Consider this your wake-up call. Any student interested in joining a magnet program in Miami-Dade Public Schools for next school year needs to act quickly to get in on the action. The deadline is January 15th. That’s this Sunday.
"Talk to your child, make sure that they know what they’re getting themselves into and that they’re going to love what they do, but with all the choices that we have, there’s going to be something for everyone," said Rafael Villalobos, principal at Ferguson High School in Kendall.
Miami-Dade Public Schools has more than 500 choice and magnet programs spread throughout its grade levels.
Ferguson High has one of the more unique offerings, a veterinary sciences program which teaches students how much hard work goes into taking care of animals. They’ve practically got a farm on the campus.
"The animals teach them something, they teach the animals things, it’s a symbiotic relationship, it’s a beautiful thing, they work really hard, they get in the ring with the animal," said teacher Erin Abramoff.
The kids in the program learn all aspects of animal husbandry, from milking goats to grooming cattle to feeding everything. They are responsible for the overall health and well-being of the animals, they learn from real veterinarians who periodically visit, and they bring the animals to FFA competitions.
"What I really like about this program is everything is hands-on, everything is student-run," said student Nicholas Herdocia.
"Everybody thinks, ok, agriculture, it’s animals, but it’s much more than that," added student Jessica Casarreal.
Her colleague, Bernie Forteza, explains that the veterinary program provides skills that are useful in every class.
"It really develops their public speaking skills and actually adding more work to our schoolwork, it helps us manage our time," Bernie said.
You could say the program grooms students for college and careers beyond the veterinary world.
"A lot of our students are able to go to amazing universities and really do flourish because they’ve had this experience," Abramoff said.
Ferguson isn’t the only school with a veterinary program. The point is, students have lots of choices these days, so it’s time to break out of the herd mentality and investigate the options.
Note: the deadline for magnet and choice applications in Broward County Public Schools is February 8th.