MIAMI (CBS4 ) – Miami Northwestern Senior High School is boasting a new grade and a new attitude. For the first time in its history, the Liberty City School scored a “B” on the FCAT. The grade is also a first for an inner city school in Miami Dade School District.
“We are extremely elated,” said Wallace Aristide, Northwestern’s Principal. “We’ve worked very hard. This has been a process that’s been in place here for the last four and a half years.”
It’s a stark contrast to when Aristide started working at the school five years ago. Back then he recalled not being able to get students to go to class. The school was then known mostly for its football and scandals.
“We’ve been known for what we do athletically,” he said. “But now Miami Northwestern is known for what it’s doing academically.”
It is a major overhaul that began on several levels. Forty-five percent of the schools staff is new now. Northwestern began a partnership with FIU to focus students’ attention on college life and the goal ahead. Students began taking college level courses taught by college professors and adjusted their dreams accordingly.
“I think we’ve changed the culture,” said Aristide. “When I talk about changing the culture at Miami Northwestern, when you walk around school, you’ll see students that are going to class. When they get inside the classroom, the teachers are teaching and the students are learning.”
It might sound simplistic but that in combination with tutoring seemed to have worked. Seniors Eugenie Elie and Natasha Deloatch are proof positive. The young women are bound for Ivy League colleges on full scholarships.
“I want to be an English literature major with a premed track and then hopefully I’ll go to graduate school and become a medical examiner,” said Deloatch.
Her dream is now well on the way because of the student’s persistence to stick it out through tough times. Deloatch remembers her freshman year.
“I was kinda scared because of all the rumors that they had of you know the bullying,” she said. “When I came to school it wasn’t as bad. But you could see that none of the students were motivated. You could see people skipping all the time in the hallways, the bathrooms, there wasn’t any hope.”
Elie even thought about transferring her freshman year. “You kind of feel a little defeated when you don’t have your peers with you like being supportive like in the fact that ok we’re here to get our education,” said Elie.
Today Northwestern has about half of the students it used to have because many jumped ship for fear of sinking.
“Normally we’ve had students they would come in and we’d have to try to convince the parents to allow students to stay here,” remembered Aristide. “Especially the high- performing students, they felt like this wasn’t a good school this wasn’t a place for them to go. But I think that whole perception is changed now.”