Christopher Columbus High School

A Catholic School for Young Men in the Marist Tradition since 1958

April 2017 Newsletter

From the Office of Principal David Pugh

Welcome back, it is now time to finish what we started in August.  While many of us were able to get away over the Easter holiday season, a number of our students, teachers, coaches, and parents were not.  They attended games, events, and professional development. Our dedication and devotion to Christopher Columbus High School is the reason we are so successful today as we live the Marist Charism and exhibit the characteristics of the Marist Brothers through compassion, love of work, and family spirit.  As we look ahead, we realize that the end of the school year is just around the corner. Remind your young man to maintain focus and prepare accordingly.
I am happy to announce that, as part of our continued effort to promote a safe environment, we have hired a police officer for the afternoon hours. He will assist Paul in the parking lot and provide additional supervision on campus from 2:00pm to 5:00pm from now through the end of the school year.  
STEM Club Members Win 1st Place at Global Innovation Summit/Named Pete Conrad Scholars
On April 29th, five members of the Columbus STEM Club became First Place Winners at the prestigious Conrad Innovation Challenge, an innovation and entrepreneurial competition which aims to develop extraordinary and viable solutions to benefit our world. Jesus Capo, David Perez, Chris Perez, Alex Cordero, and Hans Rueckschnat are the brilliant students that, as Team TIER, competed against high school teams from around the world at the Kennedy Space Center and brought home first place in the Cybertechnology and Security Category for their innovative product - the Mini BlackBox (a rugged casing for high performance computers, supercomputers and servers which implements a modular design).

The team won the competition through a multi-phase process:
- They became semifinalists when their video submission won from over 600 students globally.
- Their excellent business plan (ranked 1st in the competition) advanced them to Finalists.
-  The 6 minute Power Pitch given by Hans Rueckschnat and Alexander Cordero clinched their win out of 40 teams, many from different parts of the world including China, Australia, and India. TIER shocked the judges and the audience by making their presentation with the working prototype of the Mini BlackBox on the stage (something that no other team in the category had done).

All of the team members were named "Pete Conrad Scholars," the highest honor possible in the competition, and were awarded with a gold medal, $5000 available for use in a patent, free business consulting ($5,000 value) from the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, and free membership to Sigma XI, a research society of more than 8,000 researchers, scientists, and engineers.  We congratulate these outstanding students on this huge accomplishment!  Special thanks to Mrs. Sanchez, Dr. Mederos, Mr. Corazon, Mr. Diaz and Mr. Oses for helping Team TIER achieve this incredible feat!


Jesus Capo & David Perez Place 3rd at the State Science Fair
Sophomores Jesus Capo and David Perez captured third place in the Environmental Engineering Division at the State of Florida Science and Engineering Fair for their project - “Recyclo Trash: Barcodes vs. CV.”  We wish these students good luck as they go on to compete at the International Science Fair in Los Angeles, California in May.
Christopher Perez Receives Pilot License
Junior, Stem Club Member, and recent Conrad Challenge Winner, Christopher Perez received his pilot’s license on his 17th birthday (the soonest he could have obtained it since the age requirement for the license is 17).  Chris has had an interest in aviation since middle school and says that his dream is to be the first person on Mars. He is currently working as an intern at North Perry Airport, Ft. Lauderdale and plans to keep up his aviation studies and become a test pilot in the upcoming years.
CCNN Live is Awarded Four New Emmys/Wins Team Broadcast State Title at FSPA Convention
The work of our broadcast journalism program, CCNN Live, continues to receive high acclaim.  The team won the coveted Team Broadcast State Title at the Florida Scholastic Press Association Convention as well as several other individual awards, including the FSPA Student Broadcast Journalist of the Year which went to Danny Devilliers.  Their daily show received the "Best of the Best” award and the Columbus Yearbook took 3rd place in the state of Florida.  In addition, the NFHS awarded CCNN Live with the national Best Original Programming Award

While at the FSPA, the team received word that they are the recipient of four new Suncoast Emmy Awards and several Honorable Mentions.  Emmy Awards:  News- Charlie's Path, Long Form Documentary- Proof of Life, CCNN Live Video Demo Reel, Gonzalo Londoño Talent Demo Reel; Honorable Mentions:  News- Fighting to Run: The Sebastian Ortiz Story, News- Proof of Life Package, CCNN Live Graphics Reel, News- TGT Foundation finds meaning in tragedy, PSA- Choices Matter, Animation- Littlest Sweatshop, Victor Prieto Talent Demo Reel
Victor Prieto Wins Jim McKay Memorial Scholarship
Earlier in the month CCNN member Victor Prieto was named the winner of the Jim McKay Memorial Scholarship which is awarded to a student pursuing a career in sports television. The scholarship is handed out yearly by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  Fellow CCNN Live alumnus Philip Bootsma '16 won it last year. Per NATAS, this is the first time that the same school has won the scholarship in back to back years.  
Congratulations to all Marist Achievement Award Winners
The annual Marist Achievement Awards recognizes and celebrates the success of our students in academics and extra-curricular activities.  We thank all the Columbus family members that were in attendance at Parrot Jungle Island.  Congratulate to all the award winners as well as to the newly inducted members of our Br. Edmund Sheehan Chapter of the National Honor Society.  Special thanks to Ms. Rayneri, Mrs. Cofresi, Mrs. Acevedo, and Mrs. Gamundi for putting on an incredible event.   VIEW PICTURE ALBUM FROM EVENT
Debate Has Outstanding Showing at Tournament of Champions
The seniors of the debate team solidified their place in Columbus Debate history with an outstanding showing at the 46th annual Tournament of Champions (TOC) at the University of Kentucky. The TOC is the most elite and prestigious tournament of the year where students earn invitations by placing highly in the major tournaments throughout the season. Most programs rarely qualify students to this tournament.  By qualifying three students to the TOC, Columbus Debate is considered to be in the upper echelon of debate programs nationwide.

Senior Thomas Barrera had the tournament of his debate career by advancing to elimination rounds in both of his events (Dramatic Interpretation and Oral Interpretation). In Oral Interpretation, Tommy made Explorer history by becoming the third debater ever from Columbus to make it to the final round at the TOC.  Also having an incredible run was, senior John Little III who made it to the quarterfinal round of the very competitive event Humorous Interpretation. John John and Tommy become the first Explorers to qualify to the tournament in speech events, since the tournament's founding. In Lincoln-Douglas debate, Senior Javier Navarrete finished with a 2-4 record.  Columbus was only one of three Florida schools that qualified in this highly competitive division. 
The team has one last tournament ahead of them, the NSDA National Championship tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. Thank you to Randall Martinez (team moderator) and Coach Ciocca for your help in making all this possible. 
1st Annual Bass Fishing Tournament
Coach Dukes and the Columbus Anglers Club successfully held the 1st Annual Bass Fishing Tournament on April 1st with over 40 entries.  Placing first in the Largemouth Bass Division was J.P. Gutierrez while  Sebastian Hernandez and Sean Hodson placed second and third, respectively.  In the Peacock Division, Christopher Costa placed first, Matthew Patterson second, and Jack Miller took third.  Special thanks to  alumnus Ignacio Borbolla and Officer Gabriel Fernandez (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) for judging the competition.

Pedron Brothers and Anthony Francuz, Honored with Congressional Awards  
Justin Pedron, Anthony Francuz, and Adrian Pedron received Congressional Awards for their service as members of the Joshua's Heart Foundation which aims to stomp out hunger and provide items of basic necessity to people in need. Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen presented the awards at a special ceremony on April 22nd.  Some of the activities that the students participated in included food and blanket distribution to the homeless, fundraising, and organizing talent shows for the elderly.  We thank these students for being wonderful witnesses to the Gospel mandate to care for the less fortunate. 

Athletics – Explorers in Playoff Mode
Although the Varsity Baseball team dropped the GMAC title game to Coral Park last week 8-6, they jumped right into playoff mode and went on to beat rival Southwest in the semifinal game of the district tournament (3 - 2).  We wish Coach Weber and the team good luck as they play for the District Championship tomorrow against Braddock.  Go Explorers!

Track & Field Finish 3rd in Regionals/Qualify 13 for States
Coach Foyo and the Track & Field team competed in the Region 4-4A Championship and finished third overall with 103 points, behind St. Thomas Aquinas (123 points) and Miramar (113 points). A number of Explorers finished in the top 4 in their individual events and qualified for this weekend’s FHSAA Class 4A State Championship: Chris Bentley: 1st Place, Pole Vault; Robert Crockett: 3rd Place, Long Jump; 2nd Place, 4x100M; Gary Cooper: 3rd Place, Shot Put; Rondy Powell: 4th Place, Shot Put; Alec Cuevas: 1st Place, 4x800M; Deshay Fernandes: 1st Place, 4x800M; 1st Place, 800M; 1st Place, 1600M; Nicolas Aixala: 1st Place, 4x800; Xzavier Henderson: 1st Place, 4x800M; 1st Place, 4x400M; Tyler Harrel: 2nd Place, 4x100M; 3rd Place, 100M; 4th Place, 200M; Trajan Bandy: 2nd Place, 4x100M; CJ Henderson: 2nd Place, 4x100M; 1st Place, 4x400M; Joshua Jobe: 2nd Place, 4x100M; Cameron Daniel: 1st Place, 4x400M Alumni ask Pugh?
Sports Management Class Visits Marlins Park
Thank you Mr. Bowman for taking the juniors and seniors in Sports Management to visit the home of the Miami Marlins.

Good Luck to our Silver Knight Award Nominees
Good luck and best wishes to our 15 Miami Herald Silver Knight Award nominees: Jonathan Aguiar Thomas Barrera, Jose Cardelle, Danyel De Viliers, Thomas Falcon, Sebastian Fernandez-Cornejo, Julio Garcia, Michael       Herrero, Kaelen Krumich, Eduardo Llano, Anthony Martinez, Jorge Raad, Jacob Reis, David Sanchez, and Christopher Vazquez. They had their interviews with the Silver Knight Award Committee judges in April.  The winners will be announced at a special ceremony on the evening of May 17th.   
Simon Amofah Honored with Presidential Volunteer Service Award
Senior Simon Amofah was honored with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award from the 44th President of United States of America, Barack H. Obama . He received the award for volunteering over 250 hours of work during 2016 for the Community Health of South Florida, Inc.  He was one of five youth volunteers from South Florida who were awarded this prestigious award.  Simon you are an outstanding example of the Marist call to Service! 
Congratulations ISSF Star Students
Congratulations to our ISSF Star students Eddy Llano, Orlando Hidalgo, and Justin Jackson.  They were honored for their outstanding academic achievements and dedication to student activities at the 25th Annual ISSF Star Awards Luncheon in April. 

Explorers Bring Easter Cheer to Special Needs Students
A number of Explorers participated in an Easter Egg Hunt and Bunny visit for early childhood students with special needs at Tropical Elementary School.  Thank you Mrs. Gonzalez-Rojas for accompanying the students coordinating this trip.
Tie Drive Benefited Autism Outreach
Columbus students sold ties in honor of Autism Awareness Month throughout the month of April.  The proceeds supported a local Autism outreach center that helps families pay for treatments for their children.  Thank you to junior Diego Ramos who initiated and directed the effort. In total there were close to 300 ties sold and over $5,000 money raised for this great cause.
Mas Family Program Students Attend Etiquette Seminar
A group of Mas Family Program students attended a seminar at the Biltmore Hotel where they learned the protocols of etiquette.  They learned about the proper ways to initiate a business conversation, make introductions, set a table, and overall how to create a professional image.  Thank you to Mrs. Galvez-Cuesta, Mas Family Program Director, for providing the opportunity.  

Marine Biology Class Takes Kayaking and Snorkeling Trip
Ms. Valdez and her Marine Biology Class visited the Key Biscayne Nature Center where they kayaked to the reef and snorkeled. They were able to get some hands on experiences with some of the phylum and marine species they discuss in class. Highlights of the trip included spotting rays, Caribbean squid, nurse sharks, sea urchins, and sea stars as well as the sea grass and mangroves. 
Jazz Legend Leo Casino Jams with Columbus Band
Grammy-nominated saxophonist, composer, and community activist Leo Casino joined Mr. Cooper and the Columbus Jazz Ensemble for a concert after school.  Thank you Ms. McCullagh for bringing back the great Mr. Casino to our campus.

American Free Speech Activist Visited Columbus
American free speech activist, Mary Beth Tinker, spoke to hundreds of students about the importance of students using their First Amendment rights.  She spoke about her own Supreme Court Case against Des Moines School District that helped permanently expand the rights of students and gave examples such as kids standing up for racial equality in 1963 Birmingham and for clean water in Flint, Michigan.  Tinker made it clear that kids and teenagers have potential, talent, and ideas equal in value to those of adults.  Thank you to Ms. McCullagh and Rho Kappa for bringing us this wonderful speaker.
Teacher Alex Trujillo Honored with Explorers Compass Award
We congratulate social studies teacher and Columbus alumnus Mr. Alex Trujillo for being the recipient of this year’s Explorers Compass Award which recognizes the creative ability, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and dedication in leading students to excellence.   
Columbus Fishing Tournament is May 13th - There is Still Time to Register!
The 16th Annual Cory Barreto & Tommy Hernandez Columbus Fishing Tournament is May 13th.  For more information and to register your boat  - CLICK HERE.  

Tuition Raffle – Enter for the Chance to Win FREE Tuition for a Year
For the first time, the Fishing Tournament Committee is offering a tuition raffle.  200 tickets will be sold for a chance to win one year’s tuition at CCHS valued at $10,500.  This does not include any additional fees assessed by CCHS.  The raffle drawing will be held at Shake-a-Leg on May 13, 2017 during our Fishing Tournament weigh-in.  Tickets will be sold for $200 and will grant entry for two to attend the after party at Shake-a-Leg.  Raffle tickets are available for purchase on-line by CLICKING HERE and in the Mas-Building, while quantities last.
Greece Trip 2018
Columbus is organizing a student trip to Greece in 2018 during the Easter Break (March 29th - April 6th).  Family members are also welcome.  The trip is organized through the American Counsel of International Studies.  For information on the tour "Heroes of Greece" – CLICK HERE.   If you are interested, please email Mrs. Alegret ( or Br. John Healy (
Are You Interested in Hosting a French Exchange Student?
Columbus is reaching out to any families who may be interested in becoming a Cultural Exchange host family for a French student this school year. Our French students who attended this Spring had an amazing experience living in Miami. The French exchange students will be attending Columbus for a short period of time (no longer than 30 days). This program will be a cultural experience for both your son and the young man from France. We would love to see as many families as possible participating in this cultural enrichment opportunity. 
A Prospective Host Family Information Session with the Inspired Gateways coordinator will take place on Tuesday, May 9th at 6:30pm in the Lawrence Bell Media Center and will take approximately 45  minutes.  Click Here to RSVP for the Meeting.  Should you have any questions, please contact Mr. Marinelli at
Summer Programs at Columbus - Camps, Enrichment Opportunities and Athletic Team Workouts
Columbus offers a wide array of summer programs for both our current students as well as for kids as young as third graders.  From athletics to academics and the arts, the Explorers Summer experience is a wonderful way to introduce children to the finest all-boy Catholic high school in Miami-Dade County. For information about our summer programs – CLICK HERE


May 1-12:         AP Examinations
May 12:            Senior Prom
May 13:            Columbus Fishing Tournament (6:00am - 4:00pm), Shake a Leg Miami - Register Here
May 15:            Block C Athletic Banquet (6:00 - 9:00pm), Jungle Island
May 16-19:       Drama Production (April 16/17 from 3:30 - 6:00pm/April 18/19 from 7:00 to 9:30pm, Lawrence Bell Theater)
May 22 - 24:     Senior Examinations
May 25:            Baccalaureate Mass (6:00 - 8:00pm, Church of the Epiphany)
May 27:            Graduation - Class of 2017
May 29:            Memorial Day Holiday (No School) 
May 31-June 8: Final Examinations (9th/10th/11th grades)
Christopher Columbus High School | 3000 SW 87 Avenue | Miami, FL 33165 | (305) 223-5650
Christopher Columbus High School is a private, Roman Catholic, college-preparatory high school, conducted by the Marist Brothers of the Schools. We aim to make Jesus Christ known and loved, as we prepare young men for higher education and for their continuous challenge of harmonizing faith, culture and life. We foster a family spirit among all who are committed to the success of the school and promote opportunities to work together as a community of learners. 

Columbus is fully accredited by Cognia and is a member of the Marist Association of Secondary schools, the National Catholic Education Association and the Independent Schools of South Florida.