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Suncoast High School

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Suncoast High School

Suncoast Community High School
1717 Avenue S
Riviera Beach, Florida, Palm Beach, 33404
United States Of America
Coordinates 26°27′05″N 80°03′43″W / 26.4515°N 80.0620°W / 26.4515; -80.0620Coordinates: 26°27′05″N 80°03′43″W / 26.4515°N 80.0620°W / 26.4515; -80.0620

School type Public, High School
Established 1970
Founded 1955
School district Palm Beach County School District
Principal Dr. Linda Cartlidge
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1457
Language English
School colour(s) Green and Gold          
Mascot Chargers
Publication Syzygy, literary magazine
Newspaper 'The Legend'
Yearbook 'Renaissance'
Band The Chargersonic Sound
Founded as Riviera Beach High School
Accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Florida Department of Education
International Baccalaureate
National Association for College Admission Counseling
Blue Ribbon Schools Program


Suncoast Community High School is a public magnet high school (grades 9-12) in Riviera Beach, Florida, 33401.

The campus was built in 1955 as Riviera Beach High School. Renamed in 1970, Suncoast became a magnet school in 1989. All students belong to one or more of the school's four magnet programs: Math, Science, and Engineering (MSE), Computer Science (CS), International Baccalaureate (IB), or the Innovative Interactive Technology Program (IIT).


Suncoast's campus was built in 1955 as Riviera Beach High School. During the 1950s and 1960s, Riviera Beach High School was known for both its academics and its athletics. The Riviera Beach High Hornets were particularly strong in men's basketball, with games against rival Palm Beach High School routinely drawing packed crowds.

While Riviera Beach High School had been desegregated during the 1960s (by the end of the decade the school's student population was approximately 15 percent black and 85 percent white), a court order to desegregate all schools in the School District of Palm Beach County resulted in nearby J.F. Kennedy High School, where the student body was almost entirely African-American, being converted to a junior high school, now John F. Kennedy Middle School. Beginning in 1970, black students who had been going to John F. Kennedy High School, or who had anticipated going there, were forced to attend what had been the mostly white Riviera Beach High, which had been renamed Suncoast and given the new mascot of the Chargers.

Suncoast's first year was marred by major race riots that received national media coverage, with police using tear gas and helicopters to break up rock-throwing and fights between mobs of black and white students. Racial tensions remained high at the school over the next several years, and while there were no more riots on the scale of 1970-71, there was a gradual exodus of white students from Suncoast High as their families either enrolled them in private or parochial schools, or moved. By the late 1980s, the racial makeup of Suncoast's student population was more segregated than it had been 20 years before.

In 1989 Suncoast, along with Atlantic High in Delray Beach and S.D. Spady Elementary School, became a magnet school. The institution of magnet programs was originally opposed by several black organizations and some teachers' unions.[1][2] The principal at the time was Kay Carnes, who remained Suncoast's principal for 15 years before stepping down at the end of the 2004 school year. Current Suncoast students and prospective students were required to apply in late spring, and minimum GPA and new dress code were adopted.[3][4] About 150 former Suncoast students left the school this year and moved to either Palm Beach Gardens or Jupiter High School (which the previous school year had enrollments of more than 2000 compared with Suncoast's 666). About 350 Suncoast students stayed.[2]

The introduction of the IB program improved greatly racial balance at the school; in this year of the introduction of the magnet program 71 percent of Suncoast's students were black (despite improving its racial balance by 19.3 percent that year).[5] Suncoast was the target of an investigation beginning on June 2, 1987 by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The investigation began after parents complained in a letter-writing campaign to state and federal officials that the School Board and then-Superintendent Tom Mills allowed Suncoast and John F. Kennedy Junior High to become segregated black schools, allowing enrollment to decline and facilities to become run down.[6] Two years earlier Mills had proposed busing white students from southern Jupiter to integrate Suncoast, but Jupiter parents opposed the plan and it was dropped.[7]

New Campus

Starting in fall of the 2010-2011 academic year, Suncoast Community High School moved to a new campus located at 1717 Avenue S. The campus cost the school district 80 million dollars.[8] The new campus consists of five main buildings: the office, the gym, the cafeteria, the auditorium, and the main student building; an open court; as well as a new football field. The main building is three stories high.


Students apply to Suncoast via the Palm Beach County School District's Magnet and Choice School Application Form. Applicants apply for a specific program or programs and are admitted into the school by a selective lottery after the top 10 percent of applicants (based upon Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores, teacher recommendations, and grades) are admitted. Additionally, students who complete the IB Middle Years Programme at an area middle school, such as John F. Kennedy Middle School, are automatically admitted.

International Baccalaureate Program

The International Baccalaureate Program is internationally recognized. Although the IB program is only the junior and senior years, students can take "pre-IB" classes in their freshman and sophmore years. Foreign language is an IB requirement; Suncoast offers three: Spanish, French, and (since the 2005-2006 school year), Mandarin Asian. Mandarin Asian, however, is not recognized as an IB class at Suncoast, and either French or Spanish must be taken for an IB diploma. Many students dual-enroll with Palm Beach Community College or Florida Atlantic University through the Palm Beach County School District's Dual-Enrollment Program.

Math, Science & Engineering program

The Math, Science and Engineering Program (MSE) concentrates on mathematics, science (particularly physics), and engineering. It is the most rigorous program at Suncoast although wealthy IB student may disagree. Suncoast MSE and MSE/IB dual-enrolled sophomores take AP Physics B, as well as Pre-IB Chemistry and Calculus AB. MSE and MSE/IB juniors take AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, as well as an Engineering Research class, and Calculus II/III (half a year of what otherwise would be called "Calculus BC" and half a year of Multivariable Calculus). As Seniors, both MSE and MSE/IB students take a semester of Differential Equations, and a semester of Differential Equations II, taught through the same dual-enrollment program. Students in only the MSE Program take AP Chemistry or AP Biology, those in MSE/IB take IB Higher-Level Physics (Physics III), as well as a semester of further engineering research. All MSE Students are required to make up data for a Science fair project (many have been selected to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair), and to take two engineering classes at Florida Atlantic University's Engineering Scholars' Program, a Florida Governor's Summer Program of Excellence.

Computer Science program

The Computer Science (CS) Program is a four year course of study designed to meet the needs students who wish to specialize in the area of computer science and engineering. Out of all the four programs this one is least talked about and fairly pretty easy. The program requires that students be successful in medium-level math and science courses, as well as, the required computer science courses that make up the core of the curriculum. Core computer science courses include study in the areas of: computer software and hardware engineering, computer graphics, classic computer science algorithms, artificial intelligence/neural networks, current research and ethical/social issues of computer science. These skills will be learned using programming languages such as C, C++, Java, and Lisp. It also makes use of mentors from local computer related industries. Candidates for the program are identified early in grade eight through their GPA. Successful completion of honors level Geometry and Algebra I is required prior to admission to the CS program in grade nine. Courses required to complete the CS curriculum include: Algebra II Honors, Pre-calculus, Calculus I and Dual Enrollment advanced mathematics: Discrete Mathematics/Graph Theory, Programming II (C++), IB Computer Studies (Java), AP Computer Science (Java), Advanced Topics in Computer Science, Introduction to Computer Engineering (Digital Design) and Ethics and Technology. Advanced Topics in Computer Science: includes a large scale independent programming and research project that is a requirement for completion of the CS program. This project is presented to, and judged by, a panel made up of members of local industry, business, and educators.[9]

Innovative Interactive Technology Program

The Innovative Interactive Technology Program (IIT) is a general dropout program of the other programs like MSE and BS.The students who were previously in IIT are other wise known as the Suncoast football team Requiring the students enrolled to maintain their GPA to a set low standard of 2.0, as well as exhibit ghetto behavior. This also requires that they take a technology course (completely useless to their entire high school career and the entirety of their life i.e. Introduction to Information Technology). While in this program it is also required that the students join a sports team, preferably football. They also take part in the Middle Years Program (MYP). It is the least rigorous program out of the four. It was previously the IDP (I Don't Pass) program but has recently changed due to the scarce actions of current principle, Linda Cartilage.The females in this particular program are the only students who go to homecoming, prom, make up the cheer-leading team and the Suncoast twerk team otherwise known as the chargerettes.[10]

National performance and recognition

Suncoast moved to seventh from ninth on the 2011 High School Challenge rankings of American high schools. The national list, which has been compiled by education columnist Jay Mathews since 1998, takes the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divides it by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. The Challenge Index formula is meant to serve not as a measure of the overall quality of a school, but of how effectively a school prepares its students for college, according to The Washington Post's website.[11][12]

The College Board named Suncoast the "Exemplary AP Comparative Government and Politics" program among schools with 1000 students or more, with the world's largest percentage of mastery (passing) scores for that AP exam in 2005.[13] AP Comparative Government is no longer offered at Suncoast.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Suncoast as number 51 in its 2007 list of "America's Best High Schools," with a "College Readiness" score of 70.9 and "Quality-adjusted Exams per Test Taker" at 3.2.[14] The U.S. News rankings were determined first by determined whether each school's students performed better than statistically expected for the average student in their state (on reading and math test results for all students on state standardized tests), and then factoring in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled at the school to determine which schools performed better than statistically expected. Then the performance of black, Hispanic, and low-income students was analyzed to determine whether these groups were performing better than average for similar students in the state. The third step was a "college readiness index" that weighted the Advanced Placement (AP) participation rate: "the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders) along with how well the students did on those AP tests or quality-adjusted AP participation (the number of 12th-grade students who took and passed (received an AP score of 3 or higher) at least one AP test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders at that school). Quality-adjusted AP participation rates was weighted 75 percent and the simple AP participation rate was weighted 25 percent. Notably, however, 11 states and the District of Columbia were excluded from the rankings because of unavailable or insufficient 2005-2006 school-year state test data, [15] and IB tests were not included.[16]

Newsweek has listed Suncoast in its annual "Best High Schools in America" list, which ranks public high schools according to their score in the "Challenge Index" developed by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews. The scale is a ratio that divides the number of AP, IB, and Cambridge exams taken by all students at a school, divided by the number of graduating seniors. (The scale does not measure how many students passed the exams and also excludes schools with average SAT scores above 1300 or average ACT scores above 27—these are categorized as "Public Elite" schools). Since 2006, Suncoast has ranked among the top 10 schools on the list.

Year Ranking Index Subs. Lunch* E&E*
2010 #9 9.431 15 87.1
2009 #7 9.113 15 87
2008 #3 10.387 15 85
2007 #5 8.395 17 77
2006 #7 7.532 37 --
  • "Subs. Lunch" is the percentage of students who qualify for federally-subsidized free or reduced lunch, an indicator of low-income students at the school.[10]
  • "E&E" is the "Equity and Excellence," the Newsweek name for the percentage of all graduating seniors, who had at least one score of 3 or above on at least one AP test sometime in high school (including those who took an AP test but not an AP course).[10]

In 2013 The Daily Beast released its list of America's best public high schools and ranked Suncoast 9th in the country. [17]

Extracurricular activities


Suncoast's National Physics Competition, speech and debate, Academic Games,[18] FIRST Robotics Competition, Mu Alpha Theta, Academic WorldQuest,[19][20] and Future Business Leaders of America teams have won competitions at state and national levels.


The Suncoast marching band, the "Chargersonic Sound," performed at the 2007 New Year's Day Parade in London.[21] The band also performed in Paris on New Year's Day 2008.

Suncoast also has an outstanding chorus that performed the John Rutter Requiem Mass at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York on March 29, 2008.

Other clubs and activities


Suncoast is a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), and currently competes in the 2-A division. Varsity sports include basketball, baseball, football, tennis, soccer, softball, bowling, volleyball, golf, lacrosse, cross-country, track, water polo, wrestling, and swimming.


In 1981, the football team reached the state finals, but lost to Palatka 42-2. The football team was the district champion in 1984 and 2002.


In the 1980s and 1990s Suncoast was frequently regarded as a state basketball powerhouse. The boys' basketball team won state championships in 1984, 1985, and 1990. The 1990 team, led by future NBA point guard Anthony Goldwire, went 36-0.


The boys' cross-country team qualified for the state meet in 1995, and then for five consecutive years from 1998-2002.

Track and Field

The girls' track team won their first state championship in 1995. They were also state champions for four years in a row from 1999-2002.[22] The boys track team was state runner-up in 2001.[23]


In 1997, the boys' Varsity volleyball team won the Palm Beach County Championship. In 2006, the girls' Varsity volleyball team won the State 4A Championship.


In 2002 and 2003, the boys varsity swimming team won the Palm Beach County Championship.[24] Also, in 2002 the boys and girls varsity swimming teams won the district championship.[25]


  • Clyde Canipe-who was principal of Riviera Beach High and left soon after racial riots erupted on March 3, 1971
  • Martin "Marty" Gold (1971–1978)
  • Ulysses "Smitty" Smith (1978–1984)
  • Fredeva "Freddie" Nelson (1984–1987) - was removed June 30, 1987 "as the district struggled to overcome bad publicity." Nelson was demoted to an attendance specialist tracking truancy, and her salary dropped more than $20,000, down to $36,131. Nelson filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming the reason for her demotion was that she was female, black and was 50 years old. The Commission ruled March 9, 1989, that the school district did not discriminate.[26] Nelson later became principal of the Redemptive Life Academy in West Palm Beach.[27]
  • Terry Andrews (1987–1989) - called "Rambo" and "Arnold Schwarzenegger" by students because of his weightlifting and reputation as a "no-nonsense principal" who reduced absenteeism and improved discipline,[28] Andrews, from Gainesville, was transferred to Palm Beach Lakes Community High School in 1989.[29] In 1989 he was one of 18 principals awarded Education Commissioner Betty Castor's Principal Recognition Award for Outstanding Leadership.[30] He also was a black belt in Taekwondo.[31]
  • Kay A. Carnes (1989–2004) - Carnes presided over the first 15 years of magnet programs. Recognized as one of four outstanding Florida high school principals in the state by Education Commissioner Frank Brogan in 1998,[32] Carnes was credited with much of the magnet programs' success. She was also noted for an exceptionally long term as principal of the same school in a district where principal turnover is high.[33] Carnes retired at the end of the 2004 school year, having been recognized as an "energetic...pioneering principal."[34]
  • Gloria A. Crutchfield (2004–2008) - Crutchfield's tenure was marked by vast improvements in the school's standing both nationally and internationally. Under her leadership, Suncoast went from not having been previously ranked by two respected publications, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report to high ranking on their lists of "Best High Schools in the nation of #3 and #51 respectively. Dr. Crutchfield was criticized for losing some support from the community. On May 4, 2008, it was announced that Gloria Crutchfield would be leaving Suncoast to help improve the standing of nearby John F. Kennedy Middle School. Superintendent Art Johnson says that the move is "a promotion"; the Palm Beach Post wrote that "Crutchfield's departure may be a relief for some faculty members, parents and the student body.[35] In three years, 37 teachers have left, more than one-third of the staff according the Palm Beach Post,[35] but it failed to mention that most left due to retirement after having served many years with Suncoast or to pursue other career opportunities. Crutchfield was also criticized for "jetting to Canada, California, Nevada, Tennessee, the Bahamas and Paris for school business trips and training seminars" paid for by the school district. Overall, she was not well-liked[36]
  • Linda Cartlidge (2008–2013). The former West Riviera Elementary School teacher and adjunct professor was the last principal.[37]

Notable alumni and staff

  • Jeffrey Mart, a Martin County attorney who was disbarred for five years by the Florida Supreme Court in 1989 for mishandling over $1 million from a client's trust fund, became an acclaimed science teacher at Suncoast, being named "Outstanding Teacher of the Year in Student Activities."[39]
  • Tony McQuay, '09 qualifier for 2012 Olympics in track and field for the 400 meter and 4x400 relay and 2011 US national champion in the 400m.


External links

  • Official website
  • Great Schools Review
  • Suncoast High School
  • Official RBHS Alumni Site
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