Hillsborough County Magnet School Dunbar white coat ceremony

Lab Coats and Moon Soil: A Peek at Hillsborough County Public Schools Magnet Programs

Students walked one by one across the stage as a white lab coat was placed over their shoulders.

Proud parents packed the audience, their iPhones capturing every moment of the ceremony.

This is not a medical school graduation. Not yet anyway…

This is Dunbar Elementary Magnet’s White Coat Ceremony!


Dunbar Elementary White Coat Ceremony

“Dunbar is a medical magnet school, only one of five in the state and the only elementary medical magnet in Hillsborough County,” says Cynthia Crim, principal of Dunbar. “Each of our kids is exposed to medical curriculum starting in kindergarten and leading up into fifth grade.”

Four years ago, Dunbar partnered with The Brain Expansion Scholastic Training organization or BEST. BEST comes into the school to teach students lessons about the human body and the medical field.

They also encourage students to continue taking classes on the medical path and to consider a future in the medical field. Near the mid-point of the year, fifth graders have earned their own white lab coat and stethoscope.

“We try to make this a really monumental experience for our kids and our families,” said Principal Crim. “We have so many parents that work in the medical field themselves and it just makes today really special and solidifies that our kids can do anything!”

Fifth-grade student Liliana Johnson loved her time at Dunbar and learning all about the human body. “I want to save lives because some people have cancer and I want to learn how to help them and make them feel like they’re not alone,” she says.

The White Coat Ceremony makes her feel very accomplished. “This experience, it’s going to be a memory that I won’t forget!”

While Dunbar Elementary Magnet is creating future doctors, Stewart Middle Magnet is shaping future scientists!


Hillsborough County Magnet School Stewert Middle Magnet NASA Explorer school

Stewart Middle Magnet has been proudly selected by NASA as one of only 10 schools to participate in the Plant the Moon Challenge. When astronauts landed on the moon in 1972, they collected moon dirt.

That moon dirt has been recreated and given to several Florida schools for experimentation. Students at Stewart will be planting lettuce, spinach, green beans, radishes, and other vegetables in the moon soil to see how they grow.

“Here at Stewart Middle Magnet, we are a NASA Explorer School and a STEM school. So, this is a wonderful opportunity to actually do it, and see what can be grown,” explains Julian Rivera, a science teacher at Stewart.

Over the next few months, students will observe and record their findings and at the end of the school year, they’ll submit their findings to NASA.

“The students are very excited to contribute to space science,” Rivera says. “And, in the future, when we grow plants on the moon, they’ll know they had a hand in that!”

Hillsborough County Magnet School Dunbar Elementary White Coat Ceremony

Learn more about our amazing Choice and Magnet Schools, and apply on our website. The second Choice and Magnet window is Feb. 26 to March 17, 2024.


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Originally published in the March 2024 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine