School on the Brink

About this series

For years The Miami Herald has been reporting the story of Florida's failing schools. The one with the worst academic record in the state: Miami Central Senior High.

As Nicole Louis, president of the class of '09, bluntly put it: "People think of Central and they think of a bad school with bad kids. They don't look any deeper."

But thanks to unprecedented access granted to journalists by the Miami-Dade school district and Central Principal Doug Rodriguez, we are looking deeper. What we've found is a school whose metabolism has been reenergized. "We will shine in '09" is the school's motto.

Today, reporter Kathleen McGrory, photographer Carl Juste and videographer Jose Iglesias introduce you to many of the problems the school has faced -- and what it is doing to overcome them.

On Monday, journalists will take you inside the classroom as students -- nervous, cocky, determined -- prepare for this week's FCATs.

In the coming months, you'll see the school through the eyes of the students and meet the community of alumni frustrated by the decline of their alma mater.

And, whether the school passes or fails the test -- we'll find out in July -- you'll know that Central is not "a bad school with bad kids."