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ribbon cuttingWhen St. Petersburg College and the community play together, everybody wins! On Tuesday, Sept. 10, SPC celebrated the ribbon cutting for the new Lurie Civic Building at SPC Seminole Campus. The building, a shared space with the City of Seminole’s Chamber of Commerce, will include public meeting spaces as well as classrooms and event spaces for SPC students.

The idea for the building, a collaboration between the college and the community, originated when Dr. Ed and Vivian Lurie proposed a donation of $500,000 for the construction of a civic building in Seminole. Dr. Lurie, who helped establish SPC’s entrepreneurial program at the Seminole Campus, has long had a relationship with the college, and SPC’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the generous donation and offered space at the Seminole Campus.

“This is an awesome example of a community coming together, which, in turn, will benefit its citizens,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams.

Seminole Provost Mark Strickland says the building will help SPC students as they prepare to enter their career fields.

“Since the Seminole Chamber will be housed there, our students will be able to network, intern and shadow with local businesses that are charter members,” he said.

Strickland also noted opportunity for civic awareness.

“Because it will serve as a meeting place for local clubs like Kiwanis and Rotary, our students will be able to become civically engaged and participate in activities led by those clubs,” he said.

In addition to the Luries, many Seminole community members contributed to the project. Mark Ely donated technology in the classroom meeting spaces, while Pat Marlowe from Flooring America donated flooring for the area.

“The Seminole Community came together and raised 80 percent of the funds to construct this building,” Strickland said. “This is a prime example of a community understanding the vision of Dr. Lurie, who believed there should be a building in Seminole that allowed for local clubs to meet, the chamber to be housed, and for our students to be engaged.”

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The highly sought-after St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCHS) has opened a second location at the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be hosted from noon-1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Bilirakis Building at the college campus.

Now St. Petersburg Collegiate High Schools, SPCHS offers students in grades 10-12 the opportunity to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree. This immersive program allows students to flourish and mature in the college culture, which provides a unique, nurturing and powerful experience.

“The faculty, staff and I are extremely excited to bring this high school model to residents in North Pinellas,” SPCHS Tarpon Springs Principal Ian Call said. “Our students are enjoying the Tarpon Springs Campus and are looking forward to taking advantage of all the educational opportunities offered by St. Petersburg College.”

This location will serve more than 150 students in the inaugural class and is expected to expand to 240 student by 2020-2021. Families in North Pinellas County will now have the convenience to access the accelerated program.

“Our campus is very fortunate and excited to embark on this new journey,” SPC Tarpon Springs Provost Rod Davis said. “We feel that the Collegiate High School will serve our community well and believe it will be another great opportunity for our North County students and parents.”

The original Collegiate High School at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, which opened in 2004 and serves 233 students, has consistently been recognized as a high-performing, national ranked school. It has earned an “A” rating from the State of Florida since opening. Niche recently ranked the school as #1 in the 2020 Best Public High Schools in Tampa Area list.

“I am excited that Pinellas County Schools and SPC have partnered to provide this distinctive educational choice to the students of North Pinellas,” Associate VP of Collegiate High Schools Starla Metz said. “The rigorous curriculum, leadership development and campus activities will provide students with a strong academic foundation and the skills needed to reach for their dreams.”

In 2017, the school received the honorary National Blue Ribbon as an Exemplary High Performing School by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Newsweek named them the 55th best high school in America in 2016. Only one of 10 in Florida to make the list, SPCHS held the second ranking in the state.

In an effort to expand the number of high quality charter schools in Florida, SPC was awarded a two-year $550,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice (OIEPC) to assist with opening the second location.

For more information, visit spchs.spcollege.edu.

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Photo Courtesy of K. Fiorey Photography

What


are the numbers involved when a Business Analytics grad decides to propose to his girlfriend? For SPC alum Nathan Myles, it only took nine weeks, 200 hours of preparation, a 43-page itinerary and a 13-hour proposal day involving 35 accomplices, 15 stops and room 262 on the Tarpon Springs Campus’ Lyceum building.

Skylar Daigle first saw Myles in their American Government class at the Tarpon Springs campus in 2015. But they never actually talked.

“We were there a whole semester and I never spoke a single word to him,” said Daigle, noting her extreme shyness.

But the two crossed paths at a mutual friend’s birthday party in July 2015, and she recognized him from class. They chatted, discovering a shared love for all things Star Wars, Marvel Comics and the TV sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. To Daigle’s regret, they parted ways without exchanging numbers. But fate was still at work.

“When I got home,” she said, “I logged into my Facebook on my computer – which I almost never do. He was at the top of my suggested friends list.”

She sent him a friend request, which he instantly accepted, and then he sent her a movie trailer they’d discussed at the party. They began talking, and the two, both dual enrollment high school students, began spending time studying and seeing each other around their class schedules. After getting to know one another – and after Myles gained permission from Daigle’s parents to date their daughter – they went on their first official date in December 2015.

Over the next four years, the two earned associate degrees from SPC. Daigle went on to get her degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida (USF) St. Petersburg, and Myles a bachelor’s in Business Analytics and Information Systems from USF Tampa. Once they’d both finished their programs and found jobs, Myles felt like it was time to pop the question. When he got the all-clear from her parents, he began to orchestrate a very intricate plan.

“I planned every second,” Myles said. “Including the positioning of the sun. That factored in twice.”

The day began as a normal Saturday, with the couple having breakfast at their favorite place. Though they had discussed marriage, there had been no proposal, nor was Daigle expecting one that day. She’d even told Myles that he’d have to shave off the beard he’d grown before he even thought about proposing to her.

“I had no idea,” she said. “My hair was all frizzy and air-dried. I wasn’t dressed right at all.”

But when Myles stepped out to “take a call”, the waitress came over with a dozen roses and her first clue:

I had to leave without saying goodbye, because it is about that time for me to go shave my face…  But it’s okay, while I am gone, I arranged for you to go on an adventure and you won’t be alone.  As you step outside of this restaurant, you will be stepping into our new life. Go outside right now and see who is joining you! It’s time to make some room on that ring finger…

Photo Courtesy of K. Fiorey Photography

When she stepped outside into her new life, she found her boyfriend gone and a rented GMC Yukon waiting with a driver, Myles’ brother Christian, who picked up a couple of Daigle’s friends and took them through several more stops, leading them with clues and treats like a new dress and shoes, hair, makeup, nails, lunch and coffee, until at 5 p.m., they pulled up at SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus – the 12th stop of the day – where Daigle was instructed to jettison her friends and proceed to the Lyceum building, room 262, the same place they first saw each other in their American Government class four years before.

“I figured it was just another stop,” Daigle said. “I had no idea that’s where he’d do it.”

She quickly saw that this would, indeed be the place, when she walked into the classroom, which had been transformed with low lighting and glowing battery-operated candles. There was an aisle set up, with the created walkway carpeted with rose petals and Ed Sheeran crooning in the background. Not the actual Ed Sheeran, but the song “Thinking Out Loud” playing on a loop through the portable speaker (see itinerary, page five, under room setup). Framed photos of the happy couple were placed all around.

“I was crying,” Daigle remembered. “He even thought to go ahead and do our engagement photos right then and there, so we could mark that off.”

After the agreement was sealed with a kiss and the engagement photos done, the couple headed out to a nice dinner, then on to Sand Key for a sunset walk. The night ended more than 13 hours after it began, at 10:15 p.m. after a visit to the site of their first meeting: Cold Stone Creamery, where they had dessert.

Photo Courtesy of K. Fiorey Photography

“I reserved the same table we’d sat at,” Myles said. “I had it all set up for when we got there.”

Myles said he’d had some inspiration from different sources for the scavenger hunt.

“I’d seen some scavenger hunts on different TV shows, like Parks and Recreation,” Myles said. “And I’ve always loved scavenger hunts because my family does them every year for Christmas.”

The wedding is tentatively planned for July 2020, and in the meantime, Daigle will settle into her new career as a kindergarten teacher, and Myles will continue in his position as a DevOps Developer at a software company.

Though the location of the wedding is to be determined, there was never any question in Myles’ mind as to where to propose.

“The first year of our relationship was at SPC,” Myles said. “It was the first place we saw each other, the first place we ever kissed. We spent so many afternoons there together before we could technically date. It’s where we really got to know each other.”

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A lot of people loved back-to-school shopping as children. There was something about freshly sharpened pencils, a pristine box of crayons, and a new backpack that would make the impending school year feel more tangible and exciting.

But not everyone has the luxury of new school supplies. For some, a new backpack every year ranks low on the priority list when money is stretched thin, and you have bills to pay and a family to feed.

The Care Fair was a family affair, with older siblings helping younger brothers and sisters pick out their favorite backpack design from 20 options.

That’s where Junior League of St. Petersburg (JLSP) and Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc. (CHCP) step in.

In partnership with the St. Petersburg College Midtown Center, the two local organizations hosted the 23rd Annual Back-to-School Care Fair on Saturday, July 27. SPC frequently teams up with area groups and businesses both on- and off-campus as part of its Community of Care initiative. A large part of the college’s mission is to make sure that the entire SPC family—students and employees—as well as the surrounding communities, have what they need to lead a healthy and productive life.

The Care Fair was busy from start to finish, with many guests showing up before it began at 8:00 a.m. Not only were there a plethora of local vendors and community resources located inside of the Jamerson Building at the Midtown Center, including an SPC recruitment table, but school-aged children could also pick up a free backpack filled with new school supplies. The backpacks and supplies were provided by JLSP and kids were able to choose from 20 different colorful designs.

Just next door at the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center, students received complimentary medical and dental exams from CHCP, ensuring that they show up on the first day of class with a bright smile and clean bill of health. Ten local barbers were also on-site to provide fresh haircuts for the kids.

Members of CHCP leadership officially cut the ribbon on their new Mobile Health Center at the Care Fair.

Outside in the SPC parking lot, fairgoers were treated to a live DJ, a drumline, fitness activities, a multitude of vendor tents, and even a police K-9 demo. Representatives from area professional sports teams handed out branded giveaways while the always colorful NOMAD Art Bus acted as a canvas for anyone feeling creative. Kids were given free teddy bears from the Tampa Rough Riders and a close-up look at a fire engine from St. Petersburg Fire Rescue’s Station 3.

The Care Fair was also an opportunity for CHCP to cut the ribbon on their new Mobile Health Center. The completely paperless clinic on wheels will allow for greater patient accessibility and is even equipped with a dental chair and dental x-ray machine. It is also wheelchair-friendly.

Overall, the Care Fair was a great success, and many kids and parents left the festivities with big smiles on their faces. SPC was happy to collaborate with so many local organizations and vendors as it continues to cultivate a Community of Care in Pinellas County.

To learn more about SPC’s Community of Care initiative, please visit stpe.co/communityofcare.

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For the past six weeks, 100 recent high school graduates took classes at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater, Seminole, St. Petersburg/Gibbs and Tarpon Springs campuses as part of the annual Summer of Success program. They were all first-generation college students and represented area high schools from Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties.

Students who attended classes at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus proudly show off their Summer of Success completion certificates.

Their college application fee? Free. Their tuition for the four-credit program? Free. Their textbooks for the classes? Completely free.

Summer of Success is part of the initiative for SPC’s Student Support Services Department, which helps first-generation and limited-income students graduate from college. This year, the featured classes for the program were SPC 1017—Introduction to Speech Communication (3 credits) and CGS 1070—Basic Computer and Information Literacy (1 credit). Career exploration and leadership opportunities, along with weekly career and business tours, rounded out this exciting opportunity for students.

Capping off the students’ educational summer was an awards ceremony held at the Seminole Campus Digitorium. They were recognized for their hard work and awarded completion certificates while their friends and family proudly watched. Ernest Hooper, assistant sports editor for the Tampa Bay Times, was also in attendance as a guest speaker. He gave an inspiring speech to commend the students on their dedication to their education, adding a few sage words of wisdom for them to remember along their academic journey.

Ernest Hooper, assistant sports editor for the Tampa Bay Times, was the guest speaker for the awards ceremony.

“Remember the people who believe in you,” Hooper advised. “Don’t be afraid to get help; don’t be afraid to reach out.”

With the successful completion of the Summer of Success program, students will continue their education at SPC this fall. They have already enrolled in classes and will build upon what they learned and experienced over the summer.

The 2019 Summer of Success program was administered and coordinated at the four participating campuses by Keith Windom, Clearwater Campus; Juan Herrera-Medina, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus; Benjamin Woods, Seminole Campus; and Jackie Addis, Tarpon Springs Campus.

To learn more about the objectives of Student Support Services and how it helps students succeed at SPC through programs like Summer of Success, please visit stpe.co/studentservices.

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The dog days of summer came to St. Petersburg College on Saturday, July 13 when volunteers from Southeastern Guide Dogs paid a visit to the SPC Planetarium at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, along with their canine companions.

Southeastern Guide Dogs breeds Labradors, golden retrievers, and a mix of the two called a goldador.

Southeastern has been operating in Florida since 1982, raising and training guide dogs for people with vision impairment, severe disabilities, mobility issues and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To date, they have graduated more than 275 classes of guide dogs.

As part of training, volunteer puppy trainers select a different venue every month for their dogs to visit, exposing them to new environments, sites and situations. SPC’s star theater was chosen as an appropriate field trip for the canine trainees due to its theater seating, the various lights and sounds that are used during shows, and the darkness that every production is plunged into to mimic a night sky on the 24-foot domed ceiling. These are all sensory situations the pups may experience as full-time guide dogs.

Six dogs were in attendance at the July 13 planetarium show, each wearing a blue vest denoting their status as guides-in-training. All of them successfully sat through the 40-minute production without trouble. There were even a few wagging tails peeking out from under the seats just before the lights went down, and Dr. Craig Joseph—planetarium director and SPC’s resident astronomer—kicked off the show. He took viewers across the summer sky, exploring celestial formations like Cygnus the Swan and the lion constellation, Leo. The dogs showed off their impeccable training when not a single bark could be heard at the appearance of the big cat.

Dr. Craig Joseph (center) with two SGD volunteers and their guides-in-training outside of the SPC planetarium.

Joseph ended the show with a treat for the special guests, pointing out Canis Major, or, as the constellation is more commonly known, the Greater Dog. Canis Major contains the star Sirius—the brightest star in the sky and typically called the dog star—and is only visible in the summer sky in Florida. The Southeastern volunteers were delighted to learn that the expression “the dog days of summer” actually originated from the summer appearance of the canine constellation.

After the show, the dogs were awarded a little vest-free time, allowing them to enjoy ample petting and some well-deserved belly rubs. They will continue their training and, should they successfully complete the program, eventually be paired with owners who will benefit from their special training as guides. To learn more about Southeastern Guide Dogs, visit guidedogs.org.

Interested in seeing a show at the SPC planetarium? There are two free public shows on Friday nights at 7 and 8:15 p.m. when the college is in session. The star theater comfortably seats 46, and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Group reservations are welcome. Learn more about the planetarium by visiting spcollege.edu/planetarium.

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St. Petersburg College honors students were the stars at the 12th Annual Collegiate Research Conference, hosted at the Seminole Campus last month.

The annual conference showcases the research skills of the college’s honors students. Topics ranged from gene editing to automation’s effect on labor. 

Honors research conference presentation

SPC’s Honors Program encourages talented and motivated students in creativity, leadership and critical thinking. Since 2003, more than 500 students from 29 countries have participated. Fifty percent of them have a 3.75 or higher grade point average and 15 percent have maintained a 4.0 average.

Student Katrina Johnson presented on how hydroponic farming could be adapted to support an environmentally challenged world. She provided examples of organizations already using the technology and how it could be used in the future.

Next up was a presentation on a misunderstood mammal.

Cayla Olinger and Emily Mitchell shone the bat signal with the Phi Theta Kappa presentation on bat conservation. The two talked about why bat conservation is important and discussed common myths about bats.

Two SPC campuses – Seminole and St. Petersburg/Gibbs – have bat houses. 

Van Le shared her love of astronomy with her presentation on the Draco Constellation. She discussed the mythological significance of the constellation, the binary star Kuma and the deep sky objects in the constellation.

Following the presentations, keynote speaker Dr. Rich Mercadante, an instructor in speech communication, honors public speaking, and honors philosophy, addressed the conference during lunch. At the end of the conference, students participated in a 30-second impromptu speech competition. Winners were Sara Bernard and Chloe Bean who each received a Starbucks gift card. 

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