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Monday, 14 September 2009 13:34

Life Force Arts & Technology Charter School Cuts Ribbon on August 14 Featured

Written by  David Ziff
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Life Force Arts & Technology Academy Ribbon Cutting - Photo by David ZiffThe grounds at the intersection of Kings Highway and Sunset Point in Clearwater seem destined to be devoted to schooling. When a Christian school at that location closed another school rose to take its place: Life Force Arts & Technology Academy (LATA) which had its official ribbon cutting on August 14th, 2009.

LATA is the brain child of a cultural visionary: Ms. Jai Hinson, a prominent figure in the arts of Pinellas County, who was assisted by a well-known community leader in Clearwater: Mr. Maurice Mickens, the chairman of the school’s board of directors. The dream of a new type of school was converted into reality by the hard work of Mr. Mickens and Ms. Hinson together with the board’s distinguished consultant, Dr. English Bradshaw.

What is a charter school, how is it different from a “regular” school? Basically, a charter school can independently create its ownLife Force Arts & Technology Ribbon Cutting - Photo by David Ziff curriculum (with the ultimate approval, of course, of the Pinellas school board) and appoint its own staff and educators in order to implement the charter school’s mandate.

As its name suggests, in addition to the 3 R’s, LATA will concentrate upon enhancing the lives of its young students with arts and technology. Ms. Hinson and Mr. Mickens shared a key insight: traditional schooling overlooks the arts in its curriculum. Both espoused the doctrine that the arts are the lifeblood of a culture and that it is the arts which carry a civilization to new heights.

The second principle that Mr. Mickens and Ms. Hinson shared is that we living in a technology age and students must be imbued with the spirit and know-how of technology from the first day they enter kindergarten. Hence LATA is a cutting edge educational institution which emphasizes career opportunities and the practical skills which students need to thrive and compete in today’s world.

Principal Martie Woodie - Photo by David ZiffThe mission statement of LATA underscores this orientation: “LATA is a performing arts charter school that infuses technology throughout the curriculum and operational processes. Our main objective is to sow the seeds of growth that will enable our children to become responsible members of society with respect for one’s self, one’s community and one’s natural habitat.”

Of course we all know the truism: “The mighty oak grows from a single acorn.” The LATA era in Clearwater is beginning with grades K – 3. An early goal is reach an enrollment of 196 and it is actively recruiting more student to reach this objective. Similarly, the first semester students will wear a school shirt but by the second semester students will proudly don a specially designed school uniform as studies have shown a school dress code develops group esprit and discipline.

The post of principle was carefully considered and Ms. Martie Woodie, an experienced educator and veteran of charter school start-ups, was selected from a prominent list of candidates to head this new venture.

Another luminary, Sir Brock Warren, dancer extraordinaire and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory, will spearhead theDemonstration of the Technology at Life Force Arts & Technology Academy - Photo by David Ziff school’s performing arts section. Mr. Warren is a charismatic product of Ms. Hinson’s dance troupe, Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet which he entered at an early age under Ms. Hinson’s tutelage.

“First of all, this is a work that has been in progress for about 8 years, starting with a summer camp, then adding an afterschool program and then progressing to the unique charter school we had dreamed about,” said Maurice Mickens at the ribbon cutting.

“We are using the performing arts and technology to teach the 3R’s and capitalize on the natural desire all children have to learn. Children are our most precious resource and educationally we must equipment them with the tools they need to thrive and prosper in the future. Otherwise, as parents, as educations we have failed. We believe in starting young. We must catch them when they are at their most impressionable and excited.”

For more information or future enrollment call the school at (727) 447-1717.

Read 2215 times Last modified on Monday, 14 September 2009 14:10