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Land O' Lakes High School

Land O' Lakes High School is a four-year public high school in Land O' Lakes, Florida.[2] It is a part of the Pasco County Schools District in Pasco County. The school mascot is the Fighting Gators.[3]

Land O' Lakes High School
Land O'Lakes HS Logo.png
20325 Gator Lane

Land O' Lakes

United States
TypePublic high school
MottoFighting Gators
EstablishedJuly 3, 1975
School districtPasco County
PrincipalRic Mellin
FacultyApproximately 190
Enrollment1,780 (2016-17)[1]
Color(s)Navy Blue and Gold         
AthleticsBaseball, boys' and girls' basketball, cheerleading, cross-country, football, boys' and girls' golf, boys' and girls' soccer, varsity softball, boys' and girls' swimming & diving, boys' and girls' tennis, boys' and girls' track, varsity volleyball, boys' and girls' weightlifting, varsity wrestling
MascotFighting Gator


Construction of Land O' Lakes High School began in 1973.[4] Leroy McClain was named principal and began hiring staff.[4] Because of critical overcrowding across the county due to a population jump, classes were held in double sessions at nearby Sanders Memorial Elementary School while the school was being built.[4] When the school finally opened two years later, it served 1,400 students in grades 7 through 12.[4] Five years later, Pine View Middle School was built to hold grades 6 through 8.

From 2003 to 2007, Land O' Lakes operated on a 10-period bell schedule to ease crowding with most freshmen attending classes from 10:25 AM to 4:45 PM and sophomores, juniors and seniors attending from 7:35 a.m. to 2 p.m. This was discontinued in 2007, when Sunlake High School opened.[4][5]

The class of 2008 was the largest in the school's history, with nearly 600 graduates.

Ric Mellin, formerly the principal of J.W. Mitchell High School, became Land O' Lakes' sixth principal in March 2009. He replaced Monica Ilse, who was appointed principal of the new Anclote High School in Holiday, Florida (opened in August 2009).[6]

In 2012, the school hosted a rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which attracted 15,000 people.[7]

Name Begin End
Leroy McClain 1975 1985
Albert Bashaw 1985 1997
Max Ramos 1997 2003
Ray Bonti 2003 2006
Monica Ilse 2006 2009
Ric Mellin 2009 Present

In 1996, Pasco County began implementing the first in a series of Philadelphia Model career academies, which the District called Learning Communities.[8] Land O' Lakes High School started one of these, called the Academy of Business Technology.[8] ABT started with 9th grade and included teachers Michelle Auger (Science), Elaine Brubaker (Business), Karen Latusek (Business), Mark Pearson (English), Amy Smith (Math), and Mark A. Thompson (Social Studies). ABT employed integrated curricular instruction and real-life business contexts to teach college-level academics as well as job skills.[9] Pearson and Smith are still on the faculty of LOLHS.[10] Thompson later became Executive Director of the National Educator Program (NEP), implementing career academies like ABT throughout the United States and the first ever in Afghanistan, China and Uganda.[11]


In 2005, the school received a grade of A from the state of Florida for the first time. It was also the first time a high school in Pasco County received the ranking. That same year, the school was ranked as number 312 on a list of the top 1,000 high schools in the country in an issue of Newsweek magazine. In 2006 and 2007, the school kept its A grade and remained on Newsweek's annual list of the top high schools. In 2008, the school again remained on the list. The school also received an A grade for 2009.

In 2012, Land O' Lakes High School named its football stadium after coach John Benedetto, who led the Gators to 14 consecutive state playoffs.

International baccalaureateEdit

Land O' Lakes is one of two high schools in Pasco County to offer the IB Diploma Programme. High school students in Central and East Pasco attend Land O' Lakes for this program, which draws exclusive demands from teachers and students. IB is also offered at Gulf High School for students in West Pasco.[12]

Graduation rateEdit

In 2012 Land O' Lake's graduation rate was 85% as compared to a statewide rate of 74.5% and a Hillsborough County rate of 72.6%.[13]

Attendance policy controversyEdit

In 2007 more than 100 juniors and seniors were banned from attending prom due to an attendance policy that states that if students have more than six absences in a quarter, or ten in a semester, they will lose the privilege of participating in extracurricular activities. This is a district rule enforced by all other schools in Pasco County. Many students affected by this rule claimed that it had not been enforced before, and they had been allowed to attend homecoming, even with excessive absences. They tried to start a petition and tried to organize their own prom.[14][15]

Notable alumniEdit

Land O' Lakes High School Athletics Hall of FameEdit

Name Graduation year Year inducted Notes
Tim Harvey 1979 2013 One of the top football, baseball and basketball players in Pasco County in 1979 with 13 varsity letters; led the Gators to their first football district championship; owns Legacy Building and Contracting in Land O' Lakes; heavily involved in mission work as the men's ministry director at Grow Life Church
Dr. Kenneth McCurry 1979 2013 World-renowned board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, specializing in heart and lung transplants; former director of heart-lung transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh; twice honored as one of the top surgeons in the US; prolific researcher and author for leading medical journals; all area, conference, and county offensive lineman who led the Gators to their first football district championship
Henry Walls NA 2013 Retired Land O' Lakes High School Athletic Director
Robert Shirmohammad 1988 2013 One of Pasco County's top soccer players; set records as a kicker for the Gators' football team; set a school track record in the 220-yard dash; excelled as a soccer player at the University of South Florida; coached Pine View Middle School soccer for nine seasons; regional sales specialist with ArthroCare Corp.
Colleen Bentz Sanders 1987 2013 All-state basketball player in her senior year (1987); helped lead the volleyball team to the state finals; played basketball at Wake Forest University; coached at the US Naval Academy; after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, she joined the FBI as a firearms trainer; recently headed a task force investigation of sex trafficking of juveniles in Seattle
John Benedetto NA 2014 Legendary Land O' Lakes High School football coach of the varsity football team from 1977 to 2008, retiring with more victories than any other coach in Pasco County, including 13 district championships
Will W. Weatherford 1998 2014 State of Florida House of Representatives; three-year starter at Land O' Lakes High for coach John Benedetto; led team in tackles and forced fumbles both as a junior and senior; finished his career as one of the top-five all-time leading tacklers at Land O' Lakes High where he was an all-district, all-conference and all-county first-team selection as a senior; earned first-team all-area honors from The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Times; a third-team all-state selection
RJ McKenna 1982 2014 All SEC safety at Mississippi State University; one of the top quarterbacks and defensive backs in Land O' Lakes history; recognized on all area, county, and state teams; recognized by the Tampa Bay Times as one of Pasco County's best ever as a two-time Times Player of the Year who ran for 737 yards and threw 777 yards
Tina McWithey White 1979 2014 One of the top softball players of her era, recognized on all area, county, and conference teams
Dennis Blankenship 1980 2014 One of the top football, baseball and basketball players in Pasco County in 1980 with nine varsity letters over three years; two-way starter recognized on all county or all conference teams at five different positions in football; all county basketball player; MVP for football and basketball teams his senior year; led the Gators to their first football district and post-season bowl championships; graduated from the University of South Florida, Tampa with a software engineering degree; developed software for the launch of the Space Shuttle fleet at NASA's Kennedy Space Center; high-tech executive with global multinational telecommunications giant Ericsson Corp. in Silicon Valley, California

Land O' Lakes High School todayEdit

Nancy Browning, who was hired when the school opened in 1975, retired in 2015. Many alumni have returned as teachers.

LOLHS houses approximately 1,520 students in grades 9 through 12.[2]

The school is slated to be remodeled during the 2017-18 school year. [16]


  1. ^ "LAND O'LAKES HIGH SCHOOL". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e
  5. ^ History of Land O' Lakes High School
  6. ^ "Pasco board approves principal for Land O'Lakes High - Tampa Bay Times". Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  7. ^ "15,000 fill Pasco football field to see Mitt Romney - Tampa Bay Times". 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  8. ^ a b Pasco County Community Quarterly, February 1997
  9. ^ Pasco County Community Quarterly, November 1998
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Land O' Lakes High School (Florida) Academic Information Overview
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ "Local News | Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Sarasota | 10 News". Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  15. ^ MyFox Tampa Bay | Policy says no prom for Pasco seniors
  16. ^

External linksEdit