Most middle schools feed into one local high school. Pines Middle School in Pembroke Pines is an exception. Its students go to Miramar, Flanagan or McArthur, so it has programs designed to prepare kids for the offerings at those high schools.
The Junior Leadership Corps is an example. It’s kind of like the JROTC, as students learn military discipline and drills, and much more.
“The mission of the junior leadership corps is to influence students to be self-inspired and motivated,” said teacher Victor Torres. “But it’s a lot more than that, we have a lot of classroom lessons that focus on behavior and character issues, how to deal with bullying, suicide prevention, and the list goes on and on.”
There are 200 students involved in the program, and Pines is the only middle school in Broward County which has it.
The school has all the traditional activities and courses, too, because as the principal says, you never know which activity or program is going to motivate a child to come to school.
“So if a kid is interested in aviation, or they’re interested in business or they’re interested in performing arts, athletics, they come to Pines Middle School, we make it happen,” said Carlton Campbell, the principal.
They’re definitely making things happen in the CS Discoveries coding class.
“These kids are learning how to program with block programming where the back engine is actually Java script so these are 6th, 7th, and 8th grade kids, ages 11-13, actually learning programming aspects in middle school,” explained teacher Anne Skirnick.
For us non-techies, that went right over our heads, but we do get this part when Skirnick explains the allure of the class.
“Oh it’s awesome, I have plenty of adults who come in here who say they want to stay in here because the class looks so fun,” Skirnick said.
The Global Scholars program is another fun class. It allows kids to connect with peers around the world as they learn about issues which impact everyone.
Pines also has the Lighthouse Community Church Adopt a School Mentoring Program. It helps students in a variety of ways, says Campbell.
“The key thing to helping kids find out what their desires are in life is to make sure that you take the time to build those relationships,” Campbell said.
He’s talking about relationships between faculty and kids, and also between students and their passions, which is why, Campbell says, it’s crucial to have programs like music and drama and art along with athletics and cheerleading.
“When you build the relationship, the young people know, particularly at the middle school level, that this is an opportunity to really learn and discover who you are,” Campbell said.