Bolles Fine and Performing Arts celebrates 50 years


The arts have been a part of The Bolles School educational experience since its founding as a boys’ military school in 1933. Small-scale performances in drama, chorus and band helped students explore new ways to express themselves artistically. 

With a highly regarded faculty, a vibrant guest artist program and a rich multi-grade level curriculum in drama, chorus, dance, band and visual arts, the Bolles Fine and Performing Arts Department provides students with opportunities normally found in a college arts experience. 100 percent of Bolles lower school students are involved in art, music and theatre instruction and 80 percent of the middle and upper school student body are enrolled in an arts class. Each year, Bolles hosts more than 40 performances and gallery receptions on all four campuses during the academic year.

“At Bolles we teach fine and performing arts students to maximize their expressive potential through the varied tools, techniques and skills necessary for successful translation from idea to final form – or creation,” said Director of Fine and Performing Arts Laura Rippel. “We look forward to celebrating 50 years of creation during the 2017-18 school year.”

This year, school leaders will commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Bolles Fine and Performing Arts by showcasing its historical accomplishments and encouraging faculty and students to keep creating. The program will include the upper school’s fall 2017 musical, “High School Musical,” and a special dance guest artist lineup that will include former Martha Graham Dance Company principal dancer Steve Rooks and “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 12 finalist Ariana Crowder. Disney Imagineer and professional artist George Scribner ’70 will also speak at the upcoming “Peak Perspective” speakers’ series event on campus Oct. 26.

In April, the School will host an Alumni Gallery Exhibit in Gooding Gallery and a special showing of Bartram alumna Kathy Stark’s works in Murchison Lane Gallery. Other special guest visits as well as concerts, events and exhibits in all areas of Bolles fine and performing arts and on all four Bolles campuses are in the works for the 2017-18 school year.

This year is also an important anniversary year for the Phoenix Society, Bolles’ honor society within the Bolles Fine and Performing Arts Department. Founded in 1967, the society recognizes juniors and seniors who excel in two or more areas of the arts. Phoenix Society candidates demonstrate a commitment to the demands of artistic vision, delight in the process of creative discovery and show gratefulness and humility in the face of achievement.

“I am always humbled and amazed by the caliber of work our students demonstrate in the arts,” President and Head of School Dave Farace said. “Their talents not only enrich our Bolles community, but have helped shape the vibrant art scene in Northeast Florida. Bolles faculty and student works and performances are pervasive in Jacksonville and have been for decades. We are fortunate at Bolles to understand the importance and influence of art in our community.”