Christina Fernandez, Class of 2008

It is my great pleasure to write to and about what will always be my second home, The Cushman School. As a high school senior in the new IB program at Miami Beach Senior High School, it is the fundamental values I learned at Cushman that have gotten me through from my first day of high school, and will most certainly be with me throughout my life. The International Baccalaureate program was something new to Beach High, and was most certainly something new to me. Described as an interdisciplinary curriculum of great academic rigor and challenge, the thought of participating was daunting. But once I understood the program, I realized how much it screamed “Cushman”. Like Cushman, one of the underlying missions of the IB program is to create and develop students that understand and accept others' points of view with respect and consideration. Remembering my experience at Cushman, I had to do it. This year, I am proud to say I managed to participate in Varsity Volleyball (we are currently headed towards a district championship with an undefeated 15-0 record!); serve as President of a nationwide student-led, Mock Congress club known as the “Junior State of America”; serve as Vice President of the National Honor Society, and continue my study of classical piano. All while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. I also participate in drama productions and landed the lead role in “Grease” my sophomore year. It is my background at Cushman that helps me juggle that type of schedule.

Since nursery, the phrase “Listening!” was something that triggered silence, and a straight line of classmates formed with a finger in front of our lips. In high school, where students often blatantly scream out while a teacher is speaking, I have often wanted to scream out "Listening!!" myself a few times. “Self Control” and other values from the Cushman “Pledge for Success” would come to mind, reminding me of the importance of being courteous and respectful to my teachers and classmates. My freshman year, I was able to impress my teachers with knowledge of Latin root words (thank you Ms. Harnage); understanding of complex Shakespearean plays such as Othello (which I had already read at Cushman), and write on a much higher level than most of my peers. Again, this would be impossible had it not been for Mrs. Harnage’s dynamic teaching style in Latin, Mrs. Buck’s simplification of Shakespeare or Mr. Cosgrove’s drilling of grammar tips and essay writing. In other areas, Cushman’s “Spring Play” taught me that I have a voice, and I should never be afraid to let it be heard. I learned to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Even the most basic foundations from 5th grade, like knowing how to navigate Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, took me to a more professional level in the areas of presentation and formality.

The values instilled in me from Cushman are irreplaceable. There is truly no school like it. Every day I feel blessed to have been raised in an environment that embodies those valued qualities of Industry, Courtesy and Responsibility. I remember the comfort of shaking hands with my teachers every morning, and knowing that today was a new day. I left Cushman with a family. With such an intimate class size, not a day goes by where I fail to recognize a Cushman face –parent or student– and greet them warmly with open arms. To this day, my closest friends are the same ones I’ve had since day one at Cushman, despite our different interests and different schools. To be appropriately clichéd, if “There is no place like home," then there is no place like The Cushman School.