Pine Hills Makes History with Opening of Evans Community School
History was made today in Pine Hills with the official opening of the first-ever community school in Florida – Evans Community School.
Attended by hundreds of students, parents, community leaders, officials and Orange County Public School representatives, Evans Community School celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community health-and resource fair as well as, open-house tours of the community school.
Almost four years in the making, Evans Community School’s mission is to empower students and families to achieve lifelong success, through the delivery of a range of on-site services and programs, including after-school tutoring, mentoring, medical and mental health services, among many others. The school will also serve as a hub to Pine Hills and surrounding communities.
“Evans Community School provides a strong partnership, which strengthens the overall student and community,” said Jenny Gibson-Linkh, Evans High School principal. “Doors are being opened for students, empowering them to dream big and to work to achieve those dreams.”
Inspired by a highly successful model developed by New York’s Children’s Aid Society, Evans Community School is led by founding partners Orange County Public Schools, Children’s Home Society of Florida and the University of Central Florida. The school builds on a strong body of research which has demonstrated the benefits of focusing on the unique immediate and long-term needs and goals of students and their families.
“We know that our children are phenomenal, achieving at very high levels and we are going to lead Evans students to even greater success, by providing most of what they need right here,” said Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent, Orange County Pubic Schools.
The school will offer an initial set of social services, but it is anticipated that these will be adapted and developed, as the needs of Pine Hills and the surrounding communities are more fully identified.
“This is really just the beginning and we are hoping to be here for a very long time,” said a beaming Michael Frumkin, Dean of UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs. “UCF has prided itself in being a partnership university, and there is no more important partnership than the one we are celebrating today.” The university has made a 25-year commitment to Evans Community School.
Today’s grand opening, recognized the school’s founding funder, JP Morgan Chase which has contributed over $0.5 million to start-up costs. Other major funders, include Heart of Florida United Way, Jessie Ball duPont Fund and Disney.
More than 50 vendors show-cased their services including, Florida KidCare, Human Serivces Associates, Beautiful Butterflies, Operation Lifesaver, Pine Hills Community Council, United Way, Orange Pace and Second Harvest Food Bank.