Nick Jones Announces Resignation
Production Manager Nick Jones announced that he will be leaving his post at BHS to pursue other career opportunities. His leave is effective Oct. 1.
Jones’s contributions to the VPA and to Booker High School have been copious and varied. He first became an employee of the school as a student in the erstwhile Tech Theatre Program (now: Production & Design Department). In those early years, he distinguished himself as a capable lighting designer and pioneered a website and online ticketing system for the VPA.
Upon graduating, Jones became a part of the VPA staff more officially, first as adjunct faculty and later as the VPA Production Manager. He has worn many hats at the school, from acting as lead school-based consultant on the $22 million renovation project to heading up the safety and security team.
Jones’ technical skills and vision have enabled the VPA to thrive despite the pandemic. He was responsible for moving our audition process online, providing access to students from around the world. The 21-22 school year marks the greatest increase in out-of-state transfers than any in history. He also implemented and executed a streaming process for live events, allowing our performances to reach a broader audience. This has been a great benefit to both audiences shut in for health reasons, and for students, whose efforts were rewarded: an audience is a vital part of performance.
A lighting designer by trade, Jones has throughout the years had gigs around the nation, from Sarasota’s professional stages (WBTT and FST) to the annual iconic New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in NYC. We have been the fortunate beneficiaries of his prodigious talent in this regard: he’s designed dozens of VPA shows, imbuing those productions with the depth and nuance of his expert eye and skill.
And of course, he has been the voice of VPA productions as well, with his clipped and clear recorded pre-show speeches literally setting the stage for our shows for about a decade.
Through it all, Jones has demonstrated unique capability, innovation, and an eye for detail in every project he’s been assigned, and his leadership has transformed the VPA into a more professional, modern operation. His move on to other ventures is a great loss to the VPA organization. Whatever his future holds, there’s no doubt it’ll be bright.
VPA Chamber Choir Featured at 9/11 Memorial
The BHS VPA Chamber Choir performed in collaboration with the Choral Artists of Sarasota and the SCF Chamber Choir at the 9/11 Memorial for the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. The event was held at the Sarasota National Cemetary.
The group performed “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the observance. The event celebrated America’s proud history while remembering those who lost their lives to the attacks.
Envisioning the Future: VPA Art Visits College Room
The VPA Visual Art level 1 class began a sketch of a different sort on Sept. 7: they began designing their futures. The class visited BHS post-secondary guru Lem Andrews, who oriented the freshmen to the room and helped them begin laying the groundwork for their goals.
During the visit, Andrews emphasized that it’s never too early to prepare for success. He pointed out that the average American will spend 40 or more years in a career, so it may as well be a career they love.
Throughout his workshop, he enlisted input from BHS College for Every Student (CFES) ambassadors, the school’s peer counseling team. At a tender age, these seniors were able to offer powerful advice from the trenches, reinforcing the message that the high school years slip by quickly, so it’s important to pack the most into every moment.
Students of Booker High School should make the most of the varied resources available to navigate post-secondary planning. The College and Career Resource Room is a one-stop-shop for planning.
On hand always is expert advice from Andrews, partners Ted Downing and Khea Davis, along with peer mentors and volunteers. The room is also stocked with information from colleges, internships, scholarships, the U.S. Armed Forces and more, and offers technology designed to help students identify interests, potential careers, and good-fit colleges.
VPA Dance Students Have Real-World Lessons
VPA Dancers had the chance this week to explore potential dance-related careers through collaboration with the Theatre Department.
Dance students visited level 4 Theatre classes to teach choreography to Theatre students. This activity is a part of Dance Department Chair Courtney Smith’s implementation of an AP Dance class that allows students to connect their training to relevant career paths.
Teaching dance is, of course, a viable path for many young dancers, and juniors Jessie Johnson, Maija Boelkins, and Leslie Rios-Oviedo had just that opportunity with a group of excited musical theatre artists.
The collaboration capitalizes on interdisciplinary empowerment, breaking the barriers that can creep up because of the challenges of time and curriculum. Both the teachers and students in this week’s classes raved about the experience, and more is to come.
VPA Music Gets its Groove On
In preparation for the season opener, Saturday Night Fever!, the VPA Music Department has stepped back in time. The concert is a nod to the ’70s and will feature a range of iconic faves, from political songs (Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”) to high-energy post-disco hits (“It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls).
Patrons will hear ABBA as an orchestral medley, power ballads like “Last Dance,” and more. The concert will be outdoors and visitors must be masked, per Sarasota County Schools policy.
Tickets go on sale for this outdoor concert on Sept. 13.