An Inspirational January in Education

Guest Correspondence


“And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

Symbolically, each New Year brings us a clean slate with the opportunity to create our future, strive for aspirational resolutions and blaze new frontiers. It is a season filled with hope, excitement and newfound vigor to make the coming year the best year ever.

January 2017 is also a signature month when the Education Foundation of Sarasota County showcases the inspirational and impressive talents of Sarasota County students.

Beginning Friday, January 13, until Monday, January 16, over 300 pieces of high school student artwork will be on public display in the Roskamp Exhibition Hall at Ringling College Art and Design. These student pieces include drawings, paintings, electronic media, photography, mixed media, sculpture and printmaking. Following the public exhibit, the artwork is judged by an esteemed group of qualified judges and the Top 25 pieces are selected. The juried arts competition is highly competitive and students dedicate countless hours to refine their work in the hopes of placing in the Education Foundation’s CreateSRQ Top 25.

On Tuesday, January 17, the Education Foundation hosts middle and high school students at the annual STEMSmart Summit held at Suncoast Technical College. At this half day morning event that was originally launched by Gulf Coast Community Foundation, students compete in group-based projects with VEX robotics, math and health quiz bowls, 3D CAD design and digital art design just to name a few. Watching these students in action as they create, innovate and collaborate in time compressed competitions will surely provide a dose of hope for our future.

Because the STEMSmart Summit attracts an enthusiastic and curious crowd, the Education Foundation in partnership with Sarasota County Schools is excited to bring the middle school and high school science fair entries to the STEM Summit at the STC campus on that same day. These innovative projects dive deep in topics such as animal, plant, biomedical and cellular sciences along with environmental engineering, math and computational sciences, physics and intelligent machines. With funding from the Education Foundation, these burgeoning scientists will then go to the state Intel competition to compete for a possible national invitation. When Sarasota County students showcase their innovations on a state or national stage, they raise the profile of our entire area.

On Tuesday, January 24, the elementary students’ creative science projects will be judged at the Education Foundation’s STEM Fair. All 3rd-5th grade school-winning projects will be on display at Robarts Arena for a public expo from 5-7:30pm and we invite our community to come see the seedlings of inspiration from the most budding young scientists. A county-wide awards ceremony is held later in May to recognize the accomplishments of our inquisitive youth.

The Education Foundation also invites you to a public viewing of the e-documentary Most Likely to Succeed scheduled for Thursday, January 26, from 5:30-7:30pm at USF Selby Auditorium. This e-documentary will introduce innovations in education and provoke us to discuss how we can reimagine education in our local community. Reservations are required for this free event.

The month of January wraps up for us with the first Academic Olympics match on January 31. Academic Olympics encourages academically talented high school students to be recognized for their hard work in all subject matters. These students become a part of a team, which bolsters the five C’s: competence, confidence, connections, character and caring. At the heart of their Academic Olympics experience, students’ self-esteem flourishes. The Education Foundation is proud to support this long-standing academic tradition thanks to our generous supporters. Because of their generosity, the Education Foundation will be able to send a Sarasota county all-star team to the state competition at Disney in April.

January is knocking and with it comes a season filled with hope, excitement, and newfound vigor to make the coming year the best year ever. Come see for yourself how impressive our students really are and it just might inspire you to achieve your aspirational New Year’s resolutions after all.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

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