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New STEM school in North Jacksonville pushing to enroll low-income students
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New STEM school in North Jacksonville pushing to enroll low-income students

New STEM school in North Jacksonville pushing to enroll low-income students

New STEM school in North Jacksonville pushing to enroll low-income students

There is a new push to get local low-income students interested in STEM careers and increase their chances of landing a job.

Dr. Cynthia Smith is the director at Minds of the Future Academy. She graduated from Andrew Jackson High School, which sits across the street from the school.

Smith told Action News Jax one advantage of the building is that it’ll offer students the chance to learn math and science together.

Smith is passion about education. 



“This area is very dear to me because I grew up in this area and I know what it’s like to not have a safe place to go. We will offer students the opportunity to come here for free,” said Smith. 

Smith said the school is raising the bar for pre-K through kindergarten students in North Jacksonville. 

“We need to be able, as an educator, provide students educational excellence in all areas,” Smith said. 

Students who attend the school will have access to state-of-the-art technology, laptops, piano lessons and dance classes.

Parent Gregory Arnold said he believes the school is the best option for his daughter.

“She’s very adventurous and loves to do new things and eager to learn so I just want to keep her on that path,” Arnold said. 

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Next to the playground out back, students will learn about gardening. 

Smith said STEM learning can change a child’s life and, when you do that, she said you can change a community.

Nearly two dozen students are already enrolled at the school.

The building will be able to hold around 130 students. 

The school plans to launch its new program in August when school starts.

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  • The teenager who opened fire last week on classmates at Santa Clarita's Saugus High School, fatally wounding two students before turning the gun on himself, used an untraceable 'ghost gun' in the attack, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Thursday. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, 16, pulled a .45-caliber, 1911-model replica semi-automatic pistol from his backpack in the open-air quad at Saugus High School on Nov. 14. He shot five students at random, police said. Gracie Anne Muelberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, were killed in the attack. Investigators said Berhow saved the last bullet for himself. He died from a head wound the next day. Authorities are working to determine who built the gun used in the attack, which included a partially built receiver, meaning it lacked a serial number, The Los Angeles Times reported. 'They're sold as a kit,' Villanueva told KABC-TV. 'You can legally buy it, assemble the weapon yourself and then you have a gun that is not registered, and no one knows that you have it. … That is very dangerous.' Authorities in Los Angeles have noted an increase in recent years in the use and proliferation of ghost guns. The guns are crafted from parts which require no background checks to purchase and so they lack serial numbers, officials with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said. Officials with the ATF are assisting Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies as they work to trace the gun used by Berhow and several other registered and unregistered firearms seized last week from his home, according to KNBC and KCBS-TV. Six of the seized guns belonged to Berhow's late father, according to KCBS-TV. The motive behind last week's shooting remained unclear Friday, despite a search of Berhow's home and police interviews with 45 people. Authorities said Berhow had shown no signs of violence and didn’t appear to be linked to any ideology or terrorist group. He ran cross country, was a Boy Scout and had a girlfriend. Villanueva told KABC-TV that authorities were working to unlock Berhow's cellphone in an effort to gain more information. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The family of a Navy veteran is looking for answers after his body was found on the floor of his Texas apartment nearly three years after his death. >> Read more trending news  A medical examiner has determined Ronald Wayne White had been dead in the apartment since communications with his mother in New York ended abruptly three years ago, WFAA reported. 'My son would call me at least twice a month,' Doris Stevens told WFAA, adding, 'He would call me from Egypt. He would call me from the Philippines. He would call me right from Dallas.” White, who worked for a defense contractor following his military service, traveled frequently and would have been 51 at the time of his death, the news station reported. An officer with the DeSoto Police Department told People magazine White’s body was found last week on the kitchen floor of his DeSoto Town Center apartment when maintenance workers entered the premises to investigate a water issue. “Maintenance men were trying to get into the apartment because they noticed that the water usage was non-existent for some time, so they suspected that there was some type of issue with the water main,” the officer told People. Stevens, who lives in Long Island, New York, told WFAA multiple police departments explained to her over the years that because White was an adult who was known to travel frequently they could not pursue her concerns as a missing persons case. “My biggest question is, how in the world could my son have been dead in that apartment and nobody knows anything?” Stevens told the news station. According to WFAA, DeSoto police have determined White had a month-to-month lease on the apartment paid through an automatic withdrawal from an account linked to his Navy retirement. The new, well-insulated dwelling was located on the third floor with all windows locked and sealed tightly. 'The way he was found, the way the apartment was arranged and so forth, there was zero indication of foul play,' Pete Schulte, a detective with the DeSoto Police Department, told the news station. In addition, police investigators found diabetes medications inside the apartment – dated 2016 – and the family confirmed White was a diabetic, People reported. Read more here or here.
  • A Colorado school system shuttered nearly four dozen schools Thursday amid a suspected norovirus outbreak that has sickened hundreds of students, teachers and staff in the past week. >> Read more trending news  The unprecedented step of closing the entire Mesa County Valley School District 51 was taken while district officials work feverishly to eradicate the highly-contagious stomach bug, CBS News reported. In a statement issued Wednesday, Tanya Marvin, the school system’s nursing coordinator, said the “highly unusual action” is being taken because of the outbreak’s rapid spread among the district’s roughly 22,000 students.  “In addition, it appears that there is now a second, related virus that is affecting students, some of whom have already been ill in recent weeks. The combination of the two has created an unprecedented spread of illness,” Marvin said in the statement. Although public health officials have not identified the illness officially as a norovirus, Jeff Kuhr, the executive director of Mesa County Public Health, told The New York Times, reported symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea usually lasting between 12 and 24 hours are consistent with that diagnosis. In addition, district spokeswoman Emily Shockley told the Times that every school that reported more than a 10 percent absentee rate prior to the announced closure ha been wiped down, bleached and sprayed with disinfectant.  Students are expected to return to school following the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A Maryland man is accused of driving his girlfriend, who had mental and physical disabilities, into the desert outside Las Vegas and suffocating her before returning home to his wife -- and pretending to be the dead woman via text and Facebook so her family would not suspect anything was wrong, authorities say.   Bethel Park, Pennsylvania police officials on Friday charged John Matthew Chapman, 39, of Oakland, with kidnapping, obstruction and criminal use of a communication facility in the disappearance of Jaime Rae Feden, who was last seen by loved ones Sept. 15. According to Allegheny County court records, he is being held in the county jail without bail. A body matching the description of the 33-year-old Bethel Park woman, who was reported missing Thursday by her family and friends, was found Oct. 5 in the Nevada desert, according to WPXI in Pittsburgh. Officials in Clark County, Nevada later positively identified Feden on Nov. 21 through dental records. “She was a very loving type of person and I think she was taken advantage of by someone who was a predator,” Bethel Park police Chief Timothy O’Connor told a WPXI reporter. Chapman was silent as he was led out of the Bethel Park Police Department in handcuffs Friday. When questioned by reporters, he just shook his head and stared straight ahead at the ground. >> Read more trending news  No homicide charges had been filed against Chapman as of Monday afternoon. O’Connor said if a murder charge is levied against the suspect, it would be done by authorities in Nevada because that is where he is accused of killing Feden. The body believed to belong to Feden was found about an hour north of Las Vegas, in Lincoln County, according to officials there. The remains were taken to the Clark County Coroner’s Office for autopsy and identification. Chapman’s stunned wife, Maureen Chapman, spoke to WPXI from her Maryland home about learning of her husband’s arrest. She said she was clueless about his apparent double life until he called her around 6 a.m. Friday from the Bethel Park Police Department. Maureen Chapman said her husband, to whom she’s been married less than a year, admitted in that phone call that he killed Feden. “I killed her because I had to,” John Chapman said, according to Maureen Chapman. She told the news station her husband had told her in September that his trip to Las Vegas, which was made in her truck, was for work. The truck has been seized as evidence, WPXI reported. “Oh, my God, it’s sick. It’s really sick,' Maureen Chapman said. “I just want the truth as to what happened. I feel I’m owed that.” Zip ties, duct tape and a photo shoot  A criminal complaint obtained by the news station alleges that John Chapman met Feden at a school for students with special needs. It was not immediately clear what special needs he has. A longtime friend of Feden’s, Nikki Lawrence, told Buzzfeed News that Feden, who has VATER syndrome, met John Chapman in 2009 and the pair had dated on and off since then. VATER syndrome is a condition that occurs when a baby is born with a series of birth defects in a number of areas, with the letters VATER standing for vertebrae, anus, trachea, esophagus and renal, or kidneys. Children diagnosed with the syndrome have defects in at least three of the areas impacted, according to Cincinnati Children’s. The condition is found in one out of every 10,000 to 40,000 births. Lawrence told Buzzfeed News the condition resulted in Feden having an extremely short stature. A missing person flier from the Bethel Park Police Department describes Feden as 4 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 75 pounds. According to court records, the body found in Nevada appeared to share many of the physical traits attributed to Feden due to her VATER syndrome. An entry in the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, also indicated the body’s height was measured at 3 feet, 9 inches. When found, the decomposing remains weighed just 49 pounds, despite being those of an adult female. The body also bore tattoos of the names Keith, Robin and Jason, along with a four-leaf clover, on the lower right leg, the NamUs entry said. Lawrence told BuzzFeed News that Feden has an identical tattoo -- the names are of her uncle, Keith, her brother, Jason, and her mother, Robin, who died when Feden was young. John Chapman’s family told investigators he would often stay at Feden’s townhouse in Bethel Park, WPXI reported. The station’s report did not say if his family knew the nature of their relationship, which Feden’s family and friends described to police as “tumultuous.” Maureen Chapman told the station her husband would tell her he was visiting family in Bethel Park, which is just outside of Pittsburgh, whenever he would go there. Bethel Park is about two hours from Oakland, which court records list as John Chapman’s city of residence. John Chapman told his wife he was visiting an aunt and uncle in Bethel Park just prior to his trip to Las Vegas, she said. According to the criminal complaint, John Chapman told detectives investigating Feden’s disappearance that he persuaded her to make the 2,200-mile trip to Vegas with him in late September to look at potential homes in the area. They arrived in Las Vegas on Sept. 23, according to a timeline put together by WPXI. John Chapman told police he lured Feden out to the desert Sept. 25 with the promise of a photo shoot, the court documents state. According to KSNV in Las Vegas, the photo shoot was to have a sadomasochistic tilt -- including bondage -- which allowed him to restrain an unsuspecting Feden. Once Feden was tied up, he killed her, Chapman told authorities, according to the court documents. “The suspect bound the victim’s hands and feet with plastic zip ties, and affixed her to a signpost,” the complaint alleges. “He then applied duct tape to her mouth, and then to her nose, until such a time that she was unable to breathe.” John Chapman told investigators he removed the tape and zip ties, as well as Feden’s clothes, after she was dead and left her lifeless body near the signpost, authorities allege. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told the Nevada news station that the suspect’s statement to police appears to correspond to a passing motorist’s gruesome find 10 days later along Kane Springs Road. “Just before he got to (US) Highway 93, he stopped to let his dogs out and discovered the nude body of an adult female,” Lee told KSNV. “Of course, officers responded to the scene. We processed what little scene we had. We figured she’d been there a little more than a week.” A ‘tumultuous’ relationship  After returning to Pennsylvania, John Chapman allegedly used Feden’s cellphone to send Facebook messages to her uncle, identified by police as Keith Lewis, so her family would not get suspicious, WPXI reported. Lewis told investigators, however, that the person sending the messages incorrectly answered questions to which Feden would have known the answers. Bethel Park police officers went to Feden’s townhouse just before 7 p.m. Thursday and found no one home, the criminal complaint says. They met with a friend of Feden’s, and a cousin of Feden’s, both of whom were concerned after having had no contact with her for an extended time period. Neighbors also told Feden’s family they were worried because they had not seen or heard from her in some time. The neighbors reported seeing John Chapman at the townhouse the day before, the documents say. “All parties were concerned for the victim’s safety due to a tumultuous past with Chapman,” the criminal complaint states. Lewis, who has legal control over Feden’s finances due to her disabilities, gave officers permission to force entry into the townhouse, where they found Feden’s backpack. Inside the bag was Feden’s cellphone, along with a roll of duct tape and plastic zip ties, the court documents say. When initially questioned, John Chapman gave police false information about the case, WPXI reported. Authorities allege he ultimately broke down and confessed to killing Feden. “I can’t believe it. I can’t process it,” Maureen Chapman told WPXI. “I have no idea why he would do anything like that.” John Chapman’s Facebook page describes him as a single ADT installation technician who lives in Pittsburgh. It lists Maureen Chapman as his sister. Maureen Chapman’s Facebook profile also lists her as single and living in Pittsburgh. John Chapman commented on her most recent profile photo, which appears to have been uploaded Aug. 27. “Looking good, sis,” he wrote. “Thanks,” she replied. ‘She just wanted him to love her’  Lawrence also got text messages that appeared to come from Feden multiple times in October. She posted the messages on her Facebook page Saturday evening. “It’s making me sick now, knowing that this was him texting me the whole time,” Lawrence wrote. In an exchange dated Oct. 1, Lawrence asked Feden if she and John Chapman had broken up. “Yeah, but we are still friends,” the text from Feden’s cellphone read. When Lawrence asks what happened, the response was that “apparently (Feden) was too clingy and he couldn’t take it.” “Thinking back, maybe I was and I did try to not be, but it’s hard when I care so much,” the response continued. In an Oct. 17 text to Feden, Lawrence asked when Chapman’s birthday is. The response, two days later, called it an odd question. “Have you tried asking him? Maybe try getting to know him?” Feden appeared to write. The texter purporting to be Feden claimed she didn’t know John Chapman’s birthday because she didn’t feel like he was “the one.” The person then alluded to Chapman’s “rough history,” but said Feden never felt unsafe around him. Lawrence told Buzzfeed News that she’d asked about John Chapman’s birthday because she wanted to use the information to look up his criminal history. By then, she had grown suspicious of him, she said. Those suspicions escalated after he friended her on Facebook on Sept. 29 -- five days after he told authorities he’d suffocated Feden -- and started commenting on her photos and posting virtual flowers on her timeline. Lawrence described John Chapman was “very mean” to her friend, who showed up at a local bar about three years ago with two black eyes. “The owner of the bar chased him down the street,” Lawrence told Buzzfeed News. “After that he didn’t really come around any of her friends and family.” In one of the text conversations with Lawrence after Feden vanished, the person using the missing woman’s phone blamed her family, in part, for the couple’s split. Feden’s Facebook page indicates that her family was wary of John Chapman long before the fateful September trip to Vegas. In a December post, she wrote that she found it odd her uncle was so “bent out of shape,” apparently after learning that Chapman was cheating on her. “He’s the one in the wrong. He’s the one that’s stalking my boyfriend,” Feden wrote about her uncle. “No rational person would take it that far. He had to have created a dating profile because you can’t see other profiles unless you have one of your own, and he’s a married man.” A family member told her she was being ridiculous. “This isn’t Uncle Keith’s first rodeo with your so-called boyfriend,” the woman wrote. In January, Feden wrote that her family had gone too far, and that John Chapman was planning to seek stalking charges against them. A friend called Chapman a coward and said he would never go to police to file a report. Lawrence told Buzzfeed News Feden likely had no idea her boyfriend was married. Those who knew Feden mourned her on social media, even as authorities await a positive identification of the body found in Nevada. “John Chapman, I hope you rot,” Lawrence wrote in a post Friday, in which she shared WPXI’s story about his arrest in her Feden’s disappearance. Another friend, Miranda Smith, responded that she’d just had a Facebook memory pop up -- a photo of Feden holding her young son when he was a baby -- and she was “ugly crying” as a result. Beth Asper, a former teacher of Feden’s, posted Saturday morning about her kidnapping and suspected slaying. “All of us who knew Jaime can attest that she was such a kind and lovely woman who never deserved anything but kindness in return,” Asper wrote. “I’m so sorry to post this but I know that all of us who knew and loved Jaime would want to know about this so we can mourn the loss of a friend who is so precious to us.” Another former teacher, Linda Loar, wrote that she recalled Feden from her elementary school years, during which time Feden’s mother died. “The circumstances of (Feder’s) passing are so tragic,” Loar wrote. “Let us all take time to honor her life.” Barb Smith Funk described Feder, whose mother was Funk’s childhood friend, as vulnerable to the suspect’s manipulation. “As much as her friends and family tried, they couldn’t protect her from (John Chapman’s) web of lies and deception,” Funk wrote, calling the younger woman’s apparent slaying “premeditated, vicious and unfathomable.” “This monster will rot in hell for what did to our precious Jamie,” she wrote. Lawrence described her missing friend as “such a sweetheart” in her Buzzfeed News interview. “She didn’t do anything wrong to anybody to deserve anything like this,' Lawrence said. 'She loved him, and she just wanted him to love her.”
  • Tilli Buchanan and her husband were sweaty and itchy after spending the day installing insulation in their Utah garage, so they stripped off their long-sleeved shirts to cool down, according to her attorneys. More than a year later -- though that timeline is in some dispute -- Buchanan, 27, of West Valley City, finds herself in court, fighting lewdness charges filed against her in February because her young stepchildren saw her topless. If convicted of the three Class A misdemeanor charges against her, Buchanan could serve jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next decade, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Her husband, who was also shirtless, has not been charged with a crime. “If we are to lose this, she’s on the sex registry with child rapists and things of that nature,” her attorney, Randy Richards, told reporters. “The magnitude of the penalty on this is enormous.” Buchanan, who is also being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, was in court for a hearing on Tuesday, at which time her attorneys argued that Utah’s lewdness act is unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently. “What’s important to look at, to see, when you look at the statute, is there’s part of it that says this part of a woman is found inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t,” ACLU attorney Leah Farrell told reporters after the hearing. “And that really sets up an unequal, unfair dichotomy.” District Judge Kara Pettit declined to rule from the bench, saying “it’s too important of an issue” for an immediate judgment, the Deseret News reported. Pettit said she would hand down a decision sometime within the next two months. According to Utah’s law against lewdness involving a child, a person can be convicted if he or she exposes his or her genitals, buttocks, anus or pubic area, or the female breast “below the top of the areola,” in front of a child. The law applies if the person does this in public or “in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child.” Farrell said that standard is unfair to women because they have to do “mental calculus” to determine if going topless will cause alarm, while that same burden is not placed on men, the News reported. West Valley Deputy City Attorney Corey Sherwin, who is prosecuting Buchanan’s case, told the newspaper that Utah laws do not target women, but said nudity is understood to not only include “lower parts of the body” but also the female breast. He said the lewdness statute applies only to those who intentionally expose themselves around children. In court paperwork obtained by the Tribune, Sherwin argued that Buchanan stripped down in front of the children, boys ages 13 and 9 and a 10-year-old girl, after stating that, if her husband could go shirtless, she should be able to, as well. The documents alleged Buchanan, who Sherwin claimed was “under the influence of alcohol,” later told her husband she would only put her shirt back on if he showed her his penis, the Tribune said. The incident took place in late 2017 or early 2018, according to prosecutors. Buchanan said, however, that it may have taken place as early as the fall of 2016. >> Read more trending news  The Tribune reported that authorities became involved earlier this year during a Division of Child and Family Services investigation that did not involve Buchanan. The incident came to light during that unrelated probe and the children’s mother called police, saying she was alarmed by what had happened in front of the kids. Buchanan’s recollection of the incident differs greatly from the claims made by prosecutors. She said that, when the children came downstairs to find her without a shirt, she used the moment as a teaching experience for her stepchildren. She said she pointed out to the children that they were not made uncomfortable by their father’s bare chest. “This isn’t a sexual thing,” she recalled telling the children, according to the Tribune. “I should be able to wear exactly what my husband wears. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about this.” Listen to Tilli Buchanan speak following her court hearing below, courtesy of KSL in Salt Lake City. Richards argued earlier this year that Buchanan should not face charges for being shirtless in her own home while her husband escapes punishment or condemnation for the same behavior. “The fact that this was in the privacy of one’s own home is real troubling,” Richards told the Tribune in September. “Different people have different moral positions as far as nudity.” Richards’ argument has been based largely on a February opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Court, which upheld a lower court ruling that a Fort Collins, Colorado, ordinance banning women from going topless violated their 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Fox13 in Salt Lake City reported in September that the court narrowed its ruling in the case, Free the Nipple Fort Collins v. City of Fort Collins, to address solely the Fort Collins ordinance. West Valley City prosecutors cited that narrow scope during arguments in Buchanan’s case, arguing that the “Free the Nipple” ruling is more narrow than the ACLU might like. Read the court ruling in full below. Free the Nipple v Fort Collins by National Content Desk on Scribd The ruling, which made headlines nationwide, is slowly making its mark on other Utah cases, however. FOX 13 reported that attorneys with clients facing lewdness charges have begun citing the appeals court ruling in their own arguments. Buchanan said she was devastated by the criminal charges filed against her. “The moment I took to teach the kids, it was kind of smashed,” she told the Tribune. “Like you can’t teach kids this. In fact, you’re going to be charged for even bringing this up.” After Tuesday’s hearing, Buchanan told reporters she is hopeful at least a portion of the state’s lewdness law will be struck down. “Especially given it was in the privacy of my own home, my husband was right next to me, in the exact same manner that I was, and he’s not being prosecuted for it,” Buchanan said.

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