Celebrating 30 Years of Premier Performing Arts

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Jamie Walker

When I began High School in 1989, there was no “Dennis Fitzgerald Performing Arts Center.” We did all of our performances in the old cafeteria. Needless to say, our feelings of professionalism wained a bit, due the the lack of acceptable performance space. Audiences too, were wary of sitting through a performance in an acoustically and visually barren setting. But, true to the spirit our fearless leader, Alana Fitzgerald, who in instilled in us the fighting spirit, we made do, and made some great memories. When I first sang in the new hall, I was astonished. I felt like a professional, and I believe that the settings and capabilities, did indeed, make me more professional. I was the first student to sing a full recital in that hall, and amid the doubts promulgated by fellow students and faculty alike, Alana and I nearly filled that auditorium to capacity. It was a memory I will cherish for forever. I have subsequently have performed two solo recitals in that hall since that date, both times to a near capacity audience, and loved every minute of it. As a student, we were able to perform our musicals in the hall, and it made we students feel like we were pros, and that we could do anything! I have also had the pleasure of watching many concerts, both scholastic and professional, at the DFPAC, and was very pleased with its overall capabilities, especially for a town as small as Palm Coast was. But, honestly, the memories I will cherish forever, are those of working with Alana Fitzgerald, the loving wife of the man whose name graces the structure. There, she taught, mentored, scolded, and loved us into the professionals we became. It was the perfect venue for a perfect woman to instill the love of music, the love of hard work, and the love of each other, into a rag tag smathering of extremely talented adolescents. While Alana would have been the same regardless of the surroundings, her teachings were amplified by the ability to perform, during those budding young ages, in such a place. It is my hope that that tradition will continue for many generations to come, and that those who sit in council on what and who performs there will never forget that the greatest legacy of their position, the Performing Arts Center, and of FPC is the affect that that place can, if allowed, have on the hearts, minds, and souls of the students in whose halls they frequent.