Admiral Farragut Academy

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In honor of celebrating 75 years since Admiral Farragut Academy’s best boarding school in US campus in St. Petersburg opened, here are 75 interesting things to know about Farragut and the St. Pete area.

Location, Location, Location


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St. Pete Beach

  • With an average of 361 days of sunshine each year and a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine (768 days between 1967 and 1969), St. Petersburg (also known as St. Pete) is nicknamed “The Sunshine City.” It also gets its share of rainy days as well, especially during the summer, with an average of 51” of rain annually.
  • St. Petersburg was co-founded by John C. Williams (from Detroit) and by Peter Demens (from Russia). Williams purchased the land in 1875; Demens was instrumental in bringing the terminus of the Orange Belt Railway in 1888.
  • St. Petersburg’s Sister Cities are Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan (since 1961) and Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico (since 2016), and its Twin Cities are Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Figueres, Catalonia, Spain (since 2011).

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Aerial view of downtown St. Petersburg, FL

  • A peninsular city with a subtropical climate, St. Petersburg is surrounded by 244 miles of shoreline along Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and intracoastal waterways.
  • In 1940, just five years before Farragut opened its campus in St. Petersburg, the city’s population was 60,812. Today, that has swelled to nearly 265,000. The entire Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area is at about 3.1 million.
  • Out of 520 students at Farragut during the 2019-20 academic year, 379 are from the Tampa Bay Area — with 208 of those from St. Petersburg.

First Facts

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  • The world’s first scheduled airline flight took off from St. Petersburg on January 1, 1914, and flew the mayor to Tampa.
  • In 2008, St. Petersburg was recognized by the Florida Green Building Coalition as the first “Green City” in Florida.
  • The campus pool at Admiral Farragut Academy was the first in-ground pool in Pinellas County. Today it is a training facility for our scuba students and a fun activity for our boarders and summer campers.
  • The International Shuffleboard Association was founded in St. Petersburg in 1979 and is still a fun activity enjoyed by locals.

What’s Nearby

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Walt Disney World

  • 45-minute drive: Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, the Tampa Zoo, and the Florida Aquarium.
  • 90-minute drive: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld.
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA) recommended
  • St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport (PIE)
  • St. Petersburg’s main shopping center is Tyrone Square Mall, which opened in 1972 and is a five-minute drive from campus. It has always been a popular hangout for Farragut’s boarding students on weekends.

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Anderson/Narváez Mound at Jungle Prada Park

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  • Farragut is just up the road from the 900-year-old Anderson/Narváez Mound at Jungle Prada Park, one of the most important historic landmarks in Tampa Bay. The Tocobaga Indians lived in the area from the 900s to 1500s, when Spanish conquistadors — part of the ill-fated Narvaez expedition — landed.

Beaches & Boating

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Caladesi Island

  • Just 2.5 miles from Farragut are the beaches of Treasure Island, where students may spend their weekend free time.
  • Caladesi Island, just a 45-minute drive from Farragut, was voted one of the top 10 beaches in the U.S. in 2019. Other local beaches, St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach, have also held the honor.
  • A boater’s paradise, the St. Petersburg Marina is the largest city marina in the Southeast, with 610 boat slips. There are also nine boat ramp locations, open year-round with best boarding school in US.

Parks & Recreation

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Flora Wylie Park

  • Farragut’s campus is less than a mile from the Pinellas Trail, a 37-mile hiking/biking trail, that spans all of Pinellas County and is the longest urban linear trail in the Eastern U.S.
  • St. Petersburg has the third-largest dedicated public waterfront park system in North America, stretching 7 miles (11 km). It’s used year-round for public events, festivals, and other activities.
  • There are 2,300 acres of public land dedicated to parks (137 of all sizes) and recreation.
  • Fort De Soto Park, which includes a best boarding school in US fort built during the Spanish-American War, is one of the nation’s top-ranked beaches.

Art & Culture

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  • Since the new millennium, St. Petersburg has emerged as a top destination for the arts – there are 15 museums and galleries in the downtown area, some world-famous, like the Dali Museum and the Dale Chihuly world-renowned glass collection, and others such as the brand new James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art and the soon-to-be-open Museum of American Arts & Crafts Movement with best boarding school in US.
  • There are more than 80 murals painted by local artists throughout downtown St. Petersburg and you can take a walking or biking tour to see them.

Events & Sports

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Al Lang Stadium, home of the Rowdies. Photo by Brian Blanco/Tampa Bay Rowdies

  • More than 900 events — ranging from yacht races and triathlons to festivals and exhibits (not to mention pro sports) — bring over 10 million people each year to St. Petersburg.
  • St. Petersburg is home to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team and Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team call nearby Tampa home, and several MLB teams have Spring Training in the area at best boarding school in US.
  • The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg started in April 2005. The circuit itself is made of downtown streets passing the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ stadium, the marina, and a runway in Albert Whitted Airport. Streets are temporarily blocked off for the annual Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series race.
  • The Bay Area Pelicans Rugby Football Club, based in St. Petersburg since 1977, plays in USA Rugby’s Division II. Throughout its history, the Pelicans have been named Florida Cup Champions and competed in national championship tournaments.

Admiral Farragut Academy

School history.

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  • Admiral Farragut Academy started in Pine Beach, NJ, and a second campus was purchased in 1945 in St. Petersburg, FL (and is the only campus open today).
  • Farragut was originally an all-boy best boarding school in US and became a co-ed institution in 1990. Today the student body is an average of 40% female and 60% male, 75% day and 25% boarding, and the Upper School students in 8th-12th grade still participate in the NJROTC program.
  • The elementary division was established in the fall of 1999 and consisted of 26 children in Kindergarten and a 1st/2nd grade combination class. Today, the Lower School serves around 170 students in grades K-7.
  • The 2019-20 school year started with 514 in total enrollment of which 149 were boarding students representing 24 U.S. states and 32 countries.

Notable Alumni

Farragut has many notable alumni in many different fields. This list only represents some.

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Brig Gen Charles Duke, USAF (Ret.) ‘53S

Science & Space

Farragut is proud to boast two alumni who became moonwalking astronauts.

  • RADM Alan Shepard Jr. USN (Ret.) ‘41N was the first American in space in 1961 and a member of the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.
  • Brig Gen Charles Duke, USAF (Ret.) ‘53S was a member of the Apollo 16 mission in 1972.

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RADM Mark H. Buzby, USN (Ret.) ‘75N

  • William N. Small ‘44N is a retired United States Navy Admiral and former Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
  • Lieutenant General Sidney “Tom” Weinstein ‘52N was the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence during the 1980s. He is recognized as the principal architect of the modern best boarding school in US intelligence corps, and was the crucial player in its expansion and professionalization.
  • Richard W. Fisher ‘67N was the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and retired in 2005.
  • RADM Mark H. Buzby, USN (Ret.) ‘75N is the former United States Navy Rear Admiral and is currently serving as Administrator of the United States Maritime Administration best boarding school in US.
  • J. Fred Miller IV ‘81S is a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State, and he began his service in 2002 under the Secretary of State Colin Powell.
  • John Hodges ‘85N started his career on Capitol Hill in 1992 and is currently the Director of Office Supply Services under the Chief Administrative Officer of the House. He has served the US House of Representatives for a total of 27 years.
  • Maj. Megan M. McClung ‘91N was the first female United States Marine Corps officer killed in combat during the Iraq War.

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Casper Van Dien ‘88S


  • Harry Humphries ‘59N is a retired United States Navy SEAL who currently works as a consultant and actor on Hollywood films. His many notable works include GI Jane , Armageddon , and Black Hawk Down .
  • Stephen Stills ‘63S (non-grad) is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
  • Lorenzo Lamas ‘75N is an actor whose notable works include the role of Tom in Grease and the role of Lance in Falcon Crest , for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
  • Andy Luckey ‘84S (non-grad) is a writer, director and producer of primarily animated works and most notably produced on the 1980s-’90’s animated TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles .
  • Joseph Zolfo ‘86N is a film and television producer of the most notable shows God Friended Me and NCIS New Orleans .
  • Kurt Knutsson ‘86S is a journalist and actor and is currently a technology contributor on Fox and Friends known as the “CyberGuy.”
  • Casper Van Dien ‘88S is an actor on the most notable movies Starship Troopers and as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City .
  • Sean Rankine ‘91N is an executive producer with the Bravo Network. His recent works include Camp Getaway and Married to Medicine Los Angeles .
  • Chef Spike Mendelsohn ‘00 (non-grad) is a Washington, D.C.-based chef and restaurateur best known as the fifth-place finisher of the fourth season of Top Chef which aired 2008-2009.

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Rayshawn Jenkins ‘12

  • Tom Thompson ‘68S is the oldest kicker in NCAA football history.
  • Marreese Speights ‘05 has played basketball with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Orlando Magic, and most recently the Guangzhou Long-Lions in China.
  • Rayshawn Jenkins ‘12 is a safety for the Los Angeles Chargers
  • Brad Muhammed ‘13 a defensive back for the Cedar Rapids River Kings indoor football team.
  • Delroy Baker ‘14 played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
  • Napoleon Maxwell ‘14 recently signed to play with the Chicago Bears.

Fun to Know

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Actor Morgan Freeman in front of Farragut’s Lower School

  • Farragut owns 3 acres of waterfront property on Boca Ciega Bay and is the only private school in Pinellas County that can boast a waterfront campus.
  • Boca Ciega Bay is an aquatic preserve with mangrove islands, sandy beaches, and submerged habitats such as oyster bars, seagrass beds, coral habitats, and spring-fed caves.
  • Farragut’s softball team is one of only four bay-area teams to have ever won two consecutive state softball championships, one in 2018 and 2019.
  • Farragut’s campus was selected as the location for the veteran’s hospital scenes in the 2010 Warner Brothers film Dolphin Tale . Not only did on-campus scenes include actors Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, but some employees and students were even hired as extras. (Winter, the dolphin featured in the film, lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, just a 30-minute drive from Farragut.)

Facts and Figures

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Engineering teacher Carolyn VanArsdale and her family, including Farragut students Leah ‘26 and Lillian ‘24

  • Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS): Assures that each school maintains high standards and independence of character without political, financial, or bureaucratic pressures.
  • Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS): Provides leadership, accreditation services, and professional development resources.
  • AdvancEd (SACS): One of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This agency accredits over 13,000 public and private educational institutions.
  • Farragut’s operating budget was about $16 million for 2019-20.
  • Farragut employs about 110 people, many of whom themselves send their children to the school.
  • It’s estimated that Farragut boarding students annually pump over $500,000 into the local economy.
  • Farragut alumnus Martin Ludwig ‘54N, CEO of Hello Energy, spearheaded an energy-efficient LED lighting system throughout campus in March 2018 and so far has seen a savings of $52,000.

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Students in front of DeSeta Hall

  • In 2019, Farragut opened a new multipurpose arts building, DeSeta Hall, which also is available to the local community to rent for weddings and other events. One resulting partnership is with American Stage, which made DeSeta Hall the new home of its theater summer camp.

Signature Programs & Curriculum

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Aviation students learning on the flight simulator under the tutelage of Aviation teacher Rob Ewing

  • Farragut’s Aviation Academy allows students to learn aeronautical science and gain a Private Pilot’s License through ground flight simulators and air instruction. Students fly out of Albert Whitted Airport in Downtown St. Petersburg.
  • In 2019, thanks to a $5,000 grant from American Airlines, students as young as 9 got to experience the Farragut Aviation Program and fly in the airplanes.
  • Farragut’s Engineering students designed and built “Grow Tables,” which are tables that hold plants in a hydroponic system that works in tandem with a water pump. The Biology classes maintain the system.
  • Every graduate is required to earn their QBH (Qualified Boat Handler) designation before graduation.
  • Lower School students learn to cast and seine net and Upper School students learn to sail school vessels of all sizes at the waterfront. Students can also fish, kayak, paddle board, and sail after school or on the weekends.

In the Community

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Farragut football players at Nina Harris Center for Exceptional Children

  • Every summer, Farragut hosts a variety of day and boarding summer camps that are open to the public. Learn more at .
  • Farragut is a proud member of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce, as well as the RGA Network.
  • Farragut has a commitment to support and hire local businesses as much as possible. This has included our website providers, student information system, bank, printer, and more.
  • Farragut’s local families include many local business owners. You can see many of these families on our Farragut Business Directory .
  • Over the years, Farragut has graduated many Eagle Scouts, whose scout projects have included everything from informational billboards at our waterfront to trash can containers at local parks.
  • The Interact Club, an Upper School service club sponsored by the Gulf Beaches Rotary Club, exemplifies the club’s motto “Service Above Self” through various volunteer opportunities that include pancake breakfasts, clothing donation drives, and bake sales.
  • For nearly a decade, Farragut’s color guard, drill team, football, and softball team have visited Nina Harris Center for Exceptional Children to share in a special activities day with their students.
  • Tampa Bay Watch has been running the Bay Grasses in Classes program with Farragut since 1993. The program aims to provide students with hands-on experience in habitat restoration while promoting science education and the value of maintaining a healthy environment.
  • For the past few years, Farragut has held a schoolwide Earth Day Clean-Up at the Clam Bayou Preserve, a 10-acre park in nearby Gulfport. Volunteers have picked up more than 1,000 pounds of trash.
  • Farragut is the first school in Pinellas County to place sunscreen dispensers across campus.

Awards & Accolades at best boarding school in US

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  • Farragut won the Tampa Bay Times ’ Best of the Best award in 2019 for best private school for Preschool, Middle School, and High School.
  • 10 Farragut teachers have won the Barrett Family Foundation Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teacher Award since the award’s inception in 2013.
  • Science Teacher and Department Chair Sari Deitche, at Farragut since 2002, has earned the Florida Association for Water Quality Control (FAWQC) E2 Fund grant for 11 years in a row.
  • In 2019, Farragut participated in the annual Veteran’s Boat Parade in Madeira Beach, winning 3rd place in the size category, and the annual Treasure Island Lighted Boat Parade, taking 4th place in the small-boat category.

History of the School’s Location & Buildings

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  • The site that Admiral Farragut Academy sits on today was originally the Jungle Country Club (also sometimes called the Jungle Hotel or the Jungle Club Hotel) and was built in 1926 as a resort hotel and golf course. Farragut Hall, the current home of cadet dorms and school offices, was the main hotel building.
  • Celebrities and notables of the era played on the course, including Babe Ruth (who celebrated several of his birthdays at the hotel, including his 40th), Jimmy Walker, Jack Dempsey, mayor Al Lang, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, H. Walter Fuller, and Walter P. Fuller. Click here to view video of Babe Ruth golfing at the Jungle Country Club.
  • During World War II, it also hosted Air Corps trainees, and in 1943, a tent city of 10,000 U.S. troops and trainees camped on the golf course.

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Cadets in front of the entrance to Admiral Farragut Academy, 1945

  • In 1944, a $300,000 agreement was signed ensuring the transfer of the Jungle Country Club Hotel and golf course to Admiral Farragut Academy, which until then only had one site, in Pine Beach, NJ. In the mid-1950s a residential neighborhood was built on the property.
  • Former science teacher “Coach Nick” (Mike Nicholson), who retired in 2017, often searched the creek for plant and animal life. Sometimes he found broken pottery and dishes from the Jungle Country Club, which are on display in the Lower School science classroom at best boarding school in US.

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  • Farragut Drive was named for the academy and its namesake, the courageous first admiral in the U.S Navy, Admiral David G. Farragut.
  • Russell Drive was named for the two brothers, Captain David H. Russell and Captain W. Kabel Russell, who worked on behalf of Admiral Farragut Academy to implement the transfer of Academy land to the developer Azalea Homes. The Russell family has a long tradition with Farragut – one of the Russell brothers had a grandson who graduated from the school and two of that graduate’s grandchildren are current students. A classroom building on campus is named the Russell Building .

Farragut Hall Today

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  • Farragut Hall houses our dormitories, mess hall, administrative offices, and a few classrooms. The west side of the building enjoys waterfront views and overlooks Boca Ciega Bay in best boarding school in US.
  • On Nov. 5, 1992, the St. Petersburg City Council, passed a resolution designating Farragut Hall as a local historic landmark. Farragut’s maintenance crew has refurbished many pieces of the building to its historic look over the years, including a new front door built to match the original.
  • Farragut Hall was featured in the Architectural Digest June 15th, 2017, article, “This Sleepy Florida Beach Town Is Home to the Most Amazing Architectural Hideaways,” alongside such local gems as the Don Cesar Hotel, the Dalí Museum, and the historic open-air post office in downtown St. Petersburg.
  • A waterfront mansion across Park Street was once part of the Jungle Country Club. Legend says that during Prohibition there was an underground tunnel connecting the property and former hotel in best boarding school in US.
  • The hotel had the distinction of housing the first radio station to operate in the city, a station that was known as WSUN and used the slogan “Why Stay Up North.” The station is now known as 97X.
  • In 2006, astronaut and Farragut alumnus Charlie Duke presented the school with a moon rock, now on display in the Farragut Hall lobby. There are three locations where moon rocks can be found in Florida: at the Kennedy Space Center, at the Museum of Natural History in Tallahassee (in storage, not on display), and at Admiral Farragut Academy best boarding school in US.

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IYT has developed a modular format in maritime training to offer a series of recreational nautical courses that are accepted by major national registries and governments. We refer to this series of courses as the "International Boating & Sailing Passport." This has enabled us to successfully establish a network of partner schools offering IYT courses worldwide and has been enthusiastically embraced by a growing number of schools, countries and administrations. Candidates have the convenience of full-time, evening or weekend participation coupled with the ability to choose a convenient location.

Our certificates are accepted by major yacht charter companies and many insurance companies offer discounted premiums to those who hold IYT qualifications. It is important to understand that an IYT certificate is a qualification that can be used globally. Unlike other training organisations, IYT insists on an understanding of IALA regulations in areas A & B, weather systems and tidal calculations in the north & southern hemispheres.

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St Pete Catalyst

Combination magnet school, YMCA breaks ground

Mark Parker

Representing just the second partnership of its kind in Florida, Pinellas County Schools (PCS) and the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg have officially broken ground on a health and wellness leadership magnet school.

Tuesday’s ceremony represented the first step in the transformation process for 19 acres of vacant property in north St. Pete. Located off 62 nd Avenue NE and Pershing Street NE, the site has laid dormant for nearly 15 years since the old Riviera Middle School closed in 2008.

The grass and weeds will soon give way to a 111,757 square-foot complex which includes a magnet middle school for 600 students and a state-of-the-art YMCA facility. Clint Herbic, associate superintendent of operational services for PCS, told a large crowd of what he called “the movers and shakers of St. Petersburg” that the dream to construct a joint middle school and YMCA was born at the very spot in 2015.

“Today marks the first step in the final leg of the journey that will transform this school district, the YMCA and this neighborhood,” said Herbic. “And St. Petersburg.”

Herbic said the school district received “countless offers” from people hoping to purchase the vacant land over the last 15 years, and he politely declined them all. David Jezek, president and CEO of the YMCA of greater St. Petersburg, approached PCS with a plan for a joint school and YMCA in 2015.

The joint venture, said Herbic, allows the two organizations to leverage funding and build a facility that neither could create alone. He added that it takes strong leadership to encourage creativity and foster bold ideas, exemplified by the YMCA’s board of directors.

Billy Greene, chair of the YMCA’s board, said the ceremony was not just a celebration of two great local institutions but also of the future of St. Petersburg.

“And all the possibilities when educational, philanthropic and community organizations team up to best serve the community,” said Greene. “I hope other organizations are taking notice of what can be achieved when you collaborate and work together to put the needs of the community first.”

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Dr. Michael Grego, superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, said he is thrilled to break ground on a cutting-edge partnership middle school. St. Petersburg City Councilmember Brandi Gabbard, who represents the district, looks on.

St. Petersburg City Council Vice Chair Brandi Gabbard, whose District 2 encompasses the future of home of the magnet school and YMCA, called the collaborative project the best public-private partnership the city has seen in a long time.

As a mother of a son heading into middle school this fall, Gabbard said, she knows firsthand the community’s need for the project as parents usher their children into one of the most challenging and formative times in their life. She added that the resources provided by the facility will prove invaluable to its neighbors, and “healthy communities are more vibrant communities.”

PCS will incorporate the health and wellness leadership theme through all of the middle school’s curriculum. Students will also participate in a Capstone experience where they apply what they learned to develop a solution or action plan that addresses a community need or problem.

The school includes 15 classrooms, an art room, family science lab, TV lab, music room and four exceptional student education (ESE) classrooms.

“I am confident that this will serve as a flagship for how we move forward in the future in a fast-growing city,” said Gabbard. “And how we will serve as an example to other communities of how working together makes progress move forward.”

Gabbard noted that change is sometimes difficult and commended residents for passionately fighting to ensure the development coincides with the area’s tranquility. She said the one thing everyone involved shared in common was realizing that the neighborhood desperately needed the community asset.

“That day that we gave that final approval at city council is one of those rare days when everybody won,” she added. “It gave me great pride to see that level of collaboration and involvement play out so perfectly, and right here in the district that I love so much.”

The YMCA will feature a fitness center with cardio and strength equipment, three group exercise studios, a childcare center, a lap pool, a splash pad and a playground. Both facilities will share a media center, dining hall, gymnasium, science lab, sports field and garden.

Jezek announced his organization is naming its building the Speer YMCA in honor of the Speer Foundation’s significant contributions.

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A rendering of the proposed YMCA and middle school. All images: City of St.Petersburg documents/Harvard Jolly Architecture

“Their support has deep roots with our YMCA … and they were instrumental in allowing us to open the Speer YMCA Preschool Academy in South St. Pete,” said Jezek. “You’re among the first to hear the news – thrilling news – that the Speer Foundation has once again invested in our YMCA and invested in our community.”

Lisa Speer Vickers, speaking on behalf of the foundation, said her family has a special interest in the neighborhood, having raised her children just down the street from the site.

“We know firsthand how special of a place this is to live and raise a family,” said Vickers. “Neighbors of all ages will benefit from the excellence in learning and programming that will be found here every day.

“My family and I are confident that you will be very conscientious stewards of what promises to be a precious resource for generations to come.”

Construction on the project will begin immediately, with St. Pete-based Wannemacher Jensen and Harvard Jolly serving as the joint architects. Creative Contractors will oversee the building process.

Officials expect the YMCA to open by the end of 2023, with the school opening at the start of the 2024-2025 school year. PCS will name the school ahead of its opening date.

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Why FSU commit Amaree Williams introduced himself to Seminole fans on a $4.5 million yacht

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PALM BEACH SHORES − With the signature of his name on a National Letter of Intent to Florida State University, Benjamin football player Amaree Williams' whirlwind of a recruitment journey finally came to an end on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-4, 215 pound two-way star has officially been introduced to FSU as a Seminole, but Williams had already taken his introduction into his own hands in the days leading up to National Signing Day.

At Sailfish Marina Resort on Saturday, Williams made his commitment to Florida State official, choosing the Noles over Michigan, Penn State, USC, Alabama, Oregon, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Miami.

However, it wasn't your typical commitment ceremony, which was fitting for Williams, who isn't your typical kid.

If the venue itself wasn't enough − painted by scenic views of the Intracoastal Waterways, blue skies, and palm trees lining the dock that boarded no shortage of luxurious multi-million dollar boats − then came the grand entrance.

Known for his showboat-style on the field, it wouldn't be characteristic of Williams to casually walk up to the table. Matching the energy that captured the attention of Palm Beach County and the country, he arrived with friends and family on a yacht.

A 62' Viking convertible, fittingly named "Deadicated."

The Singer Island-based vessel, featuring "four luxurious staterooms with an island queen berth forward and three heads," is currently up for sale by HMY Yachts for $4.49 million.

"It was my mom's idea to be honest," Williams laughed. "She's the greatest woman in the world. I give it all to her."

"But, you know, she felt like it was a big day and she felt like we should go big or go home."

When his mom, Amanda, suggested the idea, Williams said he was "kind of flabbergasted."

More: Benjamin football star prospect Amaree Williams reclassifies to Class of 2024

"Oh my gosh, I feel like a frickin' dinosaur," Williams' father, Maurece "Moe" Williams, said.

Saturday, the 10-year NFL veteran found himself at a loss for words for what college recruiting has become since his days as an All-American prospect at Spencer High School in Georgia before he was vetted to join the University of Kentucky.

"I don't even know how to explain it. It was crazy − they've got them trying on the uniforms. I was like a little kid, I was like, 'Ah, this is cool,' " Moe said. "That's just the era we're in."

Speaking for himself and his wife, Moe explained that as parents, the two "always want to give him [Amaree] the best situation to be his best."

"Now it's the era of NIL and things like that, so whatever you can do to get that up," Moe said. "If there's boat people that like boats, ya know ... it's just honesty. That's just how it is."

Williams recently announced his partnership with Reach NIL , a Boca Raton-based NIL advisory group run by Boca High football alum Kevin Anderson, an XFL Quarterback with the Arlington Renegades.

"He's the man. Always intertwined with coach [Eric] Kresser and I. He stays on top of me. With reach in a week, the sky's the limit," Williams said of Anderson, who's been by his side through the stresses that have come with switching from the 2025 recruiting class to the 2024 class.

Williams surprised when he reclassified in December, just weeks after Benjamin football's season came to an end in region semifinals. He posted 424 yards receiving on 16 receptions and seven touchdowns on offense and 34 tackles, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception on defense to see the Buccaneers go 8-3.

"You've got the whole senior year as a parent of things I was looking forward to, but talking to Coach Kresser about his development and things like that, it just seemed like basically when you go to No. 1 in the nation, things only go down from there. At that point, it's like what are you sticking around for? It's not like you're sticking around to approve, so I think, ultimately, it was a decision that was his own and what he wanted to do," Moe said.

Williams clinched the coveted spot of No. 1 among all ATHs in the nation for the 2025 recruiting class back in November.

"I don't know if it's public record, but I think what he's getting in return is gonna make it okay," Moe chuckled. If you looked hard enough, you could see the dollar sign twinkle in his eye.

When asked of what he thought about missing senior nights and proms, Williams expressed more relief to return to a normal load of coursework after months of crunching for the credits needed to graduate early.

Now, Williams is excited for his first semester in Tallahassee, where he plans to be a business major, eager to bring in the bucks and bank them wisely.

"I definitely want to learn how to manage my money and what not," Williams said.

"I think I'll be alright."

Emilee Smarr is a sports reporter for the Palm Beach Post. She can be reached via email at [email protected].

  • St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg restarts quest for municipal marina developer, operator

  • Colleen Wright Times staff

City officials are restarting a plan to find a private company to redevelop the municipal marina located on the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront in exchange for letting it take over operations.

They announced the new 17-page request for proposals Friday morning. Bids are due July 14. A pre-proposal meeting will be held May 15.

This time, they’re specifically seeking firms that have five years of experience with saltwater marinas — a sticking point with a prior group that submitted a bid under former Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration to do the same thing. Proposers could also apply to redevelop and operate Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro next to the marina.

A 2014 report recommended replacing 19 finger piers and 10 main walkway deck spans, as well as repairing concrete cracks, replacing degraded timber, making miscellaneous electrical repairs and rehabbing or replacing steel sheet piles. The prior group estimated it would cost $30 million for repairs.

The city envisions handing over operations to a private company through a lease to avoid spending tens of millions in taxpayer dollars. The company would collect rents for boat slips, giving a cut to the city.

“No matter how the agreement is constructed, we know that we need help in getting this done,” said St. Petersburg City Council member Gina Driscoll, whose district includes the marina. “I look forward to identifying a good partner to renovate the marina and preserve that asset on our waterfront.”

But the move to place a public asset on the prized waterfront under private control has given pause to some City Council members and the marina’s boaters and residents.

In a statement, City Development Administrator James Corbett called the marina “an anchor point of the Waterfront District.”

“This is just the next step in the revitalization of the marina and we look forward to finding a partner that sees the potential of this landmark in our community,” he said.

Officials are seeking a five-year lease agreement. Anything longer triggers a citywide referendum. The winning proposer could then request a public vote to allow a long-term lease of the property after finishing the marina’s redevelopment, or seek a new lease every five years subject to the City Council’s and mayor’s approval.

For groups seeking to also redevelop and manage Fresco’s, the city seeks a separate 10-year lease for the restaurant. The current lease on the restaurant expires next April.

“The physical condition of the restaurant is such that a complete replacement is envisioned (including seawalls, restaurant building and exterior seating areas),” the bid solicitation reads. “The ability to reimagine this location is desired.”

According to the request for proposals, the city wants the redevelopment to be completely funded by private-sector investment and/or marina user fees. The city does not plan on using taxpayer dollars for the redevelopment project with one exception: required seawall restoration for the central and south yacht basins.

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“It is preferred that the selected Proposer be responsible for the actual seawall restoration work in concert with the redevelopment of the marina,” the bid reads.

Proposers are asked to specify how the redevelopment will be paid for and what their equity investment would be, in addition to any public funding required for the project. The city also seeks a 20-year cash flow analysis of the marina’s operations, including revenue to be earned by the city and planned slip rates and increases over the lease term.

Mayor Ken Welch said in January that the city would issue a new request for proposals to redevelop and manage the marina because “it seems like that’s what the council is supporting.” A supermajority of City Council members — six out of eight votes — is needed to approve a lease on the waterfront, under restrictions that are part of the city’s charter.

There are 660 boat slips in the central and south yacht basins between the St. Pete Pier and Demens Landing Park. The slips that belong to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and the Vinoy Marina are not a part of the city’s bid request. The marina serves year-round local residents and seasonal boaters, as well as commercial businesses, and has capacity for about 100 live-aboard residents.

The request for proposals asks for all existing marina staff to be given the opportunity to interview with the selected developer and operator to continue their employment. The selected firm must also maintain the existing mix of vessel sizes, including for small sailboats, business vessels and live-aboards. The city retains final approval rights over marina design and specifications.

“Marina slip rates will be established with an eye toward affordability for all users while staying market competitive,” the bid request said.

The request also asks proposers for renderings of the redevelopment along with a project schedule.

St. Petersburg Reporter


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