Students strut their stuff for ribbon-cutting ceremony

 Students strut their stuff for ribbon-cutting ceremony


The artistic talents of many Douglas Anderson students were on display Sept. 10 during the ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the new $13 million addition to the prestigious arts school.

DA’s wind symphony greeted guests with Olympic Fanfare by John Williams before the hour-long VIP-studded ceremony, which took place in front of the new 60,000-square-foot addition.

While students from the cinema arts department documented the proceedings, Principal Jacqueline Cornelius opened the festivities with the poem New World, which was written by the DA Senior Poetry Class of 2015. Soprano Savannah Buice sang the Star Spangled Banner before leading the celebrants in the Pledge of Allegiance. Theatre student Preston Pittman introduced visiting dignitaries and special guests, who joined him on the podium. The Silhouettes, one of many vocal performance groups at the school, performed the musical dance Saturday Night Fish Fry, and dance student Joe Markey wowed the crowd with a solo rendition entitled Redemption, which had been choreographed by Jennifer Turbyfill and was accompanied with music by Zach Hemsen.

Speaking at the event were Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Schools, Florida Representative Charles McBurney (R) of District 16 and the Honorable Ashley Smith-Juarez, School Board member of District 3.

The construction of the new wing is a testimony of the county’s investment in excellence, Vitti said in his remarks. The addition includes 20 new academic classrooms, a new cafeteria, new metals shop, large outdoor amphitheater and covered pick-up and drop-off area in front of the school. The new addition freed up several classrooms in the existing structure, which were transformed into two new dance studios with maple-wood flooring, three creative-writing classrooms, a costume lighting technical theatre shop and a welding and casting sculpture studio.

“I think it’s wonderful to have this new addition,” said Allison Svagdis, a musical theater senior from San Marco. Svagdis gave tours of the new facility to special guests after the ceremony. “The opportunities this will allow us to have are phenomenal. I’m so happy I was still here and could be part of it,” she said.

Thirteen VIPs cut the golden ribbon during the ceremony and were showered afterward with confetti. Wielding golden scissors at the event were Lon Newman, director of operations AJAX Building Construction; Helen Lane, co-chair of the Douglas Anderson Advisory Board; Rep. Charles McBurney (R), Florida Representative for District 16; Joyce Lawson, granddaughter of Douglas Anderson; Jeff Dunn, president of the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Foundation; Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Duval County School System; The Honorable Cheryl Grymes, chairman of the Duval County School Board; Jacqueline Cornelius, principal of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts; The Honorable Ashley Smith-Juarez, School Board member District 3; The Honorable Becki Couch, School Board member District 6; The Honorable Paula Wright, School Board member, District 4; Deborah Knauer, School Advisory Council chairman; Paul Soares, assistant superintendent of operations, Duval County School Board.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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