Town’s new high school ready to open its doors

Pictured (l-r) are Cutler Bay interim town manager Ralph Casals, Centennial principal Yamila Carballo and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall as they inspected the school remodeling work in July. (Photo by Justin A. Koren.)

Cutler Bay’s long-awaited high school is one step closer to reality as classes begin later this month on the campus of Centennial Middle School, where remodeling to include four science labs or classrooms, conversion of classrooms to the iPrep Academy and creation of a separate campus entry for Upper Academy students is being completed.

Centennial initially will house grades 7 through 12 with Cutler Ridge being used for grade 6. It is expected that in two years all middle school classes will be at Cutler Ridge and what is now Centennial, built in 1976, will become solely a high school, which likely will be renamed.

The community’s first high school will establish a grades 6-12 Cambridge Choice school program that will include a COAST magnet (grades 6-12), a Liberal Arts academy (grades 9-12) and an iPrep academy (grades 9-12).

Cambridge Choice is a rigorous pre-university curriculum and examination system for academically able students that currently is offered in schools and colleges around the world and will enable students to receive the prestigious Advanced International Certificate of Education.

The new high school has been made possible by an interlocal agreement between Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Town of Cutler Bay.

Dr. Larry Feldman, vice chair of the Miami-Dade County School Board and District 9 board member, expressed his feelings about the new high school.

“There isn’t anything more exciting for me, as an educator and school board member, than the first day of school especially when you’re filled with a new sense of energy and hope,” Dr. Feldman said. “Attending a one-of-a-kind school that is re-engineered and branded as an innovative, strategically academic and student-oriented learning facility can’t be underscored. Centennial and Cutler Ridge represent the high expectations of a successful community with goals and beliefs that came to fruition through the collaborative efforts of the district and the town.

“This campus will serve to enhance teaching and learning opportunities for all students in grades six through 12 interested in oceanic and atmospheric studies (COAST), as well as new technology (iPrep and CAPE), advanced academics (College Board Cambridge) and liberal arts. Meeting the needs of our students with the vision of their community couldn’t please me more,” Dr. Feldman added.

Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall echoed those sentiments about the launch of the new school and it’s programs.

“It has long been the goal of the residents of Cutler Bay to have a high school they could call their own,” MacDougall said. “Without the ability of us as a town to be able to negotiate with the school administration, it most likely would not have happened.

“I am proud that as mayor, I was able to, along with our council, achieve this goal. Now that we have moved so far, we must realize it is just the beginning. Our current school committee will be working alongside the school administration to assure that quality in education comes to Cutler Bay. I know this is the goal of the school administration and they are grateful for our commitment.” MacDougall said that there is more work ahead.

“It is important to recognize the need that all the schools in Cutler Bay should be given the best opportunity to achieve a higher standard,” he said. “Soon I will be releasing a plan that will give additional financial resources to our local schools and this without taxes being given from our residents. If not for our children, then for whom?”

Justin A. Koren, MEd, who is Lead Teacher for Magnet Programs-Academics and Curriculum, said he is excited about the opening and the future of the new school. “We have designed a school that will provide students with three unique and personalized programs of study, combining specialized curriculum with dynamic academic instruction,” Koren said.

“Without a doubt, the most exciting aspect of creating this high school has been meeting with our incoming students. The potential in each one of these teenagers is remarkable. The principal, Ms. [Yamila] Carballo, understands the community of Cutler Bay and believes actions speak more powerfully than words. Her passion for perfection inspires all of us at Centennial to deliver nothing short of the best for our incoming ninth graders, their parents, and the Town of Cutler Bay.”

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