Christopher Columbus High School (Miami-Dade County)

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Coordinates: 25°44′30″N 80°20′19″W / 25.74164°N 80.338621°W / 25.74164; -80.338621

Christopher Columbus High School

, ,

TypePrivate, All-Boys
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic, Marist Brothers
Patron saint(s)St. Marcellin Champagnat
StatusActive and progressing since 1958
PresidentTom Kruczek
PrincipalDavid Pugh
Enrollment1,700 (2018)
LanguageEnglish, French, Spanish
Hours in school day8
Campus size19 acre
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Navy Blue & White         
Athletics conference8A
RivalBelen Jesuit Preparatory School
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools
PublicationCCNN Live
NewspaperThe Log
Sister schoolOur Lady of Lourdes Academy
AliasCCHS or Columbus

Christopher Columbus High School is a private, Roman Catholic, college-preparatory high school, conducted by the Marist Brothers in the Westchester census-designated place of Miami Dade County, Florida.[1] It was established in 1958 and was taken over by the Marist Brothers in 1959. It has over 100 teachers, administrators, faculty, staff, and an enrollment of 1,700 students. It was selected, for the fourth time in a row, as one of the "Top 50 Catholic High Schools" in the United States by the Catholic High School Honor Roll in 2008.


In 1958, Christopher Columbus High School was built in an area that was then surrounded by Everglades swampland. The school was established by the Diocese of Miami at the request of the Archbishop of Miami Coleman F. Carroll to continue the secondary education program at St. Theresa Catholic School in Coral Gables.

The school opened with two and a half buildings and an enrollment of approximately 150 students. The Marist Brothers assumed the direction of the school in 1959. Presently the Columbus campus extends over 24 acres. In addition to the four major academic buildings, there is the Abraham Science Building, the Lawrence-Bell Media Center, the Howard Korth Music, and Athletic Center and the Mas Technology Complex. Athletic facilities include varsity athletic fields, a baseball complex, outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, a gymnasium, track, and weight room.

In May of 2018, Columbus High School made national headlines after controversy centered around the display of a live caged tiger during the school's "jungle-themed" prom. Videos and images captured the tiger pacing in a metal enclosure. The school's principal David Pugh expressed regret for the school administration decision to allow the use of animal entertainment, stating that it did not reflect the school's Catholic values.[2]

Today, Columbus has an enrollment of approximately 1,700 students and over 15,000 alumni.

Columbus' rival school is the only other all-male, Roman Catholic school in Miami-Dade County, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. The two schools' rivalry is often limited to athletics[3] (though Columbus competes on the more competitive level across all sports), the rivalry often extends beyond sports and into local politics and culture.[4][5]


These are some of the accomplishments Columbus has had:[citation needed]

  • 1958: Columbus opens with 2 ½ buildings with an enrollment of 139 students.
  • 1959: The Marist Brothers assumed the direction of the school under the leadership of Br. Benedict Henry.
  • 1961: The CCHS gym made history as its pre-cast beams were the largest ever constructed in South Florida.
  • 1965: The Brothers’ residence opens.
  • 1978: 1st computer course is introduced.
  • 1981: Campus Ministry implemented Encounter, Kerygma, and Emmaus Retreats to enrich Explorer spirituality.
  • 1983: The Anthony Abraham Science Building opens offering 6 labs.
  • 1988: The Genevieve Abraham Chapel opens.
  • 1988: The 1st Columbus Open House is held.
  • 1989: Senator Bob Graham praises and congratulates C.C.H.S. for its 30th Anniversary at the U.S. Senate Chamber.
  • 1998: The Lawrence–Bell Media Center opens.
  • 2004: Baseball Complex is completed and varsity baseball wins the state championships.
  • 2004: CCHS is named one of top 50 Catholic High Schools in the U.S, 2004. No other Catholic high school in Miami-Dade was selected. The school will go on to consistently receive this distinction.
  • 2008: The Mas Technology Complex is completed in September 2008.
  • 2013: Congressman Joe Garcia honors CCHS by presenting a Congressional Records Statement that honors the school for 55 years of service to the community. In the Statement Congressman Garcia says "It is only fitting that Columbus' motto be Adelante, for this school has certainly been moving South Florida and America forward for over half a century".
  • 2013: Columbus launches a one-to-one, iPad-based learning ecosystem; all students and faculty begin to utilize iPads in the classroom.
  • 2013: Columbus opens a 4 million dollar Fitness Complex and Wellness Center.
  • 2015: Columbus wins the baseball state championship.
  • 2018: Columbus wins first track and field state championship in school history.

Catholic and Marist identity[edit]

The school chapel

As a Catholic and Marist institution, students are offered the opportunity to attend confessions and Mass as well as various Catholic retreats. Catholic religious education is part of the everyday curriculum, but students are also exposed to the various world religions in their traditional history classes. Mass is celebrated Monday through Friday in the Genevieve Abraham Chapel at 7:30 in the morning. Columbus is one of fourteen schools in the United States the Marist Brothers minister and one of the seven that they run. In addition, it is one of the U.S. Marist schools with the greatest number of working Brothers.[citation needed]

Admission and academics[edit]

As a Catholic and Marist institution, the school does not discriminate on the basis of race or religion in its admissions process. The school is funded by tuition with significant discounts offered for 2nd and 3rd children enrolled in the school. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

Columbus is an Elite Smart Showcase School and a participating school in the Catholic High School Honor Roll for 2012-2013.

In order to graduate, students require twenty-four credits and a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0. They must also complete one hundred hours of community service by the end of their senior year. The academics at Columbus are based on a phasing system: Phase 2 classes are for the academically challenged who require more time to absorb a given subject, Phase 3 classes are for average students, Phase 4 refers to honors classes for the academically gifted, and Phase 5 refers to Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which have a college-level format and where academically motivated students have the opportunity to gain college credit should they earn the proper score on the AP exam. Depending on a given phase of a class, a student will earn a certain number of points, which are then weighted and averaged to generate a student's GPA, the average GPA being a 3.2.

Outside of Columbus HS cafeteria.

Columbus has more students taking AP classes than any other Catholic school in Miami-Dade County[citation needed] and their passing averages on AP exams are five times higher than the state and national averages.

Curriculum design[edit]

Dual-enrollment classes are offered through St Thomas University, Barry University and Florida International University.

Mas Family Scholars Program[edit]

Started in the 2005-2006 school year, the Mas Family Scholars Program is an accelerated program at Christopher Columbus High School. The program was started by the Mas Family, who founded MasTec, Inc., a telecommunications company.[citation needed] In addition to having an advanced curriculum, the students in the program participate in extracurricular activities. Mas Scholars are encouraged to participate in sports and to encompass the ideal of the student athlete. Mas Scholars[6]

The program is a continuing collaborative effort between Columbus and the Mas Family. Brothers Jorge Mas, Juan Carlos Mas, and Jose Mas, sons of the late Jorge Mas Canosa, founder of MasTec, Inc. and The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), are all Columbus graduates.

Program requirements[citation needed]:

  • Top 10% score in the Columbus Entrance Exam
  • Recommendation from junior high school principal
  • Completion of enrichment courses during the summer
  • A minimum of four Honors/AP/Dual Enrollment courses during junior year and five during senior year
  • B+ or higher cumulative GPA.
  • Involvement in minimally 1 extracurricular activity per year
  • Attendance at a minimum of two enrichment activities during the year
  • Service to the community

Program benefits[citation needed]:

  • Students are ensured to complete a minimum of 30 college credits prior to graduation
  • Periodic enrichment activities - Personal guidance and academic counseling
  • Periodic status meetings with program director to ensure successful completion of courses
  • College counseling and organized visits to universities
  • Gateway to College
  • Columbus College and Career Counselors will arrange periodic meetings with parents and students to explore college and career opportunities
  • Preparation for PSAT/SAT examinations
  • SAT 2 examinations upon completion of AP or Honors courses
  • Induction into Honor Societies
  • Ivy League college tours include: Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Brown University, Columbia University, Princeton University, and University of Pennsylvania.
  • Field trips: Past Mas Scholar field trips have included visits to the Everglades National Park, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, operas, theatre, museums, Hispanic Heritage Lectures, and art and music lectures.

Students and faculty[edit]

The students are 84% Hispanic, 13% White, 2% African-American, and 1% combination of Asian/Pacific, Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaskan. The student-teacher ratio at Christopher Columbus High School is about 15:1. The professional staff includes 17 Marist Brothers, 100 laypersons; 2 librarians/media specialists and 9 counselors/advisors; 45% hold an advanced degree; 60% have over 20 years of teaching experience, and half have been with the school well over 15 years. Many Marist Brothers hold positions at Columbus including president, guidance counselors, career and college advisors, and teachers.

Clubs and social life[edit]

Although the school is an all-boy institution, the social formation of the students includes girls from neighboring co-ed St. Brendan High School in after-school clubs. Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, the Catholic all-girls sister school to Columbus,[citation needed] handles the cheerleading for the Columbus sports teams. Christopher Columbus High School also plays host to both Homecoming and Prom events each year for their students and their dates.

Columbus is home to one of the best broadcast journalism programs in the country (CCNN Live). They have been three times Student Television Network National Crazy 8 champions. They have also been recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association, Florida Scholastic Press Association, and National Federation of High School (NFHS). They have won 29 Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Student Production Awards (Emmys) and 5 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences National Awards.[citation needed]


The tennis courts are adjacent to the gymnasium building, at left.
The football field is surrounded by the track and stadium seating.

Athletics are an integral part of the school's educational program. Students are encouraged to win and excel, but the principles of self-discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship are the underlying goals of the program.

A member of the Florida High School Activities Association and the Greater Miami Athletic Conference, Columbus is the only private school in the state of Florida to compete at the 8A level, which means that our students play in the most competitive leagues and have the greatest amount of exposure to college scouts.

At Columbus, students also compete in non GMAC clubs such as: Roller Hockey, Fishing, Scuba Diving, and Personal Fitness. Intramural programs in football, dodgeball, ping pong, and basketball provide friendly competition and fun among class year levels after school.

Varsity level sports offered are: baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, hockey, soccer, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, swimming, diving, tennis, track and field, water polo and wrestling.

Junior varsity level sports include: baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, hockey, soccer, wrestling and lacrosse. Freshman level sports offered are: baseball, basketball, football and volleyball.

In 2009, Christopher Columbus High School won the Dodge Sunshine Cup All-Sports Award for boys' athletics programs in Class 6A.[7] Columbus has produced six state champion and eleven runner-up teams:

Sport State Champion Runner-Up
Baseball 2003, 2015[8] 1973,[8] 2009[9]
Football 1980, 1982,[10] 2014[11]2018
Cross country 1997, 2008,[12] 2009,[13] 2010 1962, 1995, 2005, 2011[12]
Tennis 1987[14]
Track and field 2018 2009, 2010[15]
Water Polo 2010[16]
Soccer 2014[17]

Additionally, Columbus won the Miami Herald's All-Dade Boys' Major Sports Award in 2008[18] and 2009.[19]

Head football coach Chris Merritt was part of Team USA's coaching staff for the inaugural International Federation of American Football Junior World Championship in 2009.[20] One player from Columbus competed on the team,[21] which won the tournament.[22]

Christopher Columbus' baseball program was ranked the number one baseball team in America during the 2009-2010 year.[23] Currently, Columbus competes at the 8A division.


Columbus High School construction of Mas Technology Complex

The school has technology throughout all 8 academic buildings, including campus-wide Wi-Fi, Smart Boards and LCD projectors in all classrooms, fully -equipped science labs, a media center, and a technology complex with a digital based library, computer labs, and a media production studio

There are four main academic buildings that have a media center that contains a technical resource center, an auditorium, a TV news studio, a chemistry laboratory, a concession stand, and several offices. The science building contains a physics and chemistry lab. The school also has several computer labs, gymnasium, a tennis complex, a baseball complex, a weight room, football field, and a concrete track which is used as a parking lot.

In 2008, Christopher Columbus High School opened the three-story "Mas Technology Complex", which contains administrative offices, a conference room, computer labs, a large library, a production studio, a recording room, and a school clothing store.[24]

Notable alumni[edit]





  1. ^ "2010 Block Census Map Westchester, Florida" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on April 30, 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Columbus continues dominance of Belen with 13th win in a row". miamiherald. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  4. ^ "Miami federal judge unimpressed by Belen-Columbus political rivalry | Naked Politics". Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  5. ^ "Belen-Columbus high school football game tailgates draw Miami-Dade's Cuban-American power brokers". miamiherald. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  6. ^ "Christopher Columbus High School Mas Family Scholars Program" (PDF). Adelante: The Christopher Columbus Alumni Newsletter. Spring 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-04-09.
  7. ^ "St. Thomas Aquinas, Bolles sweep Dodge Sunshine Cup all-sports awards" (Press release). FHSAA. June 24, 2009. Archived from the original on March 9, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Baseball 2008–09 Championship Records (PDF). FHSAA. 2009. p. 32. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-27.| year=2012
  9. ^ "2009 FHSAA Class 6A Baseball Championship". FHSAA. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  10. ^ "FHSAA Football Championship Records 2009-2010, page 3" (PDF). FHSAA. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 21, 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  11. ^ "2014 FHSAA Class 8A Football Championship" (PDF). Florida High School Athletic Association. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  12. ^ a b Boys Cross Country 2009–10 Championship Records (PDF). FHSAA. 2009. pp. 11–15. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-18.
  13. ^ "FHSAA Florida Finals XC Championships - 11/21/2009". FHSAA. November 21, 2009. Archived from the original on June 13, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  14. ^ Boys Tennis 2007–08 Championship Records (PDF). FHSAA. 2008. p. 3.
  15. ^ "FHSAA Class 4A, Florida Finals - 5/9/2009". FHSAA. May 9, 2009. Archived from the original on March 9, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  16. ^ "2010 FHSAA Boys Water Polo Finals - May 1, 2010". FHSAA. May 1, 2010.
  17. ^ "FHSAA Records Book" (PDF).
  18. ^ "Miami Herald Honors Br. Kevin" (PDF). Family Newsletter. Christopher Columbus High School. June 2008. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 8, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  19. ^ Fernandez, Andre C. (May 29, 2009). "2008-09 All-Dade Awards winners list". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  20. ^ "United States: Coaches". Jr. World Championship of American Football. USA Football. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  21. ^ "United States: Roster". Jr. World Championship of American Football. USA Football. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  22. ^ Beaven, Michael (July 14, 2009). "Team USA Crowned Inaugural IFAF Junior World Champion". Jr. World Championship of American Football. USA Football. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  23. ^ "High School Top 25: March 16; Miami's Columbus High takes over at No. 1". Baseball America. March 16, 2010.
  24. ^ "Mas Technology Complex" (PDF). Adelante: The Christopher Columbus Alumni Newsletter. Fall 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-04-09.
  25. ^ "'One Today': Richard Blanco's Inaugural Poem". ABC News. 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  26. ^ "Justice Raoul G. Cantero III visits Columbus - The Log". The Log. 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  27. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation". Retrieved 2015-12-24.
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  33. ^ "Mike Whittington Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards". Archived from the original on 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2010-03-11.