From left: Nikki Cummings, David Buckles, Kathy Jorgensen and Jane Crawford.
The Putnam County School Board held it reorganization meeting Tuesday morning after four board members were sworn into office.
Kathy Jorgensen, vice chairwoman during the last year, was elected chairwoman, and David Buckles was elected vice-chairman.
At a ceremony at the Putnam County Commission meeting room earlier in the morning, Jorgensen, Buckles, Nikki Cummings and Jane Crawford were sworn into office.
Charles Overturf, Putnam County supervisor of elections, said Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony was unique because, to the best of his knowledge, four school board members had never been sworn in at the same time. Overturf said the election cycle usually has three school board members and two county commissioners sworn in during one election year, then two school board members and three county commissioners sworn in the next.
However, Buckles was appointed in 2013 to fill the seat vacated by Lisa Parsons, who resigned to be principal of the Putnam Edge High School charter school. That seat was up for election, which Buckles won in August.
Jorgensen was re-elected to her seat. Crawford, who is completely new to the board, was elected to the District 5 seat in an open race after C.L. Overturf, Jr., decided not to seek re-election. Cummings ran unopposed.
Third-grade students at Middleton-Burney Elementary School presented the musical program, “Let’s Sing, America,” as part of the school’s tribute to veterans Nov. 10.
The tribute started with a parade through the school for the veterans in attendance. Members of the Crescent City Jr.-Sr. High School JROTC led the veterans through school hallways and past cheering students waving flags before leading them into the multi-purpose/music room for the program.
Songs included a mix of traditional favorites and contemporary medleys, including “Of Thee I Sing, America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America Goes West,” and “We Remember.”
In between songs, individual students spoke to the audience about events and facts from America’s history.
Music Director Phyllis Stoneman produced and directed the program.
From left: James Ratliff, Charlene Semidey, Carlos Semidey, Philip Smith and Principal Sarajean McDaniel.
Students and staff at James A. Long Elementary recognized the contributions and sacrifices of veterans during a ceremony held in the school’s courtyard Monday morning.
Guests of honor included four local veterans: Philip Smith, who served 22 years in the Army; Carlos Semidey, who served 20 years in the Army; Charlene Semidey, who served as an Army combat medic for four years; and James Ratliff, who served in Army Communications for more than 11 years.
Students from Jenkins Middle School’s Cadet Leadership Program presented the colors and the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Some students, teachers and staff held signs showing appreciation for the veterans.
Connie Westbury organized the Veteran’s Day ceremony. Principal Sarajean McDaniel emceed the event.
School Board Member C.L. Overturf picked up an honorary, albeit informal, title during his last regular board meeting Tuesday: Father Education.
His fellow board members, Superintendent Phyllis Criswell, and an audience filled with family, friends and colleagues thanked Overturf for his years of service and dedication to the school district.
Overturf, who has been on the school board since 1998, announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection and will retire when his term expires Nov. 17.
Since 2013, he has served on the Florida School Boards’ Association’s board of directors, representing Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties.
From 1980 to 1992, Overturf served as superintendent of Putnam County Schools. He spent 21 years at what is now St. Johns River State College as a speech instructor and debate coach, dean of students, assistant to the president and interim president.
Board Chairwoman Nikki Cummings presented Overturf with a plaque recognizing his years of service to the district, and said he was a calming presence during the first time she chaired a board meeting.
“I also appreciate that you don’t just see the system, you see the people involved in it,” she said, referring to Overturf as “Father Education.”
“C.L. has opened the door for this district and has had the opportunity to speak to issues all around the state for us,” said Board Member Terry Wright.
Board Member David Buckles told the audience that Overturf had worked with Buckles when he was “an aspiring school administrator, and had gotten him through” some challenging times.
“I don’t know of anybody who has given as much as you have,” said Phyllis Criswell, superintendent of Putnam County Schools. “You have been a tremendous role model for me, and, as Nikki said, like Father Time, you have been Father Education.”
Board Member Kathy Jorgensen said she only knew Overturf as “a legend” when she first came onto the board, but then she got to know him for his intellect. “Because of your heart and soul and spirit, I know you’ll still be available to us, and I hope you will continue to be a mentor,” she added.
Jim Padgett, former school board attorney, said he thought of the word “emeritus” when he thought of Overturf.
“It doesn’t simply refer to his retirement, but also to his mentoring, his service and his accomplishments,” Padgett said. “I don’t look at this as his retirement. I look at this as he is now a school board member emeritus, a superintendent emeritus and a college professor emeritus.”
Overturf called his time on the board a wonderful journey, thanking his family and the people of Putnam County for their support for him over the years.
“I hope we’ve been able to do a little good for the cause of education,” he said.