NBC 6's Brag About Your School visits Miami Beach Senior High - NBC 6 South Florida

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NBC 6's Brag About Your School visits Miami Beach Senior High

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    NBC 6's Brag About Your School visits Miami Beach Senior High. (Published Monday, May 4, 2015)

    Miami Beach Senior High School is, without argument, a venerable institution. It's the second-oldest high school in Miami-Dade County, opening its doors in 1926.

    The alumni list is distinguished by the likes of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, actor Andy Garcia, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and current Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales.

    History is important, but the current state of the school is all that matters to today's students, and the High Tides have a lot to brag about.

    "We're a full-service high school, with just about every AP class available, plus we have the IB program, and a tourism and hospitality program that places students as interns in the hotels and restaurants of Miami Beach," said principal John Donohue, referring to Advanced Placement classes and the International Baccalaureate program.

    Let's talk music: an alumnus of the school, Josh Figueroa, took over as band director and in six years, expanded from one class to seven different bands with 200 students participating. The jazz band just won a gold medal at a competition in New Orleans. If you can play winning jazz there, you can play anywhere.

    "It's a lot of hard work and the days are long and the weeks are even longer, but when you get to do something like this and take a step back and see the work, the progression, it's inspiring on my end, I want to pick my horn up and start playing again," said Figueroa.

    The school also has a resurrected theatre program, thanks to theatre director Pauline Lakanen. The students just staged a terrific version of "Guys and Dolls", with a cast of 65.

    "It's 100% life skills," Lakanen says, describing what kids get out of participating in theatre. "They gain self-confidence, they learn how to depend on themselves, they learn how to be team players, the same things you'd learn on a football team you learn on a theatre stage."

    Beach High also has a unique program called the Academy of Marine and Environmental Sciences. Students in the program are studying sea level rise in the perfect laboratory in which to do it, a city that actually feels the impact of rising seas several times a year.

    "It's very unique program, fits right in with Miami Beach, we're only six blocks from the ocean," Donohue said.

    Students in the marine science class have also started a SCUBA club, in which they become certified divers, go on ocean dives at least once a month, and study coral reef conservation.

    "SCUBA is an expensive hobby, it's not something that I'd be able to do on my own, it's something that I really appreciate about my school," said SCUBA Club president Andrea Nodal, a junior who has already achieved advanced open water certification, which is not common for 17-year-olds.

    In a school that celebrates its history with a Hall of Fame of alumni, the future isn't just bright, it's now.

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