Joy Soars at The Roberts Academy Dedication
The Roberts family
LAKELAND (Oct. 22, 2010) -- An old Hollywood adage suggests a smart producer will avoid working with children and animals at all costs. But the joyful sounds of children singing and the release of hundreds of butterflies during Friday's dedication ceremony at The Roberts Academy might have convinced even the most hardened moviemaker to try it.
The Florida Southern community joined the students of The Roberts Academy and their teachers, parents, and grandparents in celebrating the formal dedication of Florida's only transitional school for talented children with dyslexia.
Marjorie and Hal Roberts, the Lakeland philanthropists who gave a transformational gift to FSC to found the Academy, were joined at Friday's ceremony by their three children, all FSC alumni, and their nine grandchildren. Three of the Robertses' grandchildren have dyslexia and attended the Schenck School in Atlanta, after which The Roberts Academy has been modeled.
Because of the Robertses' vision and commitment to helping other children, said FSC president Dr. Anne Kerr, "Students enrolled in The Roberts Academy are learning much more than how to read and write. They are experiencing the love of going to school and the joy of learning."
There was not a dry eye in the crowd when the Robertses' daughter, Julia, told the story of how her son could work extremely complicated math problems in first grade, but when it was reading time, he would hide in the corner. When she enrolled him in the Schenck School, at first he was angry. Soon, however, he was grateful for what he learned there, and he left the school reading on a high school level. "That flood of emotions returned when my mom and dad e-mailed me photos from The Roberts Academy," Julia said." Twenty-four lives have been changed because of what has been started here."
Hal Roberts added: "At our house in North Carolina, I love to build with rocks -- big rocks, little rocks. I build ledges and planters because at the end of the day, I can see real progress. When we invest in these children and in their endeavors, it is so rewarding, because we can certainly see the progress at the end of the day."
Afterward, the Academy's 24 students received a standing ovation for their rousing rendition of "All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir." As an analogy of nurturing children in the safe cocoon of the Academy to enable them to fly later, the ceremony concluded with a butterfly release that left the entire crowd looking heavenward and smiling.