Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Harriett Lake sponsors a new program at Jewish Academy of Orlando


Jewish Academy of Orlando students performing "Suessical the Musical" last year at the Wayne Densch Theater in Sanford.

This week, Jewish Academy of Orlando announced its new program: "Harriett's Art and Performance Program for Youth" (also know as our "HAPPY" program). The program is being funded through a very generous grant from the Harriett Lake Family Trust. Mrs. Lake has been a long-time supporter of the Jewish Academy of Orlando, and, of course, performance arts programs throughout the city. This grant fuses two of her passions: performing arts and Jewish education.

The Jewish Academy of Orlando has had a strong performing arts program for years, and, according to music teacher and theater director Eric Levine, "has really become one of the best-kept secrets in the area." Every year, the school puts on a musical at the Wayne Densch Theater in Sanford. This past year, the students performed "Seussical the Musical," directed by "Mr. Eric," as Levine is colloquially called by the students. The fourth and fifth graders practiced after school once a week all year. The third graders joined the older students in January.

"Theater is without a doubt the most comprehensive, all encompassing, member of the performing arts; nothing else in the performing arts covers so many different areas like theater," said "Mr. Eric." "It's acting, it's singing, it's dancing, and it goes far beyond that. It develops the child's self-confidence, enhances their concentration, improves their public speaking ability, instills discipline, teaches teamwork, and I've seen our children grow in these areas..."

"This generous gift allows the school to package our magnificent theater arts programs with our over all performance art programs," said Marketing VP Robyn Eichenholz. The school currently teaches recorders, music, chorus, and theater.

"Our performance program sets us apart from other schools. Our chorus has sung on the ice at the Solar Bears and many other community events. And, our annual theater performance is truly amazing. To see the students work together for one common goal is fantastic," added Eichenholz.

The "HAPPY" program will allow the school to continue creating these shows and these invaluable experiences for its students. The students at the Jewish Academy of Orlando are very fortunate and grateful for this generous gift and look forward to using the funds for expanding and enhancing its arts program in the future.

To further support Jewish education and your local Jewish day school, to get involved or for any questions, please contact Alan Rusonik, Head of School, at 407-647-0713.


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