CLEARWATER — Where 26 portable classrooms once stood, there is now a green expanse of open land in the center of St. Petersburg College's Clearwater campus. School officials wonder: What should we do with it?
"It's bigger than Harvard's quad," noted Clearwater campus provost Stan Vittetoe.
With no formal plans made yet, possibilities abound. The quadrangle space could be used for a batting cage or a sand volleyball court, Vittetoe said. SPC Clearwater's 9,500 students can use it to throw Frisbees, have picnics, do yoga and tai chi.
The ethics, computer technology and social sciences classes held in the portable classrooms that pockmarked the quad for years have been moved into a new, modern classroom building. During the school's spring break last week, the temporary buildings were split in two, loaded into trucks and donated to charities, Vittetoe said.
"We wanted to get them off for a long time and just needed the space," he said. "We're happy to see them gone."
The new three-story classroom building, constructed on the site of the former Teaching Auditorium, contains 26 classrooms, including one with space for 100 students; faculty and adjunct office suites; and student lounges and gathering areas. The campus cafe will soon move into the building from cramped space in another structure.
Alexandre Johnson, 21, sat outside between pharmacy classes Thursday, enjoying the sun on her face. In the quad, she saw patches of brown where the portable classrooms once sat. Workers were still outside smoothing the ground.
"It's nice to be able to be outdoors," she said. "It's quiet. Less distracting. There aren't people being loud in the hallways."
Does the new quad reflect the stereotypical college campuses in, say, Van Wilder movies?
"People were already laying out and playing football outside. But now the footballs won't bounce off the classroom windows," Johnson said.
Danielle Paquette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.