• Mask Policy

    The School Board voted to repeal the temporary emergency mask mandate due to the lower COVID-19 Community Spread rate.

    Face masks are currently optional in ACE classes but strongly encouraged for the safety of all.  

    Masks will continue to be required, not optional, on the Classroom on Wheels (COW) bus, Day Tripping bus, and for all classes held at the Glenridge and Grand Living locations. 


    If you have any questions, the ACE staff is ready to assist you (941) 361-6590.


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  • Safety Protocol

    The following safety protocols are currently in place for the fall term for      In-Person classes on campus:

    • Masks are optional but strongly encouraged
    • Maintain safe distancing in hallways and classrooms (one person per table in most classes)
    • Class sizes are reduced to allow for safe distancing
    • Rooms will be routinely disinfected
    • Hand sanitizer will be available
    • Gloves will be provided for use with shared tools & supplies
    • Campus buildings are equipped with new filtration systems that are effective against pollen and viruses (including COVID-19)
    • The air conditioning system circulates fresh air into the classrooms several times every 15 minutes

    Most importantly, if you are feeling sick, please stay home!

    If you have any questions, the ACE staff is ready to assist you (941) 361-6590.

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  • Winter Term 

    Registration begins:

    Patrons - Wednesday, December 1

    Open Registration - Monday, December 6

    Many in-person and online classes are available. Check out our course catalog for the most up-to-date schedule.

    For your convenience, download and print our Winter schedule under Course Catalog.

    You can register for classes either by phone or here on the website.

    If you would like to take advantage of registering early for the winter term, become a Patron. Click HERE for details or call (941) 361-6590 and we’ll be happy to sign you up.

    An ACE Patron is someone who wants to show additional support for the ACE program. For as little as $50 per year, an ACE Patron receives priority registration for a year, a free class/lecture each term (chosen by the ACE staff), and other benefits.

    If you have any questions, the ACE staff is ready to assist you at (941) 361-6590.



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    ACE is excited to be able to offer many classes Live ONLINE via Zoom. To view Online classes, CLICK HERE.

    Take advantage of our alternative ONLINE classrooms using Zoom. This way you can stay home or travel while still enjoying ACE classes – but this time in front of your home computer, tablet, or smartphone.

    Register as you have always done, and before the class starts, the instructor will email a link to you that will enable you to join the class.

    IMPORTANT: You do NOT need to set up a Zoom account or to provide Zoom with any personal information other than your name. For the best experience, we do recommend that you download the Zoom application on your computer, tablet, or smartphone and confirm that your device has a camera and microphone. 

    If you would like to participate in a Zoom practice session to test out your technology, please email us at

    We are always here to answer your questions. Contact us at (941) 361-6590 or


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    Posted by Ace Publisher on 11/2/2021 9:50:00 AM



    In fall, a gardener’s thoughts tend to turn toward winding things down. That goes for Florida gardeners as well as northern ones! In fall we do things such as planting cool weather annuals, tending fruit trees, and a heck of a lot of trimming. 


    The changing of seasons is also a perfect time to reflect on the Zen principle that everything in the universe is in a constant state of transformation. To a Zen Buddhist, impermanence is taken for granted, and nowhere is impermanence more evident than in a garden. Flowers grow, bloom, and die back. Fruits ripen, then fall to the ground and rot. During a summer of steady rains, the perennial shrubs grow so fast, they need constant pruning! 


    Impermanence is one of the important concepts on display in the elegant Japanese art form of ikebana. Other concepts covered in this meditative practice are imperfection and minimalism. Ikebana is a contemplative practice on a par with the ritual of the tea ceremony. It can be both relaxing and expressive, spiritual and secular. Along with calligraphy, ikebana and the tea ceremony are often practiced by Zen Buddhists because these activities are calming and require a certain degree of meditative concentration, according to 


    Ikebana probably first appeared in Japan around the 7th century, imported from China as an outgrowth of the regular practice of offering flowers to the Buddha. It wasn’t until the 15th century, however, that ikebana began developing into a more ritualized art form. About this time, the 8th shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436–1490), who was a patron of the arts—particularly flower arranging—contributed greatly to the art form by practicing it himself, thus increasing its popularity among the upper classes. In fact, many of Japan’s generals through the ages have been practitioners of ikebana as a method of relaxation. Yoshimasa and his contemporaries even influenced the first codification of basic rules for ikebana.  


    Although there have been many schools of ikebana through the ages, all have shared a common goal of honoring nature and respecting the spirit. Each floral arrangement forms a roughly triangular shape which is pleasing to the eye aesthetically, but also has deeper significance: The tallest branch represents heaven, the next highest represents humans, and a small bundle of flowers at the base represents earth. Creative ikebana practitioners can use seasonal and locally sourced materials to create new arrangements within these basic parameters. 




    Hayato Nishiyama, who lives in Kyoto, went to art school and joined an ikebana club. Eventually he grew to love botany so much that he gave up art and became a gardener instead. The constant change of seasons inspires his work, as shown in an arrangement featuring autumn-red rowan branches (a gift from a northern friend) set against late-summer purple asters. Another work, showing three small flowers planted in moss—one in bud, one flowering, and one fading—seems to comment on past, present, and future as well as the cyclical nature of time and life. 


    Ikebana practitioners seem to prefer to use the flowers and other materials that are native to wherever they live. Emily Thompson, a self-taught floral artist working in Manhattan, often uses such unusual materials as weeds, hairy seed pods, and exotics. She is attempting “to build worlds made of the infinite wealth of nature,” she told The New York Times. One of her arrangements features a twisted, lichen-covered apple-tree branch with decaying leaves and one withered apple, paired with snowy Serena roses. Besides illustrating the contrast and impermanence, the arrangement sparks contemplation about how far that apple branch traveled to get to her hands.   




    Ikebana courses may be found at many local schools, and through national and international organizations. You don’t need elaborate materials: a sharp pair of pruners, a kenzan (the pin-covered object we call a “frog”) to hold your materials firmly in place, and a small container. Some ikebana practitioners believe that their art should be practiced in silence; others don’t believe that’s so important. But you might find yourself sinking into a meditative state as you think about what materials to use, gather them from your garden or yard, and work on your arrangement, contemplating the theories that your instructor explains to you. When you are finished with your first ikebana arrangement, you should feel a sense of wholeness as the three points of the triangle of heaven, human, and earth find their balance.  


    According to Natalie Cenci, writing for Artsy: “In Japan today, the word kado, meaning ‘way of flowers,’ is the preferred term for ikebana, as it’s believed to more accurately capture the spirit of the art as a lifelong path of learning. The impermanence built into this art, beginning with its dependence on nature’s seasons, lends itself to never-ending exploration and experimentation.” 


    Explore the many seasons of ikebana for yourself, and see your garden with new eyes! 



    Artsy: What Is Ikebana? The Japanese Art That’s Making a Comeback, by Natalie Cenci Buddhism for Beginners 

    The New York Times: The Rise of Modern Ikebana, by Deborah Needleman 


    Written by Patricia Rockwood, Instructor and Staff Writer, Adult & Community Enrichment

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