The Durant High School Paw Print

  • Send us your ideas on Instagram
  • Thank you sponsors for supporting the PawPrint!

Colleges Now Adding Virtual Tours To Help Reach Out To Students

Colleges are tapping into 360-degree video and virtual reality to welcome prospective students to campus from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.  

A virtual tour can function as an early sorting tool for students exploring colleges or as a substitute tour for those unable to visit in person. Either way, college officials say a virtual tour is a useful way for students to familiarize themselves with a campus. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has transformed how high school students are learning about prospective colleges. Instead of attending traditional college fair or personal tours this fall, students are now connecting with admissions representatives online and going on virtual tours. 

Colleges have begun to re-create most of the live interactions that students expect to get from an information session or campus visit online. Students can easily explore out-of-state options without needing to travel, allowing colleges to expand their reach. 

Hundreds of schools now offer virtual tours with options ranging from campus photos that users click through, to elaborate options complete with student guides that show off facilities and introduce prospective applicants to current college students.

About the Writer
Photo of Nick Travis
Nick Travis, Social Media Coordinator

Nick Travis is a Junior at Durant High School and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint. He has an outgoing and creative personality. When isn't...

Have Budget Cuts And Covid-19 Procedures Caused An Issue With The Teachers’ Copy Budget?

Covid-19 has impacted many school procedures and events throughout the course of the 2020 school year. One major impact towards schools, especially Durant, is the county budget. 

With fewer students on campus because of eLearning, school funding has been decreased throughout the county. Many problems have arisen due to this lack of budget, one lesser problem including the copy budget for teachers 

The institution of coronavirus procedures has created a need for students to get their own individual copies, not to be reused or shared with another student, when teachers decide to pass out tests or worksheets. This forces an increase in paper usage and numbers of copies needed for certain teachers.  

“What we used to copy in like a 25 [copy] class-set shared between two teachers is now turning into… close to 200,” according to Sociology and American History teacher Jackie Thompson.  

Despite this growth in copies, technological adaptations have also made their way into teaching methods this year as well. With the addition of Canvas this semester and other technology back in April and May, teachers have learned to utilize more online resources and phase out a lot of the paper usage in their teaching methods.  

This transition has somewhat balanced the increase in copies and the lack in change in budget. With more teachers going digital, paper increases for some teachers are counteracted by paper decreases with other teachers.  

“I think we’re still copying about the same now that [we] were when we [had] all 2400 kids… here,” says bookkeeper Cheryl Shaffner 

However, come January, administration may see a greater financial stretch if e-learners are unable to come back to brick-and-mortar classrooms. With an increase in students coming back to school, comes an increase in Durant’s funds, however, a decrease in students will result in a decrease in funds. 

“It’s [the] reality of the times we are facing, but I think it’s reflective of a larger societal problem and how we fund education as a society as a culture,” says Thompson.  

Despite the challenges that arise because of Covid, Principal Gary Graham is focused on supporting the teachers with whatever they need to properly educate students. “This year it may be copies, next year it may be incentives, the following year it may be… something else from a technology standpoint.”  

About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Hesse
Rachel Hesse, Managing Editor

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and the Managing Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. Although new to the PawPrint this year, Rachel has been...

Ava Hasting Wins Class at the Hillsborough County Fair


Ava Hasting

Durant sophomore Ava Hasting and her steer Stanley

The Hillsborough County Fair is an annual community event held in October attended by over 25,000 people. The fair was created in 1990 to become a “celebration of community, agriculture, education, and exhibits.”

During the fair, one of the most popular events is the livestock showcase, where participants show their animals in front of an audience and judges.

Ava Hasting, a sophomore at Durant High School, won first place in her class at the fair with her steer Stanley.

“The classes at the fair are based off the steer’s age,” Hasting said. “The judge judges the bone structure [and other aspects], based on [the] desirable qualities wanted in a steer.”

After being judged, the steers are then positioned from first to last place. Each class’s winners are then entered in the final drive, where the judges choose an overall grand champion and overall reserve champion steer.

To prepare for the show, Hasting has worked with Stanley since June, spending thirty to forty minutes with him every day.

“Normally you want to feed, groom – by groom I mean brush his hair forward with a comb to train [it]-, wash it, and walk them,” Hasting said.

Before the festival, Hasting admits she gets a little nervous, but once she is in the ring, “it all goes away, and I automatically focus on showing.”

After a long day of showing, Hasting was declared the winner of her class.

“I felt so relieved to accomplish my goal,” Hasting said once she won.

At Durant, Hasting is a part of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization, whose goal is to “develop competent and assertive agricultural leadership.”

“I love the organization,” Hasting said. “The people make it such an amazing organization.”

One of Hasting’s favorite things about working with the animals is the responsibility and skills obtained.

Although Hasting plans on becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer in the future, she still plans to continue participating in shows.

“I plan on doing a steer [for the show] every year until I graduate,” Hasting said.



About the Writer

New Thanksgiving Traditions 

Thanksgiving this year is going to be a lot different. Traditions like playing games, pulling apart the wishbone with a cousin who lives across the country, and filling stadium seats at football games, are in danger of being broken as Coronavirus continues to influence countless lives.   

Families are being forced to have to have small dinners and prepare traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, delivering them so as to not risk those immunocompromised. Families are also suggested to have virtual dinners and sharing recipes to keep with the holiday spirit of giving.  Also, shopping online rather than in person the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday would be a smart choice.  

The best thing to do would be to watch sports events, parades, and movies from home and to wear a mask while at family dinner would to prevent the spread of the virus between family members.  

During dinnertime, a great tip would be to avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as the kitchen, use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils to lower contamination risks, and serve food that is self-serve only and portioned correctly for everyone.  

Even Black Friday is going to look different this year as more shoppers will be resorting to online shopping in fear of potentially coming in contact with the virus.  

Thanksgiving this year, as suggested by the CDC, should attempt to follow a 99% no contact rule due to the continual rise of cases around the country. Everyone should strive to stay safe, eat good food, and find something to be grateful for even in this time of uncertainty. 


About the Writer
Photo of Mason Gourley
Mason Gourley, Design Editor

Mason is a Junior at Durant High School. He is the Design Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. He is a fan of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. He writes about...

Thanksgiving Activities

Day of Thanks 2020

Sat Nov 21, 9:00 AM – Sat Nov 21, 12:00 PM

Winners’ Worship Center

2200 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612

Day of Thanks is a free community event hosted by Winners’ Worship Center where we share the love of Jesus, one turkey & one family at a time.

Cranksgiving Tampa 2020

Sat Nov 21, 10:00 AM – Sat Nov 21, 4:00 PM

Coppertail Brewing Co.

2601 E. 2nd Ave., Tampa, FL 33605

Cranksgiving is a bicycle scavenger hunt and food drive, and these events take place across the nation in November to benefit local charities as they prepare for Thanksgiving. The ninth edition of Cranksgiving Tampa will continue to benefit Metropolitan Ministries.

In 2019, 100 riders collected 1,928 pounds of food, including 65 frozen turkeys, all of which was donated to Metropolitan Ministries.


Thanksgiving Turkey Pop UP

Tues Nov 24, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM

Hyde Park Village

1509 Swann Avenue, Tampa, FL 33609

Giving away free Publix gift cards to purchase turkeys, free turkey opportunities, attractions, shopping, and dining


Thanksgiving Eve International Night

Wed Nov 25, 9:00 PM – Thu Nov 26, 3:00 AM

Acropolis Greek Taverna

3023 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33609

Join for an unforgettable night of Kefi with Dj Zeus, Dj Raw, and Dj Hagz spinning the hottest Greek, Arabic, and International Sounds.

-Kitchen open late

-Reservations Recommend

-Cirque de Soleil and Dancers

-Dress Code Enforced

-No Cover

Our services offer a fine revival dining in a high energy atmosphere featuring, plate breaking, napkin throwing, zorba dancing and live music; all this to recreate the ancient culture of the Greeks delivered to you at a dining experience like no other.


About the Writer
Photo of Nick Travis
Nick Travis, Social Media Coordinator

Nick Travis is a Junior at Durant High School and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint. He has an outgoing and creative personality. When isn't...

Peru Gets Their Third President In One Week

After the nation faced an unstable political system, Francisco Sagasti was sworn in as Peru’s third president in a week after the resignition of Manuel Merino, five days after the impeachment of Martin Vizcarra. Sagasti took office November 17, 2020.

Vizcarra was impeached by Congress for the second time over allegations about handing out contracts in return for bribes over the last two months. He agreed to the impeachment vote without taking any legal action.

The removal was supported by 105 of Peru’s 130 lawmakers , more than 87 votes were required for his removal.

Manuel Merino, the speaker of Congress, took the place of Vizcarra but resigned the day after being informed that two protestors died during the protests against his government due to the belief that the system was corrupt.

The young men were identified as Jack Brian Pintado Sanches, 22 and Jordan Inti Sotelo Camargo, 24, who were shot during protests after Congress voted out former President Martin Vizcarra.

After the oust of Vizcarra, Peru turned into turmoil as riot police used batons, shields, teargas, and buckshot against peaceful protestors. Large crowds were targeted by water cannons and there were reports on teargas fired from helicopters flying over downtown Lima, Peru.

More than 40 people were missing and about 90 were being treated from injuries according to the health ministry.

Protestors believe that the system was unjust by using the constitutional clause intended to allow lawmakers to oust a president, who they believe is unfit for presidency and not punishing the wrongdoing committed.

Only 20 percent of Peruvians support President Vizcarra’s impeachment according to a Ipsos poll from late October.

Sagasti was sworn in as the new president due to the thousands outraged by Congress. He promises to restore the trust in government and pay homage to the two men that died during the protests.

About the Writer
Photo of Adamari Jaimez
Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a senior at Durant High School. She has been part of journalism since her freshman year, involved in both the yearbook and newspaper...

Students Of The Month-October

Students of the Month

At the end of every month, Assistant Principal Stacy Cleary sends out a survey to teachers asking them to send in recommendations for students they feel should be recognized as Student of the Month. One student from each grade level is then selected from the nominated students based on their school successes, whether they have grown as a student or have consistently shown good qualities and academics.

“We try to choose someone… that not only represents our diverse culture here at Durant, but is a worthy applicant,” according to an interview with Cleary.

In October, the four students chosen were, Priscilla Gory (freshman), Laila Martin (sophomore), Jada Ramsey (junior), and Vincente Kapusta (senior). They showed exemplary qualities that both their teachers and administration took note of and thought embodied what it means to be a Durant Cougar.

Freshman Gory has improved from the beginning of the school year as, “she has stepped up to the plate and become a star student,” according to teacher Christin Causey. When she heard she had gotten Student of the Month, Gory was surprised, as she did not think she deserved it.

Sophomore Martin was shocked, as well, saying, “The things that I do to help people, I just do it without thinking.” She was recognized for being, “an active member of our class who thinks outside of the box and explores knowledge with a growth mindset,” according to teacher, Causey. Her humble character when hearing the unexpected news, shows how right the administration was in choosing her to be student of the month.

Junior Ramsey is  “Hard-working [and] committed to being successful in class,” according to history teacher Frank Lane. When she heard she had been named Student of the Month, Ramsey felt accomplished, as she was able to be recognized for her hard-work and commitment after having struggled a little during the first nine weeks.

Senior Kapusta, felt proud, when he heard the news; proud that he could go home and tell his mother that he was recognized for the hard work he puts into his classes. It was his hard work, dedication, and positivity in class that teacher Kathryn Kabrich said led her to nominate Kapusta.

These students portrayed characteristics that the administration highlighted as representing some of the exceptional qualities of a Durant Cougar. Thanks to the outstanding impression in work ethic each student made on their teachers, they were able to be recognized as Student of the Month.

About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Hesse
Rachel Hesse, Managing Editor

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and the Managing Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. Although new to the PawPrint this year, Rachel has been...

Longtime Jeopardy Host Alex Trebek Dies At 80 After Battling Pancreatic Cancer

TV KNOWLEDGE FOR 1000: He was the greatest gameshow host of all time. ANSWER: Who was Alex Trebek?


On Sunday, November 8, longtime TV host Alex Trebek died from Pancreatic Cancer at 80 years old surrounded by his family and friends.

He was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in March of 2019 and began treatment quickly after. Despite the grueling chemotherapy treatments and adverse effects, including depression and immense pain, Trebek continued to host Jeopardy as he had for 36 years. In March of 2020, he surpassed the one year survival rate of 18%, which he said he was “very happy” to pass.

“He was someone you could count on to entertain you every weekday, even when his health barely allowed it,” said former Jeopardy contestant James Holzhauer. “Anyone wishing to honor Alex’s memory should consider a donation to his favorite charity, World Vision.”

Within hours of his death, tributes to Trebek poured out from fans and contestants of Jeopardy on Twitter.

“It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life,” tweeted Holzhauer.

It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life”

— James Holzhauer

Trebek began his career as a radio host for CBC, hosting quiz and game shows in Canada. Upon moving to America, he continued as a gameshow host with NBC before landing a job as the host of Jeopardy in 1984, earning him multiple Emmy’s for Outstanding Game Show Host and the most nominations (31) for the category. Trebek hosted over 8200 episodes of the gameshow, the most of a TV game show host according to Sony Pictures.

On Jeopardy, Trebek became known for his humor and quick wit, but contestants knew him for his caring and dedicated personality.

“Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him,” said Ken Jennings, who holds the record for longest winning streak on Jeopardy.

Trebek’s last day in the studio was October 29 and his final episode as Jeopardy’s host will air on December 25. Sony Pictures has not announced plans for a new host.


About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Hurricane Eta Poses Major Threats As It Passes Through Central America



Hurricane Eta’s projected path

Hurricane Eta has flooded homes from Panama to Guatemala as the death toll across Central America rises to at least 57 people. The storm was expected to bring storm surge, catastrophic winds, floods, and landslides.

The slow-moving storm hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday, November 3 with winds up to 140 mph at landfall and 190 mph at its core. Eta maxed out the scales for satellite-derived hurricane intensity when it was 75 miles offshore.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did not sample the storm due to the storm’s peak intensity. It was crucial to observe the powerful storm and determine the exact wind speed, air pressure, direction, and location from a distance in order to keep (hurricane tracking people) safe.

Because meteorologists were without aircraft observations, it was unclear for them to determine if the storm warranted a category 5 ranking.

Along the Honduras Caribbean coast, Eta’s outer bands caused some rivers to overflow, forcing evacuations. More than 2,000 people moved from outer islands and low-lying areas to shelters in small towns.

The storm has now dropped to a tropical depression status with 35 mph winds. Although the storm has weakened, it is expected to linger over other parts of Central America and is posing major threats to the Gulf Coast, especially Florida.

Most of the Florida peninsula including the Tampa Bay area is in the forecast cone of Tropical Storm Eta.

The storm is expected to reemerge over the Caribbean Sea and possibly Cuba by Sunday November 8, and is expected to restrengthen when it hits water once again, but there is still uncertainty of the intensity the storm will reach.

Eta is the 12th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and the 28th storm this season, being the strongest Atlantic hurricane this year since Otto in 2016.  This season tied the 2005 record for most named storms.

About the Contributor
Photo of Adamari Jaimez
Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a senior at Durant High School. She has been part of journalism since her freshman year, involved in both the yearbook and newspaper...

New Teacher Lisa Demontmollin Q&A

Lisa Demontmollin is Durant High School’s new reading teacher. This is her first year at Durant, but she has lived and taught in Florida her whole life, including teaching in the Hillsborough County School System for 12 years.

What other schools have you worked at?

I started out at Randall and Rodgers my first few years in the county when I was tenured. And I’ve always been in middle school, so this is my second year in high school, but its really the same. There isn’t too much different except the kids are a little more independent.

Do you prefer teaching high school over middle school?

I do now, yes. Now that I’ve done it I do. I love it

Why did you choose to work at Durant?

My husband grew up around this area and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Durant and I felt like this was my home calling for me, so I took the opportunity, saw it come up, and this is definitely where I want to stay.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

So, I have a few: landscaping, housebuilding, construction. We’ve been doing a lot of remodeling and scrapbooking, I’ve done that for years. I do some really intricate designs. I used to get paid for it years ago.

Do you do the landscaping and construction for other people?

More for us, but I think that, if I had been in the field when I was younger, I would be doing it now because I love doing it.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Being honest, I tried to connect with the students a lot and its really hard for me and the students to make changes and grow so sometimes hearing that advice or trying to make those changes is difficult because it isn’t always accepted. When the kids are here, I feel like I’m mom number two, so it’s really hard to connect to all of the kids when I have like 130 … I would really like to spend more time with them and there isn’t that much time when you have big classes, so that my biggest concern.

Would you prefer to teach smaller classes?

Yes, yes I would.

Did you teach smaller classes in middle school?

I have but its been years since they let us do the smaller classes. I’m used to having at least 25 kids or more. So, if it happens, its usually because it’s a third or fourth period in middle of the day and that’s the only time I really get the small groups. But, the kids need more of that one on one time in the reading classes I teach because I have lower level readers and they really benefit from that extra time

What is the best part about your job?

Getting to see all the smiling faces everyday… I like to hear what they are going through in their daily lives. I’m watching them grow everyday especially from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. You see this huge transition and I love that, its definitely my favorite part.


About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Durant Students Host A Rally In The Student Parking Lot Before Administration Shuts It Down


Annabelle Salveson

Durant students host truck rally in student parking lot

After voting officially closed Tuesday night, rallies and protests erupted nationwide as both sides experienced backlash from the results. Locally, Durant High School experienced its own rallies as students advocated for their preferred candidate.

On the morning of Election Day, a group of students planned to meet before school to drive their trucks, which featured both American flags and flags supporting Republican incumbent, Donald Trump.

“It was pretty fun,” participant Michael Jones, said. “Me and all my buddies got together [with our flags and trucks]. We all met up at 39 & Keysville and got our Trump train together so we could pull into school in a line.”

The goal of the event, explained attendee Trinton Gibson, was to “show our overall support for America and President Trump and to practice our freedom[s] and rights as Americans.”

“We wanted to support our President [in hopes] he wins again,” said Dylan Coughlin, another participant.

In the student parking lot, trucks with flags lined up together in parking spots as students stood by, either by their vehicles or on their own trucks, taking pictures and videos of the participants. Besides loud music playing, event spectator Delaney Page described the event as “very peaceful.”

“It was a blast out there seeing all our trucks in a line with our Trump and American flags,” Jones said. “We were definitely drawing a lot of attention.”

Shortly after being outside, the gathering received attention from administrators around 8:15 am. Vice-principal, Andrew Holzbog, was first to notice the event after coming out for morning duty to watch over the student parking lot.

“As I walked out, I obviously heard the music playing and a lot of students migrating towards the music,” Holzbog said.

After finding out about the event, Holzbog and Gary Graham addressed the situation.

“The biggest thing was [the] congregating in times of COVID,” Holzbog explained. “We also felt that it [the event] could potentially take away from the academics of the day, and so we just wanted to remove any distractions while in the building.”

Holzbog said that he asked the participants to “shut [the music and flags] down. Not necessarily [because of] their support but just the way it was being handled at the time.”

“Even [if it were] for the best reasons, which I am sure they had very good intentions, if it causes that much of a distraction, then we will probably address that,” he said.

Following his instructions, the participants turned down the music and removed their flags; however, some left the American flags on their trucks.

“We all left our American flags up because we did not think it was a big deal [because] everyone at our school lives in America, no matter what political side,” Gibson explained.

Even so, once school started, those with American flags still up were called to remove them from their vehicles for distraction purposes.

“For consistency, when we went out there, we asked them to remove all flags,” Holzbog said. “If one person flies one flag and another person flies another, and we ask one person to take it down and not both, that is not very consistent as far as expectations go.”

Nevertheless, what might have started as an intentionally harmless student event soon developed and provoked those beyond Durant’s walls to respond.

“We did not want to start nothing,” Coughlin addressed. “We just did it to have a good time and show love for Trump and [the] American flag.”

Virtually, several parents and students took to social media to express their dissatisfaction with the administration and their actions.

“I had so much respect for Durant High School until today,” one person commented on Durant’s Facebook page. “How are you going to sit here and tell us to take down our flags? You tell us to take down the American flag, but yet in every classroom [and in front of the school], there is an American flag…you are taking away our freedom of speech. You are belittling us as the younger generation and trying to make us side and stand for what you believe.”

Other parents and students also left remarks about the event, claiming the school was “suppressing the views of students they don’t agree with” and limiting the “students’ first amendment rights.”

“We have the right to show our patriotism no matter what others’ opinions may be,” Page said.

Former student, Zoey Ward, also expressed her view of the event and how it was addressed.

“Yes, we all have different views and are entitled to them; however, telling students to take down the American flag, the symbol of our country, is downright wrong,” Ward said. “Those students had a right to free speech. I do not think any steps should have been taken unless something got out of hand.”

In response to the social media backlash, Holzbog has addressed his concern and understanding towards the students and parents.

“I get the folks who are upset about the American flag. We very much support the American flag and never want to downplay that at all,” Holzbog said. “But yesterday morning that consistency piece was going to be very important, and if we were not consistent, I think that would have caused some more issues.”

In response to the comments on free speech, Holzbog addressed his priority to create a productive and safe environment at Durant.

“When it comes to the events on campus taking away from learning, we are always going to step in,” Holzbog said. “If free speech starts a fight here in the cafeteria, we are going to step in.”

He also mentioned the administration’s concern towards the feelings of other students as well.

“It caused a bit of attention and that is never what we want. We want people to feel comfortable, [and] we want this to be a comfortable learning environment for everybody,” Holzbog said.

And while there are still many that disagree with these ideals, other students and participants understood the importance and ideology behind the administration’s initial decision.

“I believe that the administration handled it the right way because they did not want conflict starting in the student parking lot, which I agree with,” Jones said.

Coughlin had a similar response, stating his desire to avoid conflict in school and the decision that “[the participants], are probably not going to do it again.”

The next day after the gathering, students noticed a sheriff in the student parking lot near where the event took place. Despite the close concurrence, the administration claimed the primary purpose was to “keep a safe environment” for students.

“We try to keep an ear to the ground as far as what our students are facing each day, and sometimes that mirrors what people are facing in society,” Holzbog said. “Just his [the sheriff’s] presence sometimes discourages any events from taking place.”

Following this event, the administration is looking for clarification and guidance from district leaders on handling future situations to “represent Durant and Hillsborough county in a good light.”

About the Contributor

New Teacher Ralph Underwood Q&A

Ralph Underwood is the new culinary teacher at Durant, teaching both Culinary I and II. This will be his tenth year of teaching.

What other jobs did you have before you became a culinary teacher?

“In high school I worked for TECO as a human resources specialist, in College I worked as an emergency band control route. After I went to culinary school I worked for Outback as a trainer, so I would go to different Outbacks and I would train employees on any new food that was coming out, and also if a food was out of spec, so like if a Bloomin onion was cooked incorrectly and someone had called corporate and was like ‘hey, I’ve been to this outback 3 times and it’s been wrong’, they would send somebody out to retrain people, and I was part of that. I also did Outback catering where we catered on-site, so all the equipment was brought to whatever site we were on and basically executed from there. After that I worked for Hyatt [Coconut Point and Bonita Springs] as a banquet chef, so I would do any big banquets, weddings, company retreats, so anytime a lot of people got together and they would need a lot of food, I [would be] in charge of… that. Then I came to the district”

Why did you become a teacher?

“I actually got recruited to become a teacher. I was working at Hyatt in Naples, of course I grew up here, so somebody who knew my mom was like ‘hey we need a chef at our school’, so I went through the process of putting my application in [and] I ended up working at Armwood, which was ironic because I graduated from Armwood. Then I ended up transferring to Hillsborough for a couple years and then I ended up here.”

Why did you choose Durant?

“Well I was looking for a change. Before I worked here, I was a behavioral specialist, so I would deal with students that basically were on the wrong path. A lot of that was really just getting students jobs and life skills… so I was looking for more students that were interested in going into the culinary field.”

What is your impression of Durant so far?

“Family. It feels like a small city, kind of a network of people working together. I’ve been to schools where people don’t even say hello to each other and it gets kind of cut throat, but it’s different here. People seem to want to work together and that’s definitely a positive, you can kind of collaborate with other programs and do stuff together, pool resources [and stuff like that].”

What is the best part about your job?

“The best part is seeing students come in with like no knowledge, and then by the time the end of the year comes, they can go and work in the food industry if they want. [It] also makes them employable, so if somebody comes in and never worked a job before, then now they have confidence to go and apply for a job and answer questions. So, to me that’s rewarding. And then having students come back and tell me that they remember having me as a teacher, [like] that was  ten years ago for me and I don’t even remember that moment, but for them it was great. So, just creating memories with students that last for lifetimes.”

What is the hardest part about your job?

“The hardest part is finding motivation for students. Not everyone has a goal of being a chef, or even cooking for themselves. Some people see it as an easy grade, or as this being a break class, so finding something that everybody wants out of the class and getting them motivated to work towards it is kind of the hardest part.”

What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?

“Bowling. I’ve been bowling since I was a kid. I’m kind of injured right now so it’s a little bit of a sad moment [because] I can’t really bowl right now. But it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid and I do it with my family, so we get to spend time together”

Are you married and do you have kids?

“Yes [I have a wife and] two kids, a boy and a girl. My son just started high school, so he’s a freshman, and my daughter is a seventh grader”

About the Writer
Photo of Rachel Hesse
Rachel Hesse, Managing Editor

Rachel Hesse is a senior at Durant High School and the Managing Editor for the PawPrint Newspaper. Although new to the PawPrint this year, Rachel has been...

Leave a Comment
Connecting you to the Durant beat