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2007 Graduate – Brian Velez

Brian VelezThe Miami area was better known as “Biscayne Bay Country” in the early years of its growth. The few published accounts from that period describe the area as a wilderness that held much promise. The area was also characterized as “one of the finest building sites in Florida.” However, the Great Freeze of 1894 changed all that, and the crops of the Miami area were the only ones in Florida that survived. Julia Tuttle, a local citrus grower, convinced Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand his Florida East Coast Railroad to Miami. On July 28, 1896, Miami was officially incorporated as a city with a population of just over 300.

The earliest evidence of Native American settlement in the Miami region came from about 10,000 years ago. The region was filled with pine and hardwood forests and was home to plenty of deer, bear and wild fowl. The first inhabitants settled on the banks of the Miami River. The main villages were on the northern banks of the river. The early Native Americans created a variety of weapons and tools from shells.

The inhabitants of the Miami area when the first Europeans visited were the Tequesta people, who controlled an area covering much of southeastern Florida, including what is now Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and the southern parts of Palm Beach County. The Tequesta Indians fished, hunted, and gathered the fruit and roots of plants for food, but did not practice any form of agriculture. They buried the small bones of the deceased, but put the larger bones in a box for the village people to see. The Tequesta are credited with making the Miami Circle.

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his men first visited and claimed the area around Miami for Spain in 1566. A Spanish mission was established one year later. Fort Dallas was built in the mid-1800s and subsequently was a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.

Please meet Brian Velez who has scored a major victory himself in the battle for education. Brian Graduated from Citizens’ High School in August of last year. He earned his diploma with a whopping 3.7 GPA. Brian left the public school system in the middle of his sophomore year. He had all he could stand from the Miami-Dade government run public school system. The only comment we could get out of him concerning his public school experience was “It was bad, very bad.” His experiences in public school are not unique. With tenured teachers that can’t teach to administrators who don’t care, it’s easy to see why home school is gaining in popularity. Brian so impressed his family with his dedication that they commented that they wish they had an opportunity to attend Citizens’ instead of the public schools.

Brian has launched a new assault in the battle for smarts. He is now enrolled in a community college near his home. He is pursuing a degree in Private Investigations. His hopes are to own his own business. We wish him all the successes he has worked so hard to achieve. We are confident in Brian’s abilities. He has already demonstrated a maturity beyond his years.

Brian Velez is Citizens’ High School
“Graduate of the Month” for July 2007.