After breaking off with Hillsborough County in January 1912, started their own school system with 22 schools.
This school year the Pinellas County School District is celebrating its Centennial with monthly community celebrations that spread over the 2011-2012 school year.
The centennial celebration kickoff is Hands Across Pinellas, a relay race uniting north and south Pinellas. On Saturday (Sept. 24) the cross-county relay along the Pinellas Trail includes 20 high school cross-country runners. The students come from the four original Pinellas County high schools: Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Largo and St. Petersburg.
Seminole, Osceola, Gibbs, Lakewood and Boca Ciega high schools are also participating. The public is encouraged to line the trail and support the athletes.
Students will run or bike in pairs for about four miles. Just like the Olympic torch relay, students will carry and pass a torch as they travel the Pinellas Trail. The torch symbolizes the "flame of knowledge."
Hands Across Pinellas starts at opposite ends of the county at the Sweetbay Supermarket in Tarpon Springs and Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg. The athletes will meet in the middle of the 33-mile route at in Largo.
“The relay signifies unifying the district- connecting the north county with the south county,” said Sharon McNeal, the district’s coordinator of communications and marketing.
The public can come to one of ten locations along the trail for the event, which begins at 10 a.m. There will be free ice cream and a drawing for a bike at each stop. The event is free. The community can purchase special centennial t-shirts for $10-$15.
Each centennial event celebrates a decade of the school district’s history. September's kick off event represents Pinellas County around 1910. Each monthly event will feature a social activity common in that decade.
“In the early 1900s people would have gathered with ice cream socials. We are doing what people would have done at that time…we want to bring not just the district but the whole community together,” McNeal said.
School district funds are not being used for the events. Community sponsors are covering the cost of the centennial events, McNeal said.
If you go to cheer on the Pinellas County Centennial runners or eat ice cream, the event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 24). Here are the locations:
- Mildred Helms Elementary; 561 Clearwater-Largo Road, Largo
- Taylor Park; 1100 8th Ave., Largo
- Ridgecrest Elementary; 1901 119th St., Largo
- Wall Springs Park; 3725 DeSoto Blvd., Palm Harbor
- Ozona Elementary; 601 Tampa Road, Palm Harbor
- Orange Grove Elementary; 10200 65th Ave., Seminole
- Pasadena Fundamental Elementary; 95 72nd St., St. Petersburg
- Fairmount Park Elementary; 575 41st St., St. Petersburg
- Gibbs High School; 850 34th St., St. Petersburg