You’ve heard of boutique hotels. How about a boutique high school? The label fits Cutler Bay Senior High, a public, all-magnet school with only 480 students.
"I believe it’s the small feel, the small atmosphere that makes us special, but at the same time we have all the activities a large high school would have," said Lucas Delatorre, Cutler Bay’s principal.
They just do things a little differently. For example, instead of a traditional marching band, Cutler Bay has a rock band. Instead of big sports like football and basketball, they have varsity water polo, swimming, and cross country teams. The school’s focus is on academics with a heavy dose of clubs to get kids involved. The PAC, or performing arts club, for instance, gives students an outlet for dance and music.
"And these are students that are here for the academics but at the same time they have the talents to be a participant in the performing arts club after school,” Delatorre said.
The school has more than 20 clubs. Still, being small means sacrificing some activities. Being small also has its perks.
"I think the advantage is that you’re able to have a voice in this environment," Delatorre said. "We don’t have the issue of large numbers so I think the students are given more opportunities because we are small."
The school has three academies: the Cambridge diploma track, iPrep Academy, and a marine science academy called COAST. As you would think for a school so close to Biscayne Bay, Cutler Bay High School puts a lot of emphasis on the COAST program. Students go on camping trips to Elliot Key, they go kayaking, they go fishing in the Keys, and they get internships at Biscayne National Park.
"So we try to get ‘em out into the environment to experience the marine environment in addition to the activities in the classroom,” Irene Montano, the marine science program director.
They do have some sports here, including cheerleading, water polo, cross country and swimming. Delatorre says they will be adding sports as the school grows to its capacity of 600 students. Those who choose to attend this all-magnet school, Delatorre says, are high achievers who care about society and each other.
"And it’s those values the students have that, I believe, it’s something to brag about,” Delatorre said.