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Composer Larry Groupe also will lead a free master class for students and the public Thursday, April 24

When St. Petersburg College’s Community Concert Band takes the stage on May 1, its student members will play a composition written especially for them by two-time Emmy-award winning composer Larry Groupe.

The piece, Heat Lightning, is the first commissioned composition to be premiered by one of the college’s concert bands. The St. Petersburg College Community Concert Band will perform the world premiere of Heat Lightning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. The performance will be in the Arts Auditorium at the SPC Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St.

“Everyone’s really excited about playing the new piece,” said Nathan Muehl, Director of Band and Orchestra at the SPC St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “It’s a challenging piece but the students have really enjoyed working on it.”

The students also will have a chance to meet and interact with Groupé, whose feature film composition credits include Straw Dogs, Nothing But the Truth, Resurrecting the Champ and The Contender. Some of his other credits include compositions for television series Commander in Chief, Line of Fire and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Groupe will conduct a free Master Class on film scoring from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday in HS 117 on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. The class is open to students and the public. He also will attend the Wind Symphony rehearsal at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

The composition was funded by a Faculty Governance Organization Creativity Grant awarded to music professors Jeff Donovick and Nathan Muehl. Throughout the process, Groupe has interacted with students by video conferencing from his Los Angeles office. The goal was for students to learn from Groupe during the beginning, middle and end stages of creating a new composition.

“We were able to pick his brain about what he does when starting a new piece, how he gets direction, and the nitty-gritty of how he works through his type of composing,” Muehl said.

(Watch a clip from one of the interactive internet sessions.)

Groupe has family ties to Pinellas County, where he also attended school as a child. He and Donovick knew one another as youths when their fathers worked for Life Sciences, Inc. a research and development center in St. Petersburg.

Donovick describes Groupe as being a man with a heart for education. Groupe previously has taught several master classes at SPC and has conducted guest lectures at other colleges and universities.

“He is a friend of St. Petersburg College,” Donovick said. “He supports what we are doing here and is very interested in the way we do things.”

“So as a friend of SPC, he was willing to not only write the music for less money than one would normally charge commercially, but he was willing to accept the terms that required an educational component,” he said. 

Officials from Duke Energy and St. Petersburg College join SPC students Gentian Kruja and Morgan Fouss as they flip the switch on the solar energy panels installed at the Seminole Campus.

It was a beautiful day to showcase solar energy. On Thursday, April 10, officials from Duke Energy and St. Petersburg College flipped the switch on the Seminole Campus’ array of solar photovoltaic panels, highlighting a collaboration that began with a $500,000 SunSense grant from the energy company.

“This partnership is a perfect fit,” said Seminole Provost Jim Olliver. “This project encourages students to get involved with solar energy and supports SPC’s commitment to sustainable design.”

SPC is the first and only state college to receive Duke Energy Florida’s SunSense Schools Post Secondary School Award. Previous recipients include the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.

The energy company provided $515,803 for two solar installations at SPC – a 50 kW ground-mounted, free-standing structure on the Seminole Campus and a 50 kW array atop walkways at the Clearwater Campus. The installations join two other solar energy projects on SPC’s Clearwater Campus. Find out more about SPC’s use of solar energy and how students are involved.

“Through the SunSense program, this solar project at St. Petersburg College is playing a key role in our efforts to educate our customers on renewable energy production,” Joseph Pietrzak, Senior Program Manager for Duke Energy Florida.

LCD monitors on each campus show how much energy is produced by the arrays, and engineering and environmental technology students use the information for research. Since it was installed in December, the Seminole array has produced 18,488 kWh, enough to power 3.4 million smartphones, offset the use of 1,633 gallons of gasoline and power 770 electric cars. Follow the energy production and installation here.

“It’s going to be a new world,” said James Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, created in 1975 by the Florida Legislature to serve as the state’s energy research institute. “This is no longer the most expensive way to make energy.”

Students from Lealman Intermediate School also attended the event and participated in educational solar activities. Students used handheld solar panels to power small motors and measure energy output.

“The young people here are going to be driving these vehicles powered by solar,” said Fenton, referring to the two alternative energy vehicles Duke brought to the event.

“My hope is that other students, current and future, will be inspired to learn more about solar energy and build a better future,” said SPC student Gentian Kruja, president of the Student Chapter of The Florida Engineering Society at SPC. After he graduates next month, Kruja plans to attend the University of Central Florida to study computer engineering.

“Through the data collected, students are not only learning about how different conditions of weather and seasons can affect the energy produced, but also how energy efficiencies are determined,” said Morgan Fouss, who will receive her A.S. degree in Environmental Science Technology from SPC next month and plans to attend law school. “We’re glad this investment was made on our campus and hope it’s just one more step in making SPC and specifically the Seminole Campus a model for sustainability practices.”

More than 200 students celebrated Women’s History Month with a community fair at the St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus on Wednesday, March 26.

Thirty-five vendors and community organizations were on hand to share information and resources, some of which included Project Grace, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Florida Small Business Development. The event was sponsored by SPC Career Services and Women on the Way.

See more photos on the college’s Facebook page.

Women's History Month celebration at the Clearwater Campus

This summer St. Petersburg College is offering a second 8-week summer term, providing more options for students taking courses during the upcoming months.

SummerRegistration-BANNER

The extra summer term, which will run from June 2 through July 24, allows those considering summer courses more flexibility with their class schedule. Students now can take two weeks off at either the start or end of the summer and still earn a full term’s credit.

Options for students now include:

  • Study now – play later
    First 8-week term – May 19-July 11
  • Play now – study later
    Second 8-week term – June 2-July 24
  • Spread it out over the summer
    Traditional 10-week term – May 19-July 24

Summer registration for most students starts on March 26.

 

Students fish seining (netting) and going through their catch at Howard Park.

Students fish seining (netting) and going through their catch at Howard Park.

From cave rappelling to fossil gazing, the Science Adventurer’s Club at St. Petersburg College makes experiential learning fun and interactive for all students.

The Science Adventurer’s Club is one of three student science clubs at the Clearwater Campus. In this environment, students who are interested in natural sciences can participate in research projects, field trips, lectures and community service activities. They do not have to be science majors to participate—all that is required is a passion for learning an interest in all things science.

The club got its start about three years ago when students were dissatisfied that there wasn’t an extracurricular opportunity for students to enjoy science together in a social environment.

“On several occasions, students in my science classes made comments about how they wished there was some place they could hang out and speak with other students about science,” said Monica Lara, Instructor of Natural Science at the Clearwater Campus. She is one of the club’s four faculty advisors, along with Clearwater Campus instructors Carl Opper, Erin Goergen and Mike Stumpe.

Science clubs at SPC include:

  • Environmental Consulting Society – SPC Downtown
  • Environmental Science Club – Seminole Campus
  • Sustainability Club – Tarpon Springs Campus
  • Science Adventurer’s Club – Clearwater Campus
  • Undergraduate Science Research Society – Clearwater Campus
  • Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society – Clearwater Campus

Lara’s teaching assistant, Michael Goltz, who often was present when these conversations took place, asked whether she would be willing to serve as a club advisor if students started a new club. Goltz, who ended up serving as the club’s first president, has remained connected to the club even though he is now a student at the University of South Florida.

“I agreed to it because I thought it would be a lot of fun and that there had been a lot of people hinting that it was something they would be interested in,” Lara said. “It supplements a lot of what we discuss in class and helps it make more sense.”

Lara said the club also fosters a collaborative culture among the students. In this environment, students primarily learn from each other. As they share their experiences, they teach one another best practices on how to go about taking on various tasks and projects.

“We do have some fun, adventurous trips, but the main focus is that students have to do the science,” she said. Through the club’s many field trips, including rappelling into the Dames Caves in Citrus County, students learn about geology, sea level rises and drops, ecology and conservation.

In addition to field trips, students also participate in volunteer projects such as science fairs, beach and reef cleanups, and Marine Science Day at the University of South Florida. These opportunities and experiences allow students to network with professionals in the field and prepare them for the workforce or graduate level work.

Students also benefit from the club’s partnership with Lara’s out-of-class research group and Reef Monitoring, a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization that she helped establish with SPC instructor Heyward Mathews in 2005.

“I enjoy getting that experience as it is helpful in preparing me for a potential career in science,” said Shannon Senokosoff, 29, a biology major and vice president of the Natural Science Adventurer’s Club. Since graduating with a degree in art from the University of South Florida, he was not satisfied working as a motion graphics designer and decided to go back to school and pursue his passion for biology at SPC.

Students in the Science Adventurer’s Club go rappelling during a field trip to the Dames Caves.

Students in the Science Adventurer’s Club go rappelling during a field trip to the Dames Caves.

“Getting out there, getting involved in the community through volunteer work and conservation, it puts you in a position where you’re interacting with people that might have positions in different organizations like the Florida Wildlife Commission,” Senokosoff said. “It helps build those connections.”

Lara said the hands-on experiential learning serves as a way to get students to understand what science is really about by doing it and not just hearing about it in a classroom.

“Getting those kinds of experiences – that experiential learning – really sticks with them for the rest of their lives,” she said.

 

Want to learn more?

The Science Adventurer’s Club meets every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the marine biology lab (NM 161) at the Clearwater Campus.

The Institute for Family Violence Studies in Florida State University’s College of Social Work has partnered with the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College to create a Spanish-language version of an online training program to prevent domestic violence in the homes of law enforcement officers.

siteThe Spanish-language online training went live March 17 and is free to all law enforcement agencies in Puerto Rico.

The new training is based on the curriculum offered in the National Prevention Toolkit on Officer-Involved Domestic Violence, a first-of-its-kind national initiative that was developed by Florida State researchers and launched in 2013 with funding from the Verizon Foundation.

“Our research tells us that officers in Puerto Rico, like all officers in the United States, need information about civilian domestic violence as well as information about keeping their own families free of the crime,” said Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies (IFVS).

SPC’s Center for Public Safety Innovation (CPSI) contacted IFVS to offer funding to support the translation of the existing online course in Spanish. CPSI receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to develop and deliver law enforcement training on a variety of topics, including community policing, ethics and domestic violence.

“When CPSI staff saw the National Domestic Violence Prevention Toolkit created by IFVS available online, we knew it would be another beneficial training resource for the law enforcement community in Puerto Rico, especially if it could be offered in Spanish,” said Eileen LaHaie, CPSI executive director. “This excellent tool will help us provide communities with information about preventing a terrible tragedy — the crime of domestic violence in the homes of officers who are hired to prevent crime.”

Staff from both the FSU institute and the SPC center saw the value in partnering to offer the training, according to LaHaie and Oehme.

“We are pleased to provide a Spanish-language version of the training,” Oehme said. “CPSI is committed to working in Puerto Rico and hired the staff needed to create a mirror-image in Spanish.”

The centerpiece of the National Prevention Toolkit is the online training, which is based on a Florida pilot prevention program that was launched in 2009. It uses a prevention-focused curriculum as the cornerstone of a multifaceted approach to educating criminal justice officers on how to prevent domestic violence in their own relationships.

The toolkit emphasizes healthy relationships and provides tips on how to support a professional workplace environment that promotes zero tolerance for officers’ domestic violence, Oehme said. The training provides interactive information about the dynamics, impact and signs of officer-involved domestic violence; new officer training through case scenarios; and video messages from fellow officers. Additional Spanish-language material will be added throughout the spring.

Congratulations to Suzanne Gardner, General Counsel at St. Petersburg College, who was named one of the inaugural 2014 Top Corporate Counsel Finalists by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

She is one of four finalists in the government organization/nonprofit category.

The program recognizes in-house attorneys in the Tampa Bay area who are leaders in their company, organization or industry who display high ethical standards and exemplary professional skills.

Gardner will be recognized at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 25, at the St. Petersburg Marriott in Clearwater.

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