All posts by Chris Demmons

Poet Patricia Smith Inspires at SP Gibbs

Poet Patricia Smith reading poetry at podium

Award-winning poet and spoken word artist Patricia Smith read her work for St. Petersburg College students at the St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus on April 3 in the Music Center.

Smith read her work as part of Communications Week, a celebration of the academic programs and careers within that field. Smith was introduced by Professor Sheree Greer, who talked about how Smith’s work inspired her.

Smith is the author of seven poetry collections and many anthologies. She has won four National Poetry Slams, and is a two-time Pushcart Prize winner. Smith read from her work, shared her experiences as a poet, answered questions, and held a book signing. She began her reading with a poem dedicated to the sixth grade class at a Dade County elementary school, one of the first places she read poetry on tour. From Motown to a very personal story of loss, the audience sat rapt as Smith read from her work.

After her reading she spoke with students about working as a poet, and answered questions. She talked about getting her start as a poet, what inspired her, and more. Smith took extra time to speak with students one-on-one before going to the lobby to sign books.

Learn more about programs and degrees in Communications, and the college’s award-winning student newspaper The Sandbox News.

SPC student newspaper sweeps statewide news awards #SPCInspires

Sandbox News award Feature

The Sandbox News, the official online student newspaper of St. Petersburg College, won 11 Florida Society of News Editors awards, more than any other college in Florida. The paper’s staff won every award in the sports photography and commentary categories for college student newspapers.

The following is from two of the paper’s past student editors, who were among the award winners in this years FSNE student journalism competition.  Chris Demmons served as the paper’s first social media editor, as managing editor, and as a photographer for the Sandbox. Fred Arnold took over as a social media and managing editor in spring 2015 and has worked on multimedia projects for the Sandbox.

This is a very big day for us, and the rest of the paper’s staff! We wanted to talk about our experiences with the paper and our reactions to our first FSNE wins.

Chris Demmons:

“I am outstandingly proud of my colleagues at The Sandbox News. Their performance in the 2016 Florida Society of News Editors student awards is exceptional. I am pleased that my photos are bringing in one of three awards won by our photographers in the student sports photography category. My work with the paper started in spring of 2012 and I served at various points as social media editor, managing editor and photographer. My advisors were always there to support me and encouraged me to try new things. Cindy Kuropas and Kathy Bryson are the best publishers you could ask for.

This is only the beginning. In the first year that the paper has submitted work to the FSNE, we swept two categories and won more awards than any other Florida college. That speaks to the hard work and passion that the Sandbox staff have for the news and free expression at St. Petersburg College. I know the Sandbox will continue to be a leader and innovator in student news in the years to come. Congratulations to all of our FSNE award winners! Learn how you can join our award-winning team!

Fred Arnold:

“I remember a time, not so long ago, during a moment in my life where I realized connecting with people had massive benefits above the simple relationship. It has been said that people who read non-fiction novels often exhibit a higher sense of empathy, sympathy and regard for others than those who do not. Why is that? Through non-fiction, you are able to experience many lives. One week you are an Egyptian in Cairo struggling with religion. The next week you are in England caught in the rain. Each experience is a walk through someone else’s shoes.

Writing in a news format brings you within an arm’s length of people. You hear their stories. You hear their passions, hatreds and greatest moments. You learn about the person and what it is like to walk in their shoes. I write to take that journey with them.

I adopted this outlook when I was a submariner in the Navy which cuts you off from civilization in a big way. I wrote about my time in there, about the people I spent the majority of my days with and about the stressful nature of a demanding job. I wrote to keep sane. What I learned, and this is something I hope you would take to heart, is that relationships with other people make up who you are. Learn, experience and remember those who sparked a fire in your soul.

The Sandbox Newspaper portrayed the perfect medium for me to express the ideas I mentioned above. News writing made sense. I cultivated a network of people I still keep up with today. We share our experiences with each other, talk about new events that are upcoming and push each other to further our education. Through the Sandbox, I became the student of the month, received an award for Outstanding Volunteer Service and two of my articles won 2nd and 3rd place in the Florida Society of News Editors competition. I learned about politics. I learned about birds of prey, honey bees and astronomy. I followed our SPC sports teams to a new degree I did not think I could attain. Writing for the Sandbox pushed me to redefine myself over and over again. With each new story I took a walk in someone else’s shoes.”

See photos from the FSNE awards banquet on Facebook.