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Boys Town North Florida’s ART Town Academy Expands Programming

Beginning fall 2020, Boys Town North Florida's ART Town facility transformed into a fully functioning school, expanding its programming to include supplemental tutoring through in-person and virtual volunteers; an array of afterschool clubs; and an active Student Government Association.

As the students on campus adjusted to attending virtual school, supports were put into place to ensure all the students would be academically successful and engaged during the school day. By the end of the fall semester, there were five volunteer-led electives that met weekly to ensure students had activities to interest them. There was a diverse set of clubs offered, such as music; physical education; foreign language and culture; art; and debate.

Students appreciated the opportunity to learn from and engage in these educational clubs and enjoyed connecting with volunteers from Florida State University. Campus bustles today as after-school activities have resumed with a renewed interest in learning and growth.


In-person volunteers from FSU come to ART Town Academy twice a week to provide homework help and tutoring to Boys Town North Florida's Family Home youth. All volunteers are equipped with PPE and tables and desk are arranged to accommodate social distancing.

In addition, virtual tutors assist each Tuesday and Thursday evening. Often, student volunteers are paired with recurrent students who are struggling to maintain their grades. This creates a mentoring partnership between the volunteer and the student. Students look forward to meeting with their assigned tutor over Zoom and productively work to complete and understand any underperforming school assignments.

Afterschool Electives

Music: Students meet each Monday to complete structured musical activities with a volunteer from FSU. The students have been able to engage in some fun projects this past year, including creating a home-made plastic straw pan-flute that when blown into creates a variety of pitched notes and sounds. The students love coming to music knowing a fun, music-related activity is always awaiting them!

Debate: Students meet each Tuesday to learn more regarding the rules and structures of debating and engage in short "mock debates." Students form small teams and debate with the opposing team surrounding worldly topics such as climate change. The volunteer who leads the Boys Town debate group currently serves as the President of FSU's Debate Club. The first debate is scheduled for May 5th.

Physical Education: Physical Education classes take place each Wednesday with one of the Family Home Teachers to engage in physical activity. Each week, the students play a variety of sports and activities including soccer, basketball, volleyball, and more. After a long day of staying indoors and completing schoolwork through a computer screen, this is a necessary release for some of the students.

Foreign Language and Culture: Students meet every Thursday with FSU volunteers, Family Program Consultant Destiny Story, and Educational Assistant Giulia DeMello to learn more regarding world cultures and languages. During this club, students have the opportunity to try foods from diverse cultures and become familiar with various cultural items such as clothing, language, and lifestyle.

Art: Students meet each Friday to complete various arts and craft projects with a FSU student volunteer. At art club, students have completed projects with multiple mediums including watercolor paint, acrylic paint, crayons, markers, and oil pastels. One project the students enjoyed the week before Thanksgiving was creating a turkey-themed bookmark.

Student Government Association: To encourage leadership development and promote a greater sense of unity, respect, spirit, and cooperation among peers, a Student Government Association was formed. Each of the five Family Homes on Boys Town North Florida's campus have an elected representative led by a President and Vice-President.

As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, youth aged 15 – 17 will attend a Career Fair to learn about opportunities that can further their education at a two or four-year university or trade school, or enter the workforce post-graduation. Boys Town North Florida is excited for their youth and want to ensure they are given the tools needed to continue growing and learning, no matter where their lives take them.

​ Boys Town North Florida is thankful for the many staff and volunteers who make the activities available to youth on campus. It is exciting to see the learning and growth taking place through these opportunities.​