Polk State College will unveil its newest building on the Winter Haven campus on Friday, September 30, at 9:30 a.m. at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School. The event is open to the public and will include tours of the new building and information on the offerings at the high school, one of two public charter high schools operated by Polk State.
The high school opened in August 2006 with 64 students. Its current enrollment is 270 juniors and seniors earning Polk State College credits while completing high school requirements.
According to Polk State College President Eileen Holden, Friday’s event represents a key moment in the history of the College: “Our core mission is service to the students of Polk County. Our engagement in the charter school movement has allowed us to accelerate achievement of students in the pre-college pipeline while also expanding access to affordable college degrees here in our communities. This wonderful new building provides our students, faculty and staff with an infinitely more appropriate environment to achieve Polk’s goals.”
The 15,000 square-foot structure was designed and built to meet the nationally recognized standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Environmentally friendly building materials were used, a self-sustaining water usage system was installed, and the building capitalizes on natural lighting. If certification is granted, Polk’s Chain of Lakes building would be Polk State’s first LEED-certified building and the first high school in Polk County with such distinction.
According to Bridget Fetter, director of the high school, the environmental emphasis is carrying over into the science curriculum, which includes school environmental building lessons provided by the STEM Research and Green Education Foundation (GEF) as part of the school’s required research course.
The Chain of Lakes Building will also become the newest showcase for Polk’s Art in Public Places.
According to Fetter, Dr. Sharon Miller, Provost of Polk State’s Winter Haven campus, has made support for the arts a high priority, and the new building will host an original glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly, folk art paintings by local resident Ruby C. Williams, and glass pieces by Doug Taylor, Jr. and Pauli Nelson Maiville of St. Petersburg’s Morean Arts Center. A metal painting by Winter Haven native Therman Statom is also planned.
“We aim to elevate the minds and spirits of our students,” says Miller, “And surrounding them with such art is one more way we do that. Our talented faculty, of course, are another — and the students themselves are always the most important masterpiece in the building.”
The school had a 100% graduate rate in 2011. All 131 graduates met college-ready standards in mathematics, reading and writing, as measured by a standardized college entrance exam. The graduates were awarded over two million dollars in scholarship funds.
While working towards the completion of the Associates in Arts degree, Polk State COL students may choose in-depth study in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Leadership and Service Learning, Health Occupations careers and Digital Media.
Students may also work towards completion of the Associates in Science degree with concentrations in Information Systems and Criminal Justice.