It’s not easy to achieve excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines has managed to hit that trifecta.
"We actually have amazing programs for accelerated students, for average students, for struggling students, there’s really something for everyone,” said principal Michelle Kefford.
Lets’ start with the arts. Flanagan has a color guard team which has won the world championship twice. What? You say you didn’t know there was such a thing? There is, and when you see Flanagan’s team in action, performing a highly choreographed routine that seems like something from a Broadway show, you can see why the team is so highly regarded. The students practice long hours to achieve this level of excellence, and it leaves an imprint on them.
"No kid’s gonna leave here and go be a professional color guard spinner, but they are gonna leave here with the leadership qualities that they learn to work in a group and excel at the highest level of competition there is, so we really try to focus on those things, those core personal values that make them better people in the long run,” said Dean Broadbent, the color guard teacher.
Musical students have several bands to choose from, including a group called the Flanagan Winds. Picture the color guard performance with kids playing instruments during an intricate series of movements resembling modern dance and you have an idea of what their routine looks like. It’s highly creative and simply impressive.
Creativity at Flanagan, however, doesn’t end with music and dance. The school also has a speech and debate team which features two state champion orators. They just started the program five years ago.
"It helps them in life with their communication and helps them have confidence, basically what we do with speech and debate is give children a voice, their own voice, and that’s one place they can go and actually have adults listen to what they have to say,” said debate coach Susan McGraw.
"There’s a culture here and you can just feel the welcoming environment when you come into the school, we call ourselves a family and we really are that,” added Kefford.
In sports, Flanagan won the state football championship last school year in the biggest school classification, 8A, and its baseball team is always in contention for a title.
Academically, students can choose from a full slate of AP classes, as well as dual enrollment courses through partnerships with FIU and Broward College.
"We’re very unique here in that we offer a multitude of classes here on our campus, so we have professors that come during the school day so kids can take a college class on Flanagan’s campus," Kefford said.
It’s one of those schools with a lot of high-achievers, the kids who end up in the Ivy League and at the best universities in the nation. The Flanagan Falcons have every opportunity to soar.