Sarasota County Schools News

2017-18 open enrollment is Feb. 1-July 13 for Sarasota Virtual School

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SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, Jan. 31, 2017 – Sarasota Virtual School will begin open enrollment for the 2017-18 school year starting Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 and ending Thursday, July 13, 2017. Sarasota Virtual School (SVS) is a district public school which provides a full-time online learning option for students in grades K-12. 

Sarasota Virtual School is an interactive learning environment created through technology, in which the student and teacher are separated by time, space or both. Students access lessons and assignments and receive assessments via the internet. Using technology, teachers communicate with students and parents in many different ways. The school meets all Florida public school standards and requirements. Students completing graduation requirements will be awarded a high school diploma.

The Sarasota County School District contracts with four outside virtual instruction providers approved by the School Board. Connections Academy, K12 Florida and Florida Virtual School provides the district with online learning services for students in grades K-12, and Edgenuity serves district students in grades six-12. High school students have the option of using either of the four providers to meet their specific needs. 

The school uses a state-approved curriculum with instructional materials that include text books and a variety of printed materials. Computers and internet access may be provided at no charge to eligible students who meet family income requirements. Instructors are highly qualified and/or certified teachers, as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

Sarasota Virtual School is graded, just as all schools in Florida receive a grade each year. Teachers monitor student progress and give assignments online and through physical materials shipped to and from students. Student attendance is monitored, based on online activity, completion of material, and successful assessments. Textbooks and traditional instructional materials are used, but much of the content is delivered via the providers’ websites, (grades K-12), (grades K-12), K-12) and (grades six-12).

For the 2017-18 school year, all students in grades K-five are eligible for enrollment. Students who were enrolled in a Florida public school (traditional, charter, virtual or alternative) since Sept. 30, 2016, and are in grades six-12 will also meet the enrollment eligibility criteria. According to current Florida Statute, students in grades six-12 who were home-schooled during the 2016-17 school year are not eligible for SVS. Parents that are interested in this option must schedule an appointment with the SVS administrator to discuss their student’s needs and eligibility status. 

The Sarasota Virtual School office can be reached at 941-927-9000 or via e-mail at     


School Board member to serve on board of state school music association

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Jane Goodwin Nov 2016

ARTS EDUCATION ADVOCATE: Sarasota Counyt School Board member Jane Goodwin has been appointed to the board of the Florida School Music Association.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Jan. 30, 2017 – Jane Goodwin, a member of the School Board of Sarasota County since 2010, has been appointed by the Florida School Boards Association to serve a two-year term on the board of the Florida School Music Association. The FSMA is a not-for-profit association of members that coordinates and oversees recognized interscholastic music activities in the state. 

Goodwin said she is pleased to represent the FSBA on the FSMA board. “Music is integrated into many facets of our instructional curriculum,” she said. “It is very important in student success, creativity and critical thinking. I look forward to working with others around the state as we emphasize more programs, increase student participation and enhance student learning through the arts.”

The FSMA Board will meet on Sunday and Monday, Feb. 26-27, at the Holiday Inn Orlando-Disney Springs Area, for board workshops and meetings. 

About the Florida School Music Association

Membership in FSMA is required for schools that wish to participate in state-recognized interscholastic music activities, which include music performance assessments for large ensembles and for solo-ensemble events. The association recognizes the Florida Bandmasters Association, the Florida Orchestra Association and the Florida Vocal Association to sponsor district and state Music Performance Assessments for bands, orchestras, and choruses in Florida high schools and middle schools.

About the Florida School Boards Association

The Florida School Boards Association is a nonprofit corporation representing the elected school boards in Florida. The organization has been the collective voice for Florida school districts since 1930 and is closely allied with other educational and community agencies to work toward improvement of education in Florida. The mission of the FSBA is to increase student achievement through the development of effective school board leadership and advocacy for public education.

Voices of Venice High perform at equestrian event

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Horse at Fox Lea Farm-Venice chorus event Jan 2017

TAKING A LEAP: Students from Venice High choral groups will sing at 'Show Jumping Under the Stars' Jan. 27 at Fox Lea Farm in Venice.

VENICE, Jan. 26, 2017 – Students from Venice High School will perform at “Show Jumping Under the Stars,” Friday, Jan. 27, at Fox Lea Farm in Venice. Gates open at 5 p.m., competition starts at 7 p.m. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Parking is free; tickets are $5 at the gate. 

Le Voci Di Venezia (The Voices of Venice) is a group of 44 skilled musicians who are members of one or more Venice High School choral ensembles. These dedicated students rehearse twice a week after school and perform regularly throughout the Venice Community. At the event, Le Voci Di Venezia will perform the National Anthem, in addition to other selections.

The event marks the start of the 2017 Venice Equestrian Tour winter horse show circuit, featuring the “Show Jumping Under the Stars” series of $25,000 Grand Prix Horse Show Jumping events. Established in 1983, Fox Lea Farm is a privately owned, nationally recognized horse show facility. The venue hosts and produces over 35 weeks of horse shows a year, from grass roots to Grand Prix. The Grand Prix events run each consecutive Friday through March 3.

Grand Prix Horse Show Jumping is an Olympic sport, requiring extraordinary athleticism from both horse and rider, with jumps close to 5 feet in height and 6 feet in width.

“We look forward to welcoming horses and riders from all over the country to our beautiful city and facility,” said Kim Farrell, COO of Fox Lea Farm. “We encourage our local community to come out and experience the beauty and excitement of national-level Grand Prix Show Jumping.”

A full schedule of events and additional information is available at

More information about Le Voci Di Venezia is available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and

Fox Lea Farm is located at 800 N Auburn Road, Venice.


Riverview High dedicates band shell at Performing Arts Center

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Andrew J Crew-RHS band shell namesake

Andrew J. Crew

SARASOTA, Jan. 25, 2017 - Riverview High School will dedicate the new Andrew J. Crew Band Shell at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27, in the Riverview Performing Arts Center on the RHS campus at 1 Ram Way, Sarasota. The band shell is named in honor of the late Andrew J. Crew, who served as the band director at Riverview from 1968 to 1983. He died in 2014.

At the dedication, the school’s renowned Kiltie Band will perform some of Crew’s favorite pieces. Current band director and RHS Music Department Chairman Mark Spreen, as well as special guests, will conduct the pieces. Musician and educator Aaron Romm will perform trumpet solos. Tickets are $5 each and will be available at the door.

After more than two years of fundraising, the band shell has been delivered and installed.  Spreen said, “We would like to thank all our generous donors and the individuals who worked diligently to see this project through. It has had its challenges, but we now see the light at the end of tunnel and can almost hear the music.”   

About Andrew J. “Jack” Crew   

Andrew J. Crew set the high standards the Kiltie Band continues to enjoy today under the baton of Mark Spreen, a Kiltie Band alumnus who was a student during the Crew’s tenure at RHS. In his 15 years as band director, Crew touched the lives of hundreds of students and established the Kiltie Band as one of the finest high school band programs in the U.S.

While Crew was at Riverview, the achievements of the Kiltie Band were numerous and included performances at the Southern Division of the Music Educators National Conference, the Southeastern Concert Band Clinic in Troy, Alabama, and the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. The band also performed for the American Bandmasters Association Convention when it was held in Sarasota in 1977. The band performed in many parades, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Cotton Bowl Parade, the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington D.C., New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as well as international parades.

Throughout Crew’s career, his bands performed at the highest level and were showcased in concerts and outdoor performances at the local, regional and national levels. Highly sought as a conductor and clinician, he was very active throughout Florida and the Southeast, providing critique and assistance to students and fellow band directors.

Crew was a member of the Florida Bandmasters Association, Florida Music Educators Association, National Band Association, Phi Beta Mu, and the American Bandmasters Association. During his affiliation with these organizations, he was selected by his peers to hold various leadership positions.

His individual honors were many, including such awards as the Teacher of the Year (Riverview High, 1975 and Lakeland High, 1992); “Man of the Year” (VFW-Sarasota, 1980); Outstanding Bandmaster (Phi Beta Mu, 1986), and Outstanding Music Educator the Year (FMEA, 1991). In 1990, Crew was chosen as a recipient of the “Legion of Honor” award by the John Philip Sousa Foundation; recognizing him as one of the Ten Best Band Directors in the U.S. Crew was elected to the Florida Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame in 1994.

About Mark Spreen

Mark Spreen received his Bachelor’s in Music Education from the University of Florida and his Masters of Arts from Grand Canyon University. He has also completed graduate courses at Florida State University and the University of Miami. Spreen is a past president of the Florida Bandmasters Association and has served as a member of the board of directors of the Florida Music Educators Association. He has also served on the board of the Florida School Music Association, chairman of the Music Performance Assessment Committee and the Clinics Committee, and district secretary and district chairman of the Florida Bandmasters Association.

Spreen is a graduate of Riverview High School and is a former Kiltie. He directed the Lake Wales, Keystone Heights and Fernandina Beach high school bands before returning to Sarasota. His bands have consistently earned Superior ratings at Florida Bandmasters Association festivals and have performed in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland; the Hollywood Christmas Parade; the National Cherry Blossom Parade; the pre-game and half-time shows at the Sugar Bowl; and many other events.

Spreen is a member of the Florida Bandmasters Association, Florida Music Educators Association, Music Education National Conference, and Phi Beta Mu. In November 2016 he was inducted into the Florida Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

Booker High hosts annual Magnet Night for 8th-grade students

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Jan. 24, 2017 – Booker High School will host its annual Magnet Night at 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26, on the school’s campus. The event, designed for eighth-grade students and their families, will showcase the school’s magnet programs in the areas of the arts, the legal system and college preparatory academics.

Magnet programs allow students the flexibility to pursue their educational goals regardless of their attendance zone; it is independent of the Sarasota County School District’s school choice program. Students may apply to any magnet program the district offers. Free transportation within Sarasota County is available to students who qualify for a Booker High magnet program that is not available at another district high school.

The school’s Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) program is a nationally recognized pre-professional program for the arts, offering comprehensive curriculum in five disciplines: dance, digital film, music, theatre and fine art. Families interested in pursuing this program should meet in the VPA Theatre for a presentation highlighting student work in each area.

Additionally, Booker High is home to the only Law Academy in Sarasota, for students interested in studying the legal system. A presentation of the Law Academy curriculum will be offered in the school’s Mock Courtroom.

Booker High School also offers the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) program. Developed by the University of Cambridge in England, AICE delivers college-level academic curriculum to students, with the chance to earn college credit in high school. Information on the program will be available in both the theatre and the courtroom presentations.

Booker High School is located at 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota.


Sarasota Middle School hosts showcase and family night dinner

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SCS News

 SARASOTA, Jan. 24, 2017 – Sarasota Middle School Showcase and Family Night Dinner is a celebration of the many talents of students. The event, scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26, will include performances by the Honor Choir, Drama and Chinese departments, Science Fair Awards, National History Day, Science Fair and Art project displays, a Parent-Teacher-Student Organization book fair and a dinner to raise money for students to participate in the National History Day Contest. The dinner will be provided by Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

National History Day begins with a series of contests at local and state/affiliate levels. Students begin their journey by presenting their projects in classrooms, schools, and districts around the world. Top entries are invited to the state/affiliate level contests. The top two entries in every category at the state/affiliate level are then invited to the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest in Washington, D.C., in June. This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History.”

Here is the schedule for the evening:

National History Day Family Dinner: café, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Performances and Awards: café stage, 5:45-7:45 p.m.

Student displays: media center, building 4 and art gallery: 5:30-8 p.m.

PTSO Book Fair: café, taking place throughout the event   

Sarasota Middle School is located at 4826 Ashton Road, Sarasota.

Booker Middle School students hit 'Fast Track for Success'

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Jan. 24, 2017 – Booker Middle students will test-drive a number of jobs during a collaborative community event designed to inspire them to speed toward their career goals. The 90-minute event, known as Fast Track for Success, will rev up at 8 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the school gymnasium.

More than 20 community members from fields as diverse as medicine and construction will join a group of eighth-grade students to talk about their careers for a special “time trial.” Students will make a “pit stop” at each career station and spend some time in the driver’s seat as they navigate the necessary salary, education and training requirements.  

This special event is sponsored by College for Every Student, a mentoring group dedicated to providing college experiences and training for at-risk middle and high school students.

“This event will really help students to understand what they need to do to prepare for the career of their dreams,” said Haley Shaffer, CFES coordinator and a world history teacher.

Booker Middle School is located at 2250 Myrtle Street, Sarasota.


Suncoast Technical College Newtown cuts ribbon on campus garden

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SCS News

SARASOTA, Jan. 20, 2017 – Suncoast Technical College Newtown will cut the ribbon on an organic school garden from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 24. Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw and other city and school district officials are scheduled to attend. 

The garden is made possible with the assistance of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences School & Community Garden program, which assists several schools with campus gardens.

STC Newtown teaches adult education at this campus for students ages 16 to 55. Volunteers, registered through the district’s Volunteer and Partnership Office, will be assisting students in taking care of the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, and possibly collard greens — all organic — will be grown in the garden and nutrition education classes will be taught so students can learn about cooking food fresh from the garden. 

Adult education teacher Susan Imperato said, “This gardening program is in many of our schools in Sarasota County, and we’re pleased to now offer it in adult education. I’m pleased that we’ll be educating parents and other adults to help them learn innovative ways to cook and provide healthy meals for their children and other family members, using fresh ingredients.”  

STC Newtown is located at 2400 Carlson Ave., Sarasota.

Booker High student gets top score in nation on AICE literature exam

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Dana Buckhoy 2016 BHS grad

TOP SCHOLAR: Booker High 2016 graduate Dana Buckhoy earned the Cambridge Learner "Top in Country" distinction.

SARASOTA, Jan. 18, 2017 – Booker High School graduate Dana Buckhoy has been awarded the Cambridge Learner “Top in Country” distinction on the Cambridge AICE English Literature exam. Buckhoy was one of only two students in the U.S. to achieve the award.

AICE is the Advanced International Certificate of Education, an international educational program developed and administered by the University of Cambridge, an 800-year old institution based in Cambridge, England. In Sarasota County, the AICE program is offered to students at Booker, Sarasota and North Port high schools; a middle-school program is offered at Heron Creek Middle in North Port.   

Booker High AICE Coordinator Chris Hutchinson said he is thrilled about Buckhoy’s accomplishment and what it reflects about the quality of AICE instruction at Booker. “I’m very proud of Dana. Her achievement shows what hard work and dedication can do, and it reflects well on the program.”

Buckhoy, who now studies Fine Art on a full scholarship at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, said she was “shocked” to learn that she won this honor. “I knew I passed the test, but I didn’t know what score I got until I learned about this,” Buckhoy said. “I really struggled with the class, so to achieve something like this makes it worth it.”

Her AICE Literature teacher, Rebecca Prozzo, said she is not surprised that Buckhoy earned this honor. Prozzo describes her former student as a flexible thinker with the insight to move beyond the structure of analysis and mechanical writing. “She had that perception and sensitivity that not all learners have,” Prozzo said. “I think she was born with it. It was an honor to teach her.”

Buckhoy said English has always been her strongest subject in school, and she earned As on both the AICE General Paper and the AICE English Language exams. However, by senior year, she was juggling so much in her life — balancing two jobs with attending school, where she carried a rigorous course load — she said attending class became a struggle. She said she was exhausted from the long hours she kept and credits Prozzo’s nurturing guidance with helping her navigate the difficulties of both her life and the class. Prozzo has been teaching English at Booker High for 23 years.

“If it wasn’t for Ms. Prozzo, I would have had a much harder time with the class and with the entire year. She sat down and cornered me about coming to school,” Buckhoy said, adding, “the way she taught her class made it understandable. She made what we were reading come to life.”

Prozzo acknowledged that helping her student prioritize and pare down her extracurricular obligations was challenging, but was key to Buckhoy’s ultimate achievement. “She really had to struggle to find balance,” Prozzo said.

While Buckhoy is not enrolled in English classes at Santa Fe, she said the award has opened her mind to the possibilities of what she could do. Prozzo echoed this sentiment.

“I think what’s important is that Dana has that sense of self-affirmation now, and that will help propel her forward,” Prozzo said.

Buckhoy said she feels that coming to Booker High School was “fate.” She moved to Sarasota in her sophomore year and happened to be districted to Booker. She applied for both AICE and the school’s Visual and Performing Arts programs and was accepted into both.

Booker High School is located at 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota.


Education Foundation rebrands Eve of Excellence fundraiser 'CreateSRQ'

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Education Foundation logo Sept 2016

This news release is from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

SARASOTA, Jan. 11, 2017 - The Education Foundation of Sarasota County announces the evolution of Evening of Excellence. Re-branded as CreateSRQ, this multi-faceted initiative created to elevate arts education has become the area’s preeminent high school arts competition and exhibit. The arts exhibit has been enhanced to also include a traveling art show in which the TOP 25 pieces will be displayed at 20 high profile locations across Sarasota County including The Met Fashion House, Sarasota Yacht Club, the Sarasota Opera, Selby Gardens, University Park Country Club, Venetian River & Golf Club and the North Port Arts Center.

The culmination of the CreateSRQ events, the Education Foundation will host a gala at Michael’s on The Bay at Selby Gardens on Friday, February 24, 2017.  This signature fundraising event has also evolved to include a mobile auction of 20 of the TOP 25 artworks and a live auction of the TOP 5 artworks will take place at the gala; two will be paired with experiences such as tickets to the Broadway Show Hamilton and a trip to Napa Valley. Tickets for the CreateSRQ Gala are $250 per person, attire is cocktail and, due to the mobile bidding, smart phones are an encouraged accessory. Tickets can be purchased at

CreateSRQ Overview:

January 13-16: Juried Art Show - Open to the public daily noon to 4 p.m., Roskamp Exhibition Hall I Ringling College of Art + Design

February 8-23: Traveling Art Show, various locations across Sarasota County

February 24: CreateSRQ Gala – 6 p.m. cocktails I 7p.m. Dinner and Dancing, Michael’s on The Bay at Selby Gardens,  $250 per person

The CreateSRQ Gala is presented by PNC Wealth Management and sponsored by numerous individuals and organizations including Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Ringling College of Art + Design, Swift Family Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Tom and Sherry Koski, McIntyre Elwell & Strammer General Contractors, Tandem Construction and Willis Smith Construction. 

About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County is a supporting partner that exponentially enhances the educational experiences available to the children of Sarasota County. Its mission is to strengthen the community by investing in educational opportunities for the students, teachers, and schools. The Foundation works to match donor’s passions with high-impact projects and initiatives that help every child in Sarasota County rise to their full potential. It achieves this mission through scholarships, access to advanced technology, supplies needed for creativity to flourish, and funds for educators’ professional development. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County and its philanthropic investors are champions for students, teachers, and schools.

For more information on the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, call 941.927.0965 or visit


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