In front of a cake celebrating Brandon Academy's 50th anniversary are staff members, from left to right, Tonya Fulton, director of first impressions; Nicholas Rodriguez, head of school; and Brian Galzerano, middle school principal.

By Linda Chion Kenney

The Brandon Academy community is set to celebrate the private, independent school’s ‘next best 50 years’ after gathering to mark the school’s half-century of achievement.

At a ribbon-cutting with the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Jessica Rolewicz said she attended the school as a youngster.

“I used to play with the acorns in the playground,” she said. “I remember the big classrooms and the lovely programs they had back then. It’s amazing how far they’ve come and how much they’ve grown with the community that we love.”

Head of School Nicholas Rodriguez oversees 20 and seven full and part-time educators, respectively and five staff members. Over the past five years, classroom buildings have been retrofitted, the gymnasium has been enhanced and an intermediate classroom building has been constructed.

With seven of ten acres developed, Brandon Academy in 2018 graduated its first senior class, having launched its high school in 2015 with grade 9. Designated an International Baccalaureate World School in 2017, the academy offers the IB diploma program to juniors and seniors.

Opening with grade 1 in 1970, the academy took root on land purchased by the Rotary Club of Brandon from the University of Tampa. Ownership eventually transferred to Clif Curry and his wife, Terry, who in 2005 sold the school (then through grade 8) to Robert Randolph and his wife, Tricia.

Designated a National Blue Ribbon School in 2010, the academy today enrolls about 260 students through grade 12.

“Our goal is to give them their best future yet,” Rodriguez said, noting such offerings as Makers Space, Innovations Lab and Design Makers and Robotics.

“Our goal is to bring in great kids and families,” he added.

When it comes to financial aid, “We’ll bend over backwards to try to get them in.”

Sondra Cliggit retired in 2018 after 35 years at Brandon Academy, where she last served as head of lower school.

The academy is “magical,” she said. “People who come here say it’s just different than any other place and it truly is.”

Brandon Academy is at 801 Limona Rd. Visit: www.brandon-academy.com or call 689-1952.