Archive for the ‘Collegiate High School’ Category

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCHS) at St. Petersburg College has been recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School National Blue Ribbon for 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education.

The award recognizes SPCHS for being among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

“I am immensely proud of our students and grateful for the dedicated St. Petersburg Collegiate High School and St. Petersburg College faculty and staff who guide and inspire our students to become scholars and leaders who achieve their goals,” said Starla Metz, Principal, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, launched in 1982, recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. Public and private schools may be nominated only once within a five-year period.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told honorees during a livestreamed announcement.

At SPCHS, a public charter school governed by the SPC’s Board of Trustees, students are able to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts (AA) degree. For the past six years, SPCHS’ high school graduation rate has been 100%, and the average AA graduation rate has been 97%.

Since its inception in 2004, SPCHS has earned an “A” rating from the state of Florida. In 2016, Newsweek named it the 55th best high school in America. Only one of 10 in Florida to make the list, SPCHS held the second ranking in the state.

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School and SPC will be honored at an awards ceremony on Nov. 6 in Washington, D.C.

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SPCHSCongratulations to Valerie Ramos, a St. Petersburg Collegiate High School sophomore, who has been awarded a $20,000 scholarship through the H&R Block Budget Challenge — a free, interactive, real-life simulation personal financial education program that rewards students for mastering real-world budgeting and personal finance decision-making. Ramos is one of 66 winners nationwide.

Now in its second year, the H&R Block Budget Challenge works by replicating an adult’s financial life, requiring students to pay virtual bills, save for retirement and repay student loans, all from the safety of a classroom. Students from across the nation who participate in this virtual program are also competing for $3 million in college scholarships and classroom grants.

“We’re very proud Valerie Ramos for being among the top performers in the country in the H&R Block Budget Challenge,” said John Hesting, SPCHS Economics Instructor. “Financial management skills are so crucial — especially for teens right after graduation who are entering the ‘real world.’ We’re thankful for resources like the H&R Block Budget Challenge that help teach our students to take control of their financial future.”

Ramos said, “The H& R Block Budget Challenge has given me opportunities that I never would have imagined happening.  This process in my life has reaffirmed the fact that when you work hard and persevere, the end result is one to be proud of.” Last year, 94,000 students participated in the H&R Block Budget Challenge in 5,600 classrooms across all 50 states. In the first year of the program, 133 students received $20,000 scholarships, and one overall winner received a $100,000 scholarship toward his college education.

The H&R Block Budget Challenge is available for free to high school teachers and home school educators. Educators can sign up their classes in one of three simulations will launch in spring 2016 at HRBDS.org. Visit the H&R Block Budget Challenge Newsroom for photos, videos, and more information about the program at www.HRBDS.org.

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Newsweek has named St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCHS) as one of “America’s Top High Schools 2015,” ranking them #1 in Florida and #48 in  the nation.

Collegiate High School“The Newsweek High School Rankings assess schools based on a broad range of data to determine which institutions do the best job of preparing students for college. A star next to a school’s name indicates that it meets our Equity measure by helping low-income students score at or above average on state assessments.” – Newsweek.com

SPCHS earned the top ranking in Florida and earned the star for their work with low-income students.

“I am grateful to the innovative and talented SPC/SPCHS staff and faculty who inspire and support our students to excel,” said Starla Metz, Principal, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School. “Congratulations to our dedicated and hardworking students.”

Other recent awards for SPCHS

Collegiate High School SPCLocated on SPC’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School has earned:

A Pinellas County charter school, SPCHS has a unique mission to equip students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma, an Associate in Arts degree and a Bright Futures Scholarship.

Learn more about St. Petersburg Collegiate High School and St. Petersburg College’s other high school student options.

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SPC Alumni Amy Rice

SPC Alumni Amy Rice

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School alumni Amy Rice was recently awarded the prestigious Pritzker Research Fellowship in the Ph.D. program in Physics at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago.

The Fellowship pays tuition, stipend and research funds totaling more than $200,000 over the four-year term of the award.

After earning her A.A. degree from St. Petersburg College in 2009, Rice transferred to IIT. Last year, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics.

“Biology was my first love,” said Rice. “It’s what got me interested in science in the first place.”

Looking back to her time at SPC, she remembers loving her anatomy and physiology class.

“The professor had a way of making the class incredibly interesting and bringing in his outside knowledge to make it more real to us,” she said.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Rice was homeschooled through eighth grade. In ninth grade she attended Veritas Academy and transferred to SPC’s Collegiate High School for grades 10-12.

“I have always been very motivated academically,” she said. “I thought it (Collegiate High School) would be a great program to be around others that took their education seriously.”

Like many Florida students, her plans were to stay in Florida and take advantage of the Bright Futures Scholarship she had earned. Her high SAT scores meant she was pursued by numerous colleges from around the country. A brochure from IIT caught her eye.

“I saw that they had a major in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics and I thought that sounded like an awesome major,” she said. “It sounded like it would be very interdisciplinary.”

She applied for and got a full tuition scholarship and started her bachelor’s degree in the Chicago-based university the next fall.

During her undergraduate studies at IIT, she worked as a teaching assistant in biology and physics and a research assistant in microbiology and physics. She was involved in Alpha Sigma Alpha, the Honors Medical Society and competed on the university’s cross country and track teams. She was awarded the College of Science Undergraduate Summer Research Stipend in 2011 and 2013.

Entering the second year of her Ph.D., Rice’s research is focused on Computational Biophysics and is primarily computer based. While she has experimental collaborators that she works with, her research does not happen in a traditional laboratory.

“My project specifically is looking at a class of antimicrobial peptides produced by most animals,” she explained. “It is thought that bacteria don’t really become resistant to them. Not a lot is known currently as to why they work so well, but are not harmful to human cells.”

In Computational Biophysics computerized simulations are used to enable researchers like Rice to explore actions and reactions that happen within cells in very short time frames – nanoseconds – and very short distances.

“It’s hard from the experimental side to figure out what is happening on such small time and distance scales,” she said.

She is currently working with a team of researchers led by Dr. Jeff Wereszczynski at IIT. The Wereszczynski Group also includes two postdoctoral researchers and another Ph.D. student. This summer the group also has three undergraduate research assistants, two from a local community college. Rice is in charge of one of the assistants.

“I’m very excited to have an undergraduate student assistant!” said Rice. “I’ve been the undergraduate assistant to graduate students twice before, so it is really interesting and rewarding for me to be on the other side of that now and help mentor someone.”

Learn more about her research with the Wereszczynski Group at IIT.

Rice plans to continue her career in the same general field of research by teaching, working with graduate students and doing research.

“I love computational work,” she said. “It is a big up and coming field – new in the last 20-30 years. It’s exciting for me to think about where it will be in future when computers are even more powerful,” she said.

Her advice to other students is practical:

“Don’t be afraid to take risks and don’t be afraid to fail,” said Rice. “In science you fail a lot. I’ve had to start my research project over nine times now. The first eight times I failed. If you are not failing, you are not at the cutting edge of your field.”

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Niche rankingsSt. Petersburg Collegiate High School was in the spotlight again this week ranking #1 in the 2015 Niche Rankings for Best Public High School in the Tampa Bay Metro area and the top charter school in the state.

Niche’s Best High Schools ranks more than 14,000 schools nationwide based on academics, health and safety, diversity, survey responses, teachers grade and resources and facilities.

SPC’s Collegiate High school was compared with 65 public high schools in Tampa Bay. They were also ranked as the #16 charter school in the nation.

Starla Metz, Principal, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School

Starla Metz, Principal, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School

“I am thrilled with the results of this survey because it affirms our mission to provide an exceptional experience for young adults that encompasses all the benefits of college and high school,” said Starla Metz, Principal, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School. “I am also thankful for the support of St. Petersburg College faculty and staff as they share in this accomplishment.”

Located on SPC’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School has earned an A from the state of Florida every year since it opened in 2004. This year, they also received the Bronze award for Best High Schools from U.S. News and World Report.

A charter school, SPCHS has a unique mission to equip students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma, an Associate of Arts degree and a Bright Futures Scholarship.

Learn more about St. Petersburg Collegiate High School and St. Petersburg College’s other high school student options.

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Bernedette Mead

Bernedette Mead

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School senior Bernadette Mead has been selected as a 2015 Bank of America Student Leader® based on her commendable commitment and service to her community. Bernadette is the only recipient from Pinellas County and one of only five students selected from the Tampa Bay Area. Bernadette will graduate with her high school diploma and Associate in Arts degree from St. Petersburg College in May.

As part of the Student Leaders program, Bank of America will facilitate Bernadette’s participation in an eight-week paid internship at the Boys and Girls Club of America this summer. In addition, Bank of America will fully sponsor Bernadette’s trip to the Bank of America Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., July 12-17 where she will gain valuable tools to continue to serve her community, inspire others, and lead positive change.

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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.


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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