VENICE, FL – The South County Family YMCA has put everything into place for its new SKY Academy – except computers for students. Fortunately for SKY Academy and its students, several board members including Caldwell Trust Company have stepped up to buy the desired laptops.
“We anticipated a two-year effort to raise funds for the needed laptops,” says Ken Modzelewski, the YMCA’s president and CEO. Fortunately, the Y’s board chair, Wendy Fishman—a Caldwell vice president and trust officer—and Y board member R. G. “Kelly” Caldwell, Jr., Caldwell’s CEO and president, heard them. So did the rest of the board. Kelly asked, “Why wait two years if you need the equipment now?” The governing board made an on-the-spot decision to raise the funds and offered their donations. Caldwell Trust Company pledged $10,000 towards purchase of the laptops. Other board members also stepped up, including Dr. Ken Pfahler and Sheriff Tom Knight, speaking for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department. “We are pleased that we could help the South County Family YMCA with this important program,” Kelly says. “They do so much good work in our community.”
SKY Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school for sixth- and seventh-graders. Its mission is based on research confirming that physical activity builds and conditions the brain for learning. The YMCA committed $2 million to this endeavor and has already built a colorful two-story school on its Venice campus at 705 Center Road.
SKY Academy opened last August with 172 students. Next year it expects to have 300 students and possibly expand to include eighth-graders, says Modzelewski. Escalating childhood obesity and decreased fitness among young people were factors in opening the school, but children need not be obese to be admitted. The school’s mission is based on research confirming that physical activity builds and conditions the brain for learning. SKY Academy’s focus is on building sharp minds and strong bodies to reach high results in achievement. The school provides two physical exercise classes and a healthy lunch each day, and integrates fitness and nutrition into all its classes.