When you hear the name of the school, Law Enforcement Officers Memorial High School, you might assume it’s a school only for kids who want to become police officers.
Your assumption would be wrong.
“It’s for any kind of students who really want to help their community, any students who want to be public servants, who care about the city they live in, who want to help people who maybe necessarily can’t help themselves,” said Janine Leyte-Vidal, the school’s lead magnet teacher and activities director. “We try to get them college ready as soon as they start 9th grade here.”
That’s the kind of ethic they impart at this all-magnet public school with a private school feel, right next door to the Miami Police Department.
“We currently have 365 students in our school so it’s a very small setting, we take pride in knowing our students by name,” said principal Tony Ullivarri.
There are three academic tracks from which the students choose.
They can pick legal studies, which is taught by a lawyer and has an authentic-looking mock trial courtroom, preparing students for a career in law.
The forensic science academy teaches analytical skills as students learn how to investigate a crime scene.
The homeland security academy is the most direct path to police work, teaching students actual police tactics, including defensive maneuvers against aggressive attackers.
“They love it, it’s an opportunity for them to exert energy in a setting outside of a traditional classroom plus it gives them the opportunity to learn something different,” Ullivarri said.
Every student here takes at least one dual enrollment college class, and some will graduate with an AA degree along with their high school diplomas. Last year, a dozen kids managed that feat.
They like to brag about their teachers having real-world experience in other jobs.
“So they offer a wealth of knowledge to our students,” Leyte-Vidal said. “Also, our location, we are within walking distance to courthouses and museums and the city of Miami police department so our relationships with these community partners has been priceless to our students.”
Students here have internship opportunities with the police department, with the courthouse, with judges and lawyers, and they take advantage of them.
“Last year, of our graduating class, 100% of them went on to a college or university,” Ullivarri said.
As always, hard work now pays off later.