Little Cavaliers: Seeing Students Grow from Toddlers to Teenagers


Natalie Abrahantes

The Little Cavalier program has allowed students to gain familiarity with the school campus from a young age while also establishing everlasting bonds with other students and staff members.

Natalie Abrahantes, Staff Writer

The Little Cavalier Program at Coral Gables Senior High continues to provide teachers with the option of having their children engage in an early education program which conveniently takes place in the same building as their teaching. The program allows children to partake in a variety of fun activities while simultaneously giving them a head start in developing the basic skills they will need for their elementary education. For many children in the Little Cavaliers program, these developmental years represent their starting point as a Coral Gables Cavalier, as most of them return to pursue their high school careers in the same school. 

Sophomore Katelynn Hernandez

Natalie Abrahantes
When Hernandez is not busy with school work, she dedicates her free time to singing, one of her favorite pastimes.

Katelynn Hernandez has been walking the halls of Gables High for as long as she can remember.  She first began attending the Little Cavaliers program at the age of two, and vividly recalls partaking in various activities, such as Farm Days and Water Days. Hernandez was a part of the program until the fifth grade because her mom, Mrs. Monzon, would routinely bring her in the early mornings until it was time for her to leave to her respective elementary school. Being in the Little Cavalier program has had a huge impact on her; it is one of the main reasons she came to Gables to pursue a high school education. 

Not only did she know the school like the palm of her hand, but she also had formed an everlasting bond with Mrs. Baez; a bond that still stands today. 

“The fact that Mrs.Baez is still the child care teacher is extremely comforting, I know that she is someone I can always go talk to. I have been walking around the halls of Gables since I was two, so she has seen me grow for the past 13 years,” sophomore Katelynn Hernandez said.

Now as a highschool student, Hernandez is apart of various clubs, including the National English Honor Society (NEHS), Gables Players and International Baccalaureate Honor Society (IBHS). As for the following two years, she is determined to be more involved in her school community by joining the childcare program, Student Activities and uptaking leadership roles in the clubs she is actively involved with.  

Sophomore Darren McQueen

Natalie Abrahantes
McQueen is recognized as one of the fastest sophomores in the county in the sport of football.

If there is anything that Darren McQueen remembers about his time at the Little Cavalier daycare, it is nap time: something he once took for granted. He recalls stories of a particular moment where his teachers had brought water slides and other water activities for the toddlers to take part in. For McQueen, the biggest impact the daycare program had on him was how it influenced his decision of coming to Gables for high school. Ultimately, it was his familiarity with the school environment and the teachers he had met during his time in the program, that sealed the decision.

Now as a sophomore, McQueen is extremely involved in Gables as he is both part of the Cavalier Football and Cavalier Track & Field teams. He is also involved in other clubs such as Best Buddies and 5000 Role Models, both of which have had a pivotal role in the development of his character, as he details becoming more open-minded and selfless after actively participating in these clubs. After graduating high school, he hopes to attend the University of Central Florida (UCF) as he is enticed by their football and psychology programs. 

Sophomore Joshua Johnson

Natalie Abrahantes
Coming from a Bahamian, Cuban and Chinese background, Johnson actively enjoys learning about his cultures.

Although Joshua Johnson does not remember much from his time as a Little Cavalier, something he does recall is the amount of movies they used to show. For him, becoming part of the daycare program was a no-brainer as his mom, Mrs.Santamaria, was a part of the Gables teaching staff.

Currently, Johnson is involved in wrestling as he finds it to be exhilarating and allows him to practice his time management skills between school and athletics. Apart from sports, he is involved in clubs like the National Honor Society and 5000 Role Models, where he serves on the board as Sergeant in Arms. Before graduating, Johnson aspires to grow as an athlete and manifest his dream of winning a wrestling state championship for the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) into a reality. 

Sophomore Makela Dorgil 

Natalie Abrahantes
One of Makela Dorgil’s biggest passions in life is dancing; she aspires to join the cheer team next year to further pursue this passion.

Makela Dorgil joined the Little Cavalier daycare at the age of four and continued in the program all throughout pre-kindergarten. Although her memories during that period of time is quite limited, there are still some events she has carried with her.

For one, she remembers how all the Little Cavaliers would trick or treat throughout the school during halloween, an event that remains ongoing to this day. What made this event so special for her was being able to wear her favorite Superwoman costume, although she vividly remembers struggling to get out of it after wearing it.

Dorgil was in the program with her brother and they were known to be quite the troublemakers. They constantly found themselves in time-out as they loved to rub their foreheads against the carpet, ultimately causing a rug burn to appear on their faces. For Dorgil, coming to Gables for high school was unquestionable, not only because her mother, Mrs.Brown, is part of the Gables staff, but she also was attracted by the wide variety of academies the school had to offer.

“I am currently in the Design, Education and Hospitality (DEH) academy. I love the artistic ability it gives me to create my own clothes. It is so rewarding when I complete a piece and am able to wear it myself. I would not have been given this opportunity had I not come to Gables,” sophomore Makela Dorgil said.  

Sophomore Malek Dorgil

Natalie Abrahantes
Mesmerized by psychology, Dorgil hopes to pursue a career in the field.

Malek Dorgil does not remember much of his time as a Little Cavalier. However, when he looks back at everyone he met during his time in the program the one person that stands out to him is Ms. Feeney. Throughout his years at Gables, she has been a constant for him and has always provided him with guidance when needed.

For these next two years, Dorgil aims to continue growing in the 5000 Role Models club, where he serves as a mentor for underprivileged children. Throughout his years at Gables, he aspires to take up the sport of football, as he feels that he is not involved enough in his school.

“My sister and I were troublemakers, we were always stealing each other’s toys and pulling each other’s hair. Now her and I are extremely close so it is funny to look back at how our relationship has evolved over the years,” sophomore Malek Dorgil said.

For these students, the Little Cavalier program has allowed them to gain familiarity with their school campus from a young age while also giving them the opportunity to establish everlasting bonds with other students and staff members.  When making their high school decisions, Coral Gables Senior High came as a natural first option, as they already had their foundations within the walls of Gables, and were now given the opportunity to reinvent those foundations and build upon their characters as they carefully move along the path of their high school careers. Now officially a part of the Cavalier family as students, they have continuously impacted the school in a variety of ways and have become leaders in their school community.

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  • Little Cavaliers Johnson and Hernandez celebrate the Christmas holiday with matching shirts and themed goodie bags.

  • Little Cavaliers dress up in pilgrim costumes to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Hernandez eagerly receives her Christmas gift while sitting on Santa’s lap.

  • Enthusiastically, Hernandez unwraps a Christmas gift she received from Santa’s visit.

  • The Dorgil siblings sit alongside their teacher on their field-trip to Parrot Jungle.

  • Little Cavaliers line up against the wall dressed in their favorite costume as they take part in the annual trick or treat celebration.