Friday, September 21, 2018
Education

With a college fair geared to black students, Shorecrest Prep reaches for more diversity

ST. PETERSBURG — Janiece Simmons wasn’t expecting much when she arrived at Shorecrest Preparatory School last year for its inaugural fair for historically black colleges and universities.

She wandered through the 20-some tables, taking a pamphlet here and there. A junior at Gulfport’s Boca Ciega High School, she had to prove to her mom that she at least tried, she said.

But when Simmons passed the table for Tennessee State University — adorned with a big, royal blue banner — something clicked. She lingered there, listening to recruiters’ pitches about what the school had to offer, and her post-high school dream started taking shape.

"I came home and showed everything to my mom and said, ‘This is the school that I want to go to,’" said Simmons, now 17 and a senior at Lakewood High School. "Ever since I left the fair, I have known I want to go to that school."

On Sunday, hundreds of college hopefuls like Simmons are expected to visit Shorecrest for its second annual fair, put on in conjunction with the local chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., a national organization working to improve quality of life for African-American children.

Organizers say the fair is part of Shorecrest’s effort to better connect with the diverse community of St. Petersburg, where it opened in 1923. Roderick Fludd, the school’s director of diversity and inclusion, hopes it boosts the school’s minority enrollment, too.

In the past, Shorecrest "has been considered the rich, white school," said Fludd, who was hired in 2017. "At one point it may have been that there were not a lot of students of color here … when it was not a school aspiring to be as diverse as it is."

Today, about 80 percent of the school’s students are white, according to Shorecrest spokesperson Rachel Barrett. Of the 20 percent that aren’t, 3 percent are African-American.

"Our student body is becoming more and more diverse," she said, pointing to the school’s strategic plan.

One of the five priorities listed in the plan is to "demonstrate and deepen a community-wide commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion." Actions steps toward that goal are to recruit minority candidates for jobs, offer professional development about diversity for students and families, and expand international and cultural studies.

"We are making sure that people in St. Petersburg are aware that we are here and aware that this is not a closed campus," Fludd said. "Providing opportunities like the HBCU fair, so African-American students can come on our campus, is a step toward that."

More than 30 colleges are registered for Sunday’s event, Jack and Jill representative Crystal Pruitt said. As co-chair of the fair, she said she hopes the more than 600 students signed up to attend find possibilities that haven’t even crossed their minds. About 400 students attended last year’s event.

"Sometimes, for financial reasons, students can’t travel to these schools," she said. "The fact that we’re bringing them here so they can meet with recruiters face-to-face makes a big difference."

Before attending the fair last year, Simmons planned to go to the University of Central Florida in Orlando. But the human connection she made with recruiters from Tennessee State won her over, so she applied.

"They have sent me a letter saying that so far, my application looks good," she said. "It’s still my dream school."

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

__________

 
Comments
Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a long-awaited, school-by-school list of 1,785 projects to be funded by a proposed half-cent sales tax hike. The list, now on the district website, includes playgrounds for Anderson...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Two acclaimed authors to speak about water at USF St. Petersburg

Pulitzer Prize winner and University of Florida professor Jack Davis thinks people need to humble themselves more toward water."The water doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the water," he said. "Without water, humanity would not exist, life would not...
Published: 09/21/18
Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Students, parents invited to three upcoming college and career fairsThree events are scheduled over the next two weeks that are designed to help students plan their next steps after leaving the Pinellas County school system. The University of South F...
Published: 09/21/18
Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

TRINITY — Julie Michael stood in the metal bleachers, flute poised at her lips, ready to play the national anthem with the Seven Springs Middle School advanced band.As the band segued into the school fight song, the eighth-grader continued per...
Published: 09/20/18
Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

And 200,000 third-graders just rolled their eyes.I swear, even they can see through the education proposals offered by gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum this week.Let’s see, the Republican wants more privatization. And the Democ...
Published: 09/20/18

Local rapper encourages elementary students to attend school every day(w/video)

Local rapper Corey Thornton performs original songs on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019 about the importance of school attendance at Walsingham Elementary School during a school wide assembly. During Attendance Awareness Month, Pinellas County Schools and th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

TAMPA — All summer, while most students were gone, the University of South Florida has been toiling away on a blueprint for the complex merger of the USF System.Its three universities in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota will soon consolidate into o...
Published: 09/19/18
Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

LAND O' LAKES — The Pasco County School Board unanimously adopted a $1.26 billion budget Tuesday with a slightly lowered tax rate and funding for new school construction in both east and west Pasco.But the spending item that grabbed most of th...
Published: 09/19/18
Ernest Hooper: HCC helps light the way for those on life's winding paths

Ernest Hooper: HCC helps light the way for those on life's winding paths

After he graduated from a Maryland high school, Rickey Murray had a number of opportunities awaiting him at a number of four-year institutions.He eyed the University of South Florida, applied to Florida International University and considered Virgini...
Published: 09/18/18
School buses, technology updates and teacher recruitment on Hernando schools legislative agenda

School buses, technology updates and teacher recruitment on Hernando schools legislative agenda

BROOKSVILLE — Busing concerns, security technology updates and teacher recruitment efforts could headline the Hernando County School District’s concerns in Tallahassee next year. As the district’s legislative picture for 2019 sha...
Published: 09/18/18