New era begins for Tech High
Dec. 6, 2018
The community celebrated a new beginning at Richard O. Jacobson Technical High School at Seminole.
The celebration on Nov. 30 featured the official ribbon cutting for the high school, named for late businessman and philanthropist Richard “Dick” Jacobson. His foundation’s landmark $5 million gift to the Pinellas Education Foundation, the largest in the organization’s history, will support major educational initiatives in Pinellas County Schools, including Elevating Excellence and the construction of a veterinary sciences building at the school.
“It is quickly becoming the jewel of not only Seminole but our school district,” said Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego. “It’s on
target to house and educate more than 600 students in the very near future.
Pinellas County School Board Chairperson René Flowers expressed gratitude to the Jacobson Foundation for its support of the Jacobson Technical High School and previously the Jacobson Culinary Academy at Tarpon Springs High School.
“Students at both schools are thriving,” she said. “Here at Richard O. Jacobson Technical High School, students are receiving the hands-on experience, internships and apprenticeships, and industry certifications will ultimately lead them to high-paying jobs – many right here in Pinellas County.”
The story of Richard Jacobson’s generosity connected the crowd of School Board and school officials, community members, Pinellas Education Foundation members and hundreds of Tech High students.
They heard the powerful tale of a man whose passion for helping educational causes and those in need motivated him over the years to make the rarest of gifts in his adopted home of Pinellas County – a combined $15 million to benefit the causes of three Tampa Bay area friends. All three were in attendance: Pinellas Education Foundation director Bob McIntyre, who directed the funds to the Foundation; hospitality entrepreneur Ed Droste for the Moffitt Cancer Center; and restauranteur Frank Chivas for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a culinary arts program.
“His fingerprints are all over Iowa, that’s where he was born and raised, but he loved Florida and this area, and he’s given over $24 million to various causes here,” McIntyre said.
Of course, the school that would have been closest to his heart was the one in the spotlight Friday. In August, Richard O. Jacobson High School opened as the school district's first full-time technical high school. Students at Tech High have opportunities to pursue seven different career paths: Nursing, Veterinary Assisting, Building and Construction Design Technology, Electricity, Digital and Graphic Arts, Marine Mechanics, and Game and Simulation Programming.
The school, which chiefly featured vocational programs for students, has gone by many names. In the 1960s it was known as the Ag Farm. In the 70s, it became the Seminole Vocational Education Center. And it was renamed Career Academies of Seminole in 2013.
A portion of the Jacobson Foundation gift will go toward building the Veterinary Assisting and Life Sciences building on the school’s campus, in a spot where a barn housing animals for the program had been destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
“We’re the only school that has large animals to work with,” said Jacobson Tech principal Martha Giancola. “It’s training that most people don’t get to have. Some of the work the students are already starting to do is post-secondary, so they’ll be doubly ready to join the work force.”
Representing the Jacobson Foundation was its President and Chief Operating Officer, Doug DenAdel, who spoke of Richard Jacobson’s love of helping others with the money he earned through his large logistics company and various businesses.
“Dick was all about helping kids find their path,” he added. “Not everyone is going to get a four-year degree. Some people will work in various service industries, whatever that may be. But everyone has their place. And he was just radically impressed with the Pinellas Education Foundation and what they were doing – with leading-edge programs and supporting the kids, and finding the right ways to get them where they needed to be.
We knew that this was something we wanted to continue to help grow.” DenAdel’s voice cracked with emotion in his closing words: “I know Dick would be proud of what you have done.”