Creativity in the Time of Covid–April 24, 2022

Animator Selected as Ringling Pre-College Scholarship Recipient

Congratulations to Animation sophomore Delcy Calderon, who was selected to receive a full scholarship to the Ringling College pre-college program. The pre-college program is an intensive 4-week experience. Students stay on the Ringling campus and immerse themselves in their art and college life.

Delcy will study Visual Development/Concept Art. At this point, she plans to pursue this career path to design animated characters and environments. But she is open to `new career paths and feels that the experience of precollege may help shape those plans.

Delcy said she’s excited to spend the four weeks on campus, learning the art she loves so much. Another aspect she looks forward to is meeting artists from around the world. While she’s nervous about embarking on something new, she can’t wait for the term to begin.

This incredible opportunity was made possible through the generosity and vision of Ringling President Dr. Larry Thompson and Kay Ash, the college’s Assistant VP, Administration. This invitation to attend pre-college came as a piece of a larger partnership between Booker VPA and Ringling.

This summer, 15 Film & Animation students will attend a week-long session of post-production sound design with industry insider Nick Palladino. These sessions will take place in the multi-million dollar post-production facility that opened in November 2018.

Additionally, three VPA students will have the opportunity to attend the weeklong Ringling Teen Studio camp. These are all arts education experiences unique to Booker VPA students through our partnership with Ringling College of Art and Design.

VPA Theater Renovation Update

It’s hard to tell from the street, but the Theater renovation is moving along, with a nearly complete gutting of the building now complete, setting the stage for beginning the actual construction of new facilities.

This week, production manager Lizzi Nehls and technical theatre teacher Caleb Carrier toured the construction site. Now we all have a glimpse of what lies behind the visqueen fencing.

The site of the new blackbox theater that will be a second performance space.
The view from the stage looking out into the house.
The “window” depicted here is the former tech booth, with the flanking door frames that were the entrance to the back of the house. The new tech booth will be higher up to accommodate mezzanine seating.
The plywood seen here is the proscenium arch where the main drape hangs. In front is the former apron and orchestra pit.

Upcoming Events

The 2021-22 season is quickly coming to an end! Make sure you get tickets for these special events.

Infinite: Music Showcase

April 29-30 | 7 p.m. @ BHS Campus

In our final music showcase of the season, we take to the skies in INFINITE. Featuring music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Williams, along with original compositions, arrangements and songs from Booker VPA Music and Staff. our musical selections will create an aura of the air, the sky, and flight, where you will truly feel infinite.

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.

Reel Life: Annual Film & Animation Showcase

May 17 | 7 p.m. @ Burns Court Cinema

The VPA Film & Animation Annual Showcase will entertain and edify with screen stories that shine a light on life as our students see it. They will also offer a glimpse of the day-to-day process students use to bring their art to life. The showcase is a mix of live-action, animated shorts, and documentary work. This screening opportunity is made possible thanks to The Sarasota Film Society.

Creativity in the Time of Covid–April 10, 2022

Zaine Lodhi Wins Big

Wow! VPA Art alum Zaine Lodhi’s meteoric rise to prominence has surpassed another milestone. He was one of seven artists selected to be honored in Hollywood for the Illustrators of the Future award ceremony. The international contest attracts the best fantasy illustrators in the world.

Zaine with his Golden Brush Award.

Zaine’s illustrations for the sci-fi book, “Agatha’s Monsters,” earned him the Golden Brush Award, the top prize of the contest. The award is worth $5,000 and a whole lotta bragging rights. Congratulations to Zaine!

Zaine traveled to Hollywood last week, where he received red-carpet treatment and was celebrated for his outstanding illustrations. Read more about his journey here. To see more of his award-winning artwork, check out his artist website here.

Music Students Witness Grammy-Award Winning Guitarist

Grammy Award winning guitarist Jason Vieaux with VPA Guitar students

The La Musica International Chamber Music Festival is back! With it comes a host of world-class musicians, including Grammy Award-winner classical guitarist Jason Vieaux.

Mr. Thomas Koch’s guitar classes traveled to The Sarasota Opera House on April 8 to observe a rehearsal for Vieaux. It was an opportunity for students to behold mastery of the artform and see where discipline and practice can take a player.

Jason Vieaux

Vieux has an extensive discography and has been celebrated around the world. NPR called him “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation.”

VPA Orchestra Student Performs Pre-show for La Musica

Larah with Ms. Nix.

VPA Violinist Larah Pereira was selected to perform a pre-show set for the La Musica concert at The Sarasota Opera House on April 6. She will also perform on April 13 for that concert.

Girrrrl Power: VPA Film Alum Selected for SFF Shorts Showing

Sirens movie poster.

VPA Film alum Hali Gardella (c/o 2007) created a film that was selected to be screened in the “Female-Led Shorts” event for the Sarasota Film Festival.

Hali Gardella at the Sarasota Film Festival

Hali’s film, “Sirens of the Swamp,” is a contemporary satire of Homer’s “The Odyssey.” The film follows two sisters living in a ramshackle cabin in The Everglades. Each time their security cameras broadcast images of unsuspecting passersby (think good ol’ boys out for a fishing trip), they stage an elaborate concert. You guessed it: the sounds of their irresistible harmonies lure the travelers. Upon showing up for the “concert,” they are killed and left to be alligator feed. Meanwhile, the sisters empty their cars and pockets of valuables.

The film was one of six from across the state selected for this important screening. The event celebrates the female experience in narrative film.

VPA Jazz Sweep it up at Solo and Ensemble

Congratulations to the VPA Jazz 1 group and FOURcast jazz combo! Both groups earned Superior rankings at the Jazz Solo and Ensemble MPA. Ms. Ellen Saxton directs Jazz 1 (the beginning jazz group), and Mr. Tim Eaton directs FOURcast.

A Superior rating is the highest achievement a performance group can earn, and this year has been more difficult than most. The pandemic presented many challenges for band performance classes–online instruction is nearly impossible, and the aerosols ejected through brass instruments posed dangers. Band programs generally declined in virtuosity. These awards signal enormous effort and a move in the right direction.

Upcoming Events

Infinite: Music Showcase

April 29-30 | 7 p.m. @ BHS Campus

In our final music showcase of the season, we take to the skies in INFINITE. Featuring music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Williams, along with original compositions, arrangements and songs from Booker VPA Music and Staff. our musical selections will create an aura of the air, the sky, and flight, where you will truly feel infinite.

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.

Reel Life: Annual Film & Animation Showcase

May 17 | 7 p.m. @ Burns Court Cinema

The VPA Film & Animation Annual Showcase will entertain and edify with screen stories that shine a light on life as our students see it. They will also offer a glimpse of the day-to-day process students use to bring their art to life. The showcase is a mix of live-action, animated shorts, and documentary work. This screening opportunity is made possible thanks to The Sarasota Film Society.

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

Yassss, Yissy!

Cuban percussion jazz artist Yissy Garcia heated up the school week for our VPA Music students. First in a masterclass on Mar. 9, Yissy and her band performed and shared the stories of their journey.

Their jams were astonishing–at once precise and also exuberant–and the students soaked it all in, participating through clapping and dancing.

It was an exchange that underscored the importance of being open to opportunity. Most of the band had traveled around the world to seize opportunities to refine their musical mastery.

On Mar. 10, about 100 students traveled to the Historic Asolo Theatre, where they were treated to a full concert in that elegant hall, and then had the chance to wander the Ringling Museum grounds.

All jazzed up! VPA Music students after the performance at The Ringling.

The Ringling provided access to this incredible and inspiring experience.

VPA Art Alum Earns International Illustration Award

Zaine Lodhi

VPA Art alum Zaine Lodhi (’18) has won the “The Illustrators of the Future Award” and will be honored in Hollywood on April 8. He is one of 12 artists globally to win this award this year.  Zaine currently majors in Illustration at Ringling College.

That’s one way to capitulate! One of Lodhi’s winning pieces.

In addition to being honored with the award, he’ll attend a week-long professional workshop with some of the top names in the industry and his art will be published in the anthology, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 38.

You can almost smell the mead and mutton. This dining hall picture is another of his winning illustrations.

The contest, now in its 34th year, recognizes illustrators and writers. Along with the awards the contests gives, its purpose is to support new generations of sci-fi content creators.

Nobody would want to find this creature lurking in the depths: Lodhi’s mythical lizard beast is the third of his winning illustrations.

Now a senior at Ringling College, Zaine hopes to pursue a career in illustration for the video game industry. He already works for a company creating 3-D assets for video games. He created all these pieces using Adobe Illustrator. Click here for more information about this contest.

Upcoming Events

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.

Infinite: Music Showcase

April 29-30 | 7 p.m. @ BHS Campus

In our final music showcase of the season, we take to the skies in INFINITE. Featuring music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Williams, along with original compositions, arrangements and songs from Booker VPA Music and Staff. our musical selections will create an aura of the air, the sky, and flight, where you will truly feel infinite.

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. 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–Nov. 7, 2021

Booker High Teacher Named District High School Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Urquiza is treated to a surprise celebration of this achievement.

Booker High School Spanish teacher Loridia Urquiza was surprised on Thursday with the announcement that she was named Sarasota County’s high school teacher of the year. Mrs. Urquiza teaches Spanish and has led several initiations to increase visibility and appreciation of Hispanic students at Booker and in the larger community.

In her touching acceptance speech, Mrs. Urquiza thanks her mother (left), who she calls “the best teacher I ever had.”

Originally from Cuba, Mrs. Urquiza infuses love of Spanish culture into her lessons, igniting her students’ passion for Hispanic heritage as well as the language. The largest demographic at BHS is the Hispanic community, with about 40% Hispanic learners. Mrs. Urquiza has worked tirelessly to foster schoolwide understanding of this culture to maximize student achievement among this population.

Leading such causes as the celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month, Mrs. Urquiza has brought positive awareness of Hispanic heritage. This year, she organized a coffee and pastry tasting, lunchtime dance and music celebrations and more.

The celebration included remarks from Dr. Shelley, with the Whirlwind Brigade playing a festive march and Vocal Vortex serenading Mrs. Urquiza in her native language.

Along with all she’s accomplished for the culture of BHS, Mrs. Urquiza has consistently produced students who have mastered the Spanish language. According to Dr. Shelley, Mrs. Urquiza is the only teacher in the nation to have a 100% passing rate on the AICE Spanish Language exam.

Booker High relishes this recognition; this is the second consecutive year the district’s high school teacher of the year has been a BHS teacher. Last year, BHS’s Becky Satterly earned this award.

Fabulous Forecast Festival

Booker VPA hosted the second annual Forecast Festival on Nov. 6. The festival showcased all the VPA disciplines, inviting guests into classrooms to observe rehearsals and studio sessions, and culminating in a performance and exhibit.

Huge special thanks to Superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen and Executive Director of High Schools Steve Cantees for spending Saturday morning with us.

Check out these pics!

Whirlwind Brigade is SNN’s Marching Band of the Week

Booker’s Whirlwind Brigade Marching Band was featured this week on SNN. Check out the video here!

The Whirlwind Brigade ends its season with a competition Nov. 13 at Riverview High School in Hillsborough County.

Band Concert Displays Talents

The week began with an intimate outdoor Band concert featuring our jazz and wind ensembles. The occasion marked the debut performance of the VPA’s newest combo, Storm Surge, a jazz combo directed by Tim Eaton.

Classroom Focus: Musical Theatre

We all know “Hamilton” and “West Side Story,” but did you know that there is such a thing as “Big: The Musical”? Neither did the VPA Theatre classes, but they learned about “Big” and other deeply buried gems and flops of musical theatre history.

Exuberance: Students present from “Contact: A Dance Musical”

They researched the musicals’ choreographies and histories, learning about aesthetics and trends through Broadway history. This week they presented their findings in dance, music and spoken word.

Upcoming Events!

VPA Dance will proudly present an evening of dance highlighting the myriad touchpoints we have with one another in “Six Degrees of Separation,” coming up Nov. 18 & 19. The concert will feature modern, ballet, Flamenco, African dance, hip hop and more. Get your tickets today here!