Music makes first reception special
Drumming and singing highlight Academy Prep Center's celebration.
By NICOLE BARDO-COLON
Published June 17, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - The rhythmic sounds of West African drums mesmerized the audience Wednesday night at the Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg community reception.
"The closer you get to the vibration, the more you feel it and want to become a part of it, " said Fred Johnson.
Johnson, a vocalist and musician, used the analogy of a circle of drummers to symbolize the importance of getting an education close to home.
Johnson sang and played several African instruments with Malick Faye, a drummer who has family tradition of playing the drums dating back 900 years. The theme was community and the drums were used to teach
As the audience mouthed the words to Nature Boy by Nat King Cole, the event turned into an improvisational concert/lesson about musical instruments and life with a focus on community. Both are renowned musicians who volunteered their time to help spread the news about Academy Prep.
The school at 2301 22nd Ave. S is celebrating its 10th year in St. Petersburg and this was its first community reception. Faculty, students and families, graduates and community members were all in attendance.
Academy Prep enrolls students for fifth through eighth grade and is seeking fifth- and sixth-graders to attend its summer program and testing, which is mandatory in the enrollment process.
There are approximately 72 enrolled at the St. Petersburg campus and more than 100 students at Academy Prep's Tampa campus. The school is also seeking mentors, tutors and volunteers.
"We want to help the community have a sense of who we are, " said Keturah Mills, interim head of school and director of graduate support at Academy Prep.
"Our program is extensive, " she said. "We believe in a holistic approach."
The students begin their day at 7 a.m. and can go until 6 p.m. Students are taught social skills and are exposed to different cultural activities.
"The ability is there just given the opportunity, " said Joy Petit, vice president for development. "A lot of these kids are from fractured situations."
The program requires a lot of parental involvement including at least 50 hours of community service each year, even after the student graduates. The only cost to parents is an activity fee, but if a student qualifies for free or reduced lunch then assistance is provided.
"Discipline is not an issue, " Mills said. "Students that are here want to be here."
Several graduates were in attendance greeting visitors and sharing their stories of success.
Christa Lambert, 16, will be a junior at St. Andrew's School in Delaware in the fall. She said the boarding school was a perfect fit for her and the opportunity came through Academy Prep.
"I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and experience different things, " Lambert said. "I wanted to branch out and become more diverse."
She said Academy Prep helped prepare her for the next level and helped her to realize what she is interested in. She is involved in dance at St. Andrew's as well as an architectural program. She said she wants to pursue a degree in architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University or a school in England.
For more Info
Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg
[Last modified June 16, 2007, 21:21:14]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]