When you order that venti drink at the coffee bar, you know what you’re getting: a heaping helping of goodness.
John Ferguson Senior High School is the venti frappucino of schools.
With 4,300 students, the west Kendall institution is the biggest high school in Miami-Dade County, second only to Weston’s Cypress Bay High in the state of Florida. When it comes to choices for students, size matters.
"So if they're interested in game simulation and animation design, but they also love television production, they can do both programs simultaneously, it’s a great deal of flexibility and a lot of options and a lot of choice and the fact that we’re an 'A' school certainly doesn’t hurt," said Denise Graham, the school's lead magnet teacher.
Ferguson has five magnet academies: design and arts, international business and finance, medical, computer technology, and the International Baccalaureate program.
They also offer the full menu of AP courses, dual-enrollment classes, plus a long list of electives such as photography and interior and architectural design. Students in that class can earn CAD certification, which is Computer Assisted Design, while they build a foundation to study architecture or engineering in college.
"They already know what a perspective is, how to draw plans, how to do autocad, how to do all those things which is a plus and it helps them move forward in their career," explained Susan Betancourt, the course teacher.
The Marching Falcons band looks and sounds like the top-notch marching band you would expect at a large high school. But Ferguson has other musical options, including the only steel drum band in the county. Every kid can find a passion here.
"The array of core courses that go along with the elected courses are what the students need today to be motivated and inspired to graduate from high school and do amazing things and be successful," said Rafael Villalobos, the school’s principal.
With a 98 percent graduation rate, Ferguson boasts that it’s the highest performing traditional high school in the district.
With alumni at Stanford, MIT, and at all of the Ivy League colleges, it’s hard to dispute the school’s slogan: "World-class starts here."