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North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy of Lake City

Music students at North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy in Lake City. -Photo: Submitted

By Tami Stevenson

Lake City, Fla. – At a time when many public and private schools no longer offer or have greatly reduced their music and arts programs, there have been a number of university studies that have found significant benefits in brain development when structured music lessons and hands-on art classes are infused into children’s lives, improving memory, cognitive skills and academic progress even in other subjects like reading, math and the sciences.

In rural North Florida, however, school choices are limited, but there is a private school, located in Lake City, that is unique to this area. It not only teaches K-12 academics, it also teaches music, art, drama and dance on a daily basis to its students. The founder and principal of North Florida Arts and Sciences Academy (NOFLASA), Dr. Anthony Buzzella, is an award-winning, state certified principal with over 40 years of experience as a classroom teacher and school administrator as well as a professional musician and entertainer. He has shared the stage with several legendary musicians and entertainers over the years including Pete Fountain, Eddie Miller, Grandpa Jones, Alfonso Levy, Kenny Rogers, Jerry Clower, Chubby Wise, Tim Allan, Danny Rubio, Tyler Jackson and Rusty Hammerstrom to name a few.

Buzzella, along with school operations manager and wife, Abigail Buzzella, believe that children learn by doing. Developing the love of learning in an arts-centered atmosphere builds a commitment and passion, encouraging all students to become life-long learners and positive contributors to society. The school motto is “If it is to be - It is up to me!” Part of their mission statement is to inspire, challenge and motivate artistically gifted students and to achieve success in academic, social and career preparation.

During Buzzella’s years as an educator, he studied behavioral patterns and became acutely aware how important a well rounded education is early on. Buzzella said he went to a school like North Florida Arts and Sciences Academy while growing up in Miami where they focused on the arts as well as academics. He credits that school as playing a major roll in who he became as an adult. He says their goal today is to graduate well-rounded students that are ready to take on the world of the future.

According to an article published by Science Daily, children who received music lessons showed improved language-based reasoning and the ability to plan, organize and complete tasks, as well as improved academic achievement, claims Dr. Jaschke, from VU University of Amsterdam. This suggests that the cognitive skills developed during music lessons can influence children’s cognitive abilities in completely unrelated subjects, leading to overall improved academic performance.

Another study showed children develop innovative skills when they’re encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art and playing music. Those skills can open doors later in life. They claim 72 percent of employers say that creativity is the #1 skill they look for when hiring.

NOFLASA is tuition-based but also offers Step Up scholarships to low income families and a new scholarship called HOPE for students that have been bullied in public school, where income is not a factor.

They also have the Shining Star Music Award, summer music camp scholarships for students that are musically inclined. It is a two-week $3,000 scholarship to the prestigious summer camp, French Woods Sports and Arts Center in New York, directed by Nigel Watson. This year they gave out nine French Woods scholarships.
During the school year they also take frequent educational field trips that include visits to museums, parks, historical locations and trips to the Buzzella farm where students see and learn about chickens and incubating eggs, see and pet the goats and learn about the many fruit trees and other crops growing on the farm as well as the opportunity to hand pick and taste the many wonderful flavors only fresh fruits and crops can offer.

“This is part of the hands on approach,” stated Buzzella.

Currently NOFLASA has 30 students with an enrollment capacity of 100, according to Buzzella it is not too late to enroll, they have openings for every grade level with small class sizes and encourage parents to come and apply. They can expect a safe, wholesome and bully-free school for their children.

“This school is for parents that want to send their child to a school that has smaller class size, a good moral tone and where we pledge the flag. I do a morning prayer, but do not promote any religion,” stated Buzzella.

They currently have students enrolled from Columbia, Suwannee and Hamilton Counties. They also offer bus service as well, with pick up and drop off points in all of the respective counties. The school hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They provide supervision 30 minutes prior to school and 30 after school. If your child has to stay beyond that, they offer AfterCare that is reasonably priced.

North Florida Arts and Sciences Academy is located at 7443 U.S. Highway 90 West in Lake City. Visit their website at or call 386-628-1606 for more information.

North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy in Lake City along U.S. Hwy 90. -Photo: Submitted

Elementary students at North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy in Lake City. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Students working on their academics at North Florida Arts & Sciences Academy. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson