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Miami Northwestern: From Football Scandal to "A" School

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for

Miami New Times

. This week, Luke assesses the reformation of a once-failing school.
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Miami Northwestern Senior High Principal Wallace Aristide has done the unthinkable. He has turned the school into an academic institution that received its first A grade this year. Aristide has now fulfilled the vision of his predecessor, Charles Hankerson.

Hankerson, you might recall, is the former principal who butted heads with Northwestern's tight-knit community of parents and boosters.

Aristide, however, is the man who deserves credit here. No one can turn a failing school around overnight.

"It's incredible. It's quite a feeling," Aristide recently told the Miami Times. "I am in awe. I haven't slept in three days."

Northwestern always had a reputation for producing all-star athletes, winning state and national championships in football and women's track and field. Unfortunately, the success didn't filter into the classroom. Northwestern received D or F grades for 12 consecutive years from 1998 to 2010. It was labeled one of the state's 163 "dropout factories" in a Johns Hopkins University study.

Hankerson began to change the culture, and Aristide picked up the torch when he took over three years ago. Aristide found a way to rise above the political backroom dealing that didn't serve the best interests of Northwestern. During the two years I volunteered as an assistant football coach there, I saw Aristide motivate every Northwestern faculty member and employee. He urged them to accept responsibility for the well-being and education of every student.

Aristide hasn't won anything on the football field, but he can claim victory in the classroom. During my tenure, my defensive players averaged a 3.0 GPA, and many of them received academic scholarships to attend college. That's why Aristide deserves props for reshaping Northwestern into a model school of the 21st century.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1 and @unclelukesempir

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