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SPC President Bill Law celebrates the tuition equity bill with Celeste Pioqunito, Nancy Hernandez and Jose Flores.

SPC President Bill Law celebrates the tuition equity bill with Celeste Pioqunito, Nancy Hernandez and Jose Flores.

St. Petersburg College graduate Celeste Pioquinto will save an estimated $18,000 a year in tuition when she heads to Florida Polytechnic University this fall thanks to the tuition equity bill passed this year by the Florida Legislature. Her $5,000 annual tuition cost will actually be covered by a scholarship and is a far cry from the $23,000 she would have paid as an out-of-state student.

Celeste Pioqunito

Celeste Pioqunito

“For this bill to pass, it’s such a big part of my life,” said Pioquinto, who earned her A.A. degree from SPC’s Early College Program this spring. “Not only is this bill good for all the students who just graduated, but for all the future generations coming up.”

The tuition equity bill, known as the Florida Dream Act, allows some children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates, which are about one-quarter the amount paid by non-Florida residents. To celebrate the bill’s passage, key sponsors of the bill, including Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, were honored Tuesday morning at SPC’s Clearwater Campus.

“I’m happy we were able to deliver this,” said Latvala, who kicked off the effort to pass the bill at the Clearwater Campus in February. “I hope this is the first step of trying to bring more equity across the board to the diverse population that we have here in Florida.”

SPC graduate Nancy Hernandez told the audience of more than 100 students, faculty, administrators and community members the impact is immeasurable.

Nancy Hernandez

Nancy Hernandez

“So many students are saving their money to go to school, and with this bill, their lives have been changed, and will be changed forever,” said Hernandez, who is majoring in communications at the University of South Florida. “This is the moment, this is my dream, this is their dream. The dream I have been waiting to live has become a reality.”

Latvala’s inspiration for supporting the bill stemmed from his desire to connect with heavily Hispanic precincts in his district. At an ensuing community forum, he heard the story of a Clearwater woman who had attended a Pinellas County medical magnet school program, but could not afford to attend a state university or medical school.

“The limiting factor was the fact that her parents were illegals,” said Latvala, who co-sponsored a similar bill that failed last year. He also came across a newspaper opinion piece supporting the measure penned by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

“If a young Republican politician who’s going to take a lot of heat within his party for sponsoring and pushing an issue like this can do that, then the least I can do is help him.”

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, celebrates the Florida Dream Act at the Clearwater Campus Tuesday.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, celebrates the Florida Dream Act at the Clearwater Campus Tuesday.

On the House side, Rep. Jeanette Nuñez sponsored the bill, which ended up being packaged with other measures to ensure support. Versions of the tuition bill had been introduced since 2003 and drew strong opposition every time.

The new law also eliminates automatic inflation adjustments for tuition and blocks most state universities from raising their differential tuition rates. The law also reduces the costs of Florida Prepaid College Plans, dropping the price of the 4-Year Florida University Plan by nearly $20,000, from its current price of $54,000.

“Senator Latvala builds bridges and is one of the few people in the Florida Legislature that gets things done,” said Deveron Gibbons, chair of the SPC Board of Trustees. “I think it’s phenomenal that Celeste is going to pay $30 whereas before she would have paid $23,000.”

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 admissions 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.

“The impact of this historic legislation is going to have a direct affect on the future of this state, of this county, and most of all in the lives of the many thousands of children that want a better life and a better community,” said Maria Edmonds, chair of the Hispanic Leadership Council. “Now, their dreams, years in the making, have come true and will become a reality.”

SPC President Bill Law added, “This law upholds a promise to students – the promise of access to degrees and certificates that can change their lives.”

Watch the event on the college’s YouTube channel:

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St. Petersburg College has received national recognition for making significant strides in its effort to increase minority student enrollment and success.

SPC made the list as No. 83 in the Top 100 Four-Year Colleges and Universities Enrollment Undergraduate Degrees by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine in May 2014.

The move to increase Hispanic student enrollment at SPC is underway in light of the recent passage of House Bill 851, more commonly known as the immigrant tuition bill. The bill allows Florida colleges and universities to waive out-of-state fees for undocumented immigrants who attended state high schools.

Stan Vittetoe, Provost at the SPC Clearwater Campus, said the Hispanic population is underserved.

“They make up more than 20 percent of the Clearwater population but represent only 10 percent of our enrollment,” he said.

In 2012, SPC launched The College Experience, a major initiative to increase student success and graduations. While the plan is producing positive results, the greatest advances have been among African-American and Hispanic males.

“All of the components in The College Experience have a demonstrated impact on the success rates of students, particularly minority students,” Vittetoe said.

In addition to these institutional initiatives, the college also is reaching out to the international community, including Hispanics, in a variety of other ways. The most recent outreach activity was the FIFA World Cup viewing party at the Clearwater Campus on June 17. More than 100 community members attended the free event, which was open to SPC students, staff and members of the public.

“We think that these kinds of events will help members of the Hispanic community become aware of the campus and the educational opportunities here,” Vittetoe said.

Success among minority students

Success Among Minority Students infographic

Narrowing the Achievement Gap

A comparison of First-Time-in-College male ethnicities shows that the achievement gap between key ethnic groups at SPC is narrowing.

Narrowing the Gap infographic

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St. Petersburg College is partnering with TurboVote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, to adopt an innovative “one-stop-shop” voter engagement platform that will make voting easier for students. SPC is part of a statewide effort across the entire Florida College System to use this technology in innovative ways to ensure that students have the materials and information necessary to vote in every election.

The statewide effort is the first system-wide project of the Florida College System Civic Literacy Initiative, which was launched at a forum hosted in October 2013 by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. The initiative aims to make civic engagement a part of the student experience of every student in the FCS system.

“A survey of our democracy points to the critical need for us to expand our commitment to civic learning,” said Dr. Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social & Behavioral Sciences at SPC. “Participation in this project will send a message to other institutional leaders that civic learning should be a core part of every student’s education and that colleges and universities have an important role to play in advancing practices that will lead to better preparation for taking on the great challenges of our democracy and to life-long democratic engagement.”

The effort builds upon a number of highly successful institutional TurboVote partnerships across the higher education sector in Florida and across the nation. Since 2012, over 11,000 Florida students have used TurboVote to get engaged in elections through partnerships at 11 institutions including Miami Dade College and Tallahassee Community College. Since launching it’s college partnerships program at Harvard University and Miami Dade College in January 2012, TurboVote’s partnerships program has grown to include over 125 institutions nationwide including 35 participating institutions in the state of Florida.

This direct partnership with TurboVote will help SPC to fully meet federal mandates that require institutions to provide students with voter registration information. TurboVote’s tool makes it possible to conduct voter engagement without collecting or submitting a single form. Simply by sharing a link, schools can seamlessly embed voter engagement into established processes and student interactions such as freshman orientation and class registration.

The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College is a resource for academic enrichment, a nonpartisan venue for civil, objective debate of topical public issues, a center to promote better government, and a resource for sustainable economic development. Its mission is to support a broad array of research, training, educational and policy analysis and support activities at the local, state, regional and national levels.

The Florida College System provides access to high-quality education and job training that responds to community and state needs. It is the primary point of access to higher education in Florida, with 65 percent of the state’s high school graduates pursuing postsecondary education beginning at a Florida college, and 82 percent of freshman and sophomore minority students in public higher education attending one of Florida’s 28 colleges.
 
TurboVote is a project of Democracy Works, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that is passionate about building the democracy of the future. TurboVote is a service that makes voting easy. When students sign up, TurboVote keeps track of all their elections—local, state and national. If students wish to register, update their addresses or request absentee ballots, TurboVote sends them all the forms and information they need with pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes. For every election, TurboVote sends text message and email reminders to all users with important election information, dates and deadlines, to ensure that they never miss another election.

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St. Petersburg College will be able to maintain its open door policy and commitment to student success while tuition remains unchanged.

At its May meeting the Board of Trustees approved an operating budget for the 2014-2015 year, calling for a freeze in tuition increases. Additional resources to support the college’s student success initiative were funded through the college’s existing budget.

“It’s our commitment to ensure that all students have the resources they need to be successful and to finish what they start. We uphold that commitment again this year by holding the line on our tuition,” said SPC President Dr. Bill Law.

SPC’s tuition was 53 percent less than state universities in the 2013-2014 year. The college will be able to support student access and success, and renew and refresh important instructional technologies. This approach will allow students to benefit from support beyond the classroom and ensure that all students have access to quality and affordable education.

Students can apply now online at spcollege.edu/apply.

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Event

The Seminole Community Library will be the location of the grand opening of the SPC’s new Innovation Lab next week.

YOU’RE INVITED:
SPC employees and the public are invited to the grand opening
Tuesday, June 3
11 a.m. to noon and 6 to 7 p.m.
Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College
9200 113th St., Seminole, LI 201.

The lab serves as a creative environment, often called a makerspace, that will provide people with common interests like computers, technology, science or digital arts a location to socialize and collaborate on ideas and learn new skills. Visitors to the SPC location will be able to learn how to program different devices, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Board and the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board.

The lab offers:

  • 3-D printer
  • FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer built locally using other 3D printers
  • littleBits Synth Kit
  • Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board Experimentation Kit
  • Avid Fast Track Duo Audio Interface with Pro Tools Express
  • An iMac, 2 Linux computers, and 1 Windows computer
  • A variety of Open Source Software applications for 3D printing, design etc.
  • MaKey MaKey: Original Invention Kit
  • Cubelets KT06 Kit
  • ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board
  • 2 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits
  • Apollo Precision Tools 53-Piece Tool Kit
  • Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot Robot Kit
  • Elenco Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit
  • Samsung 32-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype Calls
  • Chromecast
  • Online File Distribution System for access to project files, open access resources, etc.
  • Reference collection including books and magazines

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The public is invited to the grand opening of the Innovation Lab
Date: Tuesday, June 3
Time: 11 a.m.-noon and 6-7 p.m.
Where: Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College
9200 113th St, Seminole, LI 201

Beginning in June, budding creators and innovators can share ideas, create robots, learn or sharpen programming skills and build objects using 3-D printers at St. Petersburg College’s new Innovation Lab. The space, located in the Seminole Community Library, provides a modern, technologically advanced version of your dad’s garage, so to speak.

The lab’s grand opening is June 3 in room 201 from 11 a.m. – noon and 6 to 7 p.m. at SPC’s Seminole Campus. The event, at 9200 113th St., Seminole, is open to the public.

These creative learning environments, often called makerspaces, are growing in popularity, said Information Services Librarian Chad Mairn, who received a $3,500 Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation to start the lab.

“For years we’ve been more consumption oriented, but now the trend is moving towards creating while discovering things yourself,” said Mairn. “With these technology tools, you can design and build things, learn, and share ideas instead of passively consuming information.”

The space will provide an area where people with common interests like computers, technology, science or digital arts can socialize and collaborate on ideas and learn new skills. In SPC’s lab, which is open to the public, visitors can learn how to program different devices, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board and the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board.

Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce shows off the cookie cutter she created in SPC’s Innovation Lab.

Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce shows off the cookie cutter she created in SPC’s Innovation Lab.

“That lab is going to be phenomenal,” said Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce, who used the 3-D printer to create a cookie cutter she designed from scratch. “Those printers are still wickedly expensive; too expensive to have at home. The potential to learn valued skills is remarkable.”

Munce saw Mairn’s enthusiastic Facebook post about the lab and took him up on his offer to get involved. She was looking to prepare cookies for a friend who was graduating from the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

She figured out how to use Adobe Illustrator to create an outline for the cookie cutter and then used a 3-D CAD (computer-assisted design) program for the rest.

“I poked around and somehow figured it all out,” said Munce. “Basically this saved me from having to cut three dozen cookies by hand.”

In addition to the printer, the lab will have:

  • FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer built locally using other 3D printers
  • littleBits Synth Kit
  • Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board Experimentation Kit
  • Avid Fast Track Duo Audio Interface with Pro Tools Express
  • An iMac, 2 Linux computers, and 1 Windows computer
  • A variety of Open Source Software applications for 3D printing, design etc.
  • MaKey MaKey: Original Invention Kit
  • Cubelets KT06 Kit
  • ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board
  • 2 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits
  • Apollo Precision Tools 53-Piece Tool Kit
  • Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot Robot Kit
  • Elenco Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit
  • Samsung 32-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype Calls
  • Chromecast
  • Online File Distribution System for access to project files, open access resources, etc.
  • Reference collection including books and magazines

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Officials from St. Petersburg College, LumaStream and the City of St. Petersburg recently celebrated the grand opening of LumaStream’s new high-tech manufacturing facility headquarters, where three SPC graduates are now working.

LumaStream, a low-voltage LED solutions provider, relocated from Canada last year to Midtown with the support of St. Pete’s Enterprise Zone initiative. The facility’s launch highlights a job training partnership between LumaStream, SPC and the Florida TRADE Consortium, a federal grant program that St. Petersburg College is spearheading to train workers in advanced manufacturing.

“Our definition of student success is that students finish what they start,” said SPC President Dr. Bill Law. “In working with LumaStream, we put together an idea of how we might do some workforce development differently: How we might start together and finish together at the same time; How our students could benefit by not just our instruction but by being part of the operation itself. And we sit here today with the first results. The students have made it to the finish line. We put the medal around their neck, we congratulate them, and we say ‘what’s next?’ ”

SPC graduates Frank Arent, Brandon Carver and Bryan Calhoun join SPC President

SPC graduates Frank Arent, Brandon Carver and Bryan Calhoun join SPC President Bill Law at LumaStream’s grand opening Friday, May 23.

After completing their 18-week computer numerical controlled (CNC) training, three SPC graduates were hired by LumaStream. For machinist assistant Bryan Calhoun, making the switch from dental technician to manufacturing was much easier with SPC’s training.

“I really had no experience working in manufacturing on this level,” said Calhoun, who worked as a dental technician for 25 years but had a hard time finding work the past three years. “For once, I’m not looking at other places for work. I’m happy, I’m satisfied, and I want to see where this is going.”

Law joined St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and LumaStream CEO Eric Higgs in cutting the ribbon for the new building at 2201 First Ave. S. LumaStream currently employs 25 people, but will likely need up to 200 over the next five years, as the business expands, Higgs said. The new facility will triple the production capacity of LumaStream, whose primary customer base includes restaurant and retail chains.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for students,” Higgs said. “They not only learn their specific job but how their job impacts the organization. The college has moved at an astounding pace to make this happen.”

LumaStream partners with SPC through Florida TRADE, which serves displaced, unemployed and incumbent workers, students and veterans. The grant program provides short-term, hands-on training for high-wage, high-demand jobs in today’s technology-driven manufacturing market. Trainees can receive national certifications, paid internships and job placement services in a relatively short amount of time: 18 weeks or less.

“We do not have to move at a snail’s pace,” Law said. “We can, in fact, meet the needs of business and industry on a timely basis, step-by-step every way.”

Another CNC training class begins at the end of July. Students can apply by contacting:

Jill Flansburg, Florida TRADE at SPC Program Coordinator
flansburg.jill@spcollege.edu
727-791-2508

This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. 

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Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. Now is the time to review your plans and know where to find the latest updates from St. Petersburg College if a storm threatens.

SPC officials closely monitor Pinellas County Emergency Management bulletins and official weather forecasts when SPC falls within the National Hurricane Center’s zone of landfall probability. The college activates its Emergency Management Plan, which alert systems, communications methods and proactive actions, if a storm threatens.

To prepare:

Communicating in an emergency

When an emergency poses a potential threat to life and safety, the college will broadcast emergency notifications to students, faculty and staff. The college’s main website at www.spcollege.edu is the official source of college information regarding the status of the institution. Officials will also use the SPC Emergency Preparedness page for emergency communications.

In an emergency, the college calls your home phone number on file first. To choose to be contacted on your cell phone or through text messages during emergencies, log in to MySPC and look for My Personal Information. One of the menu options will be Emergency Notification. Enter your cell phone number, confirm whether you want to receive text messages and click save.

You also can opt-in or opt-out of the text system by texting any of the following messages to 68453: subscribe, opt-in or yes. To opt-out, simply send a text to the same number and indicate stop, quit or unsubscribe.

Re-opening facilities

In the event that college facilities have been closed, campuses will reopen only after the college damage assessment and recovery teams have surveyed the damage and re-powered critical systems.

Information regarding re-openings will be provided:

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drum6The drumbeats were steady and deliberate, echoing through the halls of SPC’s Midtown Campus. Within minutes, students who had never seen a West African Djembe or Ashiko drum were enthralled, captivated by the rhythm they were creating in the room.

“It’s going to get loud in here,” said facilitator and drum circle leader Steve Turner as he welcomed students to Meg Delgato’s Biological Issues class earlier this semester.

It got so loud, in fact, that they were soon asked to drum outside, where students who had not participated much in class came alive.

“I’m not really a science person, but I love music,” said Antonio Williams, who is studying business. “To be able to combine something I don’t like with something I do like was great.”

YOU’RE INVITED:
See what the students in Meg Delgato’s Biological Issues class learned by combining music and science.
May 1
11 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.
Royal Theater, 1011 22nd St. S
across from the Midtown campus

“This was one science class I knew I couldn’t do without,” said Devin Plant, who graduates this semester and plans to study psychology. “We’re making it scientific and finding out it’s fun.”

Those words are, ahem, music to Delgato’s ears.

With the help of a $3,500 Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation, Delgato created the semester-long class project called Instrumental Change: Using Drum Circles to Teach the Art of Science. Through the grant, students in her Midtown and Tarpon Springs classes partnered with staff from Giving Tree Music to research and investigate connections between art, music and science.


On May 1, from 11 a.m.to 1:30 p.m., her Midtown students will host a school-community drum circle event at the Royal Theater to unveil what they learned.

“Drumming helps people heal physically, boosts their immune system, creates a feeling of well-being and releases emotional trauma,” said student Lashondala Teagle, who plans on becoming a teacher. “It’s great for stress release and anxiety, which is why we’re holding our event around finals week.”

Teagle has worked with Turner before, when he visited the YMCA where she works.

“The kids love it,” she said. “It brings out the kid in all of us.”

Through Giving Tree Music, Turner sells his hand-made drums and leads “drum circles for human empowerment” for businesses, schools, at-risk youth, special needs groups, festivals and corporate team building seminars. He finds the energy incomparable.

“People make such powerful connections when they drum together,” said Turner, a graduate of SPC. “This really shows the power of teamwork and what it can do.”

drum1

Making science accessible

Ultimately, Delgato wants to make her Biological Issues class mean something more than checking a box to fulfill a life science requirement. She wants her students to make strong connections with science so they are prepared for a world that is flooded with information.

“The one thing I want to give my students is scientific literacy so they can make sense of the information they are bombarded with on a daily basis,” said Delgato, who has received Innovation Grants the past three years for various learning projects. “They need to be able to know what’s going on and be equipped to analyze the source of the information, not just accept things at face value.”

As voters and citizens, students continually make decisions about their communities and issues that affect them, like hurricane threats, air pollution, land usage, endangered species, flooding, waste, genetically altered food and pesticides, among others, Delgato said.

“I wanted to find innovative ways to make learning relevant and meaningful to them. Most of them won’t go to work in the sciences, and they have not had positive experiences in other science classes. But at the end of the day there are some very basic skills that we all need because the information that comes out of the sciences drives all that we know and do.”

What students discovered

In their research, students found studies that say drumming is a valuable treatment for chronic conditions such as stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders and a wide range of physical disabilities.

As for relieving stress, medical researchers have found that drumming increases the production and release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones like melatonin, norepinephrine, serotonin and prolactin into the bloodstream, which may contribute to patients’ relaxed and calm mood.

Students will present these findings, along with the cultural and historical aspects of drumming at their event.

“You’re really helping yourself when you do the research,” Teagle said. “Plus you can share all this research with your family and friends. It was a lot of work but it was fun. I’m comfortable with science now.”

Why scientific literacy matters

Being able to discern fact from fiction is a crucial skill in our advancing civilization. Consider:

  • A week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information today than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • In every minute of 2012 there were:
    • 72 hours of video posts
    • 347 blog posts
    • 700,000 Facebook entries
    • 30,000 tweets
    • 2 million e-mails sent
    • 12 million text messages
  • More data cross the Internet every second than were stored in the entire Internet 20 years ago.
  • There are currently 2.1 billion pages on the World Wide Web.

Sources: International Data Corporation, Harvard Business Review and MIT Technology Review

Credibility: What makes a good source

To check the credibility of sources, particularly on the Internet, Delgato recommends looking at the following.

  • Timeliness – when was the information published?
  • Authors – who wrote it? Are they clearly identified? What is their background? Do they have biases?
  • Authority – does the domain use edu, .gov, .org, or .net? (These are often more credible sources than .com.)

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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. 

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