Gables’ Academy of Finance Brings Back School Traditions

After being put on hold for over a year, on Sept. 14 and 15 “Dress for Success” made its grand debut for this school year.

William Beardslee

After being put on hold for over a year, on Sept. 14 and 15 “Dress for Success” made its grand debut for this school year.

Following the return to in-person school after quarantining for a year and a half, many Coral Gables Senior High traditions have also initiated a comeback. Some of the activities can be found in Gables’ very own financial magnet, the National Academy of Finance. Aside from offering students business courses, clubs and opportunities, AOF also offers two events that are relevant to the program. “Dress for Success” provides students the chance to learn about and practice proper business attire, and “Family Night” invites parents to familiarize themselves with their child’s curriculum. 

On Sept. 15, the first of many AOF Family Nights took place. Compared to previous years, this Family Night was unique; the previous AOF academy leader, Ms. Lopez, said her farewell to students and parents and Mr. Ball-Llovera, the new academy leader, introduced himself. Mr. Ball-Llovera opened up Family Night with an introduction of the four AOF pillars; academy development and structure, advisory boards, curriculum and instruction and work-based learning plan/internship.

This family night included all grades levels, so Mr. Ball-Llovera provided a brief overview of the specialized curriculum that AOF offers. He informed the audience that AOF has two different tracks students can choose from — Finance and Entrepreneurship. It was further elaborated that each path has its own set of specific classes with the summer internship and provides career readiness. Overall, the magnet equips students with real-world business and financial market exposure. 

Mr. Ball-Llovera (far left second row) the Academy of Finance leader, poses with his students on his first official “Dress for Success” day. (William Beardslee)

The NAF Academy has given me the opportunity to learn many real-world skills that I will always incorporate in my life and in future jobs. From being certified in some Adobe and Microsoft programs to having the chance to do an internship at Miami Seaquarium to gain work experience, I’m really grateful that the academy gives me the chance to learn all these skills and also have the time to be involved in other extracurricular activities,” senior Jennifer Urbina said.

The PowerPoint presentation shared details about the Future Business Leaders of America Club. This club is open to all the students at Gables and provides students with opportunities to compete in local, state and national competitions. FBLA is also one of the largest clubs in the United States and is well renowned across colleges and universities. 

Mr. Ball-Llovera also went over “Dress for Success.” “Dress for Success” is an event that will most frequently take place on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month. AOF Cavaliers are required to come to school dressed in business formal attire. Business casual is also permitted under the assumption that it does not violate the standard school uniform rules and business ethics. Because this is a mandatory event, students receive either a grade or extra credit from their academy teacher.

“Dress for Success” will be utilized to prepare students for their upcoming paid internship in the summer of their junior year as well. These internships can range from working for the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to teaching students at a local Florida school. Since these students will be working, they must be aware of what is considered appropriate for a business job as part of the magnets career readiness curriculum. 

“I think the event was overall very successful…  We could have had a better turnout if the event was maybe marketed a little better. Either way, we managed to get the information across to parents and students” Mr. Ball-Llovera said. 

 The first full Academy of Finance experience for students, parents and even Mr. Ball-Llovera is on the horizon. Among many other unfortunate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, all AOF activities were canceled in the 2020-2021 school year. The current Juniors have only had access to a fraction of the experience. On the bright side, now freshman, sophomores and Mr. Ball-Llovera will begin with a fresh slate and a complete experience that awaits them. With a bright future ahead of the academy, Mr. Ball-Llovera is determined to put AOF on the right path.