HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN PASCO COUNTY

Land O’ Lakes High School

On Feb. 21, 1973, H. Leroy McClain, assistant principal at Pasco Comprehensive High School, was named the first principal of the new Land O’ Lakes junior-senior high school. He was assigned to work as a special assistant at Sanders Memorial School first, to become acquainted with the area. McClain had been employed by the Pasco County school district since 1968; before then he was a principal of Brazelton Junior High School in Paducah, Kentucky.

The school board approved the name Land O’ Lakes Junior-Senior High School on April 3, 1973.

Construction of the school building began in 1973.

On Nov. 25, 1974, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Land O’ Lakes students in the upper grades attended Pasco Comprehensive High School and junior high students attend Sanders Memorial School on afternoon sessions.

Land O’ Lakes High School Land O’ Lakes High School opened on July 3, 1975. The opening of the school marked the end of double sessions in Pasco County, for the first time since 1968.

According to the school web site, in June of 1976, Land O' Lakes graduated its first class of 97 seniors. By 1978, the school had become too crowded to continue serving grades 7 through 12. PineView Middle School was built for grades six through eight.

In 1999, the football team under Coach John Benedetto had its first undefeated regular season. That year, a 59-yard field goal by Justin Geisler helped the Gators to a 20-7 win against Zephyrhills.

In January 2000 the International Baccalaureate Organization approved an IB diploma program for Land O’ Lakes High School. (A pre-IB program had started there earlier.)

In 2002 the football team under Coach Benedetto had a 12-1 record with quarterback Drew Weatherford. During his four seasons at Land O’ Lakes, Weatherford threw for more than 7,500 yards and 79 touchdowns.

In August 2003, the school adopted a staggered schedule to ease overcrowding. Students in grades 10 through 12 attended school from 7:35 a.m. to 2 p.m., but most freshmen attended from 10:25 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

In 2005 the school became the first high school in Pasco County to earn an A grade from the Florida Department of Education. Land O’ Lakes High earned an A again in 2006 and 2007.

At the start of the 2007-08 school year, with overcrowding reduced because of the opening of Sun Lake High School, Land O’ Lakes High School returned to a traditional schedule, with seven periods, one of which was lunch.

On June 5, 2008, 591 students graduated at the USF Sun Dome. It was the largest graduating class ever in Pasco County.

On March 23, 2009, Ric Mellin became the principal of Land O’ Lakes High School, replacing Monica Ilse, who transferred to the new Anclote High School.

In April 2009 John Benedetto, only the second coach in Land O’ Lakes history, announced he was retiring as football coach after 34 years at the school and 32 years as head coach of the Gators. Benedetto had a 196-149 career mark and led the Gators to 17 playoff berths.

PRINCIPALS

1975-1985 Herman LeRoy McClain
1985-1997 Albert Bashaw
1997-2003 Max Ramos
2003-2006 Raymond Bonti
2006-2009 Monica Ilse
2009- Ric Mellin

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