Booker High School
3201 North Orange Avenue


Coordinates27°21′50″N 82°32′19″W / 27.363867°N 82.538744°W / 27.363867; -82.538744Coordinates: 27°21′50″N 82°32′19″W / 27.363867°N 82.538744°W / 27.363867; -82.538744
TypeHigh school
Motto"Celebrating Excellence, Creating Pride."
School districtSarasota County Schools
PrincipalDr. Rachel Shelley
Staff72.00 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment1,284 (2019-20)[1]
Student to teacher ratio17.83[1]
Color(s)  Purple
Team nameTornadoes
WebsiteBooker High Home Page

Booker High School is a public high school in North Sarasota, Florida, United States. It is part of the Sarasota County Public Schools district. The athletic teams are known as the Tornadoes. The school was established to serve a predominantly African American community.


Booker High School is named after a teacher and educational leader in Sarasota's black community, Emma Edwina Booker. Booker moved to Sarasota in 1910 and soon helped start Sarasota Grammar School, for the education of young black children. In 1925 she led a procession of students and teachers from the old school (in Knights of Pythias Hall) to a new school built next to the railroad tracks at Lemon and Thirteenth Street (now Seventh Street) by the Rosenwald Fund. Booker served as an inspiration to many of her students and was eventually commemorated by having three schools named in her honor: Emma E. Booker Elementary, Booker Middle School, and Booker High School.[2]

The school expanded to include a high school, which graduated its first class in 1935, and in 1939 was relocated to Orange Avenue in the Newtown neighborhood of north Sarasota; in the 1940s the grammar school was consolidated there as well.[3]

With the advent of school desegregation in the 1960s, proposals arose to close Booker and other traditionally African-American schools and send the students out of the neighborhood to white schools. The school was closed in 1967. The community objected to the negative impact this loss would have on the area, and eventually a boycott took place in spring 1969. Thereafter the schools reopened, but the threat of closure persisted, especially due to low enrollment. In 1979 the school obtained a grant to establish a magnet school in the performing arts with the goal of attracting white students to the school. The elementary and middle schools moved to other locations by 1993.[4][5] A renovation budgeted at $58 million broke ground in 2011, changing the route of Orange Avenue so that it no longer divided the campus, and providing five new buildings and improved athletic facilities[6]

Academic programs

Booker High School offers several "Academies" within the school. The school is particularly known for its Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) programs, which currently include art, dance, digital design, music, and theater. The VPA program has turned out students such as Oscar-winning makeup artist Bill Corso and American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado.[7][8][9]

The goal of the Booker's JROTC is to teach its cadets to appreciate the ethical values that underlie good citizenship, to develop leadership potential, and to learn to live and work cooperatively with others. This program is greatly influenced by the armed forces and strives to instill military conduct principles in students.

Athletic Program


The 2006 Boys Basketball were State Champions. They have five state basketball championships in school history.


Booker HS is 34% Hispanic, 31% white, 29% black, 1% Asian, 4% multiracial, and 1% other[10]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b c "BOOKER HIGH SCHOOL". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2008-07-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Booker Schools", Sarasota History Alive (accessed 2015-04-01).
  4. ^ "Booker High School: A Historical Perspective" Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, School Board of Sarasota County (accessed 2015-04-01).
  5. ^ Mark Zaloudek, "Booker Arts Program Escapes Federal Cuts", Sarasota Journal, July 24, 1981.
  6. ^ Christopher O'Donnell, "Booker High getting a $58M new campus", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 26, 2011.
  7. ^ Booker VPA website Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine (accessed 2015-04-01).
  8. ^ a b Grant Boxleitner, "Booker High Grad Nominated for Second Oscar", Suncoast News Network, January 26, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Ilene Denton, "This Idol gives back: American Idol's Syesha Mercado embraces Sarasota, where she first learned to believe in herself and her dreams." Sarasota Magazine, September 1, 2008  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  10. ^
  11. ^ Handelman, Jay (29 June 2012). "Chicago Fire Star Charlie Barnett Through the Years". Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  12. ^ Handelman, Jay. "Actor Charlie Barnett returns to Booker High for fundraiser". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  13. ^ Rob Marino (November 15, 1995). "Gauntt recalls lean seasons". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 1C. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  14. ^ McGee, Brian Evers. "BOOKER'S HAMILTON NAMED STATE'S 4A PLAYER OF YEAR.(SPORTS)." Sarasota Herald Tribune. March 3, 1999.
  15. ^ Rob Marino (Aug 31, 1996). "Rams breeze by Booker". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 5C. Retrieved 19 November 2016 – via Google News Archive Search.