Thursday, September 13, 2018
Cristina Cabrera Jarro
MIAMI GARDENS| As a freshman, it is nerve-wrecking enough to navigate around a new school where everything from the campus to the teachers and students are unfamiliar. Imagine having to do so again as a sophomore, junior or senior?
This is what junior Christie Corolian, seniors Saskia Magloure and Justane Pierre, and alumnus Tajmara Antoine, along with 89 other peers from Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High, faced as the new kids at Msgr. Edward Pace High School last fall.
“It was kind of weird seeing a whole bunch of new faces and a lot more people,” said Justane. “It was just a whole different atmosphere than Curley was.”
After Curley-Notre Dame closed in 2017, students had the options of attending public or charter schools or continuing their Catholic education at Pace, the archdiocesan-designated merger school. Most students chose Pace as their new home.
But starting over is never easy.
“My first day, I was not excited,” said Saskia. “I did not want to be here, I had a bad attitude, and I got lost.”
Tajmara agreed. “I had told myself that I wasn’t going to like anything. My first week I also got a warning and a demerit for tardiness. It was hard to navigate around a new campus with enough time.”
It proved to be especially stressful for Tajmara because not only was she adjusting to a new school as a senior, she also had to start college applications, prep for college entrance exams, and maintain a GPA under a different system than the one used at Curley-Notre Dame. She said she often felt that after graduation she would be forgotten, having left no mark for anyone to remember her one year at Pace. Looking back, she couldn’t believe how wrong she was.
“I really didn’t expect that I was going to actually like the school like I did. This is a big school, so I wasn’t expecting to get to know the teachers so well, but that was the opposite, especially with teachers like Dr. (David) Masters and Mrs. (Yvette) De La Vega. I really think the teachers give you a strong support system,” said Tajmara.
Christie, who struggled with certain subjects, found that Pace’s teachers, as well as study hall after school, were a “good advantage to help.”
“I don’t like math, but Mr. (Courtney) Bloom makes me like math,” said Christie. “He’s a good teacher.”
While Christie improved academically, she also had the opportunity to reconnect with some friends from St. Mary’s Cathedral School who chose Pace as their high school instead of Curley-Notre Dame. “I’ve known some of them since kindergarten,” she said.
As the rest of the year played out, Christie, Saskia, Justane and Tajmara admit that they enjoyed themselves and truly made Pace their own.
“This is proof that schools can get together and transition and work out okay,” said Saskia.
In Pace’s memorabilia room, some remodeling is under way to make room for Curley-Notre Dame’s own memorabilia, which Principal Doug Romanik passed on to Pace’s Principal Ana Garcia. There are decades of yearbooks, photos, plaques, crests, jerseys and more, along with two life-size knights, which have become a popular selfie attraction with Pace students.
“I’m thinking about getting a Spartan to put side by side with the Knight,” said Garcia, who has welcomed Curley-Notre Dame students and the school’s traditions, such as Hunger Fest, with gratitude. “We are honored to continue the legacy.” (See accompanying story)
In May, Pace graduated its first class of Curley-Notre Dame students, with Tajmara and three other Knights graduating with a 4.8 GPA or higher, the equivalent of the top 10 percent of their class. All are college bound.
The remaining Knights are looking for ways to leave their mark as Spartans.
“I’m looking forward to being more involved,” said Saskia, who will be a senior this school year. “I want to be on top of my game and make sure I get everything right. I can’t wait to see where all of my hard work is going to. And I can’t wait for graduation. I feel like I’m going to be emotional because in those four years, a lot of things have happened.”