Swimming with the Sharks of Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School in North Miami means having a feeding frenzy of opportunities.
“Educational experience that’s second to none here in Dade County, we have a program for everybody, and we’re gonna prepare ‘em to be successful when they leave here,” said principal Christopher Shinn.
ATM high school has five academies, including cybersecurity, in which students prepare themselves for today’s hottest career field.
They can also opt for the law academy. We visited as the mock trial team prepared for a competition, inside the school’s courtroom. The kids learn all facets of the criminal justice system and a ton of communication skills.
“Half the kids here have aspirations of becoming a lawyer, the other half are here because it’s an opportunity to work on skills you’re gonna use in every aspect of life, even if you don’t want to be a lawyer,” said the law teacher, Luke Schlehuber.
This is a full-service public high school with a private school feel. At 1,700 students, ATM is much smaller than most public high schools, and they’ve cultivated a culture of success here among the student body.
“They have the expectation of being academically successful and we have to deliver that,” said Shinn.
Just being a student here is an education in itself, as everyone learns about the world from each other.
“Such a unique and diverse population, we have over 60 countries represented here, over 35 languages, we have students from all over the world,” Shinn explained.
As the saying goes, think global, act local. In a partnership with the Frost Science Museum, the marine science academy students are immersed in the South Florida coastal ecosystem. The campus is located immediately adjacent to Oleta State Park, at the northern end of Biscayne Bay.
“They learn about the life cycle of the mangrove, their ecological importance, so that creates a really good awareness,” said Francisco Donath, the marine science teacher.
So in the marine biology program, they’re not just learning about the importance of the mangrove forest, they’re actually growing their own seedlings and planting them out in the environment where they’re needed. Donath estimates they’ve planted more than 3,000 seedlings since they started the program.
You might say the school has grown up since it opened ten years ago, and as the JROTC team showed us, they will keep saluting success at ATM. You can take that to the bank.