JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We finish our look at the six schools in Saturday's Publix Bold City Showcase with trips to Bolles and University Christian.
The private schools are longtime rivals on the field but share a similar mission off the field: a focus on success and service.
The host of the six-school Bold City Showcase is The Bolles School. Nestled on the St. Johns River just north of Mandarin, the school has thrived for decades. It originally was a military school for boys but expanded in the '70s to become co-ed.
Head of school Tyler Hodges has worked at other similar schools to Bolles in the past, but he's never seen a school that excels so much both athletically and academically.
“Bolles is different than any place I’ve ever been,” Hodges said. “The combination, especially, of athletic success each and every year, the high level of expectations, the honor code. This is not a place for everyone, but if this is a place for you, this is a place you can thrive.”
One specific area where the Bulldogs dominate is swimming. Bolles has had a representative in the every Olympics since 1972, associate head of school Michael Drew said.
Hodges said the school had a graduating class of just under 200 last year, who were accepted to approximately 300 different universities. Those alumni are now attending over 100 colleges and universities.
Hodges said that despite not having a requirement that students participate in community service, it's just part of the school's culture.
"It’s a huge number of hours that are given back, to other schools, tutoring, we have reading for the blind, food bank work, there’s work with other different schools,” Hodges said.
Bolles also has some of the nicest facilities in the city and Hodges is excited to be the host for Saturday's big high school football event.
"My philosophy is we’re blessed with nice facilities, and I hate to see those facilities go to waste," Hodges said.
Right where University Boulevard meets Interstate 95 you'll find one of Jacksonville's most historic private schools: University Christian. The Fightin' Christians have also had a lot of success both academically and athletically.
The trophy case at the entrance of the high school building is filled to bursting and boasts a banner that reads: "97 District Championships" and "13 State Championships."
But that banner is already out of date, school officials said.
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But UC is much more than sports. Athletic director Justin Sirmon said one of the big purposes of the school is teaching a Christian message to students and helping them learn about a relationship with Jesus. One of the ways the school does that is through charity work.
UC just helped set up a new school in Mexico City that opened this year called UCS Mex: United Capital School Mexico City.
"We’re excited about that. It just launched,” Sirmon said. “It only has four kids right now but we’re excited to see what God does with that and see kids grow.”
The Chick-fil-A Leader Academy also provides an opportunity for students to give back. Student Joseph Carter said they recently had an event with foster parents where the University Christian students babysat so parents could take the night off.
"I like helping people and it was nice. The kids had fun. I like seeing them smile and seeing them have a good time," Carter said.
Another program that has some real-world impact is training students to work in the day care field after graduation.
Senior Alexandra Cleveland is involved in the Early Childhood Class, a program where students can work with infants and toddlers to get certification in early child care.
"The second year, you get your license before you graduate, so then if you want to go to a day care center or own a day care center, you already have your license," Cleveland said.