Douglas Anderson’s jazz program increases allure

National recognition illustrates benefit of local arts education


Douglas Anderson School of the Arts has been exemplifying excellence for decades, as evidenced by accolades earned year over year for programmatic excellence. The jazz program at Douglas Anderson is one example of many that showcases talent on the national stage. Students at the high school level have a chance to excel in the arts, by way of instruction offered by faculty, staff and visiting artists in residence as well.

Earlier this year, the school’s SOTA Jazz Ensemble I earned an overall score of 97% and won the National Jazz Festival for high school jazz bands. Its Jazz Combo won the small group category of the festival and trumpeter Giovanni Martinez was named the “Superior Musician” with tenor saxist Ethan King recognized as an “Outstanding Musician.”

In April, DownBeat magazine once again recognized the DA flagship jazz ensemble as one of the top high school jazz bands in the country in its 45th Annual Student Music Awards. This was the sixth consecutive year that DA Jazz Ensemble I either won the category or placed runner-up, uncommon historic consistency, according to DownBeat.

The National Jazz Festival recently presented Don Zentz, the director of jazz studies at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, with its Jazz Educator Award, and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival named him to its Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame began in 1999 with three inductees: Mayor Godbold, Mike Tolbert and Dan Kossoff, who all three had a pivotal role to play in the creation and production of the event.

Now in his 38th year of teaching, Zentz has received a Jazz Education Achievement Award from DownBeat, an Outstanding Teaching Award from UNF and a TIP Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Florida Board of Regents and has been a Keilwerth Saxophones artist performer and clinician since 1995.

Don Zentz has led DA’s jazz program since 2016, when he took over from retiring founding director Ace Martin. Prior to that, Zentz had been the director of fine and performing arts at The Bolles School.

If your child has a special talent in the arts, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts can help foster their growth and excellence as students, grades 9 through 12, are carefully nurtured through intensive study.

Established as an arts school in 1985, the school attracts students from all parts of North Florida and South Georgia who have talent in dance, instrumental or vocal music, performance or technical theater, film and video production, creative writing and visual arts. A high academic standard — coupled with broad arts curriculum — offers students an opportunity to excel in a chosen discipline while preparing them for post-secondary education.

To learn more about the school and its programming, go to douglasandersonSOTA on Facebook, or online at


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here