BRICKBATS TO DENNIS MOPE The founder of two military-themed charter schools, one of which is in Duval County, refused to answer questions in the wake of the abrupt shuttering of his Jacksonville and Orlando-based Acclaim Academies. Though Mope’s personal financial history was sketchy at best, revelations that Acclaim had run out of money – displacing 229 students with just weeks left in the school year – came as a surprise to Duval school district officials, who said the district didn’t know about a prior bankruptcy when they granted the school’s local charter in 2013.
BOUQUETS TO STANTON DEVIL’S ADVOCATE Stanton College Preparatory School’s newspaper won a first place award in its division in The Florida Times Union’s Excellence in High School Journalism competition. The Devil’s Advocate – which has a long history of journalistic excellence that predates even that of Folio Weekly’s – is funded entirely through advertisements and is student-run and student-edited. This is the Advocate’s second top honor in as many years.
BOUQUETS TO WJCT for focusing a much-needed spotlight on mental health in Northeast Florida. First Coast Forum’s topic this quarter was “Breaking Through Stigma: A Conversation about Mental Health.” In addition, Northeast Florida’s NPR station supported Mental Health Awareness Month by hosting several events, like Chad Dennis’ photo exhibition – which puts faces and names to mental illness – and scheduling articles and show topics that brought mental health issues into public dialogue.
BOUQUETS TO HEMMING PARK Downtown’s Hemming Park recently added some engaging art to the urban core that’s vibrant, tactile, and poignant. Painter and muralist extraordinaire Shaun Thurston has installed a 150-foot-plus, floral-themed mural, Hemming Park Terrarium, that spans the entire length of park’s onsite storage area. RouxArts’ ongoing Let’s Tile Hemming Park project uses colorful tiles and mirrors to create shimmering mosaics near the wall in front of City Hall. Finally, blacksmith Robert Noelke’s large-scale piece, For Brian, is a chime-like structure of repurposed CO2 canisters painted bright green and yellow. The piece is dedicated to Brian Hicks (June 4, 1970-July 4, 2010), a much-loved (and missed) musician who was a longtime presence and figurehead in the creative community.