Since it opened in 1971, North Miami Beach Senior High School has produced distinguished alumni ranging from Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg to rock star Perry Farrell to author Brad Meltzer. The home of the Chargers is still charging ahead with innovative programs to feed the passions of students, whether it's 3D digital design or engineering and robotics.
"The perception is that we're just a normal school but the reality is that we produce quality students," said Principal Randy Milliken, who has been at NMB High in one capacity or another for 29 years.
The school has three magnet programs, including a high-level science curriculum known as BEAM.
"BEAM refers to biomedical and environmental strand that offers our students one of the greatest opportunities in Miami-Dade county public schools to expose themselves to real science, hands-on activities," said the science department chair, Vania Boeva.
Speaking of hands-on experience, we watched the JROTC program students participate in a disaster simulation drill. They practiced their first-responder skills on fellow students who were posing as bloody trauma victims of a hurricane.
"These students work very hard on this, day to day basis, and we try to make it realistic for them," explained JROTC leader sergeant Peter Serrano. "We've had students that because they've learned this, now they want to jump in the medical field."
The school also has iPrep Academy and the AP Capstone magnet program, which sends kids to the Ivy League and other top colleges and universities every year.
"We've got several kids in the NFL and we've got several police and fire people that we're just as proud of," Milliken said.
It could be said that NMB High has the entire academic spectrum covered, from the magnet programs for advanced students to another program which utilizes general education kids to tutor and mentor kids who have special needs. It's called FIT, which stands for Friends In Training, and it creates bonds between the special needs kids and everyone else, as they help them learn basic skills to work in restaurants or retail stores.
"These kids really give back to the community and they give back to the school, both our special needs kids and the general education kids," said Milliken.
North Miami Beach High has heart, spirit, and a whole bunch of talented students.