Students Engage Arts Through Humanities Camp

Students in the USF St. Petersburg College Visions program pose for a picture in the Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg

High school students in the USF St. Petersburg College Visions program visit the Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg.

Twenty-two high school students from around Florida participated in the inaugural USF St. Petersburg College Visions humanities immersion summer camp. For nearly a week, the students lived, slept and studied on campus, participating in regimented sessions with USF St. Petersburg faculty on a variety of topics.

In addition to learning about humanities, the camp also served as a means for high school students to experience college life firsthand while living in one of two residence halls on campus.

“These students are getting a better perspective about what it means to be a student at USFSP,” said Patricia Putman, Associate Director, Florida Humanities Council, which helped fund the camp through a $15,000 grant.  “For some of these kids, this is their first time away from home.”

Students learn about the concepts of surrealism through the work of artist Salvador Dali.

Students learn about the concepts of surrealism through the work of artist Salvador Dali.

Toward the end of the week, students participated in a tour of the The Dali Museum, led by Peter Tush, Curator of Education at the Dali Museum and an adjunct professor at USFSP. He teaches about surrealism and the Dali program.

“It just seemed like a great idea,” Tush said about the collaboration between the museum and USFSP. “We’ve been doing a lot with USF St. Petersburg and when we were asked, we thought it would be great to have that experience for these students.”

Tush said it provides the students with an opportunity to learn about museums, content, and engage in a more in-depth conversation about art.

“They’re saturated in a culture where surrealism is in many ways one of the languages that’s used, so it’ll be a great opportunity to see something both that they’re familiar with and learn very different things about it,” he said.

Under the instruction of Peter Tush, Curator of Education at the Dali Museum and an adjunct professor at USFSP, students explored the different phases of Salvador Dali’s work over the years.

Under the instruction of Peter Tush, Curator of Education at the Dali Museum and an adjunct professor at USFSP, students explored the different phases of Salvador Dali’s work over the years.

Caitlin Halbing, a triplet, was the first of her sisters to receive the email notifications about the College Visions program. The low cost of $350 and large number of activities appealed to her and she shared the information with her sisters, Lindsay and Janelle—all of whom applied and were accepted into the program.  “There were a lot of activities – it seemed like they had everything planned out,” Halbing said. “It wasn’t just like you were going to go there and you were left trying to figure out what to do.”

Frank Biafora, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that USFSP and the Florida Humanities Council have partnered on many activities in the past. The inaugural grant provided an opportunity to reach state-wide to attract talented and creative junior and senior college-bound students interested in engaging in a full pre-college experience and learning more about the humanities.

“We were honored and very fortunate to have been awarded this opportunity from the Florida Humanities Council,” said Dr. Biafora. “I couldn’t be more proud of our faculty participants or more pleased with the outcome of this first College Visions summer experience.  And, I look forward to many more years of successful collaboration with our neighbors at the Humanities Council.”