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Urban Land Institute recognizes downtown Orange County school with Trendsetter Award

The first preschool through eighth grade public school in Orange County has been recognized as a trendsetter for the region on Jan. 25 – seven months before it opens to students.

The Downtown PS8 community school – which will get an official name next month – was honored with the Trendsetter Award by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Central Florida.

The award, which came with a trophy, recognizes the PS8 school as the project or initiative that “best exemplifies forward-thinking ideas and practices that represent what is perhaps the “industry’s next big trend” for Central Florida in 2017.

It was presented at ULI Central Florida’s Annual Trends Conference at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), the Rosen Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Orange Blossom Family Health, Children’s Home Society of Central Florida, UCF, and Valencia College have partnered to create an education and healthcare hub that will be in the forefront of revitalizing Parramore.

OCPS’ first preschool through eighth-grade school will open at the corner of Amelia St. and Parramore Ave. in August 2017. The unique school will combine the small-school feel of a K-8 with a preschool wing that will serve two- and three-year-olds through a partnership with the Rosen Foundation. College scholarships will also be provided to PS8 grads who complete high school. The school will also be home to a medical and dental clinic.
The school has been a longtime dream for District 5 School Board Member Katherine “Kat” Gordon, who has led efforts to bring the first traditional public school in 45 years to Parramore.

“What an incredible blessing for the children and families of Parramore,” Gordon said.

“Having the school right in the neighborhood increases the opportunity for parents to be involved in their children’s education. I’m thrilled for these families and can’t wait for the first day of school.”

In accepting the award, school board chairman Bill Sublette said that what goes on inside the school walls will have effects for years to come.

“This unique partnership will transform the lives of hundreds of children attending the new Preschool K8 each year,” he said.

By merging early childhood education, after-school programs, healthcare, mentoring and family support, OCPS is investing in children and the community.

“This project has the chance to set the model that creates an academic core and competes for creative jobs on a national platform,” said ULI Central Florida district chair Greg Witherspoon. The school is also in walking distance of Creative Village.

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