River Cities Gazette

Future Miami Springs Golden Hawks visit high school

FUTURE HAWKS?: Parents and students paid close attention as Rene Barge cast the vision for MSSH’s iTech Academy. Other exceptional programs include the Cambridge Program and the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism.
FUTURE HAWKS?: Parents and students paid close attention as Rene Barge cast the vision for MSSH’s iTech Academy. Other exceptional programs include the Cambridge Program and the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism.
Gazette Photo/ANGIE AGUILA

River Cities Gazette

Spring is in the air and summer is around the corner, but parents of eighth-grade students know this is the time, and the season, to make a decision about which school your child will be attending this coming fall. 

Miami Springs Senior High School recently opened their arms and their doors to over 50 future Golden Hawks and their parents for an evening of information and inspiration. Incoming ninth-grade students from across Miami-Dade County toured the school, visited the classrooms, and learned all about the array of outstanding choices the school offers.

The evening began when Miami Springs Principal Ed Smith greeted each and every student with a handshake and a question. The question was: “Which middle school are you coming from?” Of course you would expect students from local schools like All Angels Academy, Blessed Trinity, Miami Springs Middle School, and the River Cities Charter School, but students from near and far were also in attendance — students from Country Club Middle, Doral Academy, Mater Academy, Shenandoah, St. Peter & Paul School Catholic School, South Miami Middle, and Young Women’s Prep, to name a few. 

Smith introduced the team of administrators and staff who are responsible for some of the great things that are taking place. 

“All of the staff that you have met tonight, their hearts are here in Miami Springs,” he said. “They’re here for one reason and one reason only, that’s to make sure your kids receive a top-notch education. On behalf of all of the entire staff at Miami Springs, I’d like to welcome you to Hawk Country. If you’re here and you’re kind of on the fence about where you should go, I think once you leave here tonight, and you see the offerings we have and the quality of professionals that work here, and of course our fantastic students, I think you’ll fall in love.”

Parents and students viewed presentations and met with teachers and current students from the prestigious Cambridge Program, the iTech Academy, and the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism. Administrators and teachers from each of the programs bent over backwards to make sure that no question went unanswered.   

The Cambridge Program: Corina Mills spearheads the Cambridge program. Mills is also the Student Services Department Chairperson, Golden Hawk alumna, and longtime Miami Springs resident.   

Cambridge Program benefits include challenging academics with a program that is flexible and accelerated. It’s designed as an academic experience for highly motivated learners. Students select from a broad range of courses and are challenged to work at the highest level of international standards. Cambridge students can earn scholarships and diploma recipients can earn up to 30 hours of college credit.  

The iTech Academy: The iTech Academy, led by Rene Barge, is a relatively young program at MSSH, yet it is producing remarkable results, results that come from students’ enthusiasm about learning, not to mention winning a few awards along the way. Barge’s professionalism and passion for the field of technology and education is only trumped by the admiration his students have for him. Parents paid close attention to Barge as he cast the vision for the iTech Academy. Current students looked as they busily worked computers that are located in the fully remodeled state of the art space. The space will undergo the second stage of upgrades this summer and will be ready for the incoming ninth-graders this fall. 

“At the core of the program is computer science, and we use video game design to deliver that,” said Barge. “But it also branches out into other areas. It is truly a S.T.E.M. integrated curriculum where students will be given the opportunity to elevate their math skills and problem-solving skills. In the process, students will become certified with industry credentials.”

iTech Academy offers a sequence of courses with a rigorous curriculum content, aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education and careers in Information Technology. 

Academy of Hospitality & Tourism: Parents and students also got to tour the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT), which is led by Ms. Ann Carranza. The program, which began in 1987, is modeled and emulated across the country. 

“Our academy has been around for 26 years and Miami Springs Senior High School started it all,” said Carranza. “This year we are adding new classes to our curriculum. We will also be administering some industry certifications, so that means not only will students be learning in class, but at the end of our class they will receive an industry certification. This makes them ready to begin entry-level positions in the hospitality and tourism field.”

AOHT prepares students for post-secondary education and careers in hospitality and tourism. They stress the three R’s framework: rigorous academic learning experiences, relevant hands-on work experiences that will serve to develop student’s thinking and problem-solving skills, and relationships developed through business/school partnerships that prepare young people for future careers critical to post-secondary education and career success.

At first glance, local residents may have recently seen the bulldozer on the outskirts of MSSH as a big and extensive project to remove the old portables is well under way, but if you take a second look at Miami Springs Senior High School, you’ll also discover there are some pretty remarkable things going on inside of the school providing an array of outstanding choices for future Golden Hawks. 

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Miami Herald

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