LPSLA Paula Hoisington and Sharon Keys

Feature Story and Photos by Larry H. Oskin

The Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance (LPSLA) is proposing a new Center for Education, Arts, and Sports (CEAS), to re-establish the Clermont Elementary School in 2023. Their mission is focused on building the community through creativity, collaboration and access to life-changing opportunities here in South Lake County.

At the May 25th Clermont City Council Meeting, the LPSLA sought support from the city. The members of city council agreed to hold a workshop to consider how and to what extent the city can/will support the organization.

The Lincoln Park Impact Committee was formed shortly after community pastors, city leaders and citizens who attended the historical Lincoln Park School got together to explore options and opportunities. This school is now known as Clermont Elementary.

Aurelia M. Cole Academy

The community was informed that Clermont Elementary will be closing in 2023 when the Lake County School Board builds the new Aurelia M. Cole Academy K-8 School. The LPSLA and their partners are seeking full control of the property and are asking the City of Clermont for approval of $3.6 million dollars to help renovate the property and all of the buildings. Under the Alliance, their committee focus will be on preserving Clermont Elementary as an important historical building. This school building is the only standing African-American school in Clermont.

The goal of the LPSLA is to keep the historic teaching facility on Highland Avenue and to have it remain a center for education and the arts. This planned new center will provide employment training with entrepreneurship programs to support the arts and recreation for the South Lake community. Some of the special programs CEAS hopes to provide are early learning, GED, youth programs, STEM/STEAM, reading, financial and computer literacies, TV studio, mentorship, tutoring, career readiness, vocational-technical training, health and wellness programs with an array of sports programs. There will even be a Parent’s Academy. The under-employed will be able to learn a skill or trade. LPSLA plans to partner with other area non-profit organizations to expand and provide services at the CEAS.

Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance: The Alliance Impact Committee members and supporters agree that South Lake is in need of a facility where everyone can come together to build a strong community, close educational gaps, provide employment training and leadership skills, collaborate, create and interact through the arts and recreation activities. The Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance was established as a 501C-3 in July 2020​ to formalize the efforts started by community members who formed the Lincoln Park Impact Committee. Their goal is to discuss community needs, establish plans to execute programs and projects for these needs.

LPSLA Director Sharon Keys notes, “We really want to help everyone here in South Lake to be able to build a better life for themselves and their families. Our recent survey received a 90% favorable response for the community wanting us to move forward with this project, while many families and seniors said they would make use of all the planned new services and programs!” She adds, “While everything is still in the preliminary planning stages, we are finding everyone believes in our vision and what we plan to do for our community. The Lake County School Board has already issued a positive memorandum of understanding.  Lake Technical College of Orlando and Eustis will be able to expand their programs, with courses here at this Clermont location. Numerous churches, pastors and non-profit organizations have already stepped up with positive interest to host their programs here. We are ready to welcome more leadership support from sponsors, donors, writers, artists, teachers, clubs and organizations.”

Sharon Keys and Paula Hoisington

Sharon Keys is from Clermont. She grew up in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and studied at the Clermont High School on Highlands Avenue. She graduated from National Louis University in Ohio studying business management. She successfully worked in human resources and management for over 20 years with UPS at their corporate headquarters in Atlanta. She leads Sharon Keys Ministries and has always been very active in the local community.

Paula Hoisington was also born in Clermont and grew up in this Lincoln Park Neighborhood. She also graduated from Clermont High. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and is a certified public manager from Florida State University. She is chairwoman of the Central Florida Urban League and Chairwoman of the South Lack Black Achievers.

“We really do want this valuable campus to be open to help everybody in Mascotte, Clermont, Groveland, Montverde and Minneola. We want to support our children and seniors with solutions to the education gap. We want our building foundation to allow our entire South Lake Community to grow from within, like a village that helps everyone, grow, build, learn and succeed!”, said Keys.

For More Information: Contact Sharon Keys, Director of the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance. Call: 678-469-9983, email:   lincolnparksouthlakealliance@gmail.com. Visit: www.LPSLA.org, https://www.facebook.com/lincolnparksouthlakealliance/.

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