R.I.P. (to the Original) Miami-Carol City Sr. High School
By Khalil Amani (née Lloyd Clark)
Everybody wants to think that they attended the best high school! That’s what you’re supposed to think if you had/have any school spirit! Well I think I went to the “bestest” school in the nation—Miami-Carol City Senior High School, home of the Chiefs! (Chief Pride!) I went to Carol City from 1974 to 1978 (Class of ’78) and graduated 104 out of 564 students. Not bad, eh?
If you haven’t already heard, they’ve torn down Miami-Carol City Senior High School and built a new school right behind it—facing Miami Gardens Drive/183 Street. What a beautiful school, but damn! The old school was built in 1963 and decommissioned a few years ago. But most recently they have brought in the bulldozers and flattened our old Alma Mater. Maaan! That was a hellava school! Here's some footage of what used to be Carol City High School.
In the 70’s, Carol City was truly a melting-pot of cultures—somewhere around 30% white, 30% black, 30% Latino/Cuban/Puerto Rican and 10% everything else—and we all got along! (Things seem to be more racist today then they were back then! I don’t know!)
I was in the orchestra and the marching band and although other schools made fun of our (Halloween) colors (orange, black, white)—the Marching Chiefs handed out many-a ass-whipping during halftime shows. We were the mixed-race band that was feared and revered by every black high school band in Miami! Make no mistake about that!
(I was a skinny, bucked-tooth kid, but I was cute!)
Going to Carol City High was such a great experience that I seldom skipped school (except for that one time when me and my then girlfriend went to my crib so I could get some "scungy-brown" [our word for sex back then] and got cold busted when my mama and daddy suddenly drove up and caught us bucket-naked on the living room floor, but that’s another essay)—or Senior Skip Day at the beach. Carol City was such a great school (especially during football season) that when Friday came, we couldn’t wait for Monday to roll back around!
Yes! Miami-Carol City Senior High School produced many stars and noteworthy people, yea, thousands of young people that went on to be productive citizens. I'm sure you're aware of those students who hit the big time, but I want to highlight a few hard-working individuals that weren’t famous or multimillionaires (We'll get to the famous folk in a minute!). These are your everyday-get-up-and-go-to-work-9-to-5'ers who had long careers doing what they do. These are the unsung heroes that make this machine (America) work.
Starting with my childhood/high-school best friend James Rutledge. He was a member of the marching band and one of Carol City’s best dancers! Mr. Rutledge performed one of the greatest half-time dance routines in the school’s history when he came on the field in a white tuxedo and performed to The Commodore’s “Zoom”—a riveting performance that highlighted the soul of a marching band laden with diverse nationalities.
(Class of 1977)
After high school Mr. Rutledge joined the Air Force and traveled the world, fell in love, married and had two beautiful children. He specialized in security, where he policed air bases around the world. James spent 24 years in the Air Force and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant. I want to say, “Thank you James for reppin' Carol City and being a friend and for serving our country honorably for over two decades!” Job well-done!
Rhonda Campbell Culver
(Class of 1977)
Guys! Remember that one girl in high school that was “untouchable?”—like, she was so pretty, so fine, so classy and just a beautiful person that you dared not approach? That was Rhonda Campbell! LOL! Rhonda was also in the marching band. As it turned out, Ms. Campbell Culver has brains to match her beauty. After high school she went to college where she obtained a B.A. at the University of Florida and an M.A. at Washington University in Anthropology. She’s worked as a counselor and director for the YMCA. She also trained and organized events for the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. Her work is too numerous to name here, but I’m proud of her and honored that she is continuing in the footsteps of some of the great ones—Ivan Van Sertima, Zora Neale Hurston and many others who are about preserving African identity in the Diaspora. Right on sista!
(Class of 1977)
Another Carol City student who was athletic as hell! Known as “Tippy Toes” (because he walked on his toes), Ralph was a speedster on the track. In fact, his whole family were athletic phenoms, which stemmed from his pop, Coach Burns (R.I.P.), who was a teacher at Carol City as well. Wildly popular, Ralph was the life of a good party and such a great dancer that even I (someone who could get down with the best of ‘em!) had to acknowledge his dance moves. I never could do that step where he spreads his legs and does this limbo-type move side-to-side. That was his bread & butter! LOL!
After graduating, Mr. Burns joined the Marines for two years and then joined the Army and retired in 2006 as a Sergeant First Class. During his military service he lived in Germany and Korea. Ralph served as a Senior Instructor, Platoon Sergeant and Detachment Sergeant in the Air Defense and Space Command. His service to our country spanned over 27 years! I can’t fathom being in one career so long, so congratulations on a job well done and reppin’ Carol City High to the fullest!
(Class of 1979)
Shawn Hines was also a member of Carol City’s illustrious band. Since the age of social media, I’ve been able to reconnect with people I went to school with. Mr. Hines is someone that I’ve reconnected with and find his profession quite fascinating; that is, training dogs. He started at 12 years old being mentored by an old-school fellow in the art of training dogs—training his German shepherd. After graduation, Shawn traveled around touring with the Army band and moved to Switzerland where he noticed that dogs were far better-behaved than dogs in the States. Instinctively, he knew that he could help people with their dogs. I mean, like, everybody has a dog, right? Today, Mr. Hines is a professional dog trainer. “Best Buddy Dog Training.” If your dog is unruly, Shawn will fix that quick, fast and in a hurry!
Carol City produced some great human beings—too numerous to name, but I’m gonna highlight a few famous people/notable folk and some not-so-notable folk who represent the spirit of achievement that Miami-Carol City Senior High School instilled in us.
1. Trayvon Martin (R.I.P.)
2. Rod Sibert (R.I.P.)
(Class of 74)
Rod was a member of the marching band in 1974. He played Tuba and was known for his on-field solo dancing, but was much more acclaimed as a professional actor while still in high school, performing at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. His crowning achievement was landing the role of the fat scarecrow in “The Wiz” starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. (Pictured 2nd from left)
3. Danny Tartabull
(Class of 1980, Major League baseball player with 6-teams—Mariners, Royals, Yankees, Athletics, White Sox, Phillies)
4. Nick Esasky
(Class of 1978 Major League baseball player with Atlanta Brave, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox.)
5. Lester Williams
(Class of 1978 NFL, Patriots, Chargers, Seahawks)
6. Santana Moss
7. Sinorice Moss
(Class of 2002 NFL Giants, Eagles)
8. Kenneth Phillips
9. Jo Marie Payton
(Class of 1968 TV Family Matters),
10. Ricky Jean-Francois
(Class of 2005 nfl 49ers, Colts)
11. Charles Claxton
(Class of 1989 NBA Phoenix, Celtics)
12. Irving Thomas
(Class of 1985 Lakers)
13. Larry Handfield
(Class of 1973 Attorney)
Mr. Handfield is a nationally known trial/defense lawyer who wears many hats in the South Florida community. He holds a Bachelors and two Doctorial degrees. Growing up and attending Carol City High, Handfield was a natural-born leader, as drum major of the band and the sharpest dresser in the school! He was all business then and all business now!
14. Roderick Vereen
(Class of 1979 Attorney)
Roderick Vereen played drums in the marching band. At Miami-Dade Community College we became fraternity brothers of Alpha Phi Omega National Fraternity, Inc. Mr. Vereen went on to obtain his Bachelor's Degree and then a law degree. Most recently, Mr. Vereen represented Rachel Jeantel, the "star witness" in the Zimmerman case.
15. Glen Sharp
(Class of 2002 nfl Falcons, Colts, saints)
16. Ken Pruitt
(Class of 1975 Florida Senate)
17. Fred Nixon
(Class of 1976 Green Bay Packers)
18. Robert Sands
(Class of 2008 Bengals)
19. William Roberts
(Class of 1980 NFL Giants, Patriots)
20. John Swain
(Class of 1976 Vikings, Dolphins, Steelers)
21. Joey Cornblit
(Class of 1974 Jai aLai)
22. Tony Jones
(Class of 1978 Actor)
Tony Jones was a high school Thespian. We (me included!) used to attend P.A.V.A.C. (Performing & Visual Arts Center) at Miami Northwestern High after school to hone our acting chops. Acting came natural to Tony and after he graduated he landed several commercial gigs, most notably a Doublemint commercial, but his biggest break came when he hit the Silver Screen playing the part of "Arthur" in the movies My Girl and My Girl 2 with Dan Aykroyd, Macaulay Culkin and Jamie Lee Curtis. I was so excited for him!
23. Brianna Perry
24. Pretty Ricky
25. Flo Rida (née Tramar Dillard)
(Class of 1998 Rapper)
26. Brisco (née British Alexander Mitchell)
27. Rick Ross (née William Roberts II)
You see that Chief head medallion? Rick Ross reppin' that Carol City Chiefs to the fullest!
#28. Marvin Dixon Class of '85
Marvin Dixon...Class of '85. The first comedian from the state of Florida to do HBO Def Jam, BET Comic View and won every major black comedy competition. Marvin was the first comedian in Florida to Co-host a Radio Morning Show (WEDR 99jamz), headline The Def Jam Comedy Tour for 2 years and perform for Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise 10 years straight! Mr. Dixon put Miami on the map for Black comedy! Comedy, in Miami was non-existent until he took it to the next level. Now every major comedy tour comes through Dade County! How 'bout dat?
As you see, Miami-Carol City Senior High School has a long and storied history, spanning back 50 years. There are many, many, many students who became doctors, nurses, lawyers, police men, firefighters, teachers, counselors, home-makers, sanitation workers, cooks, and every profession under the sun. We are all successful in the lot we were given. To the new Miami-Carol City Senior High School--you have big shoes to fill! We will be waiting and watching and we, the alumni of Carol City expect nothing less than EXCELLENCE! Let's go! #EducationFirst
This article was written by former Miami-Carol City Senior High School alumni Khalil Amani aka "Lloyd Rodney Clark," Class of 1978.
Khalil Amani is a hip-hop writer extraordinaire! Amani blogs for AllHipHopcom (The oldest and most respected hip-hop site on the net!). He also writes for DJ Kay Slay’s Originators Magazine & Straight Stuntin Magazine. In 2012 he was nominated for "Writer of the Year" at the Urban Model Awards. Amani also writes for Hoodgrown, Maybach and Sext Magazines. He is the author of six books, including the ground-breaking book, “Hip-Hop Homophobes…” iuniverse.com 07. Amani is gay hip-hop’s self-proclaimed straight advocate. His blogs have appeared at Daveyd.com, Thisis50.com and many, many other websites. Mr. Amani has been featured in The Miami Herald, the Miami New Times, Miami Times, Esquire Magazine, Spin Magazine and LA Times and his book on the Yahweh cult has been featured on The Biography Channel's "Escaping Evil" as well as "I Survived a Cult." Mr. Amani holds an Associate of Arts Degree in English from San Diego Mesa College and a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Black Studies with a Minor in Religion from the University of Nebraska . Visit The Coonerific One at http://www.khalilamani.ning.com Follow on Facebook/Twitter @khalilamani. Youtube @ yahweh 12 Khalilamani@yahoo.com