Academy at the Lakes

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Academy at the Lakes
2331 Collier Parkway
North Tampa
Land 'O Lakes, Florida, (Pasco County) 34639
 United States
Type Private, coeducational
Motto Esse Quam Videri (To be, not simply to appear to be)
Denomination Nondenominational
Established 1992
Head of school Mark Heller
Grades K12
Enrollment 456 (2014)
Hours in school day 7
Houses Osprey, Peregrine, Kestrel, and Nighthawk
Color(s) Blue and White
Song "Esse Quam Videri"
Fight song "The Colors of Academy"
Nickname Wildcats
Accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools[1]

Academy at the Lakes is a private-independent college preparatory co-educational PreK3–12 school in Land O' Lakes, Florida (metropolitan Tampa).

The school is non-denominational school and has two campuses separated by Collier Parkway. The Wendlek Campus is located on the east side of the street and the McCormick campus is located on the lakefront of Lake Myrtle on the west side.

The Academy currently educates more than 400 students each year and provides its students with abundant opportunities in athletics, the arts, character formation, and community participation.[2] Students and families are divided and assigned within a "house system". This system provides students and families with many cross-age and cross-campus experiences and furthers the Academy's focus upon building community-based relationships.

Beginning in the Lower School, students have opportunities to participate in public speaking and the arts as a part of their core curriculum, taking such courses in subjects such as strings, band, instrumental music, choral music, choruses, theater, dance, and a full range of visual arts, including photography courses, videography, and sound mixing. Performance is a routine part of the student experience.

The school is fully accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools and the Florida Kindergarten Council, and is a full member of the National Association of Independent Schools. Locally, Academy at the Lakes is a member of the Bay Area Association of Independent Schools.


Academy at the Lakes was founded by educators Richard and Constance Wendlek in September 1991.

In 1992, the Academy at the Lakes opened its doors to its first classes. A few years later, the small elementary school had expanded to include a middle school. Overcrowding concerns led parents Mary and Gerry McCormick to donate additional property to the school. In 1996, the McCormick Campus opened its doors designed as a middle school. In 1998, an Upper Division was created to serve high school students.

In February 2008, the Academy opened a $3.1 million gymnasium, which includes locker rooms, coaches offices, a weight room, and a stage.[3] Athletics, interscholastic sports, clubs, service programs, extended travel opportunities, academic fairs, and internships (for seniors) help to form what the school believes is a well-rounded liberal studies school experience.

Since the school's inaugural graduating class in 2002, graduates of Academy at the Lakes' Upper Division have been accepted to colleges around North America. Currently, Academy students attend or have attended schools such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Northwestern.


Mark Heller serves Academy at the Lakes as the Head of School. Administrators of the school include Upper Division Director Robert Sullivan, Middle Division Director John Pitcairn, Interim Lower Division Director Joanne Moore, Assistant Lower Division Director Dina Freeman, Admissions Director Penny Rogers, Development Director Beth Hult, Curriculum Director Judy Kent, Creative Director Lisa Taylor, Dean of Student Services Sarah Ivie, Athletic Director Tom Haslam, Financial Officer Dorie Burnham, and Facilities Director Maynard Baker.


High school sports offered at the Academy include soccer, swimming, golf, volleyball, varsity football, boys' and girls' basketball, baseball, track and field, tennis, cheerleading, weightlifting, and softball. The football team won the 2006 Florida state six-man championship.

Middle school sports offered at the Academy include soccer, swimming, golf, volleyball, boys' and girls' basketball, baseball, cheerleading, track and field, tennis, and softball.


Following the example of British prep schools, Academy uses a house system. The student body and faculty are divided into four houses: Osprey (blue), Nighthawk (yellow), Peregrine (red), and Kestrel (green). The houses compete against each other in an annual House Day. Other house events include the Kindergarten and Senior Picnic, Buddy Reading Days, intramural sporting events, and family gatherings.

Annual musicals[edit]

Every year in the spring, in conjunction with Friendship Week, the Academy's drama department produces a full-scale musical production for the school community. Up until and including the 2005 production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the plays had been produced and directed by Aleida Morse, long-time Academy music director. The 2006 production, A Midsummer Night's Dream w/the rock of The Beatles, was directed by Katrina Stevenson, high school English and theater teacher. Stevenson is also a member of Tampa's Jobsite Theater. The 2007 musical was Guys and Dolls, directed by Katrina Stevenson. The performance was performed on March 3, 2007. The 2008 production was Fiddler on the Roof, on April 4. The performance was directed by Chris Holcom and produced by Gary Compton. Other musicals have included HMS Pinafore, The Sound of Music, and Oliver!, also directed by Chris Holcom. In 2012, the school performed a revival of the musical The Wizard of Oz, directed by Gale Sheaffer. Recent years' shows have included Bye Bye Birdie, Seussical, and The Music Man, all directed by Judy Kent.


  1. ^ SACS-CASI. "SACS-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  2. ^ "School milestones are marked by fun". Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  3. ^ "Gym is pride of Academy at the Lakes". Retrieved 2009-05-11. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°11′29″N 82°26′11″W / 28.191356°N 82.436325°W / 28.191356; -82.436325