Brag About Your School: Coral Shores High School Springs Back After Irma

Rewind one year, and the Florida Keys were trying to dig out from the rubble left in Hurricane Irma's wake. Coral Shores High School in Tavernier was being used by FEMA as a disaster relief staging area. School was out and there was no telling when classes would resume.

To the students and faculty at Coral Shores, all that is way back in the rear-view mirror. They've got their groove back, and that process started as soon as schools reopened after Irma.

"Credit to these kids, as soon as we opened back up they went back to work and there was a sense of urgency, we lost instructional time by about 15 days, and the staff at Coral Shores is absolutely amazing, they did a great job and we're an 'A' school again this year," said principal Blake Fry.

Coral Shores is a full-service, traditional high school with less than 800 students but 18 AP classes. It also has some courses that are hard to find anywhere else.

"Commercial fishing," said Fry as an example, "which is a huge industry here, students after three or four years can earn their captain's license."

How about marine mechanics? Yamaha came up with the curriculum, and Coral Shores is one of just four schools in the nation offering the course.

"Most of the kids down here get a boat before they get a car, so this is a great fit, they can work on their own boats," said teacher Chris Catlett, or, he says, work in the industry like most of his students do.

The school also has an innovative, comprehensive marine sciences course. Students manage their own saltwater aquariums and they learn all about the imperiled coral reef habitat just offshore from their campus by going on dive trips with researchers.

"They need to understand the environment they live in so that they hopefully feel empowered to protect it," said marine sciences teacher Beth Rosenow. "We get out of the classroom as much as possible because that's when learning really takes place."

In the meantime, the Hurricanes are busy doing what high school kids are doing everywhere else, which is preparing for careers or college. Ninety-three percent of students at the school go on to four-year universities.

"We've got kids throughout the country, at Florida, Michigan, Stanford, MIT, Yale, Harvard, so they can name their pick when they leave here," Fry said. "You couldn't ask for a better place to raise your kids and send them to school, we're kind of a well-kept secret."

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