Some schools can boast of having excellent academic reputations. Others are proud of their arts programs, or their athletic teams. Palmetto Senior High School has a decades-long tradition of superiority in everything.
The school in Pinecrest annually places about 95% of its graduates in college. The Ivy League is crawling with Panther alumni, and next year 10 more Palmetto grads will join them.
The jazz band won superior ratings, the highest level, at every competition this year. Palmetto has something for everyone.
“Our whole thing is you can create your own pathway to success and so for example, some of the kids in jazz band also play football, and a lot of times in some schools there’s a separation of that but here, kids do everything," said principal Allison Harley.
"Everything" includes an award-winning drama program. It's full of talent, but it's not an exclusive magnet program.
“All the drama programs in the county, of course, are special, I love that at Palmetto, the kids can come here, really high performing students that come because they want to study the arts, but they can also be involved in sports, they can be involved in student government, they have really great AP courses," said drama teacher Robin Barson. "So they experience the normal high school experience while still studying the performing arts in a competitive environment."
Palmetto has the AP Capstone program, too. It's basically four years of making students ready to hit the ground running when they get to college.
Palmetto also has another fairly unique distinction: the school’s yearbook is annually ranked in the top ten in the nation, and this year, they went small, producing a volume that instantly captures your eye because it looks different.
“We decided to go with a square because it stood out, it’s different, just like every individual in our school is very different, it’s smaller, it’s more personal," said yearbook co-editor Leah Feiler.
Palmetto is famous for academic excellence. Its alumni include Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Zoo Miami's irrepressible Ron Magill, and the current Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy. This year, Palmetto seniors received 18 Ivy League acceptances.
“We never settle on what happened last year, we always look to see where we can take the school and how we can continue to push the students, our staff, and to make ourselves better," Harley said, explaining that one of the strengths of the school is the strong PTSA. "Our parents demand the best for their kids."
They are getting the best, the best anyone can expect from any neighborhood school anywhere.