Learning about the history of our city is more fun when Ormond Beach’s most famous authors share their stories. For more than 10 years, Alice and Ron Howell have been writing and publishing their own books. The Howells took us back in time to 1868 when the Bostrom family settled in Ormond Beach. After becoming acquainted with the Bostrom’s grandson, the Howells were inspired to write books explaining the history of Ormond Beach.
Mrs. Howell showed us the first books she read when she was our age. And we learned that writers are first good readers. The Howells brought all ten books they’ve written through the years. We cannot wait to get our own copies of their book, Sid and Angela Undercover in Ormond Beach at the Ormond Public Library! Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Howell!


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Great Kids enjoyed another evening of fun cheering with the Seabreeze cheerleaders at Municipal Stadium! Thank you to Coach Amy, Mr. Rawlings, and the Seabreeze High School Athletic Department for partnering with our Great Kids community!


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Great Kids recently held its second annual Hero Fest, honoring extraordinary people who strengthen our community. Students shared hero stories, original artwork, and dance throughout the evening’s event. Honored guests included OBPD Officer Jay Brennan, Ormond Fire Chief Bob Mandarino, Dr. Sondra Avant, Christine Oltean, Wells Fargo, Dr. Tammy Owens, Harvey Newton, Ellen Crotts, Susan Perry, Michael Lamberti and Paul MacDonald. An art gallery featured artwork created by talented artists: Brody, Kimora, Marthena, Darrin, McKenzie, Delyla, Gracie, Ellie, Rivers, Isaac, Layla, Lupita, Amara and Ashley. Tomoka students performed the dance, Macarena, adapted from the popular movie, Ferdinand. Following the event, a reception for all families and our community was held in the church lobby. Special thanks to our event sponsors for providing their facilities, refreshments and financial support - First United Methodist Church, Daytona Auto Mall, Daytona International Speedway, Angell & Phelps, Buffalo Wild Wings, Coldwell Banker, DB Pickles, Duva Sawko, Georgian Inn Beach Club, Granada Bait & Tackle, Hilton Garden Inn, McDonalds, Microflex, Pierson Supply Company, Porcelite of Daytona, Sam’s Club, Vanacore Homes and Waste Pro. We are especially grateful to our everyday heroes for investing in the well-being of our children – our volunteers, families, board of directors, community partners and Volusia County Schools.


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Great Kids Learning Center meets the final community hero for its upcoming Hero Fest.
by: Jarleene Almenas Staff Writer (Ormond Beach Observer)  View the original article here


Learn your trees. Learn your shrubs. Read every night for 30 minutes.

That was landscape architect Paul MacDonald's advice for the group of young elementary students from Great Kids Learning Center after school program gathered at the steps behind the stage at the Rockefeller gardens on Thursday, March 22. MacDonald works with the city to design it's parks and playgrounds, and has been chosen as a community hero for Great Kid's upcoming Hero Fest. Because of this, the kids had a lot of questions about him and his job — especially since he designed the very park they were in.

"How do you make this park so beautiful?" asked 6-year-old Chloe Cordle.

MacDonald smiled.

"It's a lot of hard work," he said, and then proceeded to explain the teamwork that goes into maintaining the city's parks.

Last year, Great Kids honored heroes of local history at their first-ever Hero Fest. This year, Executive Director Katie Morelli wanted to connect the community even more with the program's learning experiences. She said she wanted to be able to give the kids relevant experiences with local people, and that motivated her to bring the community to the kids to talk about their careers.

“They’re going to learn about the qualities that heroes have and they’re going to see how we connect our character program," Morelli said. "We have a big emphasis on character development, and so they’re going to see how we connect what we learned about having good character traits and how that leads to these community heroes that exhibit those character traits."

MacDonald is the last of the 10 community heroes the children have gotten a chance to meet. At the Hero Fest on May 9, the kids will honor the community heroes they have met and celebrate them through presentations, music and art.

“It’s been an honor to be picked," MacDonald said. It was an absolute honor. I was kind of shocked.”

He has been working with the city of Ormond Beach for the past 16 years, and aside from Rockefeller Gardens, he has also been part of the design teams for the Andy Romano Beachfront Park, the Environmental Discovery Center and his favorite: the Limitless Park at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. For that specific park, MacDonald told the children he spent a lot of time with his own kids going to parks and figuring out how to build a playground that would be fun for children of all capacities.

And the most exciting part of his job?

Seeing what projects the city will come up for him to do in the future.

“I never know what I’m going to work on next," MacDonald said.

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