Northeast High School in Oakland Park has an enviable list of distinguished alumni. Astronaut Brett Jett, jazz legend Jaco Pastorius, and Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey are just a few of the notables who graduated from the Home of the Hurricanes. These days, the school is trying to live up that diverse legacy of success by offering something for every student interest.
Northeast has three magnet programs, including Industrial Biotechnology. The students are learning how to analyze DNA.
"We have many applications, could be a crime lab, could be developing new products, new medications," explained Ileana Moreno, the lead biotech teacher.
They’re proud of their computer programming section, which offers classes ranging from beginner to AP level. Next year, the school will have the Cambridge Program, and this year, Northeast became the first high school in the state with an Alternative Energy magnet program.
"It’s not the program, it’s the people and the kids love these instructors, and like the class behind me, there’s a waiting list to get into these classes because the teachers are so dynamic," said principal Anthony Valachovic, speaking inside the computer lab.
Of course, Northeast High has all the usual activities and clubs, including an award-winning band and highly competitive sports teams. The girls basketball team is a perennial power, and this past season, the boys team went down to the wire with eventual state champion Dillard, losing by just two points.
The school also has something almost no other public school has: the Latin Academy magnet program. They are state champs in Latin competition (yes, there is such a thing) for 16 straight years! Why take Latin? Studies show just two years of Latin can improve a student’s SAT verbal score by 78 percent!
"Students that are studying Latin generally do very well in math, they do extremely well in science, they’re very adept in English because it expands their vocabulary by about 87 percent," said Tim Kandel, who teaches the program.
Northeast High also has a great habit of placing students in state and national science competitions. A few years ago, one of its students showed off her project to President Obama at the White House Science Fair. Look for more science success to come as the Broward School District uses bond money to build new STEM labs at the school.