LARGO - Congressman David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, announced Nov. 16 that nine Little Free Libraries will be going up around Pinellas County. Jolly made the announcement, while unveiling one of the libraries, outside the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA in Largo.
“I am very grateful for our community partners for bringing free books into neighborhoods to help kids discover the joy of reading. While these may just look like books, each Little Free Library is giving our next generation of learners the key to a better education and in turn a better future. Even in the technologically advanced world of computer screens and smart phones, nothing can replace turning the pages of a book and being transported to new worlds by the words on a page,” Jolly said in a media release.
Little Free Libraries, are “take a book, leave a book” libraries designed to encourage kids to read by making books easily accessible and at no cost.
ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg College is one of 17 colleges nationwide to be honored by University Business magazine in its Winter 2015 Models of Excellence recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a leading provider of financial services to U.S. colleges, the Models of Excellence program recognizes innovative approaches to encouraging and nurturing student success on campus.
“St. Petersburg College’s use of real-time data, through its College Experience initiative, to boost student achievement is very impressive,” said Tim Goral in a press release. Goral is senior editor of University Business. “Including the entire college community in these efforts to help students succeed has clearly made a positive impact.”
St. Petersburg College initiated the College Experience in 2012 as a way to increase the percentage of students who successfully complete core, or gateway, courses. A review of the college’s records at that time revealed that only two-thirds of the student body was earning a grade or C or better in those courses; the remaining third received a D or F. Among African-American and Latino males, the percentage was even lower, said Tonjua Williams, senior vice president for student services at St. Petersburg College.
CLEARWATER - Countryside High School was one of five schools in Florida recently were named state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.
Solve for Tomorrow is a competition that encourages teachers and students to solve issues in their community using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for a chance to win a share of $2 million in technology.
Additionally, Florida had one of the highest recorded numbers of entries this year, with 274 schools across the state looking to participate in the contest. This means that Clearwater’s own Countryside High School faced quite a lot of competition before being named one of only five state finalists in the state of Florida. Along with the other four finalists, Countryside will now move on to compete for the title of state winner.
SEMINOLE - In many ways, Rex Sparklin Jr. is like most teenagers. He loves video games, plays guitar and hangs out with his friends.
But at 18, he’s also the youngest registered nurse in the state after passing the Florida licensing exam on his first attempt last month. He just accepted a job in the emergency room of the Cleveland Clinic once his nursing license transfers to Ohio.
He knew he wanted to work in medicine from a young age. His mother, Shelley Sparklin, is also a nurse.
SEMINOLE - A panel of experts will seek answers to questions about Florida’s prison reform at a dinner forum sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 6 to 8:15 p.m., at the Seminole Campus Conference Center, 9200 113th St. N.
Tickets for the forum, Florida’s Prisons: How Goes Reform?, and dinner and program are $25 for the general public and $20 for students and educators. Advance registration is required. Visit solutions.spcollege.edu. For information, call 394-6942.
During 2014-2015, Florida’s prison system was rocked by a series of stories in state newspapers exposing a pattern of brutality, corruption and cover-ups in Florida prisons. The stories detailed gruesome incidents of prisoner abuse and deaths at the hands of correctional officers in an agency experiencing multiple years of high turnover, chronic understaffing, and budget woes.
ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg College has been selected as one of only 30 community colleges in the nation to participate in a three-year intensive Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges.
Supported by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pathways Project will help build capacity for community colleges to design and implement high-quality, structured academic and career pathways for all students, aligned for both university transfer and jobs with value in the labor market.
“The development of our Academic and Career Pathways Program has been a priority initiative at St. Petersburg College over the last few years, and we are honored to be recognized as a leader in this area,” said Bill Law, SPC president, in a press release. “This designation builds on the work we’ve done to implement meaningful support systems to help students successfully earn degrees and certifications more quickly - while mitigating debt burdens - so they can find gainful employment and boost their earnings. We know these systematic steps change students’ lives and benefit our community in countless ways.”
ST. PETERSBURG - Two University of South Florida composition students are winners of the “mini music demo” competition, sponsored by The Florida Orchestra and the USF School of Music, for their unique arrangements of classic holiday carols.
The orchestra will perform the winning pieces during the 27th annual Children’s Holiday Concerts, presented by The Steinbrenner Family Foundation and the New York Yankees, on Dec. 8-10.
The winners are Hooman Rafraf for his arrangement of “Fum, Fum, Fum” for woodwinds; and Francesco Sclafani for his orchestration of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” arranged for strings.
Construction is on schedule for St. Petersburg College’s new learning center for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Last year, SPC received $2.5 million from Florida Legislature Public Education Capital Outlay funds to complete the Bay Pines STEM Learning Center, a hands-on science learning complex located adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Pinellas County.
The anticipated cost of this project will be approximately $4.7 million.
ST. PETERSBURG - Partners in the Early Readers, Future Leaders: Pinellas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading joined hundreds of thousands around the world Oct. 19, reading to children on Read Across the Globe Day to shine a light on early literacy.
Read Across the Globe is an effort spearheaded by the Points of Light Foundation with the goal to read to children in every time zone around the planet, setting a Guinness World Record for the number of children read to in a 24-hour period.
The Pinellas Cultural Foundation has selected the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance to continue its arts education mission with the Arts Alliance now assuming the countywide leadership for the ACE Pinellas (Arts for a Complete Education) program.
“The Pinellas Cultural Foundation is sun-setting after 24 years of public leadership that ensured that we have arts education in our schools,” said John Collins, executive director of the Arts Alliance, in a press release. “We are honored to work with the Cultural Foundation’s board and director during this transition. They have established extremely high standards and their advocacy and vigilance on behalf of our students is inspiring and effective. Our Arts Alliance board has pledged to continue this critical work as part of our strategic plan to support arts education in-school, after-school and professional development.”