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East County Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 7 months ago

95 and counting for ODA

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Out-of-Door Academy celebrates its 95th year teaching students.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Colin Castro, a senior at Out-of-Door Academy, wore a black, pink and teal Hawaiian shirt to school Jan. 27 rather than the school’s usual uniform.

“I just went for more of a ‘Miami Vice’ kind of look,” Castro said of his outfit, which was a throwback to the 1980s.

Dressing like it was the 1980s was Castro’s way of participating in one of the school’s activities to celebrate Out-of-Door’s 95th year on the 95th day of school. Each grade was assigned a decade.

The school’s Siesta Key campus, which now houses pre-K through fifth grade, opened in 1924, and the Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch opened in 1997. The Lakewood Ranch campus houses grades six through 12.

“There’s very few organizations in Sarasota that can trace back their history 95 years,” said David Mahler, Out-of-Door Academy’s head of school. “We’re just taking every opportunity to think about all that came before us as we celebrate the 95th day of the 95th year.”

ODA archivist Elizabeth Mahler, David Mahler’s wife, gave students and faculty at both campuses a presentation on the school’s history and how it has grown since its inception in 1924.

In 1924, the school’s founders, Fanneal Harrison and Catherine Gavin, established a vision for the school based on the “idea that fresh air, physical activity and the arts would lead to a higher level of academic achievement,” David Mahler said.

“Now in the year 2020, neuroscience and brain research affirms that that’s exactly true,” he said. “While the school has changed, and the world has changed, our mission remains unchanged 95 years later, which I think is remarkable.”

Junior Kaylen Rivers said learning about the school’s history allows students and staff to continue on what the school is doing right while also learning from past mistakes.

Throughout the day, students participated in different activities revolving around 1924 and the number 95, such as creating surrealist collages like artist Salvador Dalí, learning the Charleston and eating Bit-O-Honey.

The school also had cars from different decades showcased.

“The car show we pulled together is designed to be sort of a visual reminder of all the evolution of the country and Sarasota over that nine-and-a-half decades,” Mahler said.

Seeing dozens of students participating in the activities throughout the day was a representation of how close the school community is, Castro said.

Mili Knego, a sixth grader, said it was “cool” celebrating the school’s history and to “think you can be a part of it.”

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