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Archive for the ‘Collegiate High School’ Category

Salina Som, a senior at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, has been named a Gates Millennium Scholar for the Class of 2014. More than 52,000 students applied for this honor which distinguishes her as a Leader for America’s Future™.

Aimed at helping minority students with financial needs for college funding, the Gates Millennium Scholarship program also provides academic support, leadership training and professional development for the 1,000 students chosen nationwide each year.

Salina’s strong leadership, community service and academic achievements contributed to her selection.

As a Gates Millennium Scholar, Salina will receive a scholarship to attend any accredited college or university in the United States. The renewable scholarship initially funds undergraduate studies, and can also fund Salina’s education through the master’s and doctoral levels.

This is the second consecutive year that St. Petersburg College has produced a Gates Millennium Scholar. Maria Thurber won the award last year and is now a student at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., studying international relations.

Salina plans to pursue a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Florida followed by a doctorate in Pharmaceutical Engineering. She discovered her passion for the lab in a Organic Chemistry class at St. Petersburg College’s Collegiate High School.

“One of the last labs was a multi-synthisis lab for Acetanilide, which is aspirin,” she said. “On the last day of the lab I just put the flask down and the crystals started forming from the solution. It was really big crystals because it was pure. I was so excited. It was the first real drug I synthsized.”

Exposure to college science labs and a research paper on the Evolution of Drug Discovery also fueled her passion for medicine.

Born in Cambodia, her family moved to Boston when she was 3 months old and then to St. Petersburg when she was in first grade. Her father, Savonn Som, just celebrated 10 years on the custodial staff at St. Petersburg College. Her father is still trying to take it all in.

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Savonn Som and his daughter, Salina

“I can’t tell you because it is too much,” he said. “My whole life I never thought about something like this.”

After escaping from Cambodia and then to Thailand and eventually America, he never even dreamed of things like having a car or getting an education. He gives his daughter all the credit.

“I just worked hard to put her in school,” he said.

Salina came to SPC as a high school sophomore from St. Petersburg High School’s pre IB program.

“It was a great program but just not a good fit for me,” she said. “Here I found more hands-on learning. The teachers gave me more attention when I needed help. It was less competitive and more collaborative.”

“I am so proud of Salina,” said SPCHS Principal Starla Metz. “She is a humble and hardworking student who is most deserving of this honor.”

 

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Anna Laird

Anna Laird

At 24, Anna Laird has seen more of the world than many adults get to see in a lifetime. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School graduate has visited or lived in 11 countries. She also spent two years in the Peace Corps as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) instructor in the Kyrgyz Republic.

“SPC was an important stepping stone to achieving my goals and getting me to where I am today,” said Laird, who now teaches English to kindergarteners in a small private school in Seoul, South Korea.

As one of 57 students in the first class at SPCHS, she graduated with a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from SPC simultaneously in May 2007. She credits SPC for helping bring the world to her door by preparing her for university life and the work force beyond.

“SPC and SPCHS helped prepare me to be not only a successful student, but also a successful member of my community,” said Laird, who graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in international studies in August 2009. “Some of the classmates and teachers I encountered during my time at SPC helped inspire me to see as much of the world as possible and to give back to the community.”

She has nothing but fond memories of her time at SPC and has stayed in contact with some of her professors over the years, keeping them up-to-date with all that she has accomplished and experienced.

Laird is applying for graduate school at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, where she plans to study International Development and Human Rights in the fall.

“My time in the Peace Corps exposed me to the need for professionals with sustainable development experience,” she said. “I hope to work in this field after receiving a master’s degree.”

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Juan Borbon, second from left, and the Rice University Solar Car Team placed second for its Solar Power Prototype at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas compeition in downtown Houston.

Year after year, SPC has helped place  students on the path to reaching their dreams. But the success stories don’t always start at the college level; they start as early as high school. The staff at SPC’s Collegiate High School has been equally effective in paving the pathway for students to recognize their dreams.

Collegiate High School graduate Juan Borbon was a dreamer, who is now watching his dreams come to fruition. A freshman majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Rice University in Houston, Borbon realized his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer was within reach when he joined SPC’s Innovative Engineering Club at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. Now on full scholarship at Rice, Borbon in his first year has had some exciting experiences. During his first semester, Borbon joined the Rice Solar Car Team in building an energy-efficient vehicle to use to compete against 130 other teams in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas. The road to the competition, which took place March 30 in downtown Houston, proved challenging. Novices to the world of building solar cars, Borbon and his team had plenty of work to do in a short time, beginning with raising the funds and acquiring the resources they would need before starting construction.

“By the end of the semester, we had $90,000 in sponsorship and $10,000 worth of donated software,” Borbon said. “We did run into one problem though … by the time we were fully funded, there were only three months left until the competition.”

The time constraint would only add more pressure to an already tense situation. Not only did the Rice Solar Car Team have to work quickly, but also efficiently if it wanted to place in the competition.

“To be honest, we didn’t expect to win because our design was too rushed,” Borbon said.

Therefore, instead of setting their sights on a win this year, the Rice team decided to use the event as an opportunity to announce the university’s presence in the solar car racing world and set up the platform to compete at a higher level in the future against industry leaders like Stanford, University of Michigan and MIT. The decision  proved to be a win-win situation for the team and the university, as the team’s Solar Power Prototype took second place in the solar category.

“I don’t know how or why we did so well, but I haven’t been this happy in a while,” he said. “With second place under our belt, our team has much more support. I am very confident that from now on it will be easier to acquire the funding to build the winning solar car for next year’s competition.”

Borbon attributes his success to the nurturing and motivation he received from the Collegiate High School staff. Before enrolling in the collegiate high school, Borbon said he really didn’t have a sense of direction and wasn’t even sure he would end up attending a university. But with the help and guidance of Collegiate High School staff, Yulonder Betts, Connie Boyle, and Principal Starla Metz, his life found direction.

“He is a remarkable young man, I’m immensely proud of Juan. In fact, he won an SPC award for our campus for his leadership in the engineering club when he was senior here,” Metz said. “That is what’s so wonderful about the collegiate high school, when students are on the college campus, they look around and all of a sudden the dream becomes a reality and they realize, ‘I am college bound. My dreams can come true, I can do this.’”

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Bay News 9 covered the induction of SPC alumna and astronaut Nicole Stott into the Florida Aviation Historical Society’s Hall of Fame.

The Tampa Bay Times covered the ranking of St. Petersburg Collegiate High School as eighth best in the state and first in Pinellas County.

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The St. Petersburg Collegiate High School is the eighth best high school in the state and No. 1 in Pinellas County, according to the Florida Department of Education’s state school rankings.

“I attribute our success to the high expectations we have for our students,” said Starla Metz, Principal. “Our small size allows us to build strong relationships with each student and individualize the curriculum to ensure our students have a solid foundation as they transition to all college classes.”

Metz also attributes much of the success to the support of the high school’s faculty and staff, as well as the support and instruction of college’s science faculty who also teach the students on campus.

Of the 206 students served by SPCHS in 2009-10:

  • 69 juniors were tested on FCAT science
  • 58 sophomores were tested on FCAT reading, writing and math

The 2010-11 rankings were based on FCAT performance and learning gains plus several non-FCAT based components, such as graduation rates, accelerated coursework, participation and performance, and postsecondary readiness.

Of the FCAT components, the collegiate high school scored 659 points; for the non-FCAT high school components, it earned another 792 points, bringing the total to 1,451 of the maximum 1,600 points.

Since 2005-06, SPCHS has earned the highest number of points among Pinellas County public schools, based on FCAT grading formula. To her knowledge, Metz said the collegiate high school has never been ranked by the state.

“I think the reason for that is, normally when they rank high schools, we’re still a little too small,” she said. “There are different rankings out there, but it’s usually not for a small charter school.”

The Tampa Bay Times also has provided coverage of the state education rankings on Jan. 31.

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For the seventh year in a row, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School has received an “A” rating from the state of Florida. The school is one of three high schools in Pinellas County to be awarded that grade.

“We’re very proud of our students and their success,” said Starla Metz, Principal of the collegiate high school. “We work very hard here at the collegiate high school to diagnose any gaps in student learning and individualize instruction to fill any gaps in knowledge.”

The state grades each school based the number of points it earns. This year, as in previous years, the school accumulated the highest number of points in the county with 1,451. Points are earned and school grades are awarded on: FCAT scores, learning gains, graduation rates, accelerated curriculum participation and performance and postsecondary readiness in reading and math, among other factors.

Opened in 2004 as the county’s first charter school, students earn a high school diploma and a college associate degree simultaneously at the collegiate high school. The school is operated by St. Petersburg College/Gibbs Campus and sponsored by the Pinellas County School Board. Students take classes at SPC’s Gibbs campus.

“Our teachers are very good at individualizing instruction and keeping a small class size for our students,” Metz said.

Gibbs High School upped its performance to a “B,” up from the “F” it received two years ago and the “C” it got last year. With 1,046 points, they were four points shy of an “A”.

In 2010, SPC and Gibbs High School entered into a partnership designed to help raise academic standards at the struggling high school and better prepare its students for college work. Through SPC, Gibbs students could take SPC’s college placement test and college classes at Gibbs. Gibbs faculty received support through a co-teaching model, classroom teaching theories and workshops on teaching strategies. In addition, SPC delivered a high-quality reading program to Gibbs.

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