The list of schools that can claim to be both sports and arts powerhouses is short. South Miami High School is in fine company, making the list for its magnet programs, which emphasize music and visual arts, and for its champion boys basketball team. The band consistently wins the highest honors, as does the orchestra.
“They may be small in numbers,” said Principal Gilberto Bonce. “But, they are instrumentally phenomenal, those kids are true musicians, they’re very talented.”
Speaking of talented, five members of the Cobras basketball team already have scholarship offers. The squad recently won the Greater Miami Athletic Conference championship and is favored to make a return trip to the state tournament.
The school is also making a name for itself in robotics and coding.
“We started off with a little club, went to a couple of competitions for the mini urban challenge, and they ended up going all the way to state championship and the national championship,” Bonce said.
South Miami also has a television production course which is a part of the magnet program. It’s led by the newly-crowned Miami-Dade County teacher of the year, Rudy Diaz.
“There are many, many teachers out there that deserve the same thing, I just got lucky this year and got recognized,” Diaz said about the award.
He teaches everything from production and editing to videography and reporting, and Diaz can boast that many of his graduates are currently working in the TV news, including sisters Julia and Marissa Bagg of NBC6 and Carlos Suarez of WPLG. Diaz says his program is constantly evolving to keep up with the industry.
“And, now we’re doing VR, which is virtual reality, and we’re doing actually a documentary in virtual reality, so we’re always keeping up ahead of technology,” Diaz said.
New to the school is the Cambridge Program, for students who want to hone their analytical skills to be college-ready.
“Absolutely, because of the rigorous load those students are even more prepared than other students to handle the demands of college,” said Elena Ruiz, who teaches language arts in the Cambridge Program.
Bonce says his goal is to provide something to match every student’s interest, giving every kid a chance to succeed.
“Why should parents send their kids to South Miami? I send my own children to South Miami senior high, my oldest graduated a few years ago, and my youngest is a senior this year,” Bonce said.
Eighty-five percent of the magnet program kids come from outside the school’s boundaries, and because it’s attracting students who really want to be there, Bonce says South Miami High School has tremendous school spirit. It also has a student body aiming for tremendous achievement.