Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for the seniors at Pembroke Pines Charter High School who got into their dream colleges. It’s a tradition at the school for those students to pull the rope and ring the bell in the tower, shouting the name of the college or university they’ll be attending in the fall.
It fits with the public charter school’s college prep mission.
“We have a purpose statement that is, we’re empowering students for the possibilities of tomorrow, and I think we do that by giving them a variety of choices and opportunities to get involved and to do things beyond academics, but also inclusive of their academics,” said principal Peter Bayer.
The debate program is a good example of what the principal is talking about. The team at Pines Charter has been ranked in the top ten nationally and regularly competes for state championships.
The coach says debate gives the kids confidence combined with the ability to think logically and quickly.
“The kind of practical practice, of those quick moments where you have to think and adjust to be able to respond logically and clearly to someone is only gonna benefit them for the rest of their lives, you can’t buy that kind of practice,” said Kelly Schwab, who revived a dormant debate program a few years ago, taking ques from the neighboring public schools. “We have a lot of good debate programs down here and it ends up benefitting everybody.”
Pines Charter has a real commitment to the arts, including everything from band to drum line to a wind quartet in music, and visual arts which includes computer graphic design. Sounds like fun, but students are on notice, this place is not for slackers.
“It’s very much college preparatory, we only have six classes a day because there’s all academics, even art gets homework,” Bayer said.
Pines Charter is owned by the City of Pembroke Pines, not a for-profit company, which makes it a rarity among charter schools.
When you look at the yearbook, you might think you’ve stumbled into Hogwarts School of Wizardry from the Harry Potter stories.
That’s because certain pages have an embedded digital code.
Students download an app to their wands, I mean cell phones, and when they hold the phone over the page, the photographs turn to moving video. You know how the newspapers in Harry Potter have video instead of photographs? It’s sort of like that.
For real. The pages have videos of the basketball team, softball team, drama performances, you get the picture. Well, you do if you have the app. Is it sorcery?
“Well it’s not sorcery, it’s technology,” said Faran Fagen, the yearbook teacher. “It adds a whole new dimension to the yearbook.”
There’s a waiting list for this school of 2,000 students, and
Pembroke Pines residents get first dibs.
Parents have to be willing to commit to at least 30 hours of volunteer time per school year. That’s the rule the principal says ensures a student body dedicated to learning.
“We’re very diverse and we have kids from all walks of life but all of them are coming from families and homes that are committed to their son or daughter’s education and willing to be involved in it,” Bayer said.