Archive for the ‘Clearwater’ Category

The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will host a judicial candidates forum for those vying for seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench. The forum will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Ethics and Social Science Building on the Clearwater Campus of SPC, 2465 Drew Street, Clearwater. Advance registration is requested at the institute’s website.

Eleven candidates are seeking one of five open contested seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench, which serves Pinellas and Pasco counties. One is incumbent Judge Bruce Boyer. Fourteen other of the circuit’s incumbent judges whose terms expire this year are unopposed and thus automatically re-elected.

Circuit judges serve six-year terms and have no limit on how many terms they may serve. To qualify, candidates must be a member of the Florida Bar and have lived in the state for at least five years.

Judicial races may seem obscure to voters since they are, by law,  non-partisan to prevent politics from tainting the impartiality of the courts. Therefore, candidates bear no party labels and are limited by the Judicial Canon in what they may say in their campaigns. They are forbidden to make predictions or promises about issues that could arise once they are on the bench.

Three local experts with extensive knowledge of the court system will question the candidates, within the limitations cited above. They are:

  • The Hon. Irene Sullivan, retired Circuit Court judge and adjunct professor of juvenile law at Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport
  • Curtis Krueger, courts reporter for the Tampa Bay Times
  • Dr. Susan Demers, Dean of the College of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies at SPC

The forum will be split into two parts: Groups 1 and 2 comprised of five candidates will be questioned from 6 to 7:10 p.m., and Groups 16, 21 and 35 comprised of six candidates from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.

The public is encouraged to attend to learn more about the background and qualifications of those seeking to sit on the bench. The forum is being co-sponsored by Tampa Bay Times and the Clearwater Bar Association.

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Fast-Track to FallOn July 21 at five campus locations throughout Pinellas County, St. Petersburg College will host Fast-Track to Fall events to help students finish enrollment requirements before the fall term begins.

During extended hours from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., college staff will be on hand to help students wrap up any outstanding items, including:

  • applying to SPC
  • submitting transcripts
  • taking the College Placement Test
  • registering for classes
  • paying tuition

“The purpose of these events is to let applicants know that they can get everything done in one visit,” said Patrick Rinard, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services.

The admissions and registration processes recently changed so students can register quickly and more conveniently, Rinard said. Students now see an advisor when they register to make sure they are on track.

10502125_765178160199200_1561435716025633752_n“With all hands on deck, this day should significantly move the needle toward a fall enrollment increase,” Rinard said.

SPC locations hosting Fast-Track to Fall events include:

  • Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St., Clearwater
  • Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N, Seminole
  • SPC Downtown Center, 244 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg
  • St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg
  • Tarpon Springs Campus, 600 Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs

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Michelle Osovitz stands with students at Mason Metals Studio in Tampa

Michelle Osovitz, far left, joins students at Mason Metals Studio in Tampa.

Looking for a way to make learning about science fun, St. Petersburg College biology professor Michelle Osovitz recently teamed up with other faculty members to immerse students in a world of art and science integration outside the classroom.

With the help of a grant from the SPC Foundation, students learned how to create kinetic or moving jewelry to demonstrate the concepts of science and mathematics involved in making it.

Studio owner Lorrie Mason demonstrates mathematical calculations of kinetic ring construction to SPC students Riccardo Carelli and Lexi Creasy at Mason Metals Studio in Tampa.

Studio owner Lorrie Mason demonstrates mathematical calculations of kinetic ring construction to SPC students Riccardo Carelli and Lexi Creasy at Mason Metals Studio in Tampa.

Osovitz, who teaches in the bachelor’s program at the Clearwater Campus, said she wants students – regardless of their major – to realize that science doesn’t have to be feared or loathed.

“We are actively enhancing the learning experience at SPC by creating an environment both inside and outside the classroom that fosters application of scientific principles in creative arts disciplines,” Osovitz said.

A kinetic spinner ring is actually a combination of two rings – one band that moves or spins around the other one freely. Because they move, they are called kinetic rings. To make the rings, students incorporated numerous scientific concepts, including:

  • geology in working with gemstones
  • chemistry in determining the properties of the copper, silver and steel
  • mathematics in designing and creating the jewelry
  • scientific methods in the overall project

Integrating art and science enhances students’ experience and can make the field of science less intimidating, Osovitz said. Applying what students have learned to create art allows them to develop critical thinking skills, exercise creativity and increase long-term retention.

According to Osovitz, studies have shown that students who engage in interactive projects that combine science and art tend to understand scientific principles better.

As part of the jewelry making project, students kept an art notebook to record calculations, information about various metal properties and sketches. Upper level students were encouraged to incorporate their art into term papers or poster presentations.

Examples of kinetic "spinner" rings created by SPC students.

Examples of kinetic “spinner” rings created by SPC students.

Students who completed the design modules were invited to Mason Metals Studio in Tampa on June 4 to complete their jewelry pieces.

The initiative was funded by an SPC Foundation Grant for Creative Integration of Art and Science. Osovitz joined fellow science faculty members Erin Goergen, Shannon McQuaig and Monica Lara in applying for the grant, which seeks to teach students technical skills in microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology. McQuaig led students in a project earlier this year about pigments found in bacteria.

“We are all passionate about incorporating creativity and artistic thinking in the teaching of our science courses,” Osovitz said. “As a result, it has become apparent that incorporating art into the science curriculum will not only benefit our students but the professional development of our faculty as well.”

“We are encouraging collaboration across disciplines including physical and life science as well as the art department here at Clearwater,” said Jonathan Barnes, academic chair of Humanities and Fine Arts at the Clearwater Campus.

“On a personal level, it helps us to think about the way we present complex scientific principles in the classroom in a way that our students can relate to,” said Osovitz.

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SPC will host a celebration recognizing the work of state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, on a tuition equity bill that allows children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition. The event is scheduled for June 24 at 10 a.m. at SPC’s Clearwater Campus Ethics & Social Science Building, Room 104.

Latvala and Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, sponsored the hotly debated bill, which had been introduced in various versions in the Legislature since 2003. On June 9, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law, which potentially saves students an annual average of $15,278 at state universities and $6,438 at Florida colleges, according to a legislative analysis. The in-state tuition rate is about one-quarter the amount paid by non-Florida residents.

To qualify for the waiver of out-of-state fees, undocumented immigrants and others must have attended a Florida secondary school for at least three straight years before graduating. They then have 24 months to apply to a college.

New and current SPC students with questions about the impact of the new legislation can contact a student advisor. Students can work through the college’s normal intake processes to establish residency for tuition purposes. Required documentation will include a Florida high school transcript reflecting three consecutive years’ attendance and proof of graduation within the past two years.

SPC will honor Latvala for his efforts on the new legislation at the college’s Clearwater Campus, the same location where he announced in February that he would sponsor the bill. Speakers will include SPC President Bill Law and SPC Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe. SPC students and alumni will attend and discuss how the law will impact them and their families.

Student success has been a top priority for administrators and staff at SPC and recent data shows those efforts are paying off. For the past three spring semesters, success rates for students in all courses have increased. Gains among first-time-in-college students are more dramatic, with African-American and Hispanic/Latino males making the greatest academic improvements.

Comparing data from Spring 2012 to this year’s spring semester, success rates were up by 15.8 percent for Hispanic/Latino males. The rate for African-American males climbed 16 percent during the same timeframe. The college has tracked a narrowing or elimination of the gap between success rates for these student ethnic groups compared to white students.

SPC is ranked within the top 100 colleges and universities for the enrollment of Hispanic students in undergraduate programs, according to information from The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.

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world cup fifa flierSt. Petersburg College invites the public, students and staff to watch the FIFA World Cup™ from 3-6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17. The free event will be at the Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St., Clearwater.

The FIFA World Cup™ is a sports competition between teams from countries around the world. Google Data from January 2010-May 2014 shows the World Cup has resulted in more Google searches than the Super Bowl, the 2012 Summer and 2014 Winter Olympics, and the Tour de France.

Come see what the excitement is about at the watch party as Brazil and Mexico battle it out on the field. Experience the cultures of both countries through culturally-themed activities and a performance by Mahetzy, a folkloric Mexican dance company.

Stop by SPC booths to learn about educational opportunities, financial aid, scholarships, career information and academic advising. A bilingual staff member will also be available throughout the event.

Representatives from the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team will hand out giveaways and speak about the team.

Bring your national colors and family members to celebrate this international sporting event. For more information, call the SPC Student Life and Leadership Office at 727-791-2622.

Download the flier.

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In celebration of National Poetry Month, St. Petersburg College hosted internationally acclaimed poets Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda on April 21-22. More than 300 attendees participated in collaborative poetry readings at the Clearwater Campus Library, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Music Center and the Palladium Theater.

Poet interview The Tampa Bay Times published an interview with poet Tess Gallagher as a preview to the events.

Gallagher read works spanning her career of more than 40 years, including readings from her most recent work, Midnight Lantern. She spoke words of the loss and desires of love, the preciousness of life, and of the criticality of solitude.

Matusda has been her collaborator on a number of works, including Pow! Pow! Shalazam!, featured on the Plume Poetry website. Matsuda, who was born in the Minidoka internment camp during World War II, writes as a witness to the injustices of Japanese-American citizens sent to the camps by their own government. He serves as a voice for those who can no longer speak for themselves.

SPC Communications Professor Danny Lawless, editor of Plume Poetry magazine, and the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Student Government Association helped make the event possible.

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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

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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.

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Those who have questions about the Affordable Care Act or who need help enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace can get assistance in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  on Friday, March 21, on the Clearwater Campus of St. Petersburg College.

The deadline for enrollment is March 31.

Throughout the event, trained and licensed Marketplace navigators and application counselors will be on-site to educate and help consumers through the application, plan selection and enrollment process.

The navigators and counselors will provide both general information and one-on-one assistance to consumers who may have specific situations or need help troubleshooting Marketplace applications.

The one-on-one sessions will take place in designated private areas.

Consumers are encouraged to make appointments for the event, but walk-in traffic is welcome.

Spanish-speaking assisters, as well as Marketplace literature and information (in English/Spanish), will be available.

The campus is at 2465 Drew St., Clearwater. The event will be on the second floor of the Ethics and Social Sciences (ES) building on the south side of the campus. Nearby parking is available.

Consumers should be prepared to enroll at the event with these documents and information:

  • Social Security Numbers & Immigration Documents (if applicable) for the household
  • Employer and income information for every member of the household (will be expected to provide a 2014 income projection)
  • Health insurance policy information if currently insured.
  • E-mail address (with username/password) for Marketplace account creation. Consumers can also create an e-mail address during the event with help from the assisters.

To make an appointment:

Call the Cognosante Tampa Bay Marketplace Office:

  • English: 813-281-4833
  • Spanish: 813-281-4683

Or email Cristian Ariza, cristian.ariza@cognosante.com or Cindy Conforti, cynthia.conforti@cognosante.com.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act or the Insurance Marketplace:



Marketplace Hotline: 1-800-318-2596

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State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater announced Wednesday at a press conference at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater Campus that he will sponsor a bill in the Florida Senate that would clear the way for the children of undocumented residents to pay in-state tuition in Florida.

State Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater joined Latvala in support.


Latvala said he “decided in good conscience that there’s no reason the parents’ immigration status should be the determining factor of the tuition that our young people pay. Taxpayers in Florida get a reduced tuition rate….In this particular case, these children are the children of taxpayers in Florida who pay our sales tax, who pay our gas taxes, in many cases pay other taxes.

“I just think this is a disparity and a discriminatory issue that needs to go away,” he said.

The bill also includes language that would allow honorably discharged veterans to pay in-state tuition.

The legislators were joined for the announcement by SPC President Bill Law; Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe; Sandra Lyth, CEO of the InterCultural Advocacy Institute (Hispanic Outreach Center); Maria Edmonds, chairwoman of the Juvenile Welfare Board; and three SPC students.

Celeste Pioquinto, 17, who is an Early College student at the college, said she was born and raised in Clearwater, has attended Pinellas schools all her life and has always been on the honor roll.

“Ever since elementary school, I have dreamed about college or university. Now instead of dreaming it, I am preparing for it. I have applied to universities. I have applied for scholarships, but there is a barrier. I am not eligible for in-state tuition despite being documented because my parents are both undocumented,” she said. “This bill not only affects me, but affects many of my close relations.”

See more: Watch the video on the college’s YouTube channel.

See more: View photos from the conference on SPC’s Facebook page.

Read more: Coverage in the Tampa Tribune

Read more: Coverage in the Tampa Bay Times

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