Terra Environmental Research Inst. preparing to hold first graduation

Terra Environmental Research Inst. preparing to hold first graduation

Brenda Abreu Molnaris president of Terra EnvironmentalResearch Institute Senior Class.

June 7 will be a special day at Kendall’s Terra “Green School.”

That’s the affectionate nickname for Terra Environmental Research Institute, first Goldcertified Science Magnet High School in the U.S. under the Energy and Environmental Design program.

“Four years ago, the parents, students, teachers and staff, pioneered a vision for innovative educational excellence,” said principal Caridad (Carrie) Montano, Miami- Dade “Principal of the Year.” “Four years later, that dream became a reality.”

That’s when Miami-Dade’s first magnet high school with a specialized environmental curriculum for more than 1,800 county-wide students will see 360 seniors depart Terra on its first-ever Graduation Day.

Ms. Montano’s “reality” begins at 10 a.m. on June 7 in the Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts when grads receive the school’s inaugural diplomas, each recognizing a special excellence in one of three Terra programs: Research and Field Studies, Engineering and Robotics, and Biomedical Research.

For these science-oriented seniors, “Spirit Day” on Apr. 26 began five weeks of preparation followed by “Grad Bash” on Apr. 27 when two busloads took students on their overnight senior trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.

Next came their first Senior Prom Night themed “Bon Voyage” on May 17 at the Rusty Pelican restaurant off Rickenbacker Causeway when formal gowns and tuxes preceded June’s white gowns and mortarboard caps.

Next came the annual “Athletic Awards” on May 21, honoring outstanding athletes who aptly don green for competitions on “Wolves” sports teams, including seniors Jeremy Burstein, member of Terra’s firstever bowling team and Christian Jimenez, boys soccer veteran.

Key senior class officers planning senior activities included Brenda Abreu Molnar, class president; Zachary Munoz, vice president; Ben Troen, secretary, and Julian Gonzalez, treasurer, with activities director Karen Menendez, EdS, and Daniel Ledesma, class sponsor.

Molnar, the top class scholar, is a Miami Herald Silver Knight Award nominee in General Scholarship, achieving a 6.167 (weighted GPA) who will choose among full tuition scholarships offered by Duke, Vanderbilt and Emory Universities.

Also cited for community service and scholarship was classmate Jorge Perdomo who has been accepted at Stanford and Georgia Tech, after his Eagle Scout work founded a Monkey Education and Environmental Protection outreach program. It’s now a permanent exhibit at southwest Miami-Dade’s Monkey Jungle to expose global conservation needs to elementary students.

Gabriel Uribe, an early admission student at Miami-Dade College, specialized in research at FIU during 2011-12, totaling more than 500 hours, as well as helping raise $20,000 as a sophomore in the 2010 Haunted Forest program that helps needy Scouts go to summer camps.

Franchesca de la Torre, Silver Knight nominee in Athletics, reigned as GMAC Female Golf Champion in 2010 and 2012, and was named First Team All-Dade member (2012 and 2013). She hopes to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business as a Posse Scholarship semi-finalist.

Singled out for her “driven spirit and infectious positive energy” by Menendez was Catherine Gonzalez who “came back to Terra to finish her senior year with the rest of her peers” following an 18-month battle with cancer.

Seniors have been awarded prestigious scholarships, such as Posse, Quest Bridge, Coca Cola, and internships with FIU medical researchers and professors, Menendez noted. They include every Ivy League school as well as MIT, Georgia Tech and all Florida universities and “top tier” private schools.

“Terra has the largest number of dual enrollment students in the history of Miami-Dade Public Schools.” The only number “outdoing” the Class of 360, is an even larger 393-member Class of 2014, due to graduate next year.

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