By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Make no doubt about it, there is a BEST school in the Hillsborough County School District, set to open in August on Gate Dancer Road, west of U.S. Highway 301, in the Belmont subdivision of south Hillsborough County.
At the March 10 school board meeting, both a mascot and school colors were determined for the school, named for the subdivision in which it resides. The colors are black and red, and the mascot is the tiger, which completes the BEST acronym, for “Belmont Elementary School Tigers.”
Newly appointed charter principal Alan Black said he worked with incoming students and the community at large to determine school particulars after the board selected the school’s name at its Feb. 18 board meeting.
School Board member Stacy Hahn, whose district includes the Belmont community, noted at the Feb. 18 meeting that south Hillsborough County “is a large, spread-out area, and it’s important for neighborhoods to build their identities,” which “lots of times [is] built around a school.”
Toward that end, at the March 10 meeting, Black sported black- and red-striped socks with his school’s acronym printed thereon, as he discussed the steps it took to brand the school, set to open in five months, in a location that for some can be somewhat confusing.
Many long-time south county residents consider the area Riverview. The mailing address notes Sun City Center. And Lennar, developer of the Belmont subdivision, notes the subdivision’s welcome center is in Ruskin, at 10141 Count Fleet Drive.
To determine colors and a mascot — and to keep parents, staff and students informed of school developments — Black started a Facebook group page entitled, “Belmont Elementary School – Sun City Center,” which as of March 16 had 369 members.
Also, a Survey Monkey for preferred colors and mascot was sent to Belmont Elementary School families and posted on the Facebook page; it drew 120 responses.
Then, students at Doby, Reddick and Summerfield Crossings were asked to weigh in on the top four proposed mascots — tigers, mustangs, broncos and bobcats — and the top proposed colors — red, blue and orange, with black the secondary color.
With final preferences in hand, Black worked with SpunkyFuel to design a mascot and slogan to present to school board members for approval. “The tiger was chosen as our mascot because of several positive characteristics,” Black said. “Tigers are determined, confident, resourceful, and they show great leadership. Belmont Elementary students and staff will be known for these and many more qualities.”
As for the slogan, that was a no-brainer, with BEST selected to “represent Belmont in our expectations,” Black told school board members. “Belmont Elementary School Tigers will be known as the ‘BEST’ in the district. We hope you’ll make the ‘BEST’ decision for Belmont Elementary School and will approve the tigers [mascot].”
The board voted unanimously to do so.
Belmont Elementary School is under construction at 14150 Gate Dancer Road, Sun City Center. Call: 813-535-7806.
Belmont is set to relieve Doby, Cypress Creek and Reddick elementary schools, with adjustments as well to Collins, Corr, Summerfield, Summerfield Crossings, Thompson and Wimauma elementary schools.