The arts are a vital part of a well-rounded education. Thankfully, Palm Beach County students have access to an institution that not only believes this but also does everything in its power to foster the next generation of artists. Founded in 1990 as the Palm Beach County School of the Arts, the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (561-805-6298) earned its current moniker in 1997 when local entrepreneur and philanthropist Alexander W. Dreyfoos gave the facility $1 million, the largest private donation ever made to a Florida public school.
Dreyfoos seniors Ashley Simpson and Yuri Santos with Alexander W. Dreyfoos | Photo by CAPEHART
On February 26, notable alumni and supporters will gather at The Mar-a-Lago Club to honor Dreyfoos—the man and the school—with An Evening with Our Stars: Celebrating 25 Years of Dreyfoos School of the Arts. Below, some outstanding Dreyfoos grads share their take on just what makes their alma mater so special.
- Gala tickets cost $750 per person. For more information, visit soafi.org/25th-anniversary-gala.
Graduation year: 2006
Claim to fame: Opera singer who made her Metropolitan Opera debut last year singing the part of Gilda in Rigoletto
Dreyfoos experience in three words or fewer: Life changing, supportive, unforgettable
How Dreyfoos prepared her for a career in the arts: I started working at Palm Beach Opera when I was 14, and the teachers and administrators at Dreyfoos understood that this was important to my artistic development and allowed it to be part of my education. Dreyfoos gave me the advantage to not only learn about what I wanted to do but to actually do it in the real world of opera.
Words of thanks for Alexander Dreyfoos: Thank you for creating such an incredible establishment where people like me can live out our passions without feeling criticized and judged. I’d also say thank you to the Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation, which provides funding for the school, and to everyone who attends the performances and supports the students.
Photo by Merri Cyr
Graduation year: 2008
Claim to fame: Appeared on seasons six and seven of So You Think You Can Dance and teaches at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City Dreyfoos experience in three words or fewer: Filled with opportunity
What he learned: How to adapt. In the dance division, we were given many different and juxtaposed techniques and were expected to do them well. Dreyfoos enabled me to become an artist who, through adapting and remaining open to many art forms, has a voice. My teachers taught me that my voice needed to be heard and that a single individual can make a great change if they are persistent enough.
Words of thanks for Alexander Dreyfoos: Thank you for creating a safe space, a place for exploration, and a home for vulnerability. Without this institution, the vibrancy and culture of South Florida would be much dimmer.
Graduation year: 2007
Department: Visual arts
Claim to fame: Despite being blind and profoundly hearing impaired, Gossiaux has found success as a visual artist and is also an educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Dreyfoos experience in three words or fewer: Fun, inspirational, freeing
Proudest moment: My senior show, when I did my first performance piece. I remember feeling so nervous, but I got a lot of encouragement from my teachers. In the end, I felt like I succeeded in something really challenging for me personally, which was to perform in public.
Message to aspiring students: Do not take this time in your life for granted. High school at Dreyfoos was one of the highlights of my life, and I look back at it with great appreciation. Explore your freedom of expression and hold onto the strong relationships you build over the years.
Graduation year: 1997
Claim to fame: Film and television actor who has appeared in The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Bridge of Spies, Justified, and Veronica Mars
Dreyfoos experience in three words or fewer: Life altering
What he learned: Dreyfoos taught me it was okay to be me, that my unique voice was special, and that hard work is the essential element in turning artistic talent into a career in the arts.
Message to aspiring students: Do it. Even if you don’t see art as the way you will eventually make your living, Dreyfoos will prepare you to excel at whatever career you choose. A Dreyfoos education teaches you self-expression, self-awareness, and self-confidence, which is what you need to be successful at any endeavor.