New Tests for School Kids

Superintendent Robert Avossa of the Palm Beach County School District; all images copyright Warren Redlich, free to use by crediting West Boca News.
Superintendent Robert Avossa of the Palm Beach County School District

Moving forward with progress on the new strategic plan, Superintendent Robert Avossa announced new tests will be added to the schedule for all schools in Palm Beach County.
Hand completing a multiple choice exam.
Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

“We found we just weren’t measuring enough,” Avossa said to a group of parents at Spanish River High School. “Parents were complaining that their kids were spending too much time learning and not enough showing that they had learned.”
He also reassured parents that there is adequate funding for all the new testing. “We’ve got a new sales tax coming, and we’ll also save in other areas by cutting down on unnecessary spending on subjects that don’t matter any more, like music, arts and foreign languages.”
Supplementing the wildly popular FSAs that replaced the nearly-as-popular FCATs, the new tests will be called the FAILs.
The full details are available at: Palm Beach Schools Strategic Plan.

Boca High Grad Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Seth Dierksen
Seth Dierksen

An early morning motorcycle accident on Spanish River Blvd claimed the life of Boca High graduate Seth Dierksen, age 22. From the report it appears to have been near the entrance to the FAU campus at roughly 4 am this morning.

From the Boca Raton Police Department:
Officers with the Boca Raton Police Department’s Traffic Homicide Unit are investigating a fatal crash, which happened this morning at 3:57 a.m., in the 800 block of NW Spanish River Boulevard.
The operator of a 2011 Kawasaki motorcycle was traveling east on NW Spanish River Boulevard when he collided with a 2007 International 18-wheeler truck. The operator of the motorcycle died at the scene.
If you have information about this crash, please call Traffic Homicide Investigator Michael Daly at (561) 620-6081.
2011 Kawasaki Motorcycle:
Seth Clayton Dierksen
22 years old
Boca Raton, FL
Injury: Fatal
2007 International Truck:
William Grinslade
43 years old
Winter Haven, FL
Injury: None

Spanish River Grad Killed in Car Accident

The Palm Beach Sheriff reports that Jennifer “Jenn” Franciscus (32) passed away after an early morning car crash on Powerline south of Camino Real.
Ms. Franciscus was a graduate of Spanish River High. She also attended Palm Beach State and worked in the past as a medical receptionist and medical billing professional. She resided in Newport Bay Club off Jog Road north of Clint Moore.
From the Sheriff:

Narrative: V1 was traveling northbound in the inside lane of Powerline Road just north of SW 18th Street in unincorporated Boca Raton. For unknown reasons V1 struck the center median multiple times before driving up and onto the center median with its driver’s side tires. V1 continued north with its driver’s side tires in the grass and passenger side tires on the roadway. V1 veered further onto the median and struck a tree that was located in the center of the median. D1 was transported Delray Medical Center where she later died.

Friends of Ms. Franciscus expressed their grief on her Facebook page:

Foundation Scholarships to Local Students

All photos by Carlos Aristizabal
The Eda and Cliff Viner Community Scholars Foundation awarded 18 four-year scholarships to local students this week. This first Annual Award Ceremony took place at Boca West Country Club on Sunday, June 14th.

Floor: Maia Groman, Congressman Deutch, Nusrat Noor, Amanda Hirschman. Sitting: Adina Hoffman, Lauren Brito, Wenda Fils-Aime, Eda Viner, Natalia Leal, Fernanda Rodriguez, and Teagan Murphy.  Standing: Lucas de Carvalho, Maribel Dupont-Bedolla, Raquel Dunn, Megan Rahnama, Shaaz Feldman, Cliff Viner, Isaac Azoalos, Travis Young, Javier Gomez, and Brett Wolff.
Floor: Maia Groman, Congressman Deutch, Nusrat Noor, Amanda Hirschman. Sitting: Adina Hoffman, Lauren Brito, Wenda Fils-Aime, Eda Viner, Natalia Leal, Fernanda Rodriguez, and Teagan Murphy. Standing: Lucas de Carvalho, Maribel Dupont-Bedolla, Raquel Dunn, Megan Rahnama, Shaaz Feldman, Cliff Viner, Isaac Azoalos, Travis Young, Javier Gomez, and Brett Wolff.

“We are offering not only financial assistance,” says Foundation Co-Founder Cliff Viner. “But we are also providing a comprehensive mentor program to keep students on-track, so they can graduate and then go on to fulfill the promise they’ve all shown.”
The students awarded these scholarships came from: Atlantic Community High School, Boca Raton Community High School, Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Olympic Heights Community High School, Spanish River Community High School, Weinbaum Yeshiva, and West Boca Community High School.
Eda Viner, Congressman Deutch, Wenda Fils-Aime (scholarship recipient), Ruthe N. Francis, Assistant Principal Atlantic Community High School, and Cliff Viner
Eda Viner, Congressman Deutch, Wenda Fils-Aime (scholarship recipient), Ruthe N. Francis, Assistant Principal Atlantic Community High School, and Cliff Viner

The Award Ceremony featured U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch (a West Boca resident) as the speaker. Foundation Co-Founders, Eda and Cliff Viner, presented the awards.
“The purpose of this program is to work with the most dedicated and talented students, some of whom don’t have the financial means to fulfill their potential.” says Eda Viner, Foundation Co-Founder. “This will not only assist students and their families, but also greatly benefit our own community.”
The program accepts applications from students who achieved at least a 3.50 unweighted GPA, performed substantial community service, and were from families that required significant financial assistance. This scholarship will be a “last dollar” scholarship to cover tuition not already covered by financial aid, and will provide assistance with room and board as well as daily living expenses.
Cliff Viner, Fernanda Rodriguez (scholarship recipient), and Eda Viner
Cliff Viner, Fernanda Rodriguez (scholarship recipient), and Eda Viner

Eda Viner is a realtor with Sotheby’s. Her husband Cliff is a businessman, investor and hedge fund manager. He was the general partner of the Florida Panthers ownership group until they sold the franchise in 2013. He is a member of the B’nai Torah congregation in West Boca. He has a substantial history of philanthropy as well as bipartisan campaign contributions.

Spanish River High Buries Time Capsule

Spanish River High School buried a time capsule in the courtyard on Friday, May 15th. Coinciding with the release of the 2015 Tiburon Yearbook, the school’s yearbook staff hosted the community at a burial ceremony.

“This is the culminating effort from a fantastic year,” Tiburon Yearbook advisor Sean Delaney stated. “Sealing our 2015 time capsule in the vault will not only be a personal moment of satisfaction for myself and my yearbook staff, but a feather in the caps of all those involved.”
With over a year of planning, the Tiburon Yearbook staff carefully aligned its yearbook theme with the time capsule itself, making the year a true labor of love. The 2015 Spanish River Time Capsule will remain buried until 2035.
The contents of the time capsule will include:

Principal William Latson’s Letter to the Future
ALS Ice Bucket Autographed by Congressman Ted Deutch
The 2015 Tiburon Yearbook and Time Capsule DVD and Flash Drive
The Dating Doctor DVD Autographed by David Coleman
DNA Sample from Biotechnology
Baseball Bat from Spanish River Graduate and Toronto Blue Jays 3rd Baseman Danny Valencia
The Pieces Of 8 Literary Magazine
SGA-leadership T-shirt and Letters to Future Class Officers
A 2015 Spanish River Cheerleader Uniform and Pom-Poms
All Six Issues of the Award-winning Galleon Newspaper
The Senior DVD Donated by WSRH
Winning Game Ball from Televised Football Game Versus Olympic Heights
An Authentic River Sharks Ice Hockey Jersey
Acoustic Guitar Autographed by the 2015 Guitar Club
Plus Donations from the Silver Sound Marching Band, DECA, Red Cross Club, Chorus, Drama, Rah Club, First Priority, Cross Country, Bowling, Swimming, Environmental Club, National Art Honor Society, Autism Awareness and the Class of 2015

Mr. Delaney and the committee extend thanks to the following supporters and contributors:

Mr. Jim Fedele and Brang Construction, Inc.
Mr. Tom Souza and Personalized Experts
Ms. Sheryl Stiefel and the Spanish River PTSA
Mr. Richard Blackwell and the Palm Beach County Education Network
Mr. William Latson and the Spanish River Administration, Faculty and Staff

Austin Mahone Meets and Greets West Boca

Update: We have a new video with both Austin Mahone and interviews with local fans from West Boca High, Spanish River High, and Olympic Heights High as well.

Lexi Segal from West Boca High sent us this picture of her with Mahone:

Copyright Warren Redlich  © 2015. Media welcome to use all images and video. Please credit @WestBocaNews or
Copyright Warren Redlich © 2015. Media welcome to use all images and video. Please credit @WestBocaNews or

Thanks to readers we were tipped off that pop superstar Austin Mahone would be appearing at the Mobil and 7/11 gas station and convenience store on the corner of Glades and Boca Rio. He showed up and we caught just a bit of him on video.

There were well over 100 fans waiting to see him, mostly teenage girls. We talked to a few from local high schools including West Boca, Spanish River and Olympic Heights and we will post a video with that later on.
It appears that Mahone has done some kind of endorsement deal with 7/11 related to Slurpees, which were handed out to the fans who were waiting and you can see them in the photo at the top of the article.
When Mahone arrived the crowd did cheer loudly for him. We caught his arrival in a series of photos:
Copyright Warren Redlich 2015.
Copyright Warren Redlich 2015.

Copyright Warren Redlich 2015
Copyright Warren Redlich 2015

Copyright Warren Redlich 2015
Copyright Warren Redlich 2015

Copyright Warren Redlich 2015
Copyright Warren Redlich 2015

As we understand it, Mahone’s fan club member received a tweet announcing this event, along with the following image:
We will post a follow-up story with those interviews and more video later this evening or tomorrow.

More School Winners: Spanish River and Logger's Run

Three kids from West Boca schools were among 31 students on the Palm Beach County science team that won awards at the 2015 State Science and Engineering Fair.
Sean Elia of Spanish River won a 3rd place award in the “Senior Division” (high school) and he was invited to represent Palm Beach County at the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). We have a soft spot for tuba and sousaphone players.

Sean Elia (from Facebook)
Sean Elia (from Facebook)

Elia may be headed to UCF to study aerospace engineering next year.
From Logger’s Run Middle School, Anam Ahmed won a 2nd place award and Tesla Radulovic won an honorable mention.

Spanish River and West Boca Academic All-Stars

The Palm Beach County school district’s “All-Star Academic Challenge team” competed in the Commissioner’s Academic Challenge at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort from April 9 to April 11. Overall the team placed 7th out of the 12 “large county” districts that competed.
West Boca students who participated included Miles Fertel of Spanish River High (top right in the photo) and Noah Graff of West Boca High (next to Fertel). Both are seniors. Others on the team were Matt Liang and Karen Sem of Suncoast High, and Marc Rodriguez and Andrew Sack of Atlantic High. The team was coached by Dr. Mary Murray, a mathematics teacher at Suncoast High School.
Noah Graff was previously featured in West Boca News as a National Merit Finalist.

Boca Kids Get National Awards

Several students from high schools in greater Boca Raton were named as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship program and a couple were finalists in the National Achievement Scholarship program.
From West Boca High, Noah Graff was named a National Merit finalist. A resident of the Mission Bay community, Graff has his own tutoring business and has also volunteered in various ways including shaving his head for St. Baldrick’s. He’s a wrestler and he competes for the school’s academic teams as well.
From Olympic Heights, Sarah Curtis was also named a National Merit finalist. Ms. Curtis participated in the school’s Zerobotics team which traveled to MIT in 2014.

“It was an amazing experience,” said [then] junior Sarah Curtis. “Participating in this incredible conference really reinforced my love of engineering.”

Ms. Curtis is also a pretty good softball player, and plays in the school band.
Spanish River had two National Merit finalists: Ari Levin and Alexander Sugar. We couldn’t find a picture or any details on Mr. Sugar. Mr. Levin will be attending Northwestern University next year.
Boca High is not in West Boca, but some West Boca kids go there. They had the most finalists.
National Merit Finalists from Boca High:
Elisa Figueras
Peter Lin
James Lynch
Jennifer Menke
Akaash Mohan
Kelsey Powers
Ryan Rice
Jake Woods
National Achievement Finalists from Boca High:
Elgin Davis
Nigel Davis
Disclosure: The founders of West Boca News are friends of the Levin family.

Spanish River Alum Graduates to Burglary, Battery and More

Esperanzo Wilcox (25)
Esperanzo Wilcox (25)

Esperanzo Wilcox (above, 25) was arrested early Sunday morning by Boca PD. He faces several counts including burglary, three counts of battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and false imprisonment.
Mr. Wilcox, a 2008 graduate of Spanish River High, was scheduled for a court appearance yesterday morning but the online court file has not been updated yet to show what happened. He is represented by the public defender and the Sheriff’s record indicates that he remains in custody at this writing, with total bond set at $19,000. His reported address is in the Boca Royal apartments (aka Boca Bayou) in southeast Boca. He may have attended Palm Beach State at some point. We found two different Facebook profiles, including the one pictured below, an another under the name Es Babbii. And he also looks like an aspiring rapper with at least a few clips on SoundCloud.
We found several cases for Mr. Wilcox in Palm Beach County including a drug felony from 2009 and a felony grand theft charge from 2008. He also had a drug case in Broward in 2009, but that may have been the same incident as the one from Palm Beach County.
We found another man with the same name but 20 years older that might be his father and a former football and basketball player at Boca High. Back in the early 1990s that man was arrested in Broward a few times on charges including attempted murder, aggravated assault with a firearm, soliciting to commit armed robbery, and drug charges.