Book Lovers Celebrate Banned Books Week

By on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm
The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre put on two productions of “Banned!?” Saturday, a play that discusses children’s books that have been banned. Displayed above is the re-enactment of “Where The Wild Things Are,” which has been repeatedly challenged for “romanticizing anger” to children.

The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre put on two productions of “Banned?!” Saturday, a play that discusses children’s books that have been banned. Displayed above is the re-enactment of “Where The Wild Things Are,” which has been repeatedly challenged for “romanticizing anger” to children. Jake Black / WUFT News

Beat poetry, Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh all share a common history: At one point, they were banned in public schools.

Attempts to ban books, however, continue.  The American Library Association reported that 311 formal, written challenges to books were filed in 2014.

To celebrate the freedom to read, as well as raise questions and awareness about censorship in education, students at the University of Florida took to the Plaza of the Americas recently to celebrate Banned Books Week, Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

They read aloud literature from authors such as Allen Ginsberg and J.K. Rowling that were popularly contested in some public schools.

“America, why are your libraries full of tears?” recited Yousef Alghawi, a sophomore at UF. He read aloud from Allen Ginsberg’s “America,” a politically charged poem that has been historically contested.

Teachers at Buchholz High School read excerpts from their favorite banned books on the school’s Thursday morning news.

Toni Armeda, an AP English literature, language and composition teacher at Gainesville High School said there is a value and premium put on education in Alachua County that may be lacking in other Florida counties.

“We don’t have a banned book list at GHS,” said Armeda. “We’re very fortunate.”

The ALA also released its list of most commonly banned or contested books throughout the United States. The fourth most challenged book last year was “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, a novel that Armeda assigns her students to read.

“It’s a very difficult book to read. It deals with a lot of sensitive subjects,” Armeda said. “But, I try my best to lead the students through discussion and talk to them about the importance of reading.”

The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre put on two productions of “Banned?!” Saturday, a play that discusses and re-enacts popular children’s stories that have been banned.

One of the most contested children’s stories to this day is “And Tango Makes Three,” which is based on a true story of two male penguins Roy and Silo. The two penguins were observed in New York’s Central Park Zoo displaying homosexual behavior and ultimately raising a baby penguin together when given an egg to nurture.

The ALA reported that Roy and Silo’s story was the most challenged book each year from 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most contested. Eighty percent of books that were challenged in 2014 reflected diverse authors and cultural content, according to the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Kelli Croft, a media specialist at Windy Hill Middle School in Clermont, says her school does not ban books.

“We aren’t the book police,” Croft said. “We tell the kids to discuss what they’re reading with their parents. They know what their parents are OK with or are not OK with.”

John Braley, an English teacher at Columbia High School in Lake City said that book censorship has not affected the books he assigns.

“I have, however, heard of other teachers in my district who were denied permission to teach certain titles due to potentially controversial themes and/or language,” Braley said.

Those teachers could not be reached for comment.

“As teachers, we thoughtfully think about what we want to have students read and we’ve been challenged a few times by parents,” Armeda said. “Generally, we just allow the student to read something else.”

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Oct. 5, 2015: Afternoon News In 90

By on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Crystal Bailey produced this update.

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Local Girl Scout Launches Peanut Butter Drive for Humane Society

By on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Between 11 a.m. and noon, dogs at the Alachua County Humane Society get some quality relaxation time and a little something else — peanut butter.

For these dogs, peanut butter isn’t just a tasty snack — it’s a form of enrichment, said Sarah MacLennan, volunteer program manager for the ACHS.

“They’re in their cages all day unless they’re getting walked,” MacLennan said. “So it just provides them some sort of comfort.”

The shelter also uses the peanut butter, which is delivered inside a hollow rubber toy called a KONG, to reinforce good behavior.

Evanna Alvarez, 10, is spearheading a donation drive to keep the shelves of the Alachua County Humane Society filled with peanut butter for the dogs. They go through 15 jars of it each week.

Evanna Alvarez(right), 10, is spearheading a donation drive to keep the shelves of the Alachua County Humane Society filled with peanut butter for the dogs. They go through 15 jars of it each week. Silvia Rueda/WUFT News

But the canines go through 15 jars of the stuff each week – and Evanna Alvarez doesn’t want them to run out.

So the 10-year-old student at Glen Springs Elementary School, who started volunteering at the shelter in August, has started a donation drive to ensure these dogs get their daily treat.

“Evanna was getting pretty emotionally attached to a lot of these animals, so it also inspired me to do a little more,” said Tonya Kolnes, Evanna’s mother.

Evanna also inspired her Girl Scout troop to get involved. It is pursuing the Bronze Award, which honors the community involvement of Girl Scouts.

“We wanted to first start with the schools, but then we wanted to put it online so that whoever is online would know about it,” Evanna said.

Her efforts are paying off. Evanna’s  GoFundMe page, Peanut Butter for Paws, is only $25 short of its $300 goal after 10 days.

The Publix located in the Westgate Shopping Center has also agreed to order the peanut butter in bulk with drive donations, Kolnes said.

“I was like, you know, I can’t go clear off your shelves with 300 jars of peanut butter,” Kolnes said.

Kolnes said she is also talking with a few other local grocery stores.

Evanna and her Girl Scout troop will be holding donation drives for jars of peanut butter at the Publix in Butler Plaza West on Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon and at the Spring Hill Commons Publix on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon.


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Cade Museum Groundbreaking Coincides with 50th Anniversary of Gatorade

By on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 12:16 pm

To Phoebe Cade Miles, innovation is synonymous with Gainesville.

She would know.

Her father, Robert Cade, invented Gatorade in 1965. To mark the 50th anniversary of the pioneer sports drink, which Cade devised to protect athletes from dehydration, Miles and a group of local dignitaries recently broke ground for the Cade Museum of Creativity and Invention at Depot Park on South Main Street and Depot Avenue.

“Museums tell stories about things that are important to a community,” said Miles, who is founder, president and CEO of the museum.

In Gainesville, innovation of the sort that Miles’ father helped pioneer, is important.

The museum, which is an expansion of the Creativity Lab, will open in 2017,  Miles said. It will feature exhibits like Gatorade: Dr. Cade’s Laboratory, and the Gator Tank, which is a spin-off of the entrepreneurial investment television show “Shark Tank,” Miles said. It will also teach people how to pitch their innovative ideas.

The museum’s motto will be: “Think. Meet. Be,” she said.

The 45,000 square feet building will be built in two phases. The first phase has a budget of $9 million, according to the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.

In 2004 the Cade family started the Cade Museum Foundation. The foundation worked with the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, the Alachua County Commission and the City of Gainesville for over 10 years to make the Cade Museum possible.

Three years ago the Cade Museum began programs out of the Creativity Lab, across the street from Depot Park, Miles said. It now offers 3D printers and scanners, computers, laser cutters and more in the fabrication lab.

Classes and camps are offered to anyone interested, and Alachua County schools can hold field trips to the lab. During the groundbreaking, Miles introduced a prototype of “The Science of Electrolytes,” a kit designed to teach kids about the science behind Gatorade.

“I always say that Gainesville is a hub of innovation,” Mayor Ed Braddy said at the ceremony.

He said the Cade Museum is the manifestation of what he is always talking about.

Judson Douglas is the Relationships and Agency Manager of SharpSpring, a marketing automation company that began as a Gainesville startup. He said he loves the expansion of the Cade Museum because its efforts and teaching programs for innovation will help retain creativity in Gainesville.

“To know that this is going to be a new driver of business [in Gainesville] – it gives me goosebumps,” he said.

Douglas said his two sons have been to the Cade Museum many times.

Jacques Daniles, 11, went to the ceremony with his school, the Caring and Sharing Learning School. A sixth-grader now, Jacques said he has been coming to the Cade Museum with his school since he was in third grade.

He said he likes to make music and play with the 3D printers in the lab. He wants to be an inventor when he gets older, he said.

“There’s no limit for how far you can go and what you can do,” Jacques said.

Others in attendance included Congressman Ted Yoho, Alachua County Commission Chair Charles Chestnut, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Gatorade Brett O’Brien and

A group of dignitaries recently broke ground for the Cade Museum of Creativity and Innovation in Gainesville.

A group of dignitaries recently broke ground for the Cade Museum of Creativity and Invention in Gainesville. The museum is named for Robert Cade, the UF professor who invented Gatorade in 1965.

Gainesville Area Chairman for the Chamber of Commerce John Carlson.


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DCF Reaches Settlement With Survivors Of Bell Killings

By on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 2:05 pm

The Florida Department of Children and Families and two private companies have agreed to pay $750,000 to settle legal claims resulting from a mass killing in Gilchrist County last year.

Don Spirit, 51, murdered his daughter, Sarah, and her six children — who ranged in age from 2 months old to 11 years old — before committing suicide.

DCF will pay $450,000, while the Partnership for Strong Families and Devereux, two companies that help the state manage child-welfare cases, will pay $250,000 and $50,000, respectively, as part of the settlement.

According to the department, the family had been involved in 18 child-protective investigations from February 2006 to Sept. 18, 2014, the day of the killings. Don Spirit was involved in six of the investigations and was alleged to have been the perpetrator in three, including a 2008 incident in which he was arrested for physically abusing his then-pregnant daughter.

The murders prompted questions about whether the department and private providers could have done more to protect the children.

According to what is known as a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team, DCF and the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office had visited the family’s home as recently as Sept. 2, 2014, but the report said a case note indicated that the children were not “in imminent danger of illness or injury from abuse, neglect or abandonment.”

In response, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll ordered the retraining of staff in the department’s nearby Chiefland office and a review of all open investigations involving children 3 years old and younger in Gilchrist and Dixie counties. He also ordered training for 1,600 child protective investigators and supervisors statewide, and increased the implementation of a process known as the “Rapid Safety Feedback” system, which allows quality-assurance specialists to oversee a child-protective investigation in real time.

“I have been with the department for 25 years,” Carroll said at the time. “And I thought I had seen it all until this tragedy occurred.”

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Oct. 5, 2015: Morning News In 90

By on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 11:09 am

Nestor Montoya produced this update.

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In The News: Man Found Dead On Ocala Tracks; Gov. Scott Reappoints Six, Fills Five Other Seats; Debate On Cuba Relations In Tampa Tonight; Flooding In South Carolina Kills Five

By and on October 5th, 2015 | Last updated: October 5, 2015 at 10:31 am
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New Location Spurs Growth for Farm to School Program

By on October 4th, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 5:54 pm
student Arthur Seabrooks waters cucumber plants Wednesday morning at the Loften High location in the greenhouse. Seabrooks, 18, said he enjoys everything about his program.

Gardening Education Training student Arthur Seabrooks waters cucumber plants Wednesday morning at the Loften High farming location in the greenhouse. Seabrooks, 18, said he enjoys everything about his program. Grace Hudgins / WUFT News

Students of the Gardening Education Training program were drilling, building and straightening up at their new location Wednesday morning.

They were busy preparing their garden for production.

The program is hosted through Alachua County’s Farm to School to Work Hub. The hub expanded from its location at Loften High School to the Horizon Center this fall to give students more space to grow, aggregate and process food that can be distributed to local schools for lunches.

Through the program, students with disabilities train for careers in gardening, farming or food service environments after they graduate. The grand vision for the program is to create a place for students to learn about the food system and participate, said Kelli Brew, the program’s coordinator for Alachua County

“They’re great workers and they understand what they’re supposed to do,” Brew said.

The new location, the Horizon Center, and the original location, Loften High, are only one-tenth of a mile from each other, which allows students to walk back and forth between gardens.

“This little group, in this little place, is affecting thousands of students in the district,” Brew said. “It’s really rewarding to help them find that for themselves.”

The hub also acquired a new processing kitchen next to the gardening space, which will be a place for students to learn the importance of food safety.

Along with the larger space and new kitchen, the number of currently enrolled students in their class has doubled since last year, the program’s inaugural year. It now has seven full-time students who learn and work on-site every day.

Arthur Seabrooks, 18, has been with the program since last year. Brew referred to Seabrooks as “basically a teacher now.”

Seabrooks said he doesn’t really have a favorite vegetable in his garden, but if he had to choose one it would be broccoli.

“I like growing different vegetables and produce, and working in the kitchen,” he said. “I really enjoy everything here.”

Melissa DeSa, the garden coordinator for the Alachua County Farm to School to Work Hub, said the students take pride in transforming the space.

“They build it all from the ground up,” she said.

David Campbell, a food systems coordinator for the program, said he thinks programs like these are crucial for student health and nutrition — both for working students and for students receiving food in schools.

Students attending local schools don’t have the option to try new, healthy foods, Campbell said. So programs like Gardening Education and Training give them that opportunity.

“It’s such a beautiful connection between healthier children and healthy local economy, local farms, healthy farming products and gardening products,” Brew said.

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Gators Stun Third Ranked Ole Miss 38-10

By on October 4th, 2015 | Last updated: October 4, 2015 at 2:54 am
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Florida Ranks Highly in Assimilating Hispanics

By on October 3rd, 2015 | Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Florida ranks sixth in the nation for its ability to assimilate Hispanics into the population, and is the best for economic opportunities according to a report released by WalletHub.

Each state was measured using 14 metrics, which fit into three sub-categories of assimilation: cultural and civic, educational and economic. Each state’s rankings in the three categories determined its overall composite ranking.

Hispanic people composed 17.4 percent of the 2014 U.S. population, making the group an important focal point of research, according to U.S. Census data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that by 2060, the Hispanic population will represent 31 percent of the U.S. population.

Berta E. Hernandez-Truyol, a University of Florida professor at the Levin College of Law, said she expected a high ranking for Florida and didn’t find it to be much of a surprise.

She noted that the core Miami area, which, among others, contains a heavy Cuban population and does a good job in providing a favorable representation for the state as a whole.

“It’s the largest city in the state, so it’s going to carry a lot of weight, and there has been a lot of integration there,” Hernandez-Truyol said.

She said that the presence of Latino people in major metropolitan areas like Tampa and Miami have been able to encourage people to saturate different areas of employment.

Hernandez-Truyol noted that the report could be flawed in the sense that different regions in each state have varying levels of assimilation.

She also specified that assimilation and absorption are two completely different things.

“Assimilation, to me, is actually a two-way street,” she noted.

Hernandez-Truyol explained that people who come to the U.S. should still be able to pursue their own cultural practices while learning how to interact with the majority of people. This doesn’t mean they have to give up their cultures entirely.

In the report, the five states that placed higher than Florida for overall ranking, in order, were Vermont, West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana and Kentucky.

She said those states are very interesting because they aren’t usual suspects with large Hispanic populations.

“Usually migrations occur to places where there is already an existing community,” she explained.

Despite the lack of a strong Hispanic community, she said that people can be drawn to places for other reasons like a strong economy, welcoming people who share cultural interests or job availability.

Such is the case in Florida, which ranked No. 1 in the country in the sub-category of economic assimilation. This includes metrics like Hispanic-owned businesses and the labor force participation rate, according to the report.

Maxine Margolis, professor emerita with the UF Department of Anthropology, said that Florida’s established Hispanic communities have allowed the state to acquire such a high ranking.

She said that assimilation has historical roots dating back dozens of years in Florida, and as one generation makes its mark, it’s easier for future generations to have successes too.

Margolis explained that a lot of immigrants find themselves working in the service industry, since manufacturing has been leaving the U.S. for countries with lower production costs.

Janis Rezek, a sociology professor at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, originally gave expert commentary that was posted with the report. She said she was surprised that a place like West Virginia topped a diverse state like Florida.

She said it’s important to be accepting of people from all walks of life.

Instead of looking at assimilation as absorption, Rezek said she likes to look at it like a collage or a quilt where a bunch of different pieces are able to make a contribution.

“I like to emphasize difference doesn’t mean good or bad,” she said.

Rezek said that accepting all groups of people is key to preventing a divisive U.S. society.

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