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Suncoast Community High School

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Suncoast Community High School
1717 Avenue S
Riviera Beach, Florida, Palm Beach 33404
United States Of America
Coordinates 26°27′05″N 80°03′43″W / 26.4515°N 80.0620°W / 26.4515; -80.0620Coordinates: 26°27′05″N 80°03′43″W / 26.4515°N 80.0620°W / 26.4515; -80.0620
Funding type Public
Motto We are the World[3]
Established 1955
School district Palm Beach County School District
Principal Karen Whetsell
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1,562 (2016-17)[1]
Color(s) Green and Gold          
Athletics Baseball, Softball, Football, Volleyball, Track and Field, Swimming [2]
Mascot Chargers
Team name Chargers
Publication Syzygy, literary magazine
Newspaper The Legend
Yearbook Renaissance
Communities served Palm Beach County Magnet School
Band The Chargersonic Sound
Founded as Riviera Beach High School

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Florida Department of Education
International Baccalaureate
National Association for College Admission Counseling

Blue Ribbon Schools Program

Suncoast Community High School is a public magnet high school (grades 9-12) in Riviera Beach, Florida. The school's campus was built in 1955 as Riviera Beach High School. It was desegregated in the 1960s and renamed in 1970. It became a magnet school in 1989 and has selective admissions.

Students at Suncoast belong to one or more of the school's four magnet programs: Math, Science, and Engineering (MSE), Computer Science (CS), International Baccalaureate (IB), or the Innovative Interactive Technology Program (IIT). The school's teams compete as the Chargers.


The school's campus was built in 1955 as Riviera Beach High School. During the 1950s and 1960s, Riviera Beach High School was known for both its academics and its athletics.[citation needed] The Riviera Beach High Hornets were particularly strong in men's basketball, with games against rival Palm Beach High School routinely drawing packed crowds.[citation needed]

Conversion to a magnet school[edit]

In 1989 Suncoast, along with Atlantic High in Delray Beach and S.D. Spady Elementary School, became a magnet school. The institution of magnet programs was originally opposed by several black organizations and some teachers' unions.[4][5] The principal at the time was Kay Carnes, who remained Suncoast's principal for 15 years before stepping down at the end of the 2004 school year.[citation needed]

Suncoast students and prospective students were required to apply in late spring, and minimum GPA and new dress code were adopted.[6][7]

About 150 former Suncoast students left the school this year and moved to either Palm Beach Gardens or Jupiter High School (which the previous school year had enrollments of more than 2000 compared with Suncoast's 666). About 350 Suncoast students stayed.[5]

The introduction of the IB program greatly improved racial balance at the school; in this year of the introduction of the magnet program 71 percent of Suncoast's students were black (despite improving its racial balance by 19.3 percent that year).[8]

Suncoast was the target of an investigation beginning June 2, 1987 by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The investigation began after parents complained in a letter-writing campaign to state and federal officials that the School Board and then-Superintendent Tom Mills allegedly allowed Suncoast and John F. Kennedy Junior High to become segregated black schools, allowing enrollment to decline and facilities to become run down.[9] Two years earlier Mills had proposed busing white students from southern Jupiter to integrate Suncoast, but Jupiter parents opposed the plan and it was dropped.[10]

New Campus[edit]

Starting in fall of the 2010-11 academic year, Suncoast Community High School moved to a new campus located at 1717 Avenue S. The campus cost the school district 80 million dollars.[11] The new campus consists of five main buildings: the office, the gym, the cafeteria, the auditorium, and the main student building; an open court; as well as a new football field. The main building is three stories high.[citation needed]


Students apply to Suncoast via the Palm Beach County School District's Magnet and Choice School Application Form. Applicants apply for a specific program or programs and are admitted into the school by a selective lottery after the top 10 percent of applicants (based upon Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores, teacher recommendations, and grades) are admitted. Additionally, students who complete the IB Middle Years Programme at an area middle school, such as John F. Kennedy Middle School, are automatically admitted.


Math, Science & Engineering program[edit]

The Math, Science and Engineering Program (MSE) concentrates on mathematics, science (particularly physics), and engineering. Suncoast MSE and MSE/IB dual-enrolled sophomores take AP Physics 1 & 2, as well as AP Calculus AB. MSE and MSE/IB juniors take AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, as well as an Engineering Research class, and Calculus II/III (half a year of what otherwise would be called "Calculus BC" and half a year of Multivariable Calculus). As seniors, both MSE and MSE/IB students take Differential Equations I for one semester, then a semester of Differential Equations II, taught through the same dual-enrollment program.

Students in only the MSE Program take AP Chemistry or AP Biology, those in MSE/IB take IB Higher-Level Physics (Physics III), as well as a semester of further engineering research. All MSE Students are required to do a science fair project (many have been selected to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair), and take two engineering classes at Florida Atlantic University's Engineering Scholars' Program, a Florida Governor's Summer Program of Excellence.[12]

International Baccalaureate Program[edit]

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program was adopted for junior and senior years. Students can take "MYP" (Middle Years Programme) classes in their freshman and sophomore years. Foreign language is an IB requirement; Many students dual-enroll with Palm Beach Community College or Florida Atlantic University through the Palm Beach County School District's Dual-Enrollment Program. Despite their program, all students participate in MYP classes, giving them the option of switching into IB classes their last two years of high school.[13]

Computer Science program[edit]

The Computer Science (CS) Program is a four-year course of study designed to meet the needs students who wish to specialize in the area of computer science and engineering. The program requires that students be successful in medium-level math and science courses, as well as, the required computer science courses that make up the core of the curriculum. Core computer science courses include study in the areas of: computer software and hardware engineering, computer graphics, classic computer science algorithms, artificial intelligence/neural networks, current research and ethical/social issues of computer science. These skills will be learned using programming languages such as Java. Successful completion of honors level Geometry and Algebra I is required prior to admission to the CS program in grade nine.

Courses required to complete the CS curriculum include: Algebra II Honors, Pre-calculus, Calculus I and Dual Enrollment advanced mathematics: Discrete Mathematics/Graph Theory, Programming II (C++), IB Computer Studies (Java), AP Computer Science (Java), Advanced Topics in Computer Science, Introduction to Computer Engineering (Digital Design) and Ethics and Technology. Advanced Topics in Computer Science: includes a large scale independent programming and research project that is a requirement for completion of the CS program. This project is presented to, and judged by, a panel made up of members of local industry, business, and educators.[14]

Innovative Interactive Technology Program[edit]

The new career focus of the Innovative Interactive Technology Program (IIT) is designed to feature three technology based pathways in areas of technology that are highly sought after in industry: Game, Simulation and Animation Programming, Commercial Digital Photography, and Drafting and Design Technology. Each of these pathways is designed to offer students a marketable skill set and a rigorous academic curriculum that is shared across all three pathways. Graduates from this program can choose to enter industry directly from high school or continue their studies at the college level.

Shared Academics for Each Program[edit]

While each Suncoast program have their own special focuses, some programs share the same focus is several areas. Each program offers their students to choose between MYP/Honors and AP social studies classes. Advanced Computer Science students (advanced in mathematics) share an almost-identical math lineup with the Math Science and Engineering program's students. All students take MYP English I and AP English Language and Composition for their English areas. CS, MSE, and IIT students also have an option to take college-level British Literature Before/After 1800, offered by Palm Beach State College. Lastly, anyone who was accepted outside of the IB program has an option to add it to their diploma.[12]

National performance and recognition[edit]

U.S. News looked at the top 500 public high schools to identify the best in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.[15][16]

Suncoast moved to seventh from ninth on the 2011 High School Challenge rankings of American high schools. The national list, which has been compiled by education columnist Jay Mathews since 1998, takes the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divides it by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. The Challenge Index formula is meant to serve not as a measure of the overall quality of a school, but of how effectively a school prepares its students for college, according to The Washington Post website.[17][18]

The College Board named Suncoast the "Exemplary AP Comparative Government and Politics" program among schools with 1000 students or more, with the world's largest percentage of mastery (passing) scores for that AP exam in 2005.[19]

U.S. News & World Report ranked Suncoast as number 51 in its 2007 list of "America's Best High Schools," with a "College Readiness" score of 70.9 and "Quality-adjusted Exams per Test Taker" at 3.2.[20] The U.S. News rankings were determined first by determined whether each school's students performed better than statistically expected for the average student in their state (on reading and math test results for all students on state standardized tests), and then factoring in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled at the school to determine which schools performed better than statistically expected.[citation needed]

After this, the performance of black, Hispanic, and low-income students was analyzed to determine whether these groups were performing better than average for similar students in the state. The third step was a "college readiness index" that weighted the Advanced Placement (AP) participation rate: "the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders) along with how well the students did on those AP tests or quality-adjusted AP participation (the number of 12th-grade students who took and passed (received an AP score of 3 or higher) at least one AP test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders at that school). Quality-adjusted AP participation rates was weighted 75 percent and the simple AP participation rate was weighted 25 percent. Notably, however, 11 states and the District of Columbia were excluded from the rankings because of unavailable or insufficient 2005-2006 school-year state test data, [21] and IB tests were not included.[22]

Year Ranking Index Subs. Lunch* E&E*
2010 #9 9.431 15 87.1
2009 #7 9.113 15 87
2008 #3 10.387 15 85
2007 #5 8.395 17 77
2006 #7 7.532 37 --

"Subs. Lunch" is the percentage of students who qualify for federally-subsidized free or reduced lunch, an indicator of low-income students at the school.[23]

"E&E" is the "Equity and Excellence", the Newsweek name for the percentage of all graduating seniors, who had at least one score of 3 or above on at least one AP test sometime in high school (including those who took an AP test but not an AP course).[23]

In 2013, The Daily Beast released its list of America's best public high schools and ranked Suncoast 9th in the country.[24]

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Suncoast's National Physics Competition, Computer Programming Team,[25] Speech and Debate, Academic Games,[26] FIRST Robotics Competition, Mu Alpha Theta, Academic WorldQuest,[27][28] and Future Business Leaders of America teams have won competitions at state and national levels.


The Suncoast marching band, the "Chargersonic Sound," performed at the 2007 New Year's Day Parade in London.[29] The band also performed in Paris on New Year's Day 2008. Currently, students may participate in the Suncoast Concert Chorus, Women's Chorus or the elite a cappella group, The Suncoast Voices. Under the direction of Stephanie Nixdorf, the Choral and Theatre programs have grown to include hundreds of students participating in fully staged musicals and singing events throughout the year.

In 2012-13, the choruses received superior marks at their Music Performance Assessments and the Theater Department was awarded five Cappies at the South Florida Cappies Gala. The Cappies is a theatre critic training program that features an awards gala at the end of the year.[citation needed]


Suncoast is a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), and currently competes in the 2-A division. Varsity sports include Competitive Cheerleading, basketball, baseball, football, tennis, soccer, softball, bowling, volleyball, golf, lacrosse, cross-country, track, water polo, wrestling, and swimming.


In 1981, the football team reached the state finals, but lost to Palatka 42-2. The football team was the district champion in 1984, 2002, and 2015. Devin Hester, a famous NFL kick returner, played for the Suncoast Chargers.


In the 1980s and 1990s Suncoast was frequently regarded as a state basketball perennial power. The boys' basketball team won state championships in 1984, 1985, and 1990.


The boys' cross-country team qualified for the state meet in 1995, and then for five consecutive years from 1998-2002. Then again in 2014. The girls' team won the county meet in 2015.

Track and Field[edit]

The girls' track team won their first state championship in 1995. They were also state champions for four years in a row from 1999-2002.[30] The boys' track team was state runner-up in 2001.[31]


In 1997, the boys' Varsity volleyball team won the Palm Beach County Championship. In 2006, the girls' Varsity volleyball team won the State 4A Championship. In 2014 and 2015, the boys' Varsity volleyball team were the district runner-ups. In 2016, the boy's Varsity volleyball team won the district championship and regional championship but lost in the semi-finals of the state tournament.


In 2002 and 2003, the boys varsity swimming team won the Palm Beach County Championship.[32] Also, in 2002 the boys and girls varsity swimming teams won the district championship.[33] The Suncoast varsity girls swimming team in 2014 won the district championship and placed second at the regional and state championships.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "FHSAA Student Population Report" (PDF). 
  2. ^ "Suncoast High School: ATHLETICS: Home Page". Retrieved 2016-11-12. 
  3. ^ "Suncoast High School: ABOUT US". Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  4. ^ Gienger, Viola. "Choice debate buzzes into county schools", Palm Beach Post, August 28, 1989.
  5. ^ a b Mailander, Jodi. "Magnet school test: Segregation or its solution?" Palm Beach Post, August 27, 1989.
  6. ^ Tolley, Scott. "Chargers bask in surprising success." Palm Beach Post, October 5, 1989.
  7. ^ Schaefer, Maria. "Suncoast off to good start in magnet school program." Palm Beach Post, October 4, 1989.
  8. ^ Mailander, Jodi. "69% of county schools mostly segregated", Palm Beach Post, December 5, 1989.
  9. ^ Gienger, Viola. "U.S. agency finds bias in schools; Investigation prompted by Suncoast complaints", Palm Beach Post, November 14, 1989.
  10. ^ Horine, Don. "School board jumbles busing puzzle", "Palm Beach Post, November 6, 1989.
  11. ^ Thompson, Kevin (June 3, 2010). "Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach closes the books on a storied past as it prepares move to a new campus". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved October 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Suncoast High School 4 Year Plan" (PDF). Suncoast High School. Suncoast High School. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Suncoast 4 Year Plan" (PDF). Suncoast High School. Suncoast High School. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 
  14. ^ Suncoast High School Home Page, (2012-11-26); retrieved October 5, 2013.
  15. ^ "Best High Schools in the US - Top US High Schools - US News & World Report". 8 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Search Florida High Schools - US News". 8 May 2012. 
  17. ^ Mathews, Jay (2011). "High School Challenge rankings". The Washington Post. 
  18. ^ Boca, Suncoast highs improve in national rankings, Dreyfoos drops, (2011-05-24); retrieved 2013-10-05.
  19. ^ "Advanced Placement Report to the Nation 2005", College Board. 2005,; accessed November 11, 2016.
  20. ^ "Best High Schools: Gold Medal Schools", U.S. News & World Report, November 30, 2007.
  21. ^ "The Ranking Formula: How we got from 18,790 public schools to the top 100", U.S. News & World Report, November 29, 2007.
  22. ^ "Best High Schools: Frequently Asked Questions", U.S. News & World Report, December 12, 2007.
  23. ^ a b Mathews, Jay. "FAQ: Best High Schools: Frequently asked questions about Newsweek's top U.S. high-schools list", Newsweek, May 18, 2008.
  24. ^ 2013 America's Best High Schools - per Newsweek, (1951-08-02); October 5, 2013.
  25. ^ "Past Winners (HSPT) - UCF High School Programing Tournament". Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  26. ^ "Local students score big in national Academic Games." Palm Beach Post 27 June 1999.
  27. ^ McBroom, Katie. "Suncoast students win Academic WorldQuest", Palm Beach Post, March 6, 2005.
  28. ^ McBroom, Katie. "Suncoast vs. the world." In "Lakes tops schools in money raised for MDA benefit", Palm Beach Post, May 8, 2005.
  29. ^ Jefferson, Stebbins. "Help Suncoast band march proudly", Palm Beach Post, November 11, 2006.
  30. ^ "Girls Track & Field 2014-15 Championship Records" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-12. 
  31. ^ "Boys Track & Field 2014-15 Championship Records" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-12. 
  32. ^ Suncoast Wins Again - Sun Sentinel. (2003-10-05); retrieved October 5, 2013.
  33. ^ Suncoast Boys', Girls' Teams Win District Titles - Sun Sentinel. (2002-11-16); retrieved October 5, 2013.

External links[edit]