The program is getting stronger. The students’ successes have been a positive force within the school and influenced the growth of the number of students outside of Newberry who want to enter the program, he said.
“We believe we’re the best kept secret in Alachua County,” he said.
Audreyanna Loguerre wrote this story online.