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Tucker

Upper School celebrated its annual Arts Festival Day on Monday, April 29, bringing in a special guest speaker to highlight Norfolk Academy's Fine Arts program.

John Tucker served as Norfolk Academy's head from 1978 until 2000. In that time, he helped the fine arts program blossom, so much so that the arts center on campus, home to Johnson Theater, Perrel Art Gallery, and dance, choral, band, and orchestra rooms, was named in his honor when it opened in 2006.

Toy Savage '71 introduced Mr. Tucker, calling him a “relentless visionary and innovator." He started teaching and coaching at NA in 1955, working his way up to heading the Upper School by 1970. He left for eight years to head another school before returning to NA; in all almost four decades of service as a Bulldog.

Mr. Tucker brought appreciation for the Fine Arts, said Mr. Savage, a teacher-coach during much of his time as head. He hired teachers like Dance Master Elbert Watson, who demonstrated that there is a connection between athletics and the arts, and that Fine Arts performers can be powerful and impactful. 

Students today have Mr. Tucker to thank for their multitude of Fine Arts opportunities, Mr. Savage said. 

Mr. Tucker spoke from the Johnson Theater stage, saying it was great to be back in Bulldog country. He recalled speaking on the stage in January 2006, for the opening of the theater. He still visits campus for the Winter Musical and other productions, and takes great joy in watching Academy students perform.

When he took the helm at NA, he had a vision of what the Fine Arts program could become, he said. He loves that his dream has become a reality. 

“Nothing has given me more joy than knowing for the past 18 years that the NA Bulldogs have had the opportunity to bring this center to life," he said.

After Mr. Tucker's speech, all Upper School students put their fine arts talents on display. They participated in a variety of activities involving dance, art, music, and even improv, gaining inspiration from Mr. Tucker's words.

“This man is just so inspiring," said Caroline Bisi, who directs the Academy's theater productions. 

John Tucker was Norfolk Academy's head from 1978 until 2000. He oversaw tremendous growth in the Fine Arts.

John Tucker was Norfolk Academy's head from 1978 until 2000. He oversaw tremendous growth in the Fine Arts.

Upper School students participating in Arts Festival Day, April 29, 2024.

Upper School students participating in Arts Festival Day, April 29, 2024.

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