St. Petersburg College welcomed Pinellas County Schools art teachers on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 for a districtwide training, where they attended sessions taught by SPC, University of South Florida, and University of Florida art professors. They were also treated to the good news of an art scholarship opportunity for their students, thanks to a generous donation from Col. Parker Schenecker, in memory of his daughter, Calyx Schenecker.
Schenecker’s daughter, 16, along with his son Beau, 13, died tragically in January 2011. He wanted to honor their lives, and the art scholarship seemed perfect because Calyx was a talented visual artist.
“It became apparent that I needed to make a promise,” Schenecker told the rapt crowd of art teachers at the Clearwater Campus. “I want to focus the rest of my life on how my children lived – not how they died.”
Schenecker connected with Pinellas County Schools Visual Arts Supervisor Sue Castleman with a desire to make a donation. Together with SPC’s Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts Jonathan Steele, Humanities and Fine Arts Chair Jonathan Barnes, and the SPC Foundation’s Executive Director Frances Neu, they decided to rename the juried high school art show held at SPC for many years the Calyx Schenecker Art Infinitum. The juried event invites high school students from all over Pinellas County to submit their artwork for judging and exhibition at the Clearwater Campus Art Gallery. The top three winners receive scholarships to SPC. The first art scholarships were awarded in May 2017.
“Col. Schenecker’s generous donation is a seed that will increase in the future and can be added to,” Steele said. “He upped the game and increased the opportunities we can offer students.”
The donation comes from the Calyx and Beau Schenecker Memorial Fund, which was established in 2011 by their father with contributions from family, friends, and the community to ensure the children’s legacy by providing opportunities for deserving Tampa Bay area students in the areas of leadership, athletics, culinary training, and visual arts – all of which reflect the Schenecker children’s interests and passions.
Schenecker, who received a standing ovation from the audience, said he realized the extent of his daughter’s love for art after going into her room after she died and finding a mural she’d intended to paint sketched out on the wall.
“That day, I got it,” he said. “It’s all about how we love and take care of our children. And it’s all about making sure the next generation is better than us.”