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SRQ DAILY Aug 13, 2022

"We have increasingly been seeing the value of attracting and enrolling high-performing transfer students, and we have been working to make New College a more transfer-friendly environment,"

- Tim Binns, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  With Senate Race, Be Mindful of Consequences
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Sen. Joe Gruters found himself in an unusual position this election cycle. The last-minute entry of a Republican primary opponent landed the two-term Senator in an open primary. For most incumbents, this wouldn’t be so bad. But since Gruters serves as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, he lives with a target on his back.

Voters throughout Senate District 22 will now have the chance to vote in the GOP primary, even Democrats, independents and members of third parties. That’s thanks to a voter-approved provision of the constitution that says if an election will decide the ultimate office holder, everyone has a voice. And for once, there was no write-in candidate filing at the last second to close the election.

But who is this last-minute opponent? Michael Johnson for the past several years has lived in a house in Seminole County that he shares with his son. He said he’s long been interested in moving to Sarasota, so might as well show up and rent a villa, then run for state Senate.

While Johnson has done little press since filing, I spoke to him this week. I must say I was somewhat surprised to learn he seemed fairly well-versed in the legislative process, relatively down-to-earth and holding a moderate posture— at least as he runs in an open election.

But there’s a fact I just can’t get over. This man is running for the wrong reasons, and voters need to consider that when they cast their vote. Johnson, a member of the group Grassroots For America, has been part of a Seminole-based effort to take over the Republican Executive Committee up there. When the group tried to call a special meeting to replace all local officers, the sitting leadership had a problem and ruled the mutiny out of order. Then they filed a grievance with the state party. Yes, the one Gruters chairs. Gruters sided with the local party leaders. So Johnson came down here to challenge Gruters for his Senate seat.

Let’s address the grievance itself. It seems entirely reasonable local leaders would react poorly to new members citing obscure rules to cut short their elected terms. But even if Johnson’s gripe with the party were legitimate, and he certainly feels it is, the avenue to challenge that is within the party. Going after Gruters’ Senate seat makes as much sense as suing his accounting firm for a problem with how he runs the Republican Party.

But more important to voters, the job of Senator holds serious responsibility. There are only 40 people in Florida with a say on the budgeting of $112 billion to various agencies, governments and partner nonprofits.

Democrats and even some left-leaning independents may feel tempted to vote against Gruters this year. He’s closely allied with Donald Trump and supported some divisive parts of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda, including on a few votes I and other suspect he would have resisted if not for his position in the party. 

But remember, the alternative in the election is someone who has pushed for more extremist elements to take over the party. This makes me suspect on whether he would be an independent voice or offer an ear to those well to the right of Gruters.

When asked at Tiger Bay to discuss what he would do to Sarasota’s vital nonprofit sector, he did not name one and described the entire world as somewhat suspect, raising concern over whether many nonprofits are crooked. But most are not. Fiscal watchdogs are welcome in Tallahassee, but nonprofits as an industry do not deserve this disdain.

Gruters always prioritizes the needs of the community and its nonprofits when he serves in Tallahassee, and he’s incredibly effective at passing legislation. It’s that ability to work with sitting leaders that seems to have driven Johnson into the race, a supposed catering to the elites. A vote to embarrass Republicans by defeating Gruters would perhaps deliver fleeting excitement, but elect a senator for four years who just moved the region to run on a partisan complaint.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA.

[Higher Education]  Transfer students transform their lives at New College of Florida
Patricia Okker, patokker@ncf.edu

At New College of Florida, students experience an education that fosters initiative, risk taking, entrepreneurship and community. For transfer students, this experience is even more relevant as they move closer to their post-graduation goals.

Year after year, New College is ranked as one of the most transfer-friendly schools in the nation. And we’re only one of two colleges from the State University System of Florida on Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Transfer Honor Roll this year.

We couldn’t be prouder of these nods. But our accolades, which have accumulated rapidly throughout the past few years, are only part of the picture. The proof of our success is in the students—those who continue to transfer to New College and find their lives transformed.

“We have increasingly been seeing the value of attracting and enrolling high-performing transfer students, and we have been working to make New College a more transfer-friendly environment,” says Tim Binns, New College’s assistant director of transfer and international admissions. 

Today in higher education, increasing numbers of students are opting to finish an associate in arts degree before transferring to another institution to complete a bachelor’s degree.

“Our transfer path at New College offers opportunities to those who may not have been ready or able to attend their target four-year college or university right out of high school, or who had never previously considered a four-year degree but are looking now,” Binns says. “We welcome these students—and their unique perspectives and academic talents—to New College.”

New College currently partners with such institutions as Daytona State College, Florida SouthWestern State College, Hillsborough Community College, Lake-Sumter State College, Santa Fe College and State College of Florida. Students from these colleges can transfer upon the successful and timely completion of their associate degrees. 

Each year, about 25% of our enrollment at New College is comprised of students who transfer from other institutions.Every transfer student is assigned their own faculty adviser and nationally-certified career coach (a luxury larger colleges can’t provide). Transfer students also receive generous guaranteed scholarships, making New College a highly cost-effective option.

In addition, since July 2021, our New Day transfer success program has allowed students to work one-on-one with a transfer bridge director—someone who helps students navigate the unique culture and academic procedures of New College.

Now let me tell you about some of the transfer students who have thrived—and are thriving—at New College. Take Corinne Laughrey, a physics student who transferred from State College of Florida in 2020 and will graduate from New College this spring.

“When I finished my A.A. at State College of Florida, I wanted to stay local. I chose New College over USF because I liked the idea of small class sizes, the ability to design my own courses for topics of special interest, and the opportunity to work closely with my professors,” Laughrey says. “Finishing my undergraduate degree at New College has helped prepare me for graduate school by giving me the opportunity to conduct research.”

Laughrey is now conducting solar physics research with the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“I would recommend New College to other transfer students who don’t feel challenged at their current institution. At New College, you have the opportunity to be more than just a name on a class roster,” Laughrey says. “Your professors really get to know you and what you’re capable of rather than comparing you to some standard benchmark. If you’re self-motivated, the sky is the limit on what you can learn and accomplish here.”

And transfer student Michael Bolesh (who is originally from Flackville, New York) just earned a coveted Boren scholarship to study French in Senegal this fall. The environmental studies and anthropology transfer student will join the French component of the African Flagship Language Initiative, applying the scholarship funds from the competitive award to intensive language immersion in Dakar.

“I eventually want to do the Peace Corps and/or go to grad school outside the states, so this is a critical stepping stone to get out of my comfort zone,” Bolesh says. “These past three semesters at New College have been nothing short of transformational for me.” 

“Transformational” is a word we often hear among our transfer students. And there’s a reason. New College is more than a stepping stone; it’s a life-changing experience.

Patricia Okker, Ph.D. is the president of New College of Florida. 

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Eleanor Merritt: Remembrance , February 18 – August 21, Museum hours.

The Ringling is pleased to present an exhibition that celebrates the life and artwork of Eleanor Merritt from February 18, 2022 to August 21, 2022. Eleanor was a dedicated volunteer at The Ringling for many years as a docent and Board member. She also served as president of the Venice Art Center and was active in other arts organizations as well. Eleanor passed away in 2019 leaving a legacy of art and public service. This exhibition is dedicated to her spirit and creativity and represents a small sample of a significant body of work the artist created over her long career. Beginning with an early work from the 1950s Untitled (Seated Figure) and concluding with her last painting Blue Embrace of 2018, the exhibition highlights her creative use of materials, movement between figuration and abstraction, and her commitment to women’s rights. The works in the exhibition come from the artist’s estate and from a few prestigious private collections. The artist’s daughter, Lisa, and artist Mike Solomon were critical guides in the development of this exhibition. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: Smoke & Mirrors , August 3 – August 21, Varies.

Hamilton Orr will stop at nothing to get what he wants. A top Hollywood director, Hamilton comes up with deadly scheme to gain control over a multi-million-dollar film. He just needs to persuade the movie’s screenwriter, Clark, to get onboard. And make sure that Barbara, his wife, plays her part. When his plot doesn’t go as planned, Hamilton comes face-to-face with the wily local sheriff, Leroy. Smoke and Mirrors keeps the audience guessing (and laughing) until the end. Smoke and Mirrors by Will Osborne and Anthony Herrera will play beginning August 3, 2022 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. Run Time is 2 hour and 10 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Gompertz Theatre

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Metadata: Rethinking Photography from the 21st Century , March 6 – August 28, Museum hours.

The exhibition features work from the past decade by an international selection of artists and visual activists that are working to make palpable the unseen information, or metadata, that undergirds the image regime. This includes not just the tags or descriptors attached to image files, but the power relationships, biases, and economic interests that are not always visible in the image itself. The exhibition emphasizes an expanded concept of photographic practice that includes research-based projects, installation, conceptual work, and activism as well as analog and digital photographs. Artists featured are Mohsen Azar, Viktoria Binschtok, Mladen Bizumic, Joy Buolamwini, Jason Lazarus, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Lilly Lulay, Trevor Paglen, and Penelope Umbrico. Metadata: Rethinking Photography in the 21st Century will be held at The John and Mable Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida from March 6 through August 28th, 2022. The exhibition is curated by Christopher Jones, Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan Curator of Photography and Media Art.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Bar Bingo at Geckos on Hillview Street , August 1 – August 29, 7:30 pm

Join Geckos in Southside Village every Monday at 7:30 pm for Bar B-I-N-G-O! Free to play. Sponsored by various local craft breweries and distilleries with prizes galore from our sponsors and Gecko’s. We’ll play between 5-7 rounds of Bingo each week and a special chit will be given out each Monday to be collected by attendees. Every four weeks the final round of Bingo for the night will be a grand prize round and the collected chits will be used to exchange for bingo cards for a grand prize round; this month on 8/29. The more Mondays that a guest plays, the more bingo cards that they will have to play for the grand prize. August Bingo is sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewery and Nolets Finest Gins. wwwgeckosgrill.com

[SOON]  HEALTH: Zumba at The Bay , July 9 – September 24, 10am-11am

Join Ya’el Campbell for a special monthly Zumba from 10:00 am – 11:00 am. This is a high energy outdoor Zumba class! Come dance with a fantastic group of Zumba Rockstars who will make you move, smile, jump, shake and sing… (it happens sometimes). Grab a friend, bring your kids, and meet new Zumba friends. Program Dates: July 9 (Bayfront Community Center); August 20 (Bayfront Community Center); September 24; The Bay Park, 655 N. Tamiami Trail.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: The Jersey Tenors: Part II , July 19 – September 11, Varies.

Back with a new show, this opera/rock mash-up sensation blends iconic opera classics with Rock & Roll hits from artists like Queen, Journey, and Elton John, along with the songs from Jersey’s finest—Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and Bon Jovi. From Frank Sinatra to Figaro, hear The Tenors’ original arrangements of songs celebrating artists from the stage to the screen, including “Walk Like A Man,” “Your Song,” “That’s Life,” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and many more. The Jersey Tenors: Part II, created and conceived by Brian Noonan, will play beginning July 19, 2022 in FST's Goldstein Cabaret. Run Time is 70 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Goldstein Cabaret

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: New York State of Mind: All the Hits of Billy Joel With The Uptown Boys , August 9 – October 2, Varies.

With more than 40 years of cumulative work on some of Broadway’s biggest hits, The Uptown Boys use Billy Joel’s rich songbook as a way to share their stories of life, love, and trying to make it in New York City. Whether you’re a fan of Billy Joel’s entire catalogue or just a casual listener, The Uptown Boys have something to satisfy everyone. Featuring such hits as “Only The Good Die Young,” “For the Longest Time,” “Piano Man,” and many more you know and love. New York State of Mind: All the Hits of Billy Joel With The Uptown Boys™ by Alexander Aguilar and John De Simini will play beginning August 9, 2022 in FST's John C. Court Cabaret. Run Time is 70 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's John C. Court Cabaret

[SOON]  GALLERY: Atelier de SoSi Art Show , August 12 – September 22, 7pm-10pm

Atelier de SoSi announces the opening of their newest art show “An Artful Home at Atelier.” Exhibition Dates: August 12th - Sep 22nd; Opening night: August 12th 7-10pm; Gallery hours Tues - Wed - Thur 1 - 5pm. “An Artful Home at Atelier” - focus is to showcase that art can be both functional and beautiful. Atelier de SoSi’s gallery space will be transformed to represent a living space. Displaying functional art such as: handmade table settings, glassware, lighting, textiles, furniture, etc. The space will also be featuring one of a kind paintings, sculptures and an array of other unique pieces. We want to show the viewer that artwork comes in all shapes, sizes and functionalities. Yes, your coffee table can be a piece of artwork along with your favorite reading chair, lamp, and coffee mug. Art can touch every area of our lives, come see examples of this and find one of a kind pieces for your own living space.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Forty Carrots Family Center 20th Annual Free Virtual Community Speaker Event , September 21, 7:00 pm

Registration is open for Forty Carrots Family Center’s 20th annual free educational community speaker event Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine, presented in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The virtual presentation will feature educational psychologist and best-selling author Michele Borba, Ed.D. at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21st. The event is free and advance registration is required. Michele Borba’s latest book, Thrivers, is a sharply insightful, science-backed guide that helps parents and educators teach the essential character traits kids need to become “thrivers” – young people who flourish in rapidly changing, digitally-driven and uncertain world. Borba will identify seven teachable strengths that will safeguard kids for the future, offering practical “how-to” strategies and ideas for everyday activities that build up kids’ strength, resilience, happiness, and success. Certificates of Attendance and CEU’s will be available. The previous 19 speaker events have reached nearly 14,000 parents, professionals, and educators in our area. To register for this free virtual community event visit www.fortycarrots.org, email events@fortycarrots.com or call (941) 365-7716. RSVP is required and registration is open at www.FortyCarrots.org.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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