North Florida Arts and Sciences Academy expanding
NOFLASA students at 2020 Christmas Kiwanis performance. -Photo: Submitted
By Tami Stevenson
After nine consecutive years and a new location, North Florida Arts and Sciences Academy (NOFLASA), of Lake City, is going strong. They are expanding their new 25 acre campus to include a vo-tech center. The vo-tech is under construction now and by fall (for the 2021-22 season), school Founder and Principal Doctor Anthony (Tony) Buzzella says high school students will have a choice between two tracks for their future – college – or learning a skilled trade.
The vo-tech center will feature carpentry, small engine repair, metal work and heating and air conditioning repair, to begin with. They plan to add other vocational areas as they progress. It will be open to students from grades 9 - 12. The programs will be designed for those that are not going to college but need job skills. It will teach them other basics, like how to find a job, work at a job and keep a job – all of the skills and training needed to learn how to fill out an application, open a checking account, balance a checkbook, budgeting and time management skills will be taught.
The academic curriculum will be designed to meet the needs of the students.
“For example, consumer math (will be taught) as opposed to algebra II or trigonometry or calculus (for vo-tech students). Your average student that graduates from high school and goes directly into the workforce needs practical math – basic math skills, Buzzella said. “Like how to work percentages, how to calculate commercial mark-up and pricing so they know how to sell their product properly. All of those things will be covered in our vocational classes in addition to the actual basic skills.”
Vo-tech students in their senior year will also be developing their ability to take their state contractor’s exam in their particular area.
One class Buzzella is particularly excited about is aluminum mechanics. His family has been in this field for more than 60 years and he grew up in it. He said students will learn how to build screen porches, Florida rooms and replace glass windows, etc.
“Students in that field, for example, will be prepared to take the state aluminum contractors test,” said Buzzella. “So they will not only get their high school diploma, but will (have the opportunity) to be certified with their state license to go right into their trade.”
He said they intend to partner with workforce development and utilize local, state and federal grants to infuse into their vocational programs.
The name of the vo-tech will be American Pride Vo-tech Center.
“What’s in a name?” Buzzella asked. “The name tells you who you are. Built in America, using their God given talents. Using the tax rules rather than the welfare rules, learning survival skills and being responsible for their own actions.” He added that their goal is to graduate a complete student, fully functional and ready to go out into the real world, get a job and be a positive contributor to society, not a burden on society.
The new location of the campus is ideal for students Kindergarten through 12th grade. Not only do they still provide an arts-infused curriculum, teaching music, dance and art alongside the standard curriculum, they now offer after-school programs in a school farm setting. One program is called the Poultry Project where students learn about raising chickens, collecting the eggs and so forth.
Buzzella said they are currently building a nature trail on the property for students to enjoy and learn more about nature.
There are several state scholarships available for those that qualify. He added that most people do. The primary one is called the ‘Step Up’ program.
“Parents need to know that we are not for everybody. We offer a wholesome, bully-free environment that promotes good, traditional American family values that instills pride in self, patriotism for country and understand the value of having faith in God. We believe having faith in God gives meaning and purpose.” Buzzella added, “Now we are not a church, but we have very strong values. The same values of the founding fathers. Our mission is to provide a quality, wholesome, educational environment that’s free of the distractions other schools allow to exist.”
“If you have a child that is talented in the arts or is serious about academics or just likes to build things and wants to learn how to do that.” Buzzella continued. “Those are the areas we specialize in. If they have a child like that, then we are the school they need to look in to, because that’s what we offer.”
Buzzella said he rejects the national American history curriculum. They want to teach students to be proud of their American heritage. He purchased the entire 1776 Project that is based on our country’s founding documents and totally free of social engineering like in most schools today, he added. Just the facts.
“The curriculum is based on facts, not opinions, or what people wished it was. We don’t provide the opinion, we provide the facts. Students learn by doing. The job of a school is to teach students to be independent thinkers,” said Buzzella
He tells students often, “I’m not trying to tell you what to think. I’m just trying to get you to think.”
North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy is located at 1175 NW Lake Jeffery Road in Lake City, and has the capacity for 100 students. The new American Pride Vo-tech Center will have a 200 student capacity.
Students performing at a Christmas Concert - 2020
Students performing at the Olustee Festival - 2020 -All Photos: Submitted
Multi-Purpose building at the school
Student Work Crew
North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy sits on 25 acres. -Photo: Submitted
Dr. “B” with daughter, Annie
Director of Operations Abby Buzzella with daughter, Annie