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2005 Graduate – Graciela Gonzalez


Graciela GonzalezOpa-locka has the largest collection of Moorish architecture in the Western hemisphere. The city was incorporated in 1926 as an “Arabian Fantasy” based on the book 1001 Arabian Tales. Developer Glen Curtiss built 105 buildings with an array of domes, minarets and outside staircases. These structures were constructed during Florida’s land boom between 1925 and 1928. The boom came to an end after the 1926 hurricane destroyed much of the city.

Although the name of the city – Opa-locka – sounds Arabic, it is a contraction of the native American’s name for the area, “Opa-tisha-woka-locka”, meaning a dry place in the swamp with trees. A notable fact about Opa-Locka is that Amelia Earhart launched her historic trip around the world from Opa-Locka Airport on June 1, 1937.

During the more than two centuries that Florida was controlled by Spain, the Tequestans and other Prehistoric Indians of Florida were decimated by European diseases and warfare. The lands they vacated attracted people from several of the Creek tribes in Georgia and Alabama who had entered Florida as early as 1704. Collectively, they became known as Seminoles, and during the nineteenth century they would engage in a series of bloody wars against the United States partly to defend their right to live in Florida. After the conclusion of the Third Seminole War in 1858, the few hundred Indians remaining in the state lived in the Everglades.

The first permanent white settlers in the Miami area arrived in the early 1800s. During the decades that followed, a wide variety of individuals left their mark on the history of this area. One such person leaving her mark is our very own Ms. Graciela Gonzalez

Graciela graduated from Citizens’ High School last October. She needed 10 classes from us to earn her diploma. She did so with an impressive 3.7 GPA. Her reasons for choosing self-paced home study are not new. Graciela was not being challenged by the public school system in South Florida. The school district is not unique. The must teach to the median. The brilliant students are left unfulfilled and uncontested. The slower students are left behind or put into “Educably Mentally Retarded” category. Both categories make it easier for the teachers but do not serve the needs or talents of their charges.

Graciela knew her best chance to graduate and to be challenged was to “do it herself.” She now is a high school graduate with an accredited diploma. “I feel awesome!” “I have accomplished something that has made a huge difference in my life.” This accomplishment has given Graciela the confidence to do anything she sets her mind to. We agree whole heartedly! Not just anyone can muster the discipline Graciela demonstrated to educate one’s self. Ironically, Graciela is now enrolled in Miami Dade Community College. She is working on her prerequisites to becoming a teacher. She really does want to leave her mark.
We are proud of Ms. Gonzales and award her
Graduate of the Month for November 2005.

Graciela Gonzalez is Citizens’ High School
“Graduate of the Month” for November 2006.