“I owe much of who I am today to the Tarpon Springs Leadership Conservatory for the Arts,” said Anthony Velez, 2013 Tarpon alumnus.
“I thought the world of the program upon entering it. I spent the prior year watching my brother perform with the band and was in awe of every aspect.”
Velez felt welcomed by upperclassmen and staff. He watched how they connected, formed relationships and kept an eye out for students. “They cared about the decisions we made, even outside of the program,” said Velez.
After playing saxophone for his first two years, he found his passion. He was always in awe of the color guard, and after watching the Winter Guard perform “The Raven” in 2010, Velez was inspired to join color guard. He was in the Conservatory program for five years and served as freshman president and color guard captain.
Velez believes the program taught him skills that he will use for the rest of his life — leadership, time management, commitment, teamwork, compassion and public speaking. He also appreciates that the program taught him the value of emotional expression through the performing arts.
“Tarpon prepared me for life after high school and I will forever be indebted to the mentors who guided me,” he said. “I’m proud to be a member of the Tarpon Springs family and watch the next generation take charge and lead.”
Velez continues to be involved in performing and is now teaching the arts. Most recently, he and the Blue Devils won the 2017 Drum Corp International (DCI) World Championship after an undefeated season. It was Velez’s second DCI World Championship win.
“I’m achieving things I didn’t even think were possible. I’ll be graduating from the University of Central Florida this year with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in dance. After graduation, I plan to go to grad school and specialize in clinical social work.
There’s a history of psychological and mental illness in my family, and in many cases, family members never got the correct help they needed. One day, I hope to have a therapeutic private practice. Many people have made an impact on me in this program, and I feel it’s my responsibility and duty to make a difference in the lives of others.”