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Blue Ribbon: FAU's high school is becoming a nationwide model

Blue Ribbon
FAU’s high school is becoming a nationwide model.

Under President John Kelly, who arrived at Florida Atlantic University in 2014, the university’s in-house high school in Boca Raton has grown from about 100 students to more than 500 and racked up honors while building ground-breaking programs.

Students at the A.D. Henderson University school work simultaneously toward a high school diploma and a bachelor’s. In the last year, the high school became the only one in Palm Beach County and one of only 12 in Florida recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school. Then, in November, FAU and bio-research institute Max Planck Florida, an arm of the renowned Max Planck Society in Germany, formed an academy for bright STEM students to work with Max Planck scientists. Graduates will have a high school diploma embossed from FAU and Max Planck.

With the Henderson school, Kelly sees a chance not only to establish a model for pairing a high school with a higher education institution but also to open affordable access to college. About 35% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. They leave high school with, on average, 110 to 115 college credits.

High school students working with researchers have been published in journals as prestigious as the New England Journal of Medicine. The research conducted by students is unheard of at the high school level and unusual even for undergrads at many colleges, says Joel Herbst, FAU’s pre- K-12 schools and programs superintendent.

The Max Planck Academy will be a stand-alone extension of FAU’s high school, with an inaugural class in 2020 of 35 to 50 students. Academy graduates can apply for priority admission to the FAU undergraduate Max Planck Honors program launched last year. FAU has a similar program, M.D. Direct, which secures seats in its med school for high school students.

Herbst says the school has had visitors nationwide interested in replicating the high school-university pairing. “We’re the model nationwide,” he says. “The success we’ve had speaks for itself.”

INNOVATION
Going Big

Green Life Farms is building a 100,000-sq.-ft., commercial-scale, hydroponic greenhouse in Boynton Beach, a facility Green Life says will be the largest indoor hydroponic produce grower in the Southeast. The company spent several R&D years growing more than 100 fruits, vegetables and herbs before settling on an initial crop of baby arugula, baby spinach, baby spring mix and baby romaine.

The privately owned company will employ 18 when the greenhouse is fully operational this year. Green Life is financed by private investors and bank lending. It recently hired as head grower Gregory Graft, formerly with a hydroponic farm in Indiana. The company hopes to expand within Florida and outside the state.

JOB TRAINING

  • The Florida Job Growth Grant fund awarded $2 million to Palm Beach State College to expand engineering training at its Belle Glade and Palm Beach Gardens campuses at what it calls the center for excellence in engineering technology. The college trains middle-skill workers for aviation, manufacturing, clean tech and homeland security.

PUBLISHING

  • Lanham, Md.-based Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group had its Florida-focused book publisher, Pineapple Press, open an office on Palm Beach, replacing the Sarasota site that had been Pineapple’s base under founders David and June Cussen. The Cussens sold Pineapple Press last year. Pineapple’s Florida books include novelist Patrick Smith’s “A Land Remembered.”

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

  • The small Greater Boynton Beach Chamber of Commerce merged into the larger Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.
  • West Palm Beach’s downtown compares favorably for density of jobs and residents and for walking and bicycle commuting, according to a State of Downtown report from Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions done for the Downtown Development Authority. The report compared downtown West Palm Beach to 46 other U.S. downtowns with fewer than 100,000 jobs. Downtown has 5,936 residents, about 5.6% of the city’s population, and 28,740 jobs, or about 30% of the city’s total. Downtown is significantly wealthier, younger and more educated than the city overall.

RETAIL

  • Tamarac-based City Furniture promoted vice president and COO Andrew Koenig, son of co-founder Keith Koenig, to president of the family-owned company. Keith Koenig continues as CEO.

MARKETING

  • Internet marketing agency Digital Resource, a West Palm Beach startup, will add 66 jobs to its 39 as it moves to a new downtown office.

REAL ESTATE

  • An 11-bedroom estate on two oceanfront acres on Millionaire’s Mile in Hillsboro Beach sold for $42.5 million, a record for Broward County and reportedly a record for a U.S. home sold through an auction. Oppornova, a Delaware company reportedly tied to Teavana founder Andrew Mack, bought Playa Vista Isle at auction. It originally was listed for $159 million.
  • Emerge Lake Worth, an office building created from the old Hummingbird Hotel, opened.
  • Aventura-based BH3 paid Traina Cos. $23.13 million for FATCity (as in Florida Arts and Technology), a 2.8-acre site on the north side of downtown Fort Lauderdale entitled for up to 612 residential units, 850,000 square feet of retail and 270,000 square feet of office, hospitality or other commercial. The site is two blocks from the Brightline station. Traina, which assembled the site and got it entitled, will retain “strategic development participation as co-developers.” Joseph Traina Jr. says, “This assemblage has the potential to be a true asset that will transform downtown Fort Lauderdale from a Las Olas-based entertainment district to a transit-based” business district.

 

Read more in our April issue.

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