Creativity in the Time of Covid–May 16, 2021

Booker Faculty Go GOLD for a Good Cause

After years of working behind the scenes to craft memorable performances, on June 11, the Booker VPA faculty will step into the spotlight themselves.

In the first-ever VPA faculty showcase, “Gold,” our teachers will share the gift of their gifts after a hard year with opportunities strangled by the pandemic. Tickets are just $5, in hopes of making it affordable to students, who might just delight in witnessing their teachers in song, dance, and creative displays of artistry.

It’s set for the last day of school, which will also be the last day of school ever for our beloved Theatre Department Chair, Scott Keys. After 21 years of inspired teaching and helming top-notch musicals and performances that have catapulted VPA Theatre into national prestige and kept it on the map, Mr. Keys is retiring to pursue other endeavors.

The concert will be replete with a merch tent, where one-of-a-kind commemorative shirts and items will be made and available for sale, thanks to the artistry of Steve Strenk and Cathie Janssen.

Space is limited, so get your tickets today!

If you are not able to attend in person, don’t fret! You can still participate. One goal of the showcase is to recoup money lost through the pandemic drought, and if you feel moved by the VPA and its outstanding work with our youth, or have ever been called to help, now’s a great time. You can donate here.

VPA Dance Collaborates with Next Generation

Leave it to Courtney Smith to devise a collaboration that checks all the boxes: creativity, curiosity, critical thinking–oh–and plenty of cuteness.

This time, Ms. Courtney teamed up with Fruitville Elementary first grade teacher Nicole See to build connections and enrichment on Ms. See’s classroom animal project. Ms. See’s students researched an animal of their choice, created dioramas, and then presented information to their class and, through Zoom, Ms. Courtney’s Choreography 1 class.

Inspired by the first graders’ work, each of the dancers selected an animal to research themselves, but their presentation would be in dance. The project was done in just a few days, as one point of the project is to stimulate quick thinking and decision-making, to coerce creativity, even if it doesn’t initially rear its helpful head.

The project culminated on May 14, when the two classes joined through Zoom. Each dancer performed a piece as an animal, and the first graders then guessed, based on the body movements, which animals the dancers were representing.

By the end, the youngsters were asking great questions (“What made you decide to choose your animal?”), offering sweet praise (“I like this so much, I wish we could do this every day!”), and making insightful observations (“I thought you were a snake because you wiggled your body.”).

Exploration, exchange of ideas, and an introduction to abstract thinking were all part of the shared lesson, and it’ll likely be one that remains with both sets of students for time to come.

Music Finishes Strong

We’re in the home stretch, and VPA Music Department is revving up for a breathtaking end of the year tour-de-force that offers something for everyone:

May 20, 2021 (6:30 p.m.) Jam!

This year has been rough for all of us. What better way to release some pent-up stress than to rock out to your favorite songs with a bunch of teenagers? BHS VPA boasts not one, but two incredible rock bands: Category 5 and Tempest—and nearly all the members of Cat 5 will be graduating this year. Check out this live performance at the Eye and say you saw them back before they played stadiums. And PS, this will be even more fun because Booker Middle kid rockers will take the stage as well. For real, it will be awesome. And you should be there.

Beautiful sunsets and energetic (but responsibly spaced!!) crowds not your jam? Watch the live stream from home:

May 21, 2021 (6:30 p.m.) Sing!

Come see Sing!, a celebration of the spirit and end of the year presented by Mr. Z’s zillion choirs comprising truly dynamic vocalists who can handle just about every genre out there with pluck and deluxe harmonizing. Again, there’s a collaboration here with youth, this time those adorable singers from SSA+S. Again, this concert will be presented at the Eye of the Tornado and will likely be set against yet another inspiring sunset. Tickets:

But yet again, it’s available on live stream, so if crowds still feel unappealing, however masked and distanced, take advantage of the stream:

Sarasota Farmer’s Market Concert

The VPA Orchestra and Modern Bands will enliven your experience at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 22. If you’ve haven’t seen the VPA Orchestra, under the capable direction of Amanda Nix, you are missing out. Period. Catch them as you shop for local veggies between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market downtown. Sorry, no live stream.

May 25, 2021, 6:30 p.m. Band Concert

The final public music performance of the year, the Booker Bands in Concert is an event of solidarity, featuring the Jazz and Concert Bands from Booker High School (directed by Ellen Saxton and Tim Eaton) and Booker Middle School (directed by Zach McKee). It’s a whirlwind of music that is sure to delight!

Silver Cord Ceremony–RSVP HERE!

The VPA will host its second-annual Silver Cord Ceremony, where the cord that signifies the completion of this prestigious arts program, on June 3 at 6:30 p.m. Seniors and their families (grads + four guests) are welcome to come out to share this special evening, plus receive VPA gifts and mementos. RSVP here.

Also, seniors will be included in a VPA Annual and must complete a survey and submit a headshot to be included. Email headshot as an attachment to

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