Creativity in the Time of Covid–Feb. 27, 2022

At Last! Death By Chocolate Delivers

The wildly popular Death By Chocolate was a hit again this year. With a theme of time–fleeting and everchanging–Death By Chocolate: In This Hour offered plenty of sweetness. Here’s a look:

The Arts as Impact

The BHS Student Government Association presented “Culture Day” on Feb. 25 during both lunches. The presentation included singing, dancing, art, and poetry celebrating Black culture.

It was an uplifting event that reminded all of the power of the arts to stimulate connection and honor identity.

VPA Art Pays Homage to Kara Walker

You saw it featured in the above slideshow–what better way to showcase Black achievement in art than to reference one of America’s most celebrated Black artists? Level 1 VPA artists painted a chalk mural featuring the colors of the African diaspora along with Walker-esque silhouettes.

The process was a lesson in problem-solving: first, the artists photographed Black people of the BHS community. Next, they had stencils cut (thanks to ____ and the Engineering class!). Finally, after painting the colors, students worked together to paint the stenciled figures.

One of the pieces from Kara Walker’s new show, titled “Slaughter of the Innocents (They Might Be Guilty of Something).”
( Kara Walker, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York )

From Stage to Screen: Film and Theatre Collaboration in the Works

Film and Theatre students began a collaboration this week that will help both groups of students with vital skills. The project, directing actors for film, gives film students an opportunity to guide performances. This gives them insight into how to offer constructive feedback, while for actors, it opens doors to a new venue. For these students who are accustomed to the stage, playing for a camera that’s a few feet away is a new experience. Furthermore, the proximity of lights, mics and film artists is a great way to deliver them from their comfort zones.

Mr. Timpe and Ms. Smith, who are leading the collaboration, have been thrilled already at the outcome and look forward to creating new connective, impactful experiences for their students.

Special Guest in Film & Animation

Levi Hernandez brought in a special guest for drawing day in Ms. Burton’s Level 1 Film & Animation classes Friday. Stan just may be the first Bearded Dragon to visit the Film studios.

Upcoming Events

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Mar. 3-5 | 7 p.m. and Mar. 6 | 2 p.m. @ The Civic Green

Presented in partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy, this Shakespeare in the Park presentation of one of the bard’s most popular plays is sure to please. Exploring love in all its facets, the play is a comical look at the nature of attraction.

Fool*ish

Apr. 1-2 | 7 p.m. @ Booker High School

The line between reality and fiction is blurred in this dance show that explores our tendency to fool others as well as ourselves. Examining deception and awakening, the masks and the revelations, Fool*ish features pieces in modern, ballet, hip hop, African and Latin dance genres.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

May 6-7 | 8 p.m. @ The Sarasota Opera House

Hang on to your tunics! This madcap farcical tale of a slave attempting to win his freedom by helping his master woo the girl next door is a hilarious adventure of epic proportion. Forum is one of Sondheim’s most celebrated and popular musicals, winning several Tony awards and enjoying numerous revivals and screen remakes.

Creativity in the Time of Covid–Feb. 20, 2022

VPA Art Student Earns Top Mark on AICE Portfolio

Alanna Hutton in her work cube in Mr. Strenk’s studio. Zoom in to see the incredible detail of these images behind her.

Congratulations to VPA Art junior Alanna Hutton, whose portfolio earned Cambridge International Scholar “Top in the World” award for having scored the best out of all candidates submitting a portfolio in Summer 2021. Hutton worked under the supervision of Ms. Cathie Janssen to complete the 2-D portfolio.

One of Hutton’s paintings from the AICE 2-D portfolio.

“Top in the World” awards are highly prestigious and rare. The last “Top in the World” award-winner at Booker High School was Isabelle Stark for her work in General Paper in the 2018 series.

Multicultural Collab Demonstrates Power of Percussion

Poetry in Motion: Wilson demonstrates a beat for the students to replicate.

Nobody in the Band Room Feb. 14 could resist the allure of the beat when the artist Wilson led a Brazilian percussion workshop. Teacher of the Year Loridia Urquiza brought Wilson to the school to expose students to the intoxicating tradition of Brazilian percussion.

Pulsating rhythms set the perfect backdrop for dance demos.

Urquiza collaborated with Ms. Ellen Saxton to expand the impact of this (literally) moving workshop, where all students were given sticks to create Samba beats in unison. Chairs became drum sets as students brought rhythms to life, with dance students demonstrating the traditional Latin dance.

Samba is an artform brought to Brazil from Africa in the 19th century. Because of its roots in Black culture, Samba was criminalized for many years. Now it is known as an icon of Brazilian national identity.

Without a doubt, the workshop engaged and delighted. Thanks so much to Ms. Urquiza and Mr. Saxton for hosting. And of course, thanks to Wilson and Prof. Diego Villada for presenting the cultural workshop that began the week with a beat.

Ellen Saxton, Wilson, Loridia Urquiza, New College’s Prof. Diego Villada, and Dr. Shelley

Booker Band Earns Excellent at MPA

Ms. Saxton conducts the jazz band at the MPAs.

The Booker VPA Jazz Ensemble earned an Excellent rating at the district Music Performance Assessment on Feb. 17. While the rating is not the highest achievement at MPA, it comes after some challenges within the band and its leadership.

Recently, Band Director Ellen Saxton as well as some players have been out due to pandemic, and a last-minute injury to a saxophonist meant a day-of substitution. Due to unavoidable absences, the moment of truth was intimidating. Yet, even with less-than-perfect rehearsal conditions, the band pulled through.

Referendum Vote Just Around the Corner

Sarasota County Schools prides itself on being one of the best districts in the state, with robust programs, generous student support, and state-of-the-art learning facilities. Some of this is made possible through the 1 mill tax referendum that goes to support public and charter schools.

The referendum is up for renewal on March 8. Be sure to vote. To learn more about the ways the 1 mill property tax funds school activities county-wide, click here. At Booker High School specifically, here’s what the referendum supports.

Lady Tornadoes Head to Final Four!

The Booker High School Lady Tornadoes defeated Port Charlotte, winning the Class 4A Region 3 Regional finals on Feb. 18. Next, the basketball team will head to the Final Four Regional Finals.

What’s this got to do with VPA? Why, the pep rally, of course! The Whirlwind Brigade Marching Band and Color Guard feted the team at a brief rally. Interestingly, both groups are full of VPA students. So, enjoy a few photos from Friday’s festivities.

Upcoming Events

Death By Chocolate: In This Hour

Feb. 25-26 | 7 p.m. and Feb. 26 | 2 p.m.

The most decadent VPA event of the year, Death By Chocolate is a feast for all senses. Patrons can listen to fabulous music while indulging in chocolate, cocoa and coffee. This year’s theme, time, offers exploration into its mysteries, with songs about eternity, repetition, tedium, anticipation, and more.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Mar. 3-5 | 7 p.m. and Mar. 6 | 2 p.m. @ The Civic Green

Presented in partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy, this Shakespeare in the Park presentation of one of the bard’s most popular plays is sure to please. Exploring love in all its facets, the play is a comical look at the nature of attraction.

Fool*ish

Apr. 1-2 | 7 p.m. @ Booker High School

The line between reality and fiction is blurred in this dance show that explores our tendency to fool others as well as ourselves. Examining deception and awakening, the masks and the revelations, Fool*ish features pieces in modern, ballet, hip hop, African and Latin dance genres.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

May 6-7 | 8 p.m. @ The Sarasota Opera House

Hang on to your tunics! This madcap farcical tale of a slave attempting to win his freedom by helping his master woo the girl next door is a hilarious adventure of epic proportion. Forum is one of Sondheim’s most celebrated and popular musicals, winning several Tony awards and enjoying numerous revivals and screen remakes.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Cast Announced

Congratulations to the cast and creative team of the VPA’s Spring Musical, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” running May 6-7 at the Sarasota Opera House. Get your tickets today!

Director: Sunny Smith | Musical Director: Johnnie Mnich | Choreographer: Cynthia Ashford | Technical Director: Caleb Carrier

Proteans: Alyssa Baker, Ricky Bizzaro, Fed Hradek, Olivia Milholland,

Kyle Ramon, Yaira Spears, Tanaysia Talkovic

Senex: Liam McGuire (U/s Anthony Lobo)

Domina: Laura Swartzendruber (u/s Ada Jordan)

Hero: Owen Demaio (u/s Fed Hradek)

Pseudolus: Judah Woomert (u/s Tyler Gevas)

Hysterium: Ryan Modjeski (u/s Jackson Carney)

Lycus: Jackson Carney (u/s Ricky Bizzaro)

Tintinabula: Kate Mobley-Tarpley (u/s Alyssa Baker)

Panacea: Ada Jordan (u/s Yaira Spears)

Geminae: Julia GrandPre & Kylee Worth (u/s Olivia Milholland)

Vibrata: Raven Peterson (u/s Tanaysia Talkovic)

Gymnasia: Christina Brush (u/s Olivia Milholland)

Philia: Tori Greenlaw (u/s Kylee Worth)

Miles: Anthony Lobo (u/s Kyle Ramon)

Erronius: Tyler Gevas (U/s Fed Hradek)

Music Assistants: Abbey Holdway & Shae Robinson

Movement Captains: Ricky Bizzaro & Olivia Milholland

Director’s Assistant: Ayla Mulock

Creativity in the Time of Covid–Feb. 13, 2022

Ringling College of Art and Design Deepens Partnership with VPA

Ringling College of Art and Design will offer a captivating summer workshop in sound design and engineering to students enrolled in the Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Film & Animation Department.

Proud Principal Dr. Rachel Shelley and Ringling President Dr. Larry Thompson seal the deal.

The workshop, designed exclusively for Booker VPA students, will cover the art of sound in live action and animated films. It will utilize state-of-the-art post-production equipment at Ringling College Studio Labs’ Soundstage and Post-Production Facilities. Exploration of the aural world of film will open new avenues for students pursuing higher education or careers in the field.

The program will start Summer 2022 with the expectation of continuing in perpetuity. The College is offering this unique opportunity free of charge to Booker students.

Booker Principal Dr. Rachel Shelley noted that the sessions will open new doors for students.

“This fully aligns with Booker’s mission of college and career readiness, giving students more options for pursuing their dreams. We couldn’t be more grateful for our partners at Ringling College,” Dr. Shelley said.

Ringling College of Art and Design President Dr. Larry Thompson said he’s excited to introduce the young cohort to the realm of sound design and engineering.

“Many high school students go through their entire educational experience without any exposure to the abundance of opportunities in creative careers. We feel so fortunate at Ringling College to have such incredible facilities in which we can help inspire the next generations of creative storytellers, and to continue to further enhance our close relationship with Booker High,” he said.

The sound design program will take place over two one-week sessions in June. It will admit up to 15 Film & Animation students.

Other Ringling Opportunities Open to BHS VPA Students

Along with the workshops, the College is also gifting Booker VPA students with scholarship opportunities, such as underwriting five Summer Teen Studio tuition fees, as well as one scholarship covering all Ringling PreCollege fees. These will be open for students interested in any of Ringling College’s 13 majors, from Film to Fine Arts to the Business of Art and Design.

The arrangement is made possible through the generosity of Ringling College of Art and Design and further signals an even greater level of commitment in the longstanding relationship the two art schools have shared.

Powerhouse Paula Vogel Puts ‘Pen to Paper’

Hermitage CEO Andy Sandberg facilitates a Q&A, calling for Booker VPA students’ questions FIRST! 🙂

Wow! Anyone in the boundless presence of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel during her “Pen to Paper” event may still feel the life force coursing through them. The workshop was like being plunged into a pool of writing wisdom.

Vogel is one of the most celebrated playwrights alive, having won nearly every award available to theatre writers, including the Tony award for “Indecent,” the Pulitzer Prize for “How I Learned to Drive,” and induction into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Yet you’d never guess it from her disarming demeanor and profound generosity. The workshop was equal parts writing guru’s gifts, life lessons, and bountiful encouragement.

Theatre students Jackson Carney, Ashley Rosas-Rios, Kylee Worth and Alanna Bray pose with Vogel post-workshop. This moment comes after she tells them she’s heard from those in the audience that Booker VPA Theatre productions are the best in town, better than local theatres. After sharing that praise, she advises that there is plenty of money to be made in the arts, so, she says, “follow your dreams.”

Vogel offered generous advice on writing during her workshop. The workshop, brought to Booker through the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was a crash course on all things storytelling: character, plot, and spectacle were just a few elements she elaborated on.

Then came the challenge: a John Ringling “Bake-Off.” What’s a bake-off? Just like ones involving food, literary bake-offs involve taking prescribed ingredients and creating literature. In the case of this one, the ingredients are circus objects and people and dates important to circus magnate John Ringling’s life. Take all these, write for 48 hours, and then stop. Vogel said, “it doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Just stop.”

Other than the challenge of writing the piece, Vogel offered empowering encouragement about life: “I celebrate your writing, I celebrate your lives, I celebrate your loves,” she offered through tears at the close of the workshop.

The message of the night was “everyone can write,” and how deeply moving for our Booker students to hear that from a living legend of the theatre. Her generosity, spirit and wit were gifts to all who were there.

Vogel and Theatre Chair Sunny Smith.

Student Wins Superior at Solo and Ensemble

Rutland performing Solo and Ensemble at Braden River High School on Feb. 12.

Congratulations to sophomore Dante Rutland for earning a Superior rating at the Florida Bandmasters Association Solo and Ensemble Festival for District 11. He earned the award and high praise from the judges for his work on the marimba.

Next up for Rutland: moving on to State Solo and Ensemble Festival in March.

Auditions for Upcoming Events Underway

Musicians Vie for Sweet Solos

While Death By Chocolate will follow its format of featuring ensembles like the orchestra and bands, the concert will also showcase soloists and duets. That said, musicians auditioned this week for those coveted pieces, and the results are in!

  • Emcees: Yoshi Wilson and Bea Defrietas
  • Piano soloists: Danae Tran, Cristobal Luguardo, Chelsie Louis, Tristan Tran
  • Vocal Solo: Julia Stover (accompanied by Mackenzie Lopatinski
  • Vocal Duet: Marissa Barnes and Bella Alberti
  • Marimba Solo: Dante Rutland
  • Plus, a small group comprising Anna Alarcon, Gus Baizabal, Edna Hernandez, Cristobal Luguardo, Danae Tran and Tristan Tran

Tickets for this exciting and indulgent event are on sale–get yours TODAY.

Theatre Students Get Farcically Physical for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” Auditions

Meanwhile, Theatre students spent the week singing their hearts out and learning dance choreography to “Comedy Tonight” for the upcoming production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” coming up on May 6-7 at the Sarasota Opera House.

For this production, the cast list will be posted early this week, and tickets will go on sale once it’s posted.

Upcoming Events

Death By Chocolate: In This Hour

Feb. 25-26 | 7 p.m. and Feb. 26 | 2 p.m.

The most decadent VPA event of the year, Death By Chocolate is a feast for all senses. Patrons can listen to fabulous music while indulging in chocolate, cocoa and coffee. This year’s theme, time, offers exploration into its mysteries, with songs about eternity, repetition, tedium, anticipation, and more.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Mar. 3-5 | 7 p.m. and Mar. 6 | 2 p.m.

Presented in partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy, this Shakespeare in the Park presentation of one of the bard’s most popular plays is sure to please. Exploring love in all its facets, the play is a comical look at the nature of attraction.

Creativity in the Time of Covid–Feb. 6, 2022

Animation Student Earns Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Congratulations to Animation senior Alaya Knowlton for her recognition in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards regional contest. Knowlton won the following awards:

  • Gold Key award, American Visions nomination for her animated short, “Adrift”
  • Gold Key award for her digital artwork, “Her Quintessence”
  • Silver Key awards for three additional artworks, “A Broken Bard,” “Hidden in the Darkness,” “Mindfulness”
  • Silver Key award for her art portfolio “Unravel.”
Poster for Gold Key award-winning “Adrift”

Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards has in its nearly century-long existence has celebrated excellence in the arts. The organization has recognized some of the most celebrated artists and writers in modern American history. Some notable Scholastic alum include writers Sylvia Plath and Stephen King, actors John Lithgow and Alan Arkin, and artists Cy Twombly and Red Grooms.

Gold Key award-winner “Her Quintessence”

“Adrift” now goes on for consideration of a national Scholastic Award. The film was also selected to be screened in the 2021 Sarasota Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Showcase.

New College Presents Stage Combat Workshop

You don’t see this every day: Prof. Villada demonstrates a combat move with student Pluto while Dr. Bill Woodson looks on.

New College Professor Diego Villada presented an interactive workshop on the art of stage combat on Jan. 31. The class, offered to Dance, Film & Animation, and Theatre students, gave VPA students insight on how to “pack a punch” when it comes to performing or directing fight scenes. Villada and his student Pluto demonstrated fight sequences that students were then able to practice.

Dance students Christian Hall and Maija Boelkins try their hands at the move.

The session also informed students about the many opportunities available to them at New College, which is the state’s Honors College. Booker High School and New College have a long-standing relationship that allows access for BHS students to college admissions. As Dr. Bill Woodson, Dean of Outreach, said, “We’ve seen the pipeline from Booker to New College increase from a trickle to a steady flow this past year, but I would love to see it turn into a torrent!”

Families wanting to learn about the myriad opportunities at New College, from performing arts to public policy, should check out the school’s degree programs here.

Theatre Students Shine at Access Broadway

Theatre seniors Anthony Lobo, Liam McGuire, and Abbey Holdway all earned major recognition for their performances.

VPA Theatre students enrolled in Spotlight Theater Productions performed at Access Broadway Orlando this weekend, where they earned numerous accolades, including Best Musical Theater Production for their performance of “Children of Eden.” The performance recently earned the top honor at the Junior Theater Festival, an international competition held in January in Atlanta, Ga.

The cast of the platinum-winning group number “Hogwarts.”

Access Broadway is a regional performance competition that travels nationwide, allowing Broadway hopefuls the chance to perform before industry professionals. There are numerous categories, from solo songs to group numbers to ensemble dance. Several VPA Theatre students presented dozens of pieces, many earning platinum individual awards and also recognition overall.

Spotlight Theater Productions is owned and operated by Ms. Cynthia Ashford, our VPA Theatre Dance teacher.

Upcoming Events

‘Pen to Paper’: A Masterclass with Paula Vogel

Feb. 11 | 5 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel will present a masterclass and work with participants to write a play. This opportunity is presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Death By Chocolate: In This Hour

Feb. 25-26 | 7 p.m. and Feb. 26 | 2 p.m.

The most decadent VPA event of the year, Death By Chocolate is a feast for all senses. Patrons can listen to fabulous music while indulging in chocolate, cocoa and coffee. This year’s theme, time, offers exploration into its mysteries, with songs about eternity, repetition, tedium, anticipation, and more.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Mar. 3-5 | 7 p.m. and Mar. 6 | 2 p.m.

Presented in partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy, this Shakespeare in the Park presentation of one of the bard’s most popular plays is sure to please. Exploring love in all its facets, the play is a comical look at the nature of attraction.

Creativity in the Time of Covid–Jan. 30, 2022

I-CONNICK! VPA Students Learn from an Icon

Harry Connick, Jr.

Students were given an opportunity of a lifetime on Thursday when they enjoyed an unscripted masterclass with jazz legend and sensation of stage and screen Harry Connick, Jr. The event was made possible through the generosity of the Van Wezel Foundation and its passionate donors.

Students pose with the master of New Orleans jazz.

During the conversation, the Emmy and Grammy-award-winning Connick shared stories of his life and roots in New Orleans, his early years and his family now. Instilling in our teens the importance of family, Connick described that his marriage and family are what grant him the chance to “fly.”

Preparing to enter the signature purple Van Wezel. Connick quipped about the building’s hue during his performance that night.

He also dispensed words of encouragement, inspiring students that they have “something special that no one else has.” He instructed them to dig deep and develop their own voice. That, he ensured, will help them make their mark on the world.

Connick advised that hard work is the name of the game. A student asked how he fell into acting, and he assured them he did not “fall into” that field, but worked hard to enter it. “Entertainment is no joke,” he said, noting that tenacity, hard work, commitment to rehearsing, and living with rejection are all a part of this career choice.

The conversation was one to remember, with Connick graciously responding to questions ranging from the personal to the professional. He took song requests and played, no mic, mask and tennis shoes on, reminding us of the humanity that connects us.

The Van Wezel Foundation also underwrote tickets for students to attend the Harry Connick, Jr., concert Thursday evening. It was a sizzling performance they will not likely forget. During the sold-out performance, Connick recounted the conversation, telling the audience of his afternoon with Booker VPA students.

VPA Dance Performs at Ringling Museum

The performance, bathed in sunlight, connected past with present, ending with hope.

VPA Dancers performed at Ringling Museum on Jan. 24 as the capstone of an ongoing project dancers have undertaken since September this year. They worked with Canadian artist Rhodnie Desir throughout first semester on a project inspired by her Bow’t Trail work.

The divine Devon Saxman flanked by dancers during a rehearsal.

The Bow’t Trail is Desir’s signature, groundbreaking work that uses interviews to capture personal histories to inspire choreography meant to connect the present with the past.

Movement at moments was reminiscent of walls and barriers.

Students collaborated with the artist, learning her techniques to conduct their own interviews of history-keepers in Sarasota, including descendants of slaves. The resulting choreography powerfully conveyed a history of oppression and brutality with the present of connection and uplift.

The beautiful dancers between rehearsals.

Dr. Lisa Merritt, executive director of the Multicultural Health Institute, introduced the dancers.

On the Road: VPA Visits Middle Schools

This was a busy week for VPA teachers, who visited middle schools in advance of the live auditions on Saturday, Jan. 29, to inform students and teachers about the program and process.

Mr. Strenk shows projects from current students.
Ms. Burton shares animation work with Booker Middle students.

Music, Art, Film and Animation teachers visited Booker Middle School, and Ms. Abrahamson visited Art and Digital Design classes at SSA+S.

It was a great leadup to Saturday’s audition, where hopefuls came in to demonstrate their talent and readiness for the VPA program. Thanks to all who came out!

Upcoming Events

SPIN: Booker’s Student-Parent Information Night

Feb. 3 | 5:30 p.m.

Come out to learn about all the amazing opportunities available for you at Booker High School! Meet teachers, take tours, witness performances, check out our special programs. The event is free and open to the public!

‘Pen to Paper’: A Masterclass with Paula Vogel

Feb. 11 | 5 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel will present a masterclass and work with participants to write a play. This opportunity is presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Death By Chocolate: In This Hour

Feb. 25-26 | 7 p.m. and Feb. 26 | 2 p.m.

The most decadent VPA event of the year, Death By Chocolate is a feast for all senses. Patrons can listen to fabulous music while indulging in chocolate, cocoa and coffee. This year’s theme, time, offers exploration into its mysteries, with songs about eternity, repetition, tedium, anticipation, and more.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Mar. 3-5 | 7 p.m. and Mar. 6 | 2 p.m.

Presented in partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy, this Shakespeare in the Park presentation of one of the bard’s most popular plays is sure to please. Exploring love in all its facets, the play is a comical look at the nature of attraction.

Creativity in the Time of Covid–Jan. 23, 2022

Accolades in Art!

Ella Swartz’s work selected for Embracing Our Differences

Swartz’s “Unbound”

Since 2004, Embracing Our Differences has used art and prose to promote diversity and inclusion. Each year, the organization calls for art and quotes to include in its annual exhibit, which is one of the hallmarks of Sarasota’s seasonal calendar. This year, VPA Art senior Ella Swartz’s work, “Unbound”, was selected for the Bayfront Park exhibit, which runs Jan. 15-April 10.

The piece focuses on homelessness and poverty. Swartz entered the contest under the supervision of Mr. Jeffery Cornwell.

The organization received 17,413 entries from 123 countries and 47 states in submissions for the 19th annual outdoor art exhibit.

VPA Artworks Featured on State Fair’s ‘Wall of Excellence’

VPA Art seniors Riley Karau and Jinx Molina had artwork selected to be featured at the Florida State Fair’s “Wall of Excellence.” This year the exhibit included 33 artworks from around the state.

Acclaimed Playwright Visits VPA Theatre

Jessica Huang, author of the play “Transmissions in Advance of the Great Second Dying,” conducted a masterclass in writing for the VPA Theatre seniors. The play is described as “an epic tale of grief and global warming.” Its quirkiness, insight, and wit made it a favorite for this class.

Huang describes her process while Ms. Smith looks on.

Students read and analyzed the play to prepare for Huang’s visit, and they discussed the work and the notion of death and elegies.

Students were tasked with writing elegies to either a creature, person, or concept, which they then shared with the group. Some wrote about pets or lost loved ones, others chose more surprising losses (“goodbye, pre-social media world…”).

Huang, a New York-based playwright from Minnesota, describe her influences, her process, and her collegiate path (University of Minnesota undergrad, Juilliard grad) to the students. They delighted in her wisdom. The event was made possible through a partnership with The Hermitage Artist Retreat. Huang is a Hermitage fellow.

‘Pen to Paper’ with Paula Vogel Feb. 11 @ 5 p.m. | BHS Courtyard

Fellow Hermitage fellow Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of such incendiary plays as “How I Learned to Drive,” will present a masterclass at BHS. Information on that very special event is here.

Keep the ‘A’, Keep the VPA: The 1 Mill Referendum Renewal

The 1 Mill Referendum is up for renewal. The referendum supports all Sarasota County Schools and is largely credited with bolstering the quality of education in our county.

This funding is critical to the VPA in supporting adjunct staff, VPA teaching positions, and other VPA support staff. Additionally, it is vital to the school’s ESOL and College and Career-readiness programs. Overall, BHS receives roughly $2.5 million from this funding. Find more information about the referendum dollars and how they impact the entire district here. Don’t forget to VOTE March 8!

VPA Orchestra Student Selected for All-State

Congratulations to Danae Tran on her performance in the 11-12 Florida All-State Orchestra at the FMEA Conference in Tampa. This is a highly selective orchestra that comprises the brightest young musicians in the state.

Upcoming VPA Events

VPA Live Auditions | Jan. 29 @ 9 a.m

The VPA will hold live auditions for students interested in joining the renowned program on Jan. 29. Candidates must have started an application on the Acceptd platform.

While this is a great opportunity to apply for the program, there are other ways to audition for those who cannot make this date. Teachers will visit SSA+S and BMS to audition candidates at those sites, and in many departments, prospects can audition as a part of shadow appointment.

Anyone interested in applying can call our office at (941) 355-2967 for assistance on how to navigate the VPA audition.

Death By Chocolate: In This Hour | Feb. 25-26 @ BHS Pavilion

Get ready for the most delectable VPA event of the year. Death By Chocolate offers a feast of musical performance along with decadent desserts and hot beverages.

This year’s theme focuses on time–with exploration on how time figures into our lives. The repetition, the waiting, the wiling away of time “working for the man”–all are examined as the concert presents songs in a variety of genres performed on an array of instruments.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to enjoy one of the most anticipated events of the VPA calendar. Reserve your seats today!

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Casting Announcement

Congratulations to the cast and directorial team of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”! The show runs March 3-5, 2022, at the Bowling Green at The Bay Park Conservancy. Get your tickets here.

THESEUS, Duke of Athens…JAVARI MITCHELL (u/s ATTICUS PRATT)

HIPPOLYTA, Amazonian Queen, betrothed to Theseus…ANNABELLE WEBER (u/s DARLA SANTANA-AGUILAR)

EGEUS, Hermia’s father, in Theseus’ court…MATTHEW O’HARA (u/s KYLE RAMON)

HERMIA, Egeus’ daughter, loves Lysander…JULIA GRANDPRE (u/s NOVI MARSHALL)

LYSANDER, loves Hermia…RYAN MODJESKI (u/s DYLAN RAMON)

DEMETRIUS, loves Hermia, has wooed Helena…AUGGIE TOYNTON (u/s ATTICUS PRATT)

HELENA, loves Demetrius…ADA JORDAN (u/s ROXY GEVAS)

OBERON, Fairy King…LIAM MCGUIRE (u/s DYLAN RAMON)

TITANIA, Fairy Queen…KYLEE WORTH (u/s CIANA BOSTOCK)

ROBIN GOODFELLOW/THE PUCK, sprite to Oberon…ANIKA PISZ (u/s CORA GREDES)

PEASEBLOSSOM, fairy to Titania…ROXY GEVAS (u/s ASHLEY ROSAS-RIOS)

COBWEB, fairy to Titania…CIANA BOSTOCK (u/s NAOMI YAMADA)

MOTH, fairy to Titania…CORA GERDES (u/s CHELSEA DIBARTOLO)

MUSTARDSEED, fairy to Titania…NOVI MARSHALL (u/s YAIRA SPEARS)

PETER QUINCE, a Carpenter…SHAE ROBINSON (u/s ALANNA BRAY)

SNUG/LION, a Joiner…DARLA SANTANA-AGUILAR (u/s YAIRA SPEARS)

NICK BOTTOM/PYRAMUS, a Weaver…DYLAN RAMON (u/s MEKHI JONES)

FRANCIS FLUTE/THISBY, a Bellows-mender…ALANNA BRAY (u/s NAOMI YAMADA)

TOM SNOUT/WALL, a Tinker…ATTICUS PRATT (u/s MEKHI JONES)

ROBIN STARVELING/MOONSHINE, a Tailor…ASHLEY ROSAS-RIOS (u/s CHELSEA DIBARTOLO)

DIRECTOR’S ASSISTANT…EABHA PHELAN

ASSITANT DIRECTORS…CLAIRE BAILEY/ABBEY HOLDWAY/LAURA SWARTZENDRUBER

DRAMATURGS…CLAIRE BAILEY/KATHERINE CARNES/GRACE MCCARTHY/LAURA SWARTZENDRUBER

Crew Assignments:

Stage Manager: Morgan Takacs

Assist. Stage Manager: Liam DeMaio

Lighting/Sound Designer: AJ Miller

Assist. Light/Sound Designer: David Mendoza

Scenic Designer: Zola Gutierrez

Prop Desinger: Schyler Weaver

Assist. prop: John Scott

Makeup Designer: Tanaysia Talkovich

FOH Manager: Zola Gutierrez

Backstage Crew: Owen Starr, Xupong Febish