Breaking Ground, Building Community

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rarely do you get to be in conversation with those who are envisioning a new community, especially one where education is a primary part of the design. But that is exactly what has happened at Lake Nona, where we join a burgeoning community made up of UCF’s medical school, the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, Nemours Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center.

Valencia College held a groundbreaking ceremony today for the first building of our new Lake Nona Campus, which will open in August of 2012.

Despite the sweltering heat, over 80 community and political leaders turned out to show their support and hoist a ceremonial shovel.

Valencia has offered college courses in a wing of Lake Nona High School since 2009, both to the general community and through its Collegiate Academy, where high school students can enroll in advanced placement and dual enrollment courses leading to an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree.

The Collegiate Academy’s success is something we’re especially proud of. It was built on the belief that students can do more than you think they can. And happily, our students have proven that theory right.

In just a year-and-a-half, the Collegiate Academy has grown from 33 to 364 students.  To date, 39 Lake Nona seniors have graduated with college credit and one with a full A.A. degree. Also, two Collegiate Academy graduates have received prestigious appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Partnerships like the ones we have with Tavistock, Orange County Public Schools and the Lake Nona community are what build new horizons in education. Stay tuned!

Shown in photo (L to R): Chase Smith, Orange County mayor’s office; Carol Clark, Orange County mayor’s office; Kathleen Plinske, Lake Nona Campus provost; Frank Billingsley, chief of staff to Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando; Commissioner Phil Diamond, City of Orlando; Michael Bosley, Lake Nona Campus vice provost; Bertica Cabrera Morris, Valencia Board of Trustees vice chair; Sandy Shugart, Valencia president; Florida Senator Thad Altman; and Jerry Buchanan, Valencia Board of Trustees member.

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