Atlantic Coast Art Student Creates Inspiration

Jacob French, a 17-year-old at Atlantic Coast High School, has a lifelong curiosity that leads him to create Thomas the Train, the Muppets, Disney characters like Ratatouille, fruits and vegetables, and the animals that eat them. He favors a variety of mediums, such as acrylic, watercolor, clay sculpture, papier-mâché, and two- and three-dimensional forms.

His art teacher, Kelly Delaney, is so impressed with his work that she nominated him for the 2018 VSA Florida Student of the Month Award for February. And he was a winner. VSA, formerly known as Very Special Arts, is an international organization concerned with the arts and disability. French has autism spectrum disorder.

French’s works are creative and colorful, and he has a positive approach to trying new artistic endeavors, said Delaney, who chairs the school‘s fine and performing arts department.

“His yearning to learn more about various techniques made him a better artist,” she said. “The students in the class enjoy seeing his creativity and he inspires other students to try new artistic methods.”

He once sculpted 25 pounds of clay into Thomas the Train. Some of his figures are inspired by films and TV shows and others he invents. Other topics of interest are animals, sea life, seashells, and different aspects of baseball, such as bats, bases, and the field. A common theme is that her characters are happy and cheerful, reflecting her own personality, Delaney said.

French’s talents extend to tending the school’s lawn garden, which is shaped like the Atlantic coast’s mascot, a stingray.

French will receive a gift card, a sculpture by a South Florida artist, and be recognized at a future Duval County School Board meeting. The VSA program is designed to raise awareness and recognize the positive impact the arts have on students with disabilities statewide.

Here is more good news:

• The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast has selected Florida Blue as the 2018 recipient of the E. William Nash Jr. Legend Award for Community Partner of the Year. Florida Blue and its CEO Patrick Geraghty are longtime supporters of the Y’s mission, partners of the Winston Y’s Healthy Living Center, and generous contributors to the Y’s water safety program in Northeast Florida and statewide .

The presentation was made at the recent eighth annual Y-Bash at the University of North Florida. The Y announced its fundraising priorities for the following year and its goal of raising $1.66 million.

Michael Kelly was named Volunteer of the Year. Kelly, who is managing director of Ziegler Financial Services, has served on the board of First Coast Y Metropolitan since 2007 and previously served as president and treasurer. Kelly has also co-chaired her community fundraising campaign for the past two years.

Amy Perry, group exercise coordinator at the Flagler Center YMCA, is the recipient of the Carl & Rita Cannon Employee of the Year Award. She joined the First Coast Y in 2008 as a fitness instructor for the Brooks Family Y and was soon invited to teach group exercise classes at other locations. In 2017, Perry was promoted to her current role and was recently named Les Mills Coach of the Year.

• Mr. Handyman of Jacksonville recently donated a day’s time and technicians to complete repairs at Seamark Ranch, a Clay County Christian home for abused and neglected children. They did interior and exterior painting, shelving and caulking.

Scott Schneider, principal of Robert E. Lee High School, received two congratulations. He was named the Florida School Counselor Association’s 2017 School Counselor Advocate Award and received the Laurel Kaden Anderson Administrator Award. Both acknowledge his support of Lee’s counseling staff and school programs, including empowering staff to implement a program leading to increased graduation rates, scholarships and college acceptances, according to a statement from hurry.

• The 120-member Robert E. Lee High School Choir recently performed with a Grammy Award winner. They accompanied Barry Manilow on his hits “Miracle”, “I Write the Songs” and “Copacabana”, during his recent concert at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. During the holidays, the choir performs at airports, elementary schools, retirement homes and community celebrations.

Good news ? You can fax it to (904) 359-4478 or mail it to The Florida Times-Union, PO Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL 32231.

[email protected], (904) 359-4128

Kayleen C. Rice