by Lynn Jones
Since Stanton first opened its doors in 1868, the journey has included its origin as the only high school for African-Americans in Florida to one presently of the nation’s top college preparatory schools. The legacy left behind includes not only a rich heritage of school pride, but the original edifice where it all began. Still standing at the corner of Ashley and Broad Streets, the Stanton School is now destined to return to its glory days.
Nearly 100 years after its heyday, Kezia Rolle, the owner of Jacksonville Centre of the Arts (JCARTS) Pre-professional School & Company, and the Northside Center of the Arts Recreational has secured a contract to transfer the JCARTS to the historic location. Rolle and her team worked directly with the Historic Stanton Trustee Board to house the Jacksonville Centre of the Arts Pre-professional School.
The JCARTS non-profit organization has been challenged for space for several years. Councilman Johnny Gaffney and School Board Paula Wright introduced JCARTS to the location, located in the heart of Jacksonville, and specifically, the LaVilla district. The area has been known for its rich culture, history and arts education.
“I felt that it would be a great idea to expand on the development and vision that Mayor Brown has for downtown and to develop a full Fine Arts District with JCARTS as the hub,” said JCARTS Executive Director Kezia Rolle. The second reason that we chose this building is based on the amount of space offering over 66,000 square feet. We found it to be the largest piece of property that could accommodate our needs fulfill our growth based on our potential and estimated growth of our organization. The third reason is because of the rich history that comes with a building of this caliber. There is no comparison to the valuable students that gained their level of professionalism, skill and education from walking down these very halls. I’m privileged and honored to share the same space of the Stanton Blue Devils,” said Kezia.
When asked how will the curriculum be structured? Kezia continued, “The school encompasses the JCARTS Self developed curriculum and will emulate the Pampered Prodigy, educational component curriculum.”
Parents on a day to day basis will bring the students to class or carpool from local magnets or other schools throughout Duval, St. Johns, Clay and Nassau
counties. The majority of the students are involved in the local magnet school and JCARTS will work in parallel to ultimately create well-rounded artists. Rolle is hoping to work with the school board and also JTA in order for the kids to be picked up from their local schools and delivered to Stanton’s front door where they will go directly into the homework and computer lab and continue JCARTS stats of 80% of the students securing AB honor roll status.
There are no educational requirements in order to attend the school. JCARTS will offer recreational and pre-professional classes. Recreational classes
will be offered for the students who have the desire to learn a fine arts skill. The pre-professional student is for a serious minded, ambitious student, who is interested in pursuing a given art form as their lifelong craft. The students will train 15 to 25 plus hours per week honing in their skills and developing techniques at a heightened developmental level.
A typical day in the life of a JCARTS students consists of the student arriving at the school and going directly into the homework/computer lab where a tutor is waiting, in order to make sure the student has completed their assignments for school, projected work and constant reading. Afterwards, students may enjoy a quick snack and then begin to prepare and dress for the fine arts class that they are entering for the evening. Extracurricular activities include fine arts, stretch and conditioning and sign language. JCARTS will service age three – 18 and Pampered Prodigy will service 6 months- 5 years.
Jacksonville Centre of the Arts Pre-professional School will accommodate 250 and 300 students and will teach Russian and Cecchetti style for Ballet and Graham and Horton styles of Modern. Specific artistic educational curriculum also includes dancing and acting. Kezia smiled, “We have associated ourselves to create an educational and fine arts training ground that starts the development and love for the Arts at infancy.”
The JCARTS will have the same time line as the Duval County Public Schools and the first day of school is Tuesday, August 4th!