MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former students and city leaders gathered at Miami High School Friday to see it in its new glory.

Miami’s first high school just underwent a $55 million renovation.

It’s the first time the public will see the school after years of construction. Four years ago, the school was in severe disrepair. The school district even used Miami Senior High as an example of why it needs approval of bonds a few years ago.

Today, visitors will see a restored exterior.

“They have brought back the initial facade, which is amazing,” said Paul George a Miami Historian. “They’d lost that for about 40 years because of air conditioning and other renovations.”

Its auditorium has been restored to its former glory.

Fred Darwick was a graduate of the 1952 class and remembers the auditorium back in his day.

“All the guys who were going steady with girls, they would go sit in there before school so that they could sit and visit,” said Darwick.

The school has two new wings on either side of the original building. The transformation has also been a technological one. The school is completely wireless and has new computer labs.

The school has its place in the life and history of Miami, says Miami historian Paul George.

“Earlier in Miami, this is where everybody went,” said George. “This was the first high school.  It really births the great athletics traditions of Miami.”

George adds that the basis of many Miami teams started at the school.

“In a later era, it’s where many Cubans came,” said George.  “They went to school here, and they learned English here and they became American, at least Cuban-American.”

Thousands of adults have also walked the halls at night to learn English or study for their citizenship test.

The principal of the high school, Benny Valdes, says he hopes the school will serve the community in the future, just as it has in the past.

“There’s hope that what was done here will be done in other schools throughout the district,” said Valdes. “It’s very important for education here.”


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