MIAMI – An unassuming building on the corner of Southwest Eighth Street and Northwest 25th Avenue in Miami's Little Havana Neighborhood sits the number one high school in all of Florida. It's called International Studies Charter High School.
The ranking was bestowed this week in the annual survey by US News and World Report.
Principal Victoriano Rodriguez can't stop beaming.
"We have been in the top rankings before but never number 1? We are ecstatic!" said Rodriguez.
The school was started in 2004 with 60 students at the Miami Science Museum. It's main mission: a multilingual education for foreign nationals and local students.
"It was founded by the three consulates, French, Italian and Spanish consulates. They decided to start a charter school to fill the need of the consulates," said Rodriguez.
Local students must pass a test and then get picked in a lottery to get in.
Now the high school has almost 400 students, and when combined with the middle school, about 700.
The student/teacher ratio is 13 to 1, and their graduation rate is over 99.99 percent.
Student Alexandra Echevarria is going to the University of Miami to be a biomedical researcher. She also studied Italian.
"It's intimidating but once you get used to it, it opens up a whole new world," said Echevarria.
Edouard Billaud moved here two years ago from France. He said the culture was different and pleasantly so.
"In France it's really strict. Here in America, the relationship between the teacher and the student is relaxed and fun, " said Billaud.
Rodriguez has been the principal since 2006. He said this recognition is so rewarding for the team he calls his family.
"If they are with us, we make sure they make it to graduation," said Rodriguez. "If they need tutoring, we give it to them. We are family oriented."
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