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Christopher Columbus High School (Miami-Dade County)

Updated: 2017-07-25T20:31Z

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

Christopher Columbus High School
3000 SW Galloway Road (87th Avenue)
Westchester, Miami, Florida, (Miami-Dade) 33165-3293
United States of America
TypePrivate, All-Boys
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic, Marist Brothers
Patron saint(s)St. Marcellin Champagnat
StatusActive and progressing since 1958
PresidentBr. Kevin Handibode, F.M.S.
PrincipalMr. David Pugh
Enrollment1,350 (2013)
LanguageEnglish, French, Spanish
Hours in school day8
Campus size19 acre
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Royal Blue & White         
Athletics conference8A
RivalBelen Jesuit Preparatory School
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools
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 1,350 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. The school, along with rival Belen Jesuit, is one of only two private schools in Florida that compete in sports at the 8A level; it has won five state championships in various sports and two all-sport title for boys' sports.


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.

Today, Columbus has an enrollment of approximately 1,350 students and over 12,700 alumni.


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.

Catholic and Marist identity

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

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 amount 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

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

Mas Family Scholars Program

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[2]

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

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, 2 priests, and 84 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, principal, guidance counselors, career and college advisors, and teachers.

Clubs and social life

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.


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

Columbus is the only private school in Florida that competes at a 8A level.

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.[3] Columbus has produced six state champion and eleven runner-up teams:

Baseball2015 2003[4]1973,[4] 2009[5]
Football1980, 1982, 2014[6]
Cross country1997, 2008,[7] 2009,[8] 20101962, 1995, 2005, 2011[7]
Track and field2009, 2010[10]
Water Polo2010[11]

Additionally, Columbus won the Miami Herald's All-Dade Boys' Major Sports Award in 2008[12] and 2009.[13]

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.[14] One player from Columbus competed on the team,[15] which won the tournament.[16]

Christopher Columbus' baseball program was ranked the number one baseball team in America during the 2009-2010 year.[17] 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.[18]

Notable alumni





  1. ^ "2010 Block Census Map Westchester, Florida" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on April 30, 2014.
  2. ^ "Christopher Columbus High School Mas Family Scholars Program" (PDF). Adelante: The Christopher Columbus Alumni Newsletter. Spring 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  3. ^ "St. Thomas Aquinas, Bolles sweep Dodge Sunshine Cup all-sports awards" (Press release). FHSAA. June 24, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Baseball 2008–09 Championship Records (PDF). FHSAA. 2009. p. 32. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-27. | year=2012
  5. ^ "2009 FHSAA Class 6A Baseball Championship". FHSAA. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ "FHSAA Football Championship Records 2009-2010, page 3" (PDF). FHSAA. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 21, 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Boys Cross Country 2009–10 Championship Records (PDF). FHSAA. 2009. pp. 11–15. 
  8. ^ "FHSAA Florida Finals XC Championships - 11/21/2009". FHSAA. November 21, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  9. ^ Boys Tennis 2007–08 Championship Records (PDF). FHSAA. 2008. p. 3. 
  10. ^ "FHSAA Class 4A, Florida Finals - 5/9/2009". FHSAA. May 9, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  11. ^ "2010 FHSAA Boys Water Polo Finals - May 1, 2010". FHSAA. May 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Miami Herald Honors Br. Kevin" (PDF). Family Newsletter. Christopher Columbus High School. June 2008. p. 3. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  13. ^ Fernandez, Andre C. (May 29, 2009). "2008-09 All-Dade Awards winners list". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ "United States: Coaches". Jr. World Championship of American Football. USA Football. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  15. ^ "United States: Roster". Jr. World Championship of American Football. USA Football. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "High School Top 25: March 16; Miami's Columbus High takes over at No. 1". Baseball America. March 16, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Mas Technology Complex" (PDF). Adelante: The Christopher Columbus Alumni Newsletter. Fall 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  19. ^ "'One Today': Richard Blanco's Inaugural Poem". ABC News. 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2015-12-24. 
  20. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation". Retrieved 2015-12-24. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Augie Diaz Sailing". Retrieved 2015-12-24.  External link in |website= (help)
  23. ^ Royals make coaching changes
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Could Miami Hurricanes get back LHP Andy Suarez? Doubt it. But he still hasn't signed with Nationals. - Eye on the U". Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Mike Whittington Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards". Archived from the original on 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
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