Rededication ceremony of Pinellas Technical College

BY FRANK DROUZAS Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — To reflect its status as an institute of higher learning, Pinellas Technical Educational Center was officially re-dedicated as Pinellas Technical College (PTC) last Thurs., April 23, in a ceremony held on the St. Petersburg campus.

Attending the event—which featured the unveiling of a plaque inscribed with the center’s new name—were many community leaders including President and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League Watson Haynes; Chris Steinocher, President and CEO of St. Petersburg area Chamber of Commerce; School Board member René Flowers and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.

The festive ceremony included the presentation of colors by the Gibbs High School JROTC, a delicious lunch prepared by the PTC culinary program students and John Hopkins Middle School steel drum band provided musical entertainment.

“Let me thank the school board for moving forward with making this institution an institution we always knew it could be,” Haynes said.

PTC Timeline 2015 Rededication

He noted that he was happy to see that an ever-growing number of students who are following the path of vocational training are turning to PTC. Noting the relatively recent resurgence of interest in the college, and lauded the efforts of PTC Director Boe Norwood.

“Who can better lead this organization than a man who has been at the helm before he was announced and has brought back to PTC this community, none other than the person we’ve supported, and that’s Boe Norwood. Boe has really engaged the community,” Haynes said to applause, “and we feel we are a part of this facility.”

Steinocher told the crowd on hand that those at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce are working with the entire city on an economic development effort.

“These are the kind of jobs we are recruiting into our entire community,” he said, referring to the career training that PTC programs offer.

Darlina Herring, executive aide to Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth T. Welch, read a county proclamation from the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners expressing congratulations upon the renaming of the institution.

“‘Special appreciation to Boe Norwood and Carl Lavender for their untiring service in seeing this dream become a reality,’” Herring read. “‘Our students have been given additional tools for empowerment and life’s success with the programs of PTC.’”

Tomalin talked about the “boom” St. Pete is experiencing—from the new movie theater on the west side of town to the buildings that dot the downtown skyline. The students who come here to learn trades, gain skills and secure an education are the employers of tomorrow who are building a wonderful St. Petersburg, she enthused.

“Mayor [Rick] Kriseman and I talk a lot about investing not only in places, but in the people who occupy those places and this college will help people build those places,” the deputy mayor said. “And we are so very proud of that. We are committed to creating jobs and creating opportunity.”

Flowers took the time to laud the programs and opportunities that PTC provides and said the “future is in the name.”

“This place where you stand captures the future for so many people,” she told the assembled crowd. “At one point, it was the place where so many people could only afford to come because the financial distribution of wealth wasn’t such that they could go to a four year institution of learning.”

She stressed the strong part the college’s administration plays and the importance of PTC’s role in the community.

“You have individuals here who see to not only their educational needs,” Flowers said, “but they also see to their social needs. And that is why it is so important that everyone in this community that has an outside social service agency, that if you have not paid a visit to this institution that you do so.”

Pinellas County Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. William Corbett offered a personal anecdote, explaining that when he was hired by Pinellas County schools to be a horticulture teacher 25 years ago, he had to sign up for the Training Vocational Teachers program at Pinellas Vocational Technical Institute. He noted that a couple of years later the word “vocational” started to take on a negative connotation in the community, and it became Pinellas Technical Education Center.

“In current times, there is a strong recognition that the work that is done in this institution rivals the work that has been done in other colleges,” Corbett said. “Therefore the time has come where it is appropriate to name this institution what it is, which is Pinellas Technical College. Regardless of what it’s been called over the years, its mission has remained the same and that was to provide the training that our students needed so they can move forward in their careers.”

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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