We love this school. My child is thriving in music and acedemics. The offering of additional classes via Florida Virtual School is wonderful. We travel from Camden County, GA just for the opportunity to attend this wonderful school. And yes, if you live in Camden County GA you are eligible to audition for DA. If you get in you can take the bus from First Coast HS by Pecan Park Rd.
Douglas Anderson School of the Arts is a shining beacon of creativity and hope for the Jacksonville and surrounding areas. In my time at DA as a Theatre Major, I learned more about myself, my craft and being a young professional than I could have anywhere else. What the school captures so magnificently is the ability to prepare young artists for a professional road ahead of them - that goes beyond their chosen art. DA taught me about time management, professionalism, responsibility, being detail-oriented, being specific and being a well-rounded individual. I'm very excited for the future, with the addition of the new buildings. (if only they were there when I attended!) I recommend Douglas Anderson to anyone serious about strengthening their craft and re-vitalizing themselves as young professionals. I'd give anything to do it again - truly. At times, it can be a dark atmosphere - but that as is life. If you attend, you are charged with figuring out how to make the dark atmosphere a light and hopeful atmosphere for yourself. It's an incredible school. Check it out - go to a performance, journey through the gallery, immerse yourself in a shining jewel that Jacksonville has.
Very disorganized. No timely communication to students or parents. Multiple schedule changes for new students throughout first months of being in high school for freshmen. No support or contact by principal. New Vice principal placed in 2014 not caring toward students. Such a shame. Great previous reputation. They dropped the ball on the students this year. Maybe too focused on million dollar building project.
DA is definitely an art school, and not good for much else. The academics are mediocre, there are no sports teams, and school clubs are minimal and disorganized. The art classes are good, but they're packed with students, so one-on-one time with teachers doesn't exist. If you enter as a Freshman and stay for all four years there's a chance that you might get to know the teachers and get a part in a production (coming from a performance theatre major). If you're a performer transfer to DA from another school during a time other than Freshman year, good luck getting cast or getting any kind of solid arts education, because they don't accommodate transfer students very well. But read many reviews; many other arts areas are good.
My son is in an incoming freshman this year and while I am astounded at the educational support for these students and the track record academically and in the art areas, the school's organizational and communication skills are extremely lacking. If I were not a diligent researcher I would not have known much of what I have learned about scheduling, transportation, etc over the past few days. We just sat through orientation which was all about dress code info, no cells during school (which parents complained about), and letting us know about the great additions to the school that should be open next academic year. There was a q&a session but it was flooded more with complaints about the fact that the students are expected to be picked up by 4pm or repeat questions. Notifying us that the student's schedule may not be the one they actually use. A finalized schedule will be given on the first day of school. Supply lists will not be given until during the first week either. I would have liked to have seen a "new to DA packet" (even online), outlining all the information with pertinent phone numbers, a calendar, bus schedule, etc. Put teacher's supply lists online and save paper.
Student/ Sister of alumni Douglas Anderson is an outstanding, competitive and profession arts school with dedicated staff and students. Our academics are amazing, and I my arts area, cinematic arts, there isn't as much a sense of team as family. However, the main reason I write this is to inform a reader that most awful reviews with no credible points (I.e. those saying that students at DA are doomed for life) are most likely bitter students who were turned away, students who were kicked out because they were unable to love up to DA's high standards, or the parents of these children. Before you turn away from the school, simply take a tour and you will be blown away by our talent. I assure you of it.
I'm a current student. I must say the academics are good, I'd ignore those you say our academic is poor - come on we're tied 2nd in the county school ranking and our AP scores are usually as good if not better than Paxon and we're coming closer each year to getting better scores to get closer to beating Stanton. There are barely fights - usually 1 or none. There is actually a lot of drama because everyone is competitive, they'll do about anything to crush the other in their major. It's sad to see this when it's post to be technically non-competitive. Some teachers barely assign work and make things extra hard so you always have to be on your toes or next thing you know you have a D or F in a class. A plus is that we can be entirely ourselves compared to other schools, we're more family-like than others. Freshman are usually looked down upon because they don't know how to show respect to the upper clansmen. High rank = higher respect. If everyone follows this you won't have issues with anyone.
As an alumnus of DA (Class of 2003), I feel that it is safe to say that this is one of the best schools in Duval County if not the state. The staff are impeccable and set such a high standard for success. Those who doubt the academic prowess of the school obviously did not attend DA. While the arts are the main focus, the academics could stand alone with every non-magnet program and most of the college prep magnet programs. The only class that was not taken seriously was PE and if you were a dance or theater major you had alternatives which were highly intensive. The music department at DA is phenomenal which has led to DA being named the Grammy school of the year multiple times and most recently in 2011. I hope that if I stay in Jacksonville my children will be accepted and add to the legacy that DA has built.
I'm a graduate from DA. I'm posting only to voice my opinion in response to negative reviews. We were challenged so much academically--were banned from performing artistically if our grades dropped. I got to work with Billy Collins himself, the two-time poet laureate of the United states, Franz Wright, a Pulitzer prize winner, and other prestigious writers under the Creative Writing program. Thanks to what I learned at DA I ended up graduating early with honors from my first-choice college on scholarship. I was always ahead of the class in even my advanced college classes (I took junior level classes in my first semester). I'm now an English teacher (at another school because there were no openings at DA) going into grad school, and I'm only 22. If anyone's child performs poorly academically, maybe the child isn't taking things as seriously as he should, because being a DA kid means you're devoted to everything it takes to be a top performer, including making good grades. There's a reason why DA has been one of the top schools in the United States for years.