Dreyfoos School of the Arts

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Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts
Dreyfoos CIMG0275.JPG
501 South Sapodilla Avenue
West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Florida 33401
United States
Coordinates26°42′33″N 80°03′34″W / 26.709197°N 80.059513°W / 26.709197; -80.059513Coordinates: 26°42′33″N 80°03′34″W / 26.709197°N 80.059513°W / 26.709197; -80.059513
Magnet (arts)
Secondary (high/9-12)
School districtPalm Beach County School District
SuperintendentRobert Avossa
PrincipalSusan Atherley
Enrollment1,373 (2014-15)[1]
Color(s)Black, White & Gold             
USNWR ranking46 (US News) /138 (Newsweek) (2014)
YearbookThe Marquee
Literary MagazineSeeds
NewsmagazineThe Muse
Art AreasCommunication Arts, Dance, Digital Media, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts

Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (DSOA) is a public high school in West Palm Beach, Florida. Formerly named the Palm Beach County School of the Arts (also known as "School of the Arts" or "SOA"), the school was renamed in recognition of a 1997 donation of $1 million by Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., a West Palm Beach philanthropist.

DSOA is administrated by the School District of Palm Beach County, which also provides most of its funding. The school receives supplementary funds for its arts and academics from the School of the Arts Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.


DSOA is designated by the School District of Palm Beach County as a "choice" school. The District's Choice programs, formerly known as magnet schools, were part of a plan by the District in the 1980s to desegregate the county's schools without forced busing that would meet Federal requirements to attract white students schools in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. In subsequent years, federal desegregation requirements eased. The programs became career academies under a rebranded "School Choice" program.[2]

Student Body[edit]

A total enrollment of 1296[3] diverse student body with 41% minority enrollment and 16% economically disadvantaged[3] is selected from across Palm Beach County through a process of competitive auditions in one of the six art areas.

Students must reside in Palm Beach County, and show proof of that residence when they enroll and re-enroll each year. The majority of students commute to the school from around the county by District buses, by Tri-Rail to the train station across the street on Tamarind Avenue, and by car. A few students live locally and walk or bike to the campus.


Students are selected to major in one core art area: Communication Arts, Dance, Digital Media, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Music is sub-divided into programs in Concert Band/Jazz, Orchestra, Vocal and Piano.[4] Students are then said to 'major' in their art area, taking at least two art area classes per year in addition to other academic and other classes. They may switch majors while attending, if they audition again and are accepted in the art area. Although students cannot dual major, they are permitted to take elective courses in other art areas if their schedule permits.

National Recognition[edit]

Dreyfoos is considered one of the top public arts and academics schools in the country. It has a 100% Advanced Placement (AP) participation rate, and has more Advanced Placement offerings than any other school in the District.[3] It regularly appears on national 'Top High Schools' lists at U.S. News[3] and Newsweek,[5] among others, as the top school in the nation for both arts and academics since 2005.


The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Visual Arts[edit]

According to The College Board’s 2007 Report to the Nation, the studio art advanced placement students at The Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts had the highest percentage of students passing the AP exam of any large high school in the world.[6] This is the third time the school’s visual art department has received this distinction, having achieved it previously in 2005 and 2006.[7][8] Dreyfoos student Rebecca Mock was named as one of the 20 national Presidential Scholars in the Arts in 2007.[9] Isabella Pezzulo was also named as a US Presidential Scholar in the Arts (Class of 2014). http://www.youngarts.org/us-presidential-scholars-arts

Communication Arts[edit]

The Dreyfoos Speech and Debate team won #1 in the nation at the annual Bickel and Brewer National Policy Forum competition in New York City in 2006 and 2007.[10]

The Collaborative Film Productions Club won 1st place in the High School Narrative category at the 2008 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival for the film "Wednesday".[11]

The TV production team of 2008-2009 won the prestigious NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker award.[12]

The TV Production team of 2009-2010 won a Broadcast Pacemaker Finalist award.[13]

The Muse student newsmagazine won a Pacemaker Award for the work done in the 2017-2018 school year.


The Dance Department provides intensive training in different styles and techniques of jazz, ballet, pointe and modern dance. In 2008, out of the 12 men Juilliard School accepted for dance, a remarkable two came from Dreyfoos. In 2010, one male dancer was accepted to become a part of Juilliard class of 2014. In 2011, three dance majors went on to Juilliard School.[14]


Dreyfoos Music Department was selected as one of the top ten music programs in the country by the NARAS (National Association of Arts and Science) Foundation and was declared a GRAMMY Gold Division School [1]. The music department at Dreyfoos includes Band, Strings, Vocal, and Keyboard majors. The dean of the Music Department is Stephanie Katz-Shear.[15]

The Vocal Department, under the direction of Ms. Arlene Sparks, had been particularly active in the recent years. In the summer of 2014, a group of Vocal students travelled abroad to compete in the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales, for a chance to compete for the title of Choir of the World. On this trip, they placed 1st in the Senior Children's Choir category and 2nd in both the Folk and Open categories. Most recently, they were invited to the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Conference to perform as Choir of Distinction, which is a high honor extended to only 3 high school choirs that year. After the 2015/2016 school year, Arlene Sparks retired from teaching and the Vocal Department came under the direction of former Florida Vocal Association Chair and renowned South Florida choral director Ken Taylor.


The Band Department at Dreyfoos is nationally recognized. Its student-musicians have received thousands of superior awards for solo and ensemble work in district and state competitions. Their students dominate the lists of Palm Beach County all-district honor bands in concert and jazz. Dreyfoos is routinely one of the top five schools with students appearing in the Florida All-State concert and orchestral honor bands.

The first director of the Band program was Randy Sonntag from the inception of the school as the Palm Beach County School of the Arts until 1992. Wayne A. Miller became the Director of Bands and held that role for 18 years, until 2010. Evan Rogovin serves the current Director of Bands

DSOA concert and Jazz bands have toured nationally and internationally, and received dozens of awards from major music festivals in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Toronto.

The Jazz Band in 1998 was a finalist in the Essentially Ellington competition. In 2006, their top concert band, the Wind Ensemble, was chosen to represent the State of Florida and performed at the M.E.N.C. National Conference of Music Educators in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2008 the Wind Ensemble was selected to perform in Washington D.C. as part of the Presidential inauguration festivities. In 2012 the school's Jazz Ensemble 1, under the direction of Pedro Hernandez was the winner of the 2012 Jazz and Swing Preservation society's 2012 "Battle of the Bands" which invited high schools across Palm Beach County, Florida to compete.[16]


The Dreyfoos Theatre Department received the Educational Theatre Association’s Outstanding School Award, Outstanding Student Award, & Hall of Fame Teacher Award (the first time in the 74 year-history of this organization that one school received all three awards).[17]


The Class of 2010 collectively received over $19 million in scholarship offers.[18]

In 2008, the school's student newsmagazine, The Muse, won the National Scholastic Press Association's prestigious Newspaper Pacemaker award, a recognition of the top student publications in the United States.[19] This is the second time Dreyfoos has won the award, having earned it previously in 2004 to become the first school publication in Florida to do so.[20] The Muse also won fifth place in "Best in Show" at the 2008 Fall Convention of the National Scholastic Press Association, having previously earned eighth place at the 2006 Spring Convention.[21][22]

The school's literary magazine, Seeds, received the prestigious National Scholastic Press Association Magazine Pacemaker in 2009.[23] Seeds also received fourth place in "Best in Show" at the 2007 Fall Convention of the National Scholastic Press Association.[24]

The school's newscast, "DSOA Today", received fourth place in "Best in Show" at the 2005 Spring Convention of the National Scholastic Press Association.[25]

The school's Theatre Department won the Southeastern Theatre Conference festival with its production of Kindertransport.[26] Numerous other productions have received high ratings at the Florida Theatre Conference and the Florida State Thespian Festival.


In the 1980s, a group of arts teachers proposed to the School District that a school of the arts be developed in Palm Beach County. A survey was sent out to gauge community interest in the development of a school of the arts. The community’s response was overwhelmingly positive. It was also at this time that the School District was looking to create magnet programs as an alternative to forced integration through involuntary busing.

What began as the Palm Beach County School of the Arts opened in 1990 on the campus of the old North Shore High School, which is today the BAK Middle School of the Arts, in Mangonia Park. It had an enrollment of 250 students in grades 7-9, specializing in five areas of arts study: Communication Arts, Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual arts. Each year, a new 7th grade class was added until 1994 when the school housed students from grades 7 through 12, and the school graduated its first class.

As the school grew, so did the need for a larger, state of the art facility. Through negotiation and the hard work of the Palm Beach County School Board, the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, and a non-profit group funding the school's additional needs, the School of the Arts Foundation (SOAFI), the Central Schools site in downtown West Palm Beach. The former campus of Twin Lakes High School became the new home of the Palm Beach County School of the Arts.

Twin Lakes was founded in 1908 as Palm Beach High School; it was established one year before the founding of the county itself and is the oldest high school in the county. Originally for whites, Palm Beach High merged in the 1970-1971 school year with the black Roosevelt High School following integration, forming Twin Lakes High School.[27]

Alexander W. Dreyfoos, at the suggestion of Dreyfoos Chairman Laurence Brandt Levine, donated the majority funding for the transformation of the campus, making the largest private contribution ever made to a public school in Florida, pledging $1,000,000 to support the Palm Beach County School of the Arts, which was subsequently renamed in his honor, the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (DSOA).[28]

The Palm Beach School of the Arts was then divided into two entities: Dreyfoos School of the Arts and the Middle School of the Arts, which later became the BAK Middle School of the Arts serving grades 6-8. MSOA remained on the Mangonia Park campus.

Dreyfoos celebrated the site's 100-Year Celebration with the "100 Years on the Hill" event.

In 2010, Burt Reynolds who graduated from the campus when it was Palm Beach High, returned to the campus for a dedication of the front drive, now used as a pick-up/drop-off for the school as "Burt Reynolds Drive."[29]

Notable Alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "ALEXANDER W DREYFOOS JUNIOR SCHOOL OF THE ARTS". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  2. ^ "Palm Beach County schools consider full choice" Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel, March 8, 2014
  3. ^ a b c d Dreyfoos School of the Arts USNews.com
  4. ^ Dreyfoos School of the Arts Official Website
  5. ^ America's Top High Schools Newsweek
  6. ^ "2007 AP Report to the Nation" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  7. ^ "2005 AP Report to the Nation" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  8. ^ "2006 AP Report to the Nation" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  9. ^ "2007 Presidential Scholars". Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  10. ^ "Dreyfoos Debate Team Wins National Honor". Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  11. ^ "FLIFF 2008 High School Film Competition". Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  12. ^ "2009 NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker Winners". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  13. ^ "2010 NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker Winners". Archived from the original on 2011-01-08. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  14. ^ "School of the Arts Foundation, Inc. - Dance". Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  15. ^ "A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts". www.awdsoa.org/music--keyboard.html. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  16. ^ DSOA Band Beat
  17. ^ "Dreyfoos Sweep Makes Statement For the Arts". Palm Beach Post, The. 2003-06-15. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  18. ^ "SOAFI - Academics". Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  19. ^ "2008 NSPA Newspaper Pacemaker Winners". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  20. ^ "2004 NSPA Newspaper Pacemaker Winners". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  21. ^ "NSPA Winners Fall 2008". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  22. ^ "NSPA Winners Spring 2006". Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  23. ^ "2009 NSPA Magazine Pacemaker Winners". Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  24. ^ "NSPA Winners Fall 2007". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  25. ^ "NSPA Winners Spring 2005". Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  26. ^ "A Tale Of Hope, Sadness". Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  27. ^ "Dreyfoos has rich history on 'The Hill'". Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
  28. ^ Dreyfoos School of the Arts Official Website
  29. ^ Ceremony to Dedicate Burt Reynolds Road at Dreyfoos School of Arts - Americantowns

External links[edit]