When you think of a public high school, you probably picture a place like J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs. The Home of the Trojans has teams in every sport, a big marching band, and all the AP and dual enrollment classes to satisfy the college-bound kids.
It also has a lot more.
For example, Taravella’s Academy of Finance earned the “distinguished” label, one of only 42 schools in the nation to earn that designation out of 675 which offer the National Academy of Finance curriculum.
“The kids get experiences that illuminate their path, especially in this program, our business ownership and virtual enterprise program, they come in here as students and they leave as business professionals,” said Laurie Acosta, the lead finance teacher.
The principal says he’s most proud that Taravella High is a comprehensive institution.
“We offer the full high school experience here for kids, it’s not just about books, it’s about books, academics and the extra things that we want to hook kids with, and it’s so important these days to hook kids into school,” said Jason Nault, Taravella’s principal.
Speaking of unique hooks to keep kids interested in school, Taravella has its own police academy. It’s not just a few classes in law enforcement, it’s a complete academy experience, overseen by the Coral Springs Police Department.
More than a hundred students are enrolled in the four-year program. They learn police tactics and ethics from real officers, and go through actual police department training exercises. Obviously, the academy is great for kids interested in law enforcement careers, but it’s also good preparation for future lawyers or military officers as well.
And now for something completely different, to borrow a phrase from Monty Python: the school’s theatre program has a long history of staging first-class shows and providing a foundation for talented performers. One of its alumni, Etai Benson, is currently starring on Broadway in the critically-acclaimed hit musical, “The Band’s Visit.”
If you visit the school, you might see parents dropping off toddlers. No, they’re not precocious freshmen. They’re part of Taravella’s Early Childhood Education Academy, which teaches high school students how to teach preschoolers. It’s as hands-on as you can get.
“When they’re in here they implement what they learn in the classroom, they’re preparing lesson plans, they’re executing a lesson plan, they’re teaching the children good hygiene, good nutrition, all of those kinds of things,” explained Marilou Raham, the program’s director.
So there are two generations benefiting from one program, par for the course at Taravella High School.