June Morris, a Coral Gables Senior High class of ’79 alumna and former Gablette and cheerleader, has admiringly remained involved with the Coral Gables community since her graduation. She is the founder of a community group called Friends of Gables High that is comprised of Gables alumni, parents of Gables students, and interested members of the Gables community.
“Perhaps if we can restore Coral Gables High, then we can have a model for success for other schools to follow, and save the traditional public school system or at least show that our public schools are worth saving and still vitally important to our cities,” founder of Friends of Gables High June Morris said.
Back when she was a student at Gables High, the school was the pride of the city and she would like to see it regain the reputation and respect it once held and deserves. After graduating from Gables she attended the University of Florida where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Northwestern University where she earned a master’s in Broadcast Journalism at the Medill School of Journalism.
Eight years later, after completing her master’s degree, she moved back home and now resides near the Gables campus. The idea for Friends of Gables High originated with District 6 School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas who saw the need for Gables High to have an active alumni association, much like what other high schools in the area enjoy. Morris was asked to have an informal discussion about the school and its needs at her home, which she agreed to. By word of mouth alone, forty people were in attendance, including the current mayor of Coral Gables, two former mayors, and three city commissioners. A PowerPoint presentation showing the current state of the school’s campus was shown as well as a rendering projection of a new building to replace two of the current buildings.
“Everyone agreed that Gables needed a ‘voice’ in the form of a group outside of the school advocating for additional funding to ensure the upgrade of the entire campus including its athletic fields so that students can learn in a pleasant educational environment,” founder of Friends of Gables High June Morris said. The name “Friends of Gables High” was chosen since the future of Coral Gables Senior High School is crucially important to the entire city and not only to alumni of the school.
One of the first and most important moves for the group is the rebuilding of the band and chorus building as Morris feels the arts are crucial to have at the high school level. The MDCPS has already voted to increase the state General Obligation Bond to $26 million for renovations and new construction on the Gables High campus. The new building will be directly behind the auditorium with a wall that can completely open up to the new interior courtyard that is being designed behind the new building. With the open wall and an exterior stage, pep rallies can take place there as well as outdoor concerts, plays, and much more.
“With these new designs, the students involved in the arts including the Band of Distinction will have more space and the opportunity to reach their optimum potential,” Morris said.
Morris and the group are in the planning stages of how to raise their initial $1 million dollar goal. She emphasizes that Friends of Gables High is more than an alumni association; it is a group of citizens who want the future of the high school to shine bright and truly appreciate the historic campus.