Sydney Boles

Newsletter Editor/Community Engagement Editor

Sydney is WJCT's Newsletter and Engagement Editor, and she's joining WJCT News from Ohio Valley ReSource, a collaborative of NPR stations covering Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia; where she was a producer and reporter, covering economic issues in the Appalachian coalfields.

Sydney is from upstate New York and received a Masters of Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. 

Her bylines include NPR, the Ohio Valley ReSource, Rolling Stone Magazine, and Southerly Magazine.  

Sydney Boles can be reached via email at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Christ the King School

Jacksonville’s Christ the King Catholic School is one of 40 schools nationwide to win the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award. 

hand grabbing an lgbtq+ flag, there are others in the background doing the same.
Nelson Antoine / Associated Press

The St. Johns County Board of Commissioners will not consider a request to recognize June as LGBTQ pride month. 

Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, Fla., was segregated — whites only — until the 1971-1972 school year. Its school colors are blue and gray, the colors of the Confederacy, and its sports teams are called the Generals.

Rep. Cord Byrd debates on the House floor.
MyFloridaHouse.gov

The director of policy at Jacksonville’s LGBTQ youth center said Thursday that Florida’s late-night push to ban transgender women from sports is “disgusting” and “discriminatory.” 

JSO patrol vehicle in a parking lot
News4Jax

A police practices bill co-sponsored by Neptune Beach Republican State Rep. Cord Byrd has passed both houses of the Florida Legislature unanimously and is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. 

The bipartisan bill would require local police departments to adopt use-of-force policies. It would require the state to establish standards for how police officers are trained, which is currently up to individual departments. 

A digital rendering of the development planned for 500 E. Bay Street
KBJ Architects

The Downtown Jacksonville eyesore on the Northbank known as the Berkman II is coming down, and details have been released about what’s going up in its place. 

Via Jacksonville Daily Record

Demolition is set to begin in about three weeks on the unfinished residential tower known as the Berkman II on Downtown Jacksonville’s Northbank, with crews already onsite to start the process.

JON SUPER / ASSOCIATED PRESS

With students learning from home during much of the coronavirus pandemic, the Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) district says many students have fallen behind academically. A new summer program aimed at bridging education gaps is now accepting applications.

Robert E. Lee High School
SYDNEY BOLES / WJCT NEWS

Voting is underway at several Jacksonville schools as students, alumni and community members decide whether to remove the names of the prominent Confederate figures and men associated with mistreatment of Native Americans.

A person holds a strip of stickers that say "I Got Mine"
Courtesy Lutheran Social Services

The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will be available free of charge Tuesday at Lutheran Social Services in Jacksonville. 

JSO patrol vehicle in a parking lot
News4Jax

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has a budget of $484 million dollars this year, about a third of the city’s total spending. Most of that goes to salaries and benefits for the JSO’s 3,237 employees. JSO also spends about $36,000 to incarcerate one person for a year, which is more than the median income in Jacksonville. 

AP

Federal data show that Florida has more COVID-19 cases tied to newer, more transmissible strains of the coronavirus than any other state. 

Wells Todd holds a microphone in front of the Duval County Courthouse.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Several dozen advocates for police reform gathered peacefully outside the Duval County Courthouse Wednesday night in response to the verdict earlier this week in the Minneapolis murder trial of Derek Chauvin, convicted of killing George Floyd. 

Huge American flag covering the courthouse, while there are protesters below it with Black lives matter signs, among other signs. All of them have masks on.
Sky Lebron / WJCT News

A new anti-riot law from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has created harsher penalties for people arrested during protests, but civil rights activists in Jacksonville say that won’t stop their demonstrations. 

Courtesy Amy Donofrio

A teacher in the Duval County Public School system has filed a lawsuit against the district over free speech issues and allegations of retaliation. 

Courtesy City of Jacksonville

A scheduled Friendship Fountain renovation was supposed to be finished this spring, but it hasn’t even started. 

Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

A new exhibit at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is celebrating the work of South African artist Zanele Muholi. The exhibit, a series of more than 80 self-portraits, explore themes like race, identity, human rights and social justice. 

DeSantis accuses YouTube of censorship for removing video labeled as misinformation.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accused YouTube of censorship Monday for removing an earlier video in which he and some public health experts spread what YouTube has labeled as misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. 

For rent sign
Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Today, April 9, is the last day to apply for Jacksonville’s rent relief program for people who are behind payments because of COVID-19. 

The backside of a vaccination card that was handed out after a man received a first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Miami is pictured.
WILFREDO LEE / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The FBI is warning Floridians about the risks of sharing photos of your COVID-19 vaccine card on social media. Scammers may steal your information off the cards, the FBI says, or use your photos to create fake vaccine cards that they can sell. 

Deesha Philyaw
Courtesy Deesha Philyaw

Jacksonville native Deesha Philyaw has won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and is using her spotlight to uplift other Black women writers. 

Courtesy the Gardner Family

Flags will fly at half staff in St Augustine to honor the life of former Mayor George Gardner, who passed away Tuesday. 

Sears Crescent Model in Jacksonville
Courtesy Wayne Wood

The nonprofit Riverside-Avondale Preservation is spotlighting a set of remarkable buildings in Jacksonville: three build-it-yourself homes you could order from the Sears Catalog - also known as the “Big Book” -  in the early part of the 20th century. 

Officials prepare for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Waves at Jacksonville Beach
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Officials with the Jacksonville Housing Authority gathered Friday to celebrate the opening of a new low-income housing development. 

The Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center at LaVilla.
JTA

The board of the Jacksonville Transit Authority voted unanimously Thursday supporting a 6-cent increase to the city’s gas tax. If passed by the City Council, the tax would be used to fund up to $930 million in transportation improvements throughout the`city. 

Students outside Robert. E. Lee High
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

School administrators and members of Jacksonville’s School Board have been receiving a barrage of emails the past few days, all of them asking the same question: Does Duval County Public Schools (DCPS)  believe that Black Lives Matter? 

Protesters hold signs outside of DCPS main offices.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Progressive activists are continuing the fight to change the names of nine Jacksonville schools, this time at the main offices of the Duval County Schools District. 

As more Floridians are vaccinated and the economy returns to normal, a University of Florida survey finds that Florida residents are feeling more confident in their personal finances than they were just a month ago. 

Regency Square mall vaccination site
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

People who are 40 and older are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine in Florida, and at Jacksonville’s two major vaccination sites, the lines were short when WJCT News stopped by  and people’s spirits were high. 

Photo of students in class wearing masks
LM Otero / Associated Press

The City of Jacksonville’s mask mandate expired Friday, but officials with Duval County Public Schools reminded parents Sunday that masks are still required in schools. 

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