The Payne Legacy: Alumnus Darrell Payne


Courtesy of Darrell Payne

A once-Cavalier who ran for the school’s track and field team, alum Darrell Payne has returned to his Alma Mater as an accomplished lawyer.

Arianna Hoyos, Features Editor

With a school that is 71 years old, very few can say that they have seen Coral Gables Senior High grow and change throughout the years. Alumnus Darrell Payne is among those few with both him and his children having attended Gables and him being an active member and co-founder of Friends of Gables High, a non-profit organization that aids and helps fund school projects.

Since he graduated in 1981, the school has had various renovations including the construction of both the 9000 and 6000 buildings and additions to the landscape and academics offered on campus. Although these changes look massive on the outside, Payne believes they are only superficial and the culture at Gables remains the same.

“The heart of it, the passion for excellence, the community connections, that has always been at Gables, you know, from the time I was there. The other thing that I think is really unique about Gables is it has always been this really diverse school,” Darrell Payne said.

A 1981 graduate, Payne (bottom) made plenty of appearances in the Cavaleon yearbook throughout the years. (Courtesy of Darrell Payne)

Despite his love for the school’s culture and student body, after sending his second son through the International Baccalaureate program, Payne began to realize how much the exterior of the school needed maintenance. Cracked paint and rusted fences seemed to be what fellow parents in the community would focus on rather than the academics.

Taking a step back, Payne realized that, physically, the school had a lot to live up to. Wanting to do something about the condition of his alma mater, Payne worked together with co-founders June Morris and Sam Joseph to create FOGH.

“We needed to get people together to really push and encourage more investment in the school, more community connections, and overall to improve the physical structure. At the time we started, Gables was the oldest school in Miami-Dade County,” Darrell Payne said.

At first, the alum was hesitant, unsure of whether other alumni and members of the community would be willing to come together to aid the school. However, after reaching out and meeting for the first official FOGH meeting, he was astounded by the number of people interested in helping the place that was once his second home.

Darrell Payne (right) stands alongside June Morris (middle) and Stuart Grossman (left) in front of the new 6000 building and FOGH-donated golf cart.

Among the top goals of FOGH was increasing visibility around campus for outsiders. Payne wanted to make sure that those driving on the street could see how good of a school Gables was even if it was not the most modern campus in the city.

Alongside the organization, Payne has worked with the school board to increase the general obligation bond dedicated to major school renovations such as the novel 6000 building and remodeling of the gymnasium which has not yet begun. On a smaller scale, the organization gives the school mini-grants which are beyond the resources of the Parent Teacher Student Association to help tackle smaller needs.

“We’ve made more and more people in the community aware of exactly how good a school Gables is, regardless of what the facade may look like,” Darrell Payne said.

Working to not only help the school day-to-day but also to leave something for future Cavaliers, Payne explains that FOGH hopes to eventually establish an endowment with a significant amount of money set aside to be able to give to Gables students in perpetuity.

While making sure the schools’ beautification projects continue underway, Payne’s main goal is to keep the familial culture at Gables thriving. A forever Cavalier, Payne has made his mark on Gables and is prepared to pass on the renovated campus and Cavalier mascot to incoming students.