Miami Northwestern hailed a parade of academic success
School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and MNHS Principal Wallace Aristide.
By Derek Joy
Thus began another chapter in the storied history of the Miami Northwestern High School Bulls.
No. It wasn’t Homecoming, the Soul Bowl, or a State Championship in athletics, absolutely nothing like that.
Instead, it was all about a collective academic achievement when Miami Northwestern Senior High School Bulls chose to have a parade to let the community join the recognition as an ‘A’ school.
“Congratulations! You deserve it. It’s been a long time coming. Students, parents, faculty, staff and the community thank you for a job well done,” said Miami Dade School District Board Member, a 1959 graduate of Miami Northwestern, told an audience assembled in front of the school to kickoff the neighborhood parade.
It was a crowning moment of sorts, not only for the Bulls and its school community, but for Principal Wallace Aristide, as well. Aristide, a stellar offensive lineman at Archbishop Curley and Bethune-Cookman University (BC-U), coached football at Miami Central and Miami Norland before he was assigned to Miami Northwestern seven years ago as an assistant principal under Charles Hankerson. He was promoted to principal three years ago.
“It was a ‘D’ school when I came here, then two years as a ‘B’ school,” said Aristide. “I worked hard with my predecessor to make progress. We improved teacher quality, staff network, employed interactive teaching methods,” said Aristide, while explaining the effort that went into the transition to academic success.
Aristide acknowledged a collaborative effort in turning around a school that was being threatened by the Florida State Department of Education. That effort was confirmed in part by the participants in the parade.
Florida International University, which partners with Miami Northwestern, entered a float in the parade and saw its president, Mark Rosenberg take part; City of Miami Fire Department, the Miami Northwestern Alumni Association and several individual classes.
There were mentoring groups, including the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence, Jenevie Clark of Planned Parenthood and its Teen Outreach Program and Anderson Eldridge and the Knights of Gold mentoring program sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the oldest Black Greek Letter Fraternity.
“They asked me to come back because I helped this school become an ‘A’ school,” said Matthew Hatcher, who graduated last year with a 3.8 GPA and is now a freshman at F.I.U. “I was a member of the Golden Scholars Program, which helps prepare students for college and help them get into college. This is neat, I wish they would’ve done this when I was here.”
Hatcher’s father, John Hatcher, is a 1965 graduate who played trumpet in the band, added a different perspective.
“I think this is good for the kids that come after you. It’s awesome. Good for the school to get recognition for something other than sports,” said John Hatcher.
The community involvement with the academic success of Miami Northwestern was also especially gratifying to Miami Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who recently won honors as National Superintendent of the Year.
“I made a promise five and a half-years ago,” Carvalho said.
“I promised these schools would not be closed on my watch. We delivered. There’s not one ‘F’ school in the District.
“First and foremost, I’m incredibly proud of the community for giving these students what they deserve. It’s a dream long in the making.
Indeed, it has been long in the making of academic success at Miami Northwestern, one of five inner city schools that were problematic under-achievers in the eyes of the Florida State Department of Education. That success has also translated in the growth and performance of the school’s band that was musically joined in the parade by Allapattah Middle School and Charles Drew Middle Bands.
But for a lack of instruments and money to purchase instruments, the Bulls marching band would exceed its current number of 97 musicians, according to Band Director Chad Morton.
“The kids have been phenomenal. They bought into a culture of success. The kids are amazing. We’ve made learning interesting. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be here,” said Aristide.