Performing Arts School
Students at Florida School of the Arts (FloArts) at St. Johns River Community College hope so. Visual and performing arts students plunge straight into their disciplines, rather than first slog through a year or two of prerequisites. “The nature of Florida School of the Arts allows our students to immerse themselves in their chosen art discipline immediately,” says Dr. Gary Piazza, dean. “Students have opportunities at the freshman and sophomore level that their peers at a four-year university don’t receive until they reach the upperclassman level.”
The school focuses on all aspects of a career in the arts in addition to nurturing students’ talents. Besides the classes that help to earn an A.A. degree, students take courses so they know how to make a living as an artist. “A guest art attorney came into the classes and lectured on contracts and copyright laws,” Piazza says. “This class provides a platform for discussion of the business aspects of art.”
It’s a busy two years for FloArts students with classes, gallery events, stage productions, and rehearsals. But when alumni come back to speak, it reminds students of what they’re striving for, whether it’s to be a household name from TV or film or to be the driving creative force behind a graphic design department for a major company. “One of the most enjoyable events last year was having former FloArts student Amber Ryan, a new star on ABC’s One Life to Live, speak to our graduates at their graduation ceremony last spring,” Piazza says.
Piazza estimates that 75 percent of graduates go on to careers in their chosen field, such as Mickey Mance, who recently retired from Disney after 25 years of serving as dancer, dance captain, and artistic director. —SRR
Contact Piazza at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The week-long celebration included a “Night of Stars” homecoming pageant where competitors for the titles of prince, princess, king, and queen incorporated the star theme into their attire. A celebrity look-a-like contest, comedy night, a parade, a pep rally, and a tailgate party for the basketball game wrapped up the week’s events. The administration even got rapper Trick Daddy to come to campus and sign autographs and take photos with the students.
One of the biggest events was the “Night of Stars” formal dinner and dance. “The decorations included life-size pictures of Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe, cameras, lights, filmstrips, Hollywood signs, and stars,” Sinclair says. “We actually go through the themes and look at our venue and see how we can incorporate the theme into several events during the week.” —JB
Contact Sinclair at email@example.com.
Last fall, South Florida Community College agriculture students started using a five-acre citrus grove on campus to produce a new strain of oranges, “Early Gold.”
Coordinator of Marketing Kathleen Border calls the grove “a huge achievement” for SFCC because of the years of collaboration between the college and the citrus industry it took to construct a grove convenient for students. “The grove’s actually within walking distance from our citrus building, so it's sort of in their backyard,” Border says.
Because the grove is so close, Agriculture Program Manager and Professor Laurie Hurner says students see the results of their decision-making every time they come to class.
Although the trees have yet to bear fruit, grove-related planning, research, and projects already have been incorporated into the curriculum. Having hands-on experience as well as classroom study is important for effective learning, Hurner says. “Anytime you apply something you’ve learned in the classroom, it’ll stick with you.”
So far, students have planted trees, determined irrigation needs, identified pests and diseases, planned for cold protection, and researched and collected data. Hurner says many agriculture students are excited because they haven’t had previous experience working in a young grove. —BF
Contact Border at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Golf Course
To the untrained eye, the new $2 million Hayt Golf Learning Center, situated on 38-acres with a driving range, three regulation golf holes, and a practice tee and short-game area, appears to be a typical golf-training facility. In fact, UNF’s golf team was one of the driving forces behind the construction of the center.
However, behind its Bermuda shorts and collared-shirt exterior is a facility devoted to education. As an affiliated member of “The First Tee Program,” which makes golf affordable and accessible to urban youth who might not have a chance to play, the Hayt Center offers five clinics and two summer camps for Jacksonville youth. “We want to assist in getting urban children involved in the game and teach them life skills,” says Becky Purser, UNF’s director of recreation.
The center also includes an 8,000-square-foot educational facility where UNF faculty conducts research on a range of ecology and biology studies.
But the Hayt Center doesn’t just study good ecology; it practices it. As part of the university’s partnership with Audubon International, the Hayt Center is striving to achieve the Audubon’s “Gold Signature” status, a designation awarded to landowners who create an ecologically designed community. “We’ve already designed the course to the highest environmental standards,” Purser says. “The facility was designed to be environmentally friendly, and our education program is one of our outstanding components.” —JLContact Purser at email@example.com.
Students in the graphic design honors program provide pro bono design work for community organizations. “It’s always been part of the Art Institute’s mission to enable our students to get entrenched in community activities and in turn have the community respond,” says Arlene Wites, AiFL’s director of communications.
The graphic design honors class taught by Frank Balzano works on five to 15 projects each quarter. The projects include logo designs, posters, invitation covers and program covers, newsletters, and magazine covers.
Organizations throughout South Florida have benefited from the design work created by AiFL students, including the Miami Heat, Broward General Medical Center, United Way of Broward County, Florida Poison Control, Florida International Film Festival, American Red Cross, and Make a Wish Foundation. “It’s a win-win situation,” Balzano says. “Everybody wins out, from the students to the clients to those they’re trying to provide services for.”
Balzano says he loves teaching the graphic design honors class because it reminds him of why he got involved in teaching. “Any way I could help somebody else make it out there in the market, that gives me a lot of pleasure,” he says.
Balzano says his students are “top notch.” Sandra Macias, a graphic design major says that Balzano’s class provides a good opportunity for students to get experience on real projects. “We’re all excited to do something for real,” she says.
Students recently designed logos for FedEx’s “Tug a Plane” charity event in which more than 4,000 people participated raising a total of $20,000. “What students actually do is increase consumer awareness that a lot of these non-profit organizations even exist,” Balzano says. FedEx representative Greg Haley says the design work done by the students at AiFL was critical. “Their design really set the tone for our business communications,” Haley says. —BF
Contact Wites at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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