Land O' Lakes High Gator Gazette

Land O' Lakes High School September 2023 Newsletter

Big picture

Principal Message

It is hard for me to imagine that this fall marks the fifteenth school year opening of my tenure as principal at the school. I am proud to say that reconnecting with students and staff is still extremely exciting, and seeing their engagement both in class and during extra-curricular activities has been impressive as we begin the second month of school.

I repeat the same message to students at the beginning of each year, especially to the freshmen. Make sure to earn every credit (3 each semester), keep a solid 2.0 GPA, and get involved at the school. Data shows that ninth grade students that meet these expectations have a higher probability to graduate high school than their peers that fall behind in year one. This year I added a new message: take each assessment seriously. Stakes are higher than ever to pass a math and English assessment in order to graduate. Way too many times we witness students put forth less than their best, and, at the same time, the state has increased the passing scores, making it even more difficult to meet the testing requirement. Encourage your student(s) to always put forth full effort when taking a high-stakes assessment.

There are many ways to get involved at the school. We have an active School Advisory Council that meets on the third Wednesday of every month. Even if you are not a member, the meetings are open to the public. Also, many of our specialty areas, programs, and sports teams have booster clubs. They rely on volunteers to support the students. Use this link to complete a volunteer application.

Finally, please remain involved from the very beginning of your student's tenure at LOLHS; it will have a direct impact on their successes in school. Our staff is here to help, so be sure to reach out if support is needed.

Ric Mellin - Principal

Excused Absence Reporting

CLICK HERE for the reporting link. This is located on the school's website.

Excused absences
guarantee students the right to make up any and all assignments assigned on the day[s] of absence at full credit. The student is responsible for asking the teacher(s) for assignments and make-up tests within two (2) class meetings with the teacher. The teacher(s) shall specify a reasonable period of time for completion of make-up work. In no case shall the time be less than one full calendar day for each day missed. Work due to be turned in on the day of the excused absence will be turned in upon return with the potential to earn full credit. The principal or designee shall have the authority to modify these conditions with a confirmed hardship. (Source: Portion from District School Board of Pasco County Secondary Student Code of Conduct).
Big picture

T-shirts, sweatshirts, dress shirts, polos, hats, jackets and more!

School Buses

Please continue to direct all questions or concerns directly to the transportation department. The Central Garage phone number is (813) 794-0520.

Student Services

Big picture

School Counselors: Every student at Land O’ Lakes High School has a school counselor assigned to them (by grade level or IB). School counselors are here to support each student with their academic and social emotional needs. We connect students and parents with resources both on and off campus and work collaboratively with the Student Services team to develop interventions and supports to enhance student success.

IB 9th- 12th: Jillian Baker (
9th Grade: LeeAnn Joustra (*

10th Grade: Amy Pinsky (

11th Grade: Kristi Garcia (

12th Grade: Cameron Moody (

*currently on leave during quarter 1

School Social Worker: Jen Gobeli is a licensed clinical social worker serving students at our school. She is a valuable member of the Student Services team who helps to identify and problem-solve individual student concerns and systemic issues. She is available to provide resources to students and families regarding mental health services, crisis intervention, attendance/engagement strategies, and services within the community. Ms. Gobeli can be reached at

School Psychologist: School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students; consult with teachers, families, and other student services team members to support in the areas of academic, behavioral, and social emotional well-being for all students. You can reach our School Psychologist, Nicole Hart, at

School Health Services: School health services consists of the school nurse RN and the clinic assistant. We are here to support students with injuries or illness while at school with parental consent. The school nurse role in the academic setting is to develop individualized healthcare plans for students with chronic health conditions to support their academic success. The school nurse provides for physical and emotional safety of the school community by monitoring immunizations, ensuring appropriate exclusion for infectious illnesses, develop emergency management plan for medical emergencies on campus, health screenings as needed with parental consent, staff training for health conditions in the school setting, and participation in school based teams to support student health and promote academic success. Our school nurse, Wendy Sutyak, can be reached at, and our Clinic Assistants, Maricela Gonzalez and Alexander Perez-Suarez, can be reached at or

College and Career Specialist: Mrs. Colon, our College and Career Specialist, supports students with planning for life after high school. She is available to assist with career exploration, college applications, SAT/ACT resources, military information, scholarships and financial aid. You can reach Mrs. Colon at

Services Affected by the Parental Bill of Rights

State laws referred to as the Parental Bill of Rights affects the ability of Student Services members to work with students. When parents/guardians select “no” to consent for health services, or if parents/guardians do not complete the Parental Bill of Rights questionnaire in the myStudent portal, student services members are not able to have conversations with students outside of academic guidance from a school counselor. With consent from parents/guardians, students may seek support for a variety of topics including, but not limited to peer and/or teacher conflict, test anxiety, managing stress and overwhelming emotions, time management, health questions, and future planning.

Parents/guardians can change or update their consent at any time by re-submitting the consent form on myStudent. Please reach out to your student's administrator if you have any questions.

Yearbook and School Pictures

Yearbooks are on sale for the 2023-24 school year. The earlier you purchase, the better the price! You can either pay online using the ACORN portal, or through Walsworth at (The Walsworth site offers yearbook stamping, extra autograph pages and covers, as well). Please understand that when purchasing a yearbook the contents contained herein are designed to permit students to express themselves in an age and forum-appropriate manner. Inclusion of the student expressions contained in the school's yearbook is not an adoption, endorsement, espousal, or promotion of such views by Pasco County Schools. Pasco County Schools supports and fosters the rights of its students, with parental guidance, to engage in their constitutionally protected rights.

School Photo Day is Thursday, September 7th. All seniors must take both a formal and casual photo with Gigante Productions ( before December to be included in the yearbook.

Yearbook Senior Tribute Ad pages are available on ACORN. After purchasing, YOU MUST fill out the order form and email back to Mrs. LaBarbara ( ASAP to complete the order.

Big picture

New Functionality in myStudent

New: The myStudent App is available now from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

  • The myStudent App can be found by searching myStudent Pasco in each respective store.
  • Parents logging in can check grades, attendance, complete forms etc.
Big picture

School Library

Our school's library, AKA the Collaboratory, is open after school for students until 2:30pm. With parent permission, students have access to media resources and services, technology, and a place to study.

College and Career Lab

We are one of the only high school's in the district with a dedicated college and career lab staffed by a full-time counselor. Our Career Specialist is Mrs. Colon. Students have a variety of opportunities available in the lab including:

  • Career exploration activities and advisement
  • Field trip opportunities
  • College Information: University, Community/State College, Technical/Vocational/Trades
  • Scholarships/Financial Aid
  • Access to military recruiters; ASVAB
  • SAT/ACT information and study resources

Please use the link below to see the latest edition of Mrs. Colon's newsletter. Her email address is:

Youth Leadership Pasco

Youth Leadership Pasco is a leadership development program that informs, motivates, and increases the awareness of selected high school aged students through issue-oriented seminars and interaction with community leaders.

Interested Juniors and Sophomores are encouraged to apply, the deadline is September 8.

More information and the application is found here:

Early Release Days for 2023-24

  • September 6
  • October 4
  • November 1
  • December 6
  • January 10
  • February 14
  • March 13
  • April 10

Students will be released 2-hours early.

Student Drop Off and Pick Up

  • Students can be dropped off at the school as early as 6:15am.
  • Vehicles must remain in the right lane for drop off or pick up. Do not use the left lane.
  • The only authorized drop off or pick up area is at the front of the school.
  • Do not enter the student parking lots or the district complex.
  • Do not attempt to make a u-turn on Gator Lane to avoid traffic.
  • Observe the 15 MPH speed limit.
  • School buses always have the right of way. Allow them to proceed past vehicles.
  • Watch for pedestrians and staff that are helping with traffic.
  • Parents may elect to pick up their student(s) as late as 2pm in order to avoid heavy traffic.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final rule, 40 CFR Part 763, Asbestos Containing Material in schools, commonly referred to as AHERA. This rule requires all Local Education Agencies (LEA’s) to identify asbestos containing materials (ACM) in their school buildings and to take appropriate actions to control the release of asbestos fibers.

All inspections for LOLHS have been completed and a Management Plan describing the results of the inspection and the action plan to control any asbestos found during the inspection, where applicable, has been submitted to the governor for approval. A copy of this plan is located in the administrative office of this school and at the Pasco County Schools Maintenance & Facility Services Department and is available for review upon request.


Students will be able to use their PBIS points to shop at the SWAMP SHOP in September. This PBIS-based school store will be open twice a month during lunches. Students will be able to use points earned for being a REAL GATOR to purchase candy bars, gift cards, discounted yearbooks, HOCO dance tickets, tickets to sporting events, the chance to dress a staff member or do their hair for a day, priority lunch seating, a fast pass through lunch line and lunch with a staff member. These are just a few of the many items available for students. We are still collecting full size candy bar donations and fast food gift card donations to use in the shop. Donations can be sent to Mrs. Nienaber, Assistant Principal, and dropped in the front office. THANK YOU!

PSAT/NMSQT Assessment

The PSAT/NMSQT will be given during the week of October 15-21, 2023. This year’s test is computer-based and is broken down into two sections, English/Reading and Math. The school district covers the cost for all Sophomores (10th graders) to take the test. If a parent has opted out of testing via the parental consent on myStudent, the student will be removed from the testing list and will not be given the exam.

Freshmen (9th graders) can take the test for a fee of $18.00. Content on the PSAT/NMSQT is very similar to the SAT (a college-entry examination) and offers good practice.

Juniors (11th graders) who take the PSAT/NMSQT and meet other program entry requirements specified in the PSAT/NMSQT Student Guide will enter the National Merit Scholarship Program, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). The fee is also $18 to test.

Any senior (12th grader) who still needs to meet the state algebra graduation requirement should plan to take this test as well. The $18.00 test fee will apply.

All students have the ability to use Khan Academy for prepwork. Enter the practice portal here.

Non-Sophomore sign-ups will begin on September 1 and continue until September 14, 2023. Sophomores are already registered and do not need to sign up.

National Spanish Honor Society

The National Spanish Honor Society encourages students to become a member. Be attentive to the application process. Please email Ms. Nieto-Cuomo at for more details.

FAST Testing

The state’s first FAST testing PM1 window is open. Students should check their school email for makeup testing times and locations due to the hurricane days. Your child’s teachers will use the results of this assessment to measure general achievement in reading and to determine your child’s learning needs.

It is important to understand that these test scores provide only one picture of how your child is doing in school. At the beginning of the year, students are not expected to have mastery of grade-level skills. Students are taught skills throughout the year and should move towards mastery as the school year progresses.

If your child has already taken FAST PM1, the scores are loaded into the Pasco Parent Portal. Directions for accessing these scores as well as additional information regarding FAST testing and interpreting the scores can be found by going to the Pasco Schools website. From there, click on "Departments", then "Accountability, Research, and Measurement". In the center of the page and in the right navigation pane, you will see information regarding the FAST test.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s English teacher. More parent information can be found by going to,

Healthy Student Program

The 23-24 Healthy Student Program will be active in the LOLHS clinic. This is an optional program that allows the clinic assistant or nurse to give select over-the-counter medications to students with parent permission. Parents will be notified when students utilize the program. An information letter and application are provided just under this post (pdf files). Completed applications should be turned in to the clinic.

Please access your parent portal to update emergency card information and complete parental consents for this school year.

Pasco County School Health forms for medications, diabetes, asthma, severe allergy, etc, may be accessed at if needed. If you have any questions, please contact our school nurse Wendy Sutyak-

Flu Vaccinations

Land O' Lakes High School has partnered with Health Hero to offer no cost in-school flu vaccinations for your child during the school day. Register your child today – complete the consent form we will be sending home and send it back to our school clinic by Sept 22. The vaccine clinic will be held October 3, 2023. Health Hero makes immunizations available to every child to stop diseases like the flu in their tracks and reduce absenteeism in schools. For more information about Health Hero, visit Please call the clinic at (813) 794-9538 if you have any questions.

Protecting the Health of Gators

In order to protect the health and safety of staff, students, and visitors, all people that come to the school should complete a self-screen daily for symptoms and other risk factors of COVID-19 and other similar illnesses.

The screeners for employees, students and visitors can be found at this link.

Security Policies at school events

We are excited to welcome back patrons to our school events! We want to make sure that everyone has a positive experience, so we ask that you please follow the all expectations for good behavior, sportsmanship, and tolerance that are listed on the poster below.

In summary, we expect everyone to:

  • Be respectful of all participants, coaches, officials, and spectators.

  • Cheer and support Gators in a positive way.

  • Do not yell at or taunt the other team or their fans.

  • Accept the decisions of the officials, even if you disagree with them.

  • Do not use foul language or make inappropriate gestures.

Thank you for your cooperation. We hope you enjoy another year of Gator performances and sporting events.

Big picture

Athletic Ticketing

Land O’ Lakes High School is using GoFan as our ticket provider for all athletic contests during the 2022-23 school year. GoFan is a digital ticketing solution where you will get an electronic ticket in your email or in the GoFan app. The recommended way to purchase and use the tickets is by downloading the GoFan app from the app store on your device. You can also purchase tickets on

This year our ticket prices in Pasco County are $6 for Varsity Football games and $5 for all other Varsity and JV contests. Land O’ Lakes High School is offering two sports passes that can be purchased instead of buying single tickets. There is a All Sports pass for $45 or a Family Pass for $140. The All Sports pass will get you admitted to any regular season home game and the Family Pass is 5 separate All Sports Passes. These two passes are featured on the GoFan app.

When you use your digital ticket, it is important that you do not redeem your ticket prior to getting to the gate. At the gate a ticket taker will redeem the ticket for you. Just have the ticket pulled up on your device. Also, we will not accept any screenshots of a digital ticket. See you at the Games!

Lady Gators Soccer

Girls interested in trying out for Lady Gators Soccer that were unable to attend the informational meeting in August should contact Coach King at Preseason conditioning begins on Tuesday, September 12. Athletes must be cleared through Home Campus to be eligible. Lady Gators Soccer also has additional forms to be complete.

Our team has been recognized again by the United Soccer Coaches for academic excellence

Student Travel Opportunity

Mr. Riccio is hosting an informational meeting for the Summer 2024 trip to Greece on September 14 at 6pm. There will be a special promotion for those that attend! Follow the link to reserve your seat for the meeting.
Big picture