Gables’ New Recruitment Plan: Attracting Future Cavaliers

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Mrs. Passwaters

Some of Gables’ former Carver Hornets went back to their middle school to pass out treats for honor roll recipients.

Maria Odio, Staff Writer

While current students and faculty at Coral Gables Senior High are what make the school worthwhile, in order to continue to foster the Cavalier spirit, incoming freshmen need to have an idea of what it means to be a Cavalier before they enter the building.

Under the leadership of Principal Ullivarri, Gables has begun to instill Cavalier pride into the minds of middle schoolers across Miami-Dade County through partnerships with other schools across the county.

“Since we have returned to a traditional school environment, we wanted for the students in middle school to become aware of the great programs and wonderful opportunities they will have when they attend CGHS… Students who reside within the attendance boundaries of CGHS do not need to attend any other school because we can offer them a quality education and prepare them for life beyond graduation to the fullest extent possible,” Principal Ullivari said.

This initiative was predicated when a member of Friends of Gables, Sadia Raja, decided to partner up with her close friend, Uzma Khan, a marketing professor at the University of Miami. With this mutual partnership, Dr. Khan asked his students to develop a rebrand campaign, after they took a tour of the campus, with the purpose of attracting middle schoolers and encouraging them to apply.

Once finished, the UM students pitched their ideas to Gables faculty representatives, and one winning marketing campaign was selected. The Gables recruitment team — a select committee of Gables students who would help implement the plan — then attended a meeting where the winning team explained how they would target the middle school audience through the utilization of social media.

After a few tweaks from Gables students, the marketing plan became a reality.

“We have started a social media campaign geared toward the middle schoolers and have heard very positive feedback from the administration, teachers and students in our feeder schools. We hope to continue to build upon the experiences that we have planned for the middle school students to make sure that the students within our community understand everything we can offer them for the next 4 years,” Principal Ulivarri said.

Phase one of the plan began when the Cavalier recruitment team conducted a survey towards their targeted middle schools to observe where Gables ranked on students’ lists of prospective high schools. When the entire project is complete, the survey will be distributed again to measure how effective the marketing plan was.

Following the release of the survey, CavsConnect posted its “Why Gables” video on Instagram. Having received nearly 4000 views in two weeks, the committee hosted a competition amongst middle schools to see which campus could garner the most shares on the video. Ponce de Leon Middle won with over 1800 views, winning a pizza party for their eighth grade class.

Honing in on social media as a means of making connections with secondary schools, Gables released another video on Oct. 26 that showcased the Gablettes. With over 5000 views in a span of less than a month, the “Throughout the Decades” video has proved that social media has allowed Cavaliers to reach a wider audience.

“I think that all of the effort we’ve been putting in to revamp recruitment is really important. To prospective students, the way that we recruit is our image and can help them picture what our campus will be like once they get here. Our efforts can also help students that are on the line of where to go. It’s all about approach and I love that we’re putting a really big focus on that,” Ms. Passwaters said.

The second phase of the plan involved recruitment fairs at various middle schools. Gables student representatives went back to their respective alma maters and delivered brownies, donated by Ms. Camacho and Ms. Delambarte, to Kinloch Park, George Washington Carver and Coral Gables Preparatory Academy middle schools honor roll students.

“I really enjoyed going to Carver. For one thing, I went to Carver for 6th-8th grade and have not gone back since, so returning and seeing changes made to the school as well as some of my old teachers was truly a treat. In addition, it was amazing to speak to current Carver students about Gables,” sophomore Georgia Rau said.

At Ponce de Leon Middle School, the Gables representatives set up a booth at the school’s high school fair. Student athletes, Gablettes and students who excel academically represented the Cavaliers and talked to students about their experiences at Gables.

As a final step, Gables will host guided tours on Dec. 6 and Dec. 8 for Carver and Ponce. Along with the tour guided by students, the middle schoolers will attend a pep rally in the auditorium to feel the full effect of the Cavalier spirit.

Although it is not known how many Class of 2026 graduates will be applying to Gables, the recruitment plan has already proven to garner secondary schools’ attention. With the dedication of students and faculty who are passionate about their second home, Gables is on its way to expanding its Cavalier family.