Kona Skatepark is oldest skatepark in the world, open since 1977 in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Kona Skatepark in Arlington has been around since 1977. Now, it will soon house a new private school designed to combine students' love of skating with learning.
Martin Raymos has been the owner of Kona Skatepark since 1995 when he took it over from his parents. He had the idea of adding a school, mentioned to a few friends and it took off. Now, plans are underway to construct a private school on half of the parking lot at Kona.
"I see a lot of kids coming in with this virtual school, and for whatever reason, they're not into the regular public school system or even a private school system," said Raymos. "It did not seem they were prepared for life after virtual school. So I thought I could bring them in here, do their virtual school here and add some cool curriculum and go on from there. This small idea grew into this big school idea and it has gotten a lot of energy and a lot of support."
James Smith, a longtime educator, was one of the ones Raymos talked to and will be the executive director of the school. His 16-year old son is an avid skater.
"Typically, students that are involved in action sports have interests that lie outside the classroom, let's put it that way" said Smith. "To be able to incorporate what most motivates these students, to be able to take that motivational factor and tie it into their learning is a great idea, because then suddenly you get kids who see how physics relates to skateboarding. You can't design a skateboard ramp without knowing angles, knowing your math."
When built, the school will feature a green design. It will be built using recycled shipping containers. UNF students in Construction Management now build out the containers as a learning project to be shipped to countries like Haiti to be used as homes. Smith says the UNF students will be part of the construction of this school as part of a much bigger learning project for the students.
The school will feature blended learning, using virtual school classes online provided by the Duval County School Board, but also have learning coaches to help motivate the students and show them how it relates to skating and other action sports like surfing and motocross racing. The school will also teach enterprise and entrepreneurial skills. It will also stress nutrition and leading an active life. Organizers call it an innovative academic program, an "out of the box" school.
If all goes as planned, the school will open in the fall of 2014 with 80 to 100 students. Tuition is expected to be between $8,000 and $10,000 dollars, comparable to other private schools in Jacksonville.
A huge Go Skate event is being held in Hemming Plaza on Thursday night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to help promote the new school. As many as 2,000 skaters will be on hand and numerous vendors will be involved, said Raymos. For more information on the school you can visit konaschool.org.
First Coast News