SAIL High School

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Coordinates: 30°26′08″N 84°19′01″W / 30.435483°N 84.316963°W / 30.435483; -84.316963

SAIL High School
Sail logo framed.jpg
2006 Jackson Bluff Road (formerly 725 N. Macomb Street)

TypeAlternative public secondary magnet
Motto"Where the individual counts", formerly "Where artists thrive"
School districtLeon County
PrincipalTiffany Thomas
Enrollment382 (2016-17)[1]
Color(s)Black and Gold, formerly Rainbow
MascotThe Pirates, formerly The Unicorns

SAIL High School is a small public secondary school and a major liberal arts magnet school located in Tallahassee, Florida. The school was formerly known as "School for Applied Individualized Learning" and is now called "A School for Arts and Innovative Learning".[2] SAIL was founded in 1975, partially with the assistance of its former principal, Tallahassee-based education advocate and recently[timeframe?] elected Leon County School Board member Rosanne Wood.

SAIL emphasizes free speech and learning through creativity, and has an academic focus on the various disciplines of the humanities, particularly the visual and performing arts.

The school has a population of about 385 students and a substantial waiting list of students from other Leon County schools who wish to enroll. The school is known for high graduation rates and a very low dropout rate.[citation needed]

SAIL was the first winner of the College Board Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts in the southern region,[3] and was recognized by former governor Jeb Bush for achieving the highest Science FCAT scores in Leon County.

The primary criteria necessary for admission to SAIL is a stated desire on the student's part for a creative, nontraditional learning environment.


When SAIL was founded in 1975, it was originally intended for students from grades 7–12 who found that they had difficulty achieving success in other public high schools. The school was brought up in such a way in Rosanne Wood's 1989 article "SAIL: A Pioneer For Schools of Choice in Florida", printed in Public Schools by Choice, edited by Joe Nathan.[4] The book described students who showed academic potential but struggled with a variety of personal issues that caused them to have difficulties in the social settings provided by mainstream public high schools. These were implied to be the students for whom SAIL High School was initially founded.

However, SAIL gradually evolved into a school for students who had average or above-average success in public school but desired an alternative environment for any combination of reasons. Some preferred the idea of a smaller or more intellectual environment, while others wanted a school without the social isolation or excessively strict school policies found in a standard high school setting. As SAIL evolved through the late 1970s and 1980s, the school developed a higher focus on creativity, and enrolled students in grades 9–12 rather than 7–12. The bean bag chairs with which it had originally been supplied were replaced by standard school chairs and long college desks at which groups of students could sit and assist each other with group projects.

In 2007, in recognition of its changed purpose, SAIL changed its official name from "School for Applied Individualized Learning" to "School for Arts and Innovative Learning."

Location and facilities[edit]

Since 1975, the school had been located at North Macomb Street in Tallahassee, at the former campus of Old Lincoln High. However, in 2007 it later moved to a campus previously occupied by the Caroline Brevard Elementary School on Jackson Bluff Road, in closer proximity to both Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University.

The current campus includes a black box theatre, tailoring room, music studio, science laboratories, art room, drama lab, darkroom, and a variety of physical education facilities. Many of these features were absent from the original campus. In an attempt to retain some of the school's old-school feel, the original gazebo from the old campus was reassembled, and moved to the new location. SAIL now also has an Iraq War memorial fountain dedicated to SAIL alumnus Julian Woodall, who died in combat while serving in the military in Iraq.



SAIL runs on a block schedule in which students attend their even-numbered class periods on even-numbered days of the month and their odd-numbered class periods on odd-numbered days of the month. This does not apply to first period, which students must attend daily .

One SAIL tradition is that during second and third period, fifteen minutes are allotted to allowing students to read a book, preferably a narrative text, of their choice.


In addition to elective art, drama, music and social science classes, some popular electives at SAIL have typically included gardening, mythology, weightlifting, juggling, t'ai chi, Yoga, programming, and game design. SAIL is unique in that it allows students to enroll in juggling or t'ai chi classes in order to fulfill the physical education requirement for graduation.

Dual enrollment[edit]

SAIL allows students to dually enroll at other high schools to take electives or participate in extracurricular activities not offered at SAIL. Juniors and seniors at SAIL who have taken and passed the CPT may also dually enroll at local colleges, such as Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College. However, if a student is unable to provide transportation, SAIL offers dual enrollment courses on its own campus. These include college-level classes in psychology, sociology, microeconomics, national government, algebra, liberal arts, math, and photography, as well as both college English composition requirements. The dual enrollment classes offered at SAIL allow students to complete Tallahassee Community College's communications requirement, as well as part of the mathematics and social science requirements. SAIL does not yet offer dual enrollment classes which fulfill the science and humanities requirements. Each dual enrollment course is worth three college credit hours, and it is possible for a student at SAIL to complete as many as 24 college credit hours tuition-free directly through their high school campus. In order to accomplish this a student must plan his or her schedule extremely carefully with the supervision of a guidance counselor, and should take the CPT as early as possible.


In addition to a variety of other school events, every year, in a tradition unique to SAIL, students are required to take week-long workshop classes known as Intensives in the spring. The topics explored range from cultural studies and community service to film studies and outdoor activities such as sailing and camping.

Intensives may take place locally and/or out of state, and in the past international intensives were also offered. Out-of-state intensives have traditionally included trips to such places as Georgia, Colorado, Puerto Rico and New York.

With permission, some students may be allowed to design their own personalized intensives and report back to their guidance counselor about their experiences.

Service learning[edit]

SAIL High School can be said to incorporate many elements of service learning in its emphasis on combining academics and community involvement. For example, students are allowed to enroll in a Student Aide class, which allows them to receive class credit for performing clerical duties in the school's administrative office. Similarly, the school's signature garden is tended by students in a gardening class. Students who wish to write for the school newspaper, The Jackson Bluff Times, must enroll in a journalism class, which will count towards the school's English credit for graduation. Those who wish to edit and design the school yearbook must enroll in a digital design class, and those who participate in student government must enroll in a student government class. Some extracurricular activities, such as theatre, may also be counted towards class credit. Students who are currently employed may count their work experience towards high school credit as well through SAIL High School's personalized DCT (Direct Career Training) program.

SAIL's emphasis on service learning and community involvement also extends heavily into a number of local volunteer activities coordinated through the school's faculty, most of which may be counted towards the community service requirement for a Florida Bright Futures scholarship.

Alternate exams[edit]

SAIL allows students who have earned an A or B both semesters in any given subject to take exams in that subject early. Sometimes the exam may be the same as the regular exam taken by students who have earned lower grades, or may be an alternative to the exam, such as a brief paper or essay question.

Students who have taken alternate exams are allowed to be absent from the classes in which they are exempt from exams during the days when regular exams take place.

Student life[edit]

Student body[edit]

Before the school's relocation, and subsequent acceptance of a larger student body, the school prided itself on its focus on individuality, an uncommon theme in many public high schools. The school was known for having a large percentage of its student body involved in the gothic, punk, hardcore and hippie subcultures. It is not uncommon for SAIL students to identify as LGBT+ With its wide range of lifestyles, SAIL cultivates a highly respectful and accepting student body that has historically been very active in the Tallahassee and Leon County communities, particularly in the local arts community as well as in LGBT rights and minority rights advocacy.[citation needed]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

SAIL offers such extracurricular activities as drama, art, photography, juggling, basketball, cheerleading, archery, robotics club, Key Club, writer's guild, and a music ensemble with a focus on Rock and Roll, Pop, R&B. Band instruments consist of bass, keyboards, synthesizer, drums, guitars, and vocal talents. Interest clubs also include anime, gaming and science fiction.


Student singing during Funky Friday

Major school events include theme days such as Fall Festival, Healthy Decisions Day, World Awareness Day, and schoolwide field trips, as well as various senior-specific events. SAIL is often visited by a guest speakers who hold panels on major issues both in and outside of the community. Attendance at guest lectures is often, but not always, voluntary, and in the past SAIL has been visited by such notable guests as film director Victor Nunez, British Reggae artist Pato Banton and the Californian reggae band Mystic Roots.

SAIL holds student talent shows every few months on a Friday, called Funky Friday. This is similar to a small-scale version of Tallahassee's monthly First Friday events held at Railroad Square. Students interested in performing on Funky Friday must sign up at the office in advance.

Support groups[edit]

SAIL offers support groups for students struggling with personal social or psychological issues such as sexual identity, anger management, depression, or developing social skills. At one point in SAIL's history, students were required to attend mandatory meetings for their choice of support group.

Dress code[edit]

SAIL, because of its emphasis on freedom of expression, does not have an official dress code. However, articles of clothing that are considered directly offensive are not allowed. This is typically limited to offensive language, depictions of violence, or sexual subjects, such as those sometimes found on graphic tee shirts.


SAIL's faculty are very active in the local community. Many coordinate local volunteer activities and many participate in Tallahassee's local art and music scenes. SAIL faculty often teach multiple subjects in different disciplines or are qualified to teach at the college as well as the high school level.

Standards and reputation[edit]

Due to its innovative learning programs and cultured, collegial environment, admission to SAIL is somewhat competitive. The school has traditionally been selective. Admission is determined by a student's character, career goals, and intellectual prowess. These are assessed through an admissions essay and an interview with SAIL's administrative staff. Students who are admitted and fail to comply with SAIL's behavioral policies and/or academic standards are placed on an Exit List.

While some people in Tallahassee are familiar with SAIL and its purpose, those unfamiliar with the school sometimes have preconceived notions about its status as an alternative school. Many people believe the school is only for drop-outs, the disabled, or "bad" students.[citation needed] This is largely due to the school's origins, and may also stem from the school's reputation for illicit drug use among students and its location in a low-income district of Tallahassee.[citation needed] SAIL's students and staff are heavily active in combating these misconceptions of SAIL's purpose.[citation needed]


In addition to local Tallahassee institutions such as Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, SAIL alumni have both been accepted into and graduated from many prestigious colleges and universities. These include Bard, New College, Ringling, and MIT, as well as Ivy League schools such as Penn.[5] SAIL graduates have gone on to work in such fields as music, art, publishing, literature, IT, education, game design, cosmetology, video production, web design, state government, private business, law enforcement, private security, and the US military at both the officer and enlisted levels.

Additionally, SAIL High School maintains a strong alumni network in the Tallahassee area and across the United States, and many alumni report that their positive experience at SAIL helped them become more competitive and adapt more readily to the professional and academic communities than their peers who have attended traditional high schools.

Some notable SAIL alumni include:


  1. ^ "SAIL". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Welcome to SAIL High School's website Archived 2006-01-18 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2006-01-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)