Even though it’s 14 years old, Monarch High School in Coconut Creek is the new kid on the block among North Broward high schools. With fresh paint and a design that evokes a college campus, complete with a hilly, tree-shaded courtyard, Monarch still feels like it just opened.
The school distinguishes itself by offering innovative programs and with a marching band that just brought home the third-place trophy in the statewide band competition. The music director says that kind of experience goes beyond just playing their instruments. It teaches kids the same skills they’ll need for job interviews.
“It’s a lot of nerves involved when you have to get out there and perform, you have to make sure you’re ready to go with everything and you have to be well-prepared,” said band director Darrell Haynes.
Monarch is a traditional, full-service high school with a heart. They integrate special needs kids into regular classes whenever possible, and they’re created a mentoring group called Latinos in Action to counsel and help students who are in the process of learning English. The Latinos in Action frequently go to neighboring elementary schools to serve as role models for the younger kids.
“The younger kids down really, really love the fact that their peers come to speak to them in their native language,” said Principal James Neer, explaining how the Latinos in Action inspire their younger counterparts.
The school offers special courses in engineering, tourism and hospitality, and early childhood development.
“Of course, the core academics is what we’re here for but those special programs really attract kids to come to monarch and they’re very proud to be part of the school,” Neer said.
They’re also proud to have the AP Computer Science Principles class. This is the first year the College Board is offering the class anywhere in the nation. Monarch had a flood of kids wanting to take it, knowing the jobs of the future are in the high tech sector.
“So they’ve had a huge push about computer science and programming and trying to develop it, creating apps like they’re doing here make it more fun,” said teacher Lori Fuller.
The kids are wired, and so is their school.
“We have thousands and thousands of computers, as you can see in this lab, it’s a fully functional mac lab, we have six other p-c labs, so the opportunity to utilize technology anywhere a student needs to, it’s available to them,” Neer explained.
The band members aren’t the only Knights striving for excellence at Monarch High.