| By Sarah Davenport
In 1886, the African American school, Orlando Black, now existing as Jones High School, opened its doors in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood. Until the mid 20th century, the Florida State Constitution required that black students and white students be educated in separate spaces. In fact, for many years, Jones High was the only high school in Orange County that educated black students. Then, in the early 1970s, court-ordered integration merged black and white schools, resulting in the closure of two black schools and the separation of Parramore students into eight different schools across the county. But in August 2017, for the first time in 46 years, the Parramore neighborhood gained its own school, which educates students from preschool to the eighth grade.
The Orange County Public Schools Academic Center for Excellence, or OCPS ACE, is the first preschool through eighth grade school in Parramore, as well as Parramore’s first Community Partnership School. OCPS ACE was developed using the Community Partnership School (CPS) model, created by the University of Central Florida’s Center for Community Schools. The ACE was created through a partnership between OCPS, Orange Blossom Family Health, University of Central Florida, Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida, Rosen Foundation and Valencia College, who each commit to the long-term and short-term sustainability of the school. Some of the services available to the community at OCPS ACE include, tutoring and mentoring programs, on-site services such as health care, dental, counseling and case management, and a preschool program. There are also before and after school services, athletic and arts programs, cultural enrichment activities, summer programs, as well as education and counseling on nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices
Recently, Orlando City Soccer Foundation and Orlando Health funded a Fleet Farming Garden installation at OCPS ACE. In December 2017, Fleet Farmers and first, second, and third grade ACE students planted kale, collards, mizuna, radishes, swiss chard, and other veggies in the eight 4×16′ cedar raised beds Fleet installed in the courtyard. Since then, Fleet Farming Parramore Program Manager, Michael Gutierrez, farms on a weekly basis with ACE students. We are grateful to our funders from Orlando City Soccer Foundation and Orlando Health and are excited to see the benefits of the OCPS ACE install!
Martin, Annie. “Orange chooses name for long-awaited Parramore school.” Orlando
Sentinel, February 28, 2017
Dudenhoefer, Nicole. “Revitalizing a Downtown Neighborhood” Pegasus, Fall 2017.
Postal, Leslie .”Orange Students Head Back to School.” Orlando Sentinel, August 14,