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Earlier this month, schools and organizations throughout Florida joined at least 600 celebrations nationwide to recognize students for their hard work and future academic plans.   The Inaugural Florida College Decision Day was inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which is an effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school.

Florida schools and organizations hosted events with a variety of festivities to celebrate graduating high school seniors’ next educational steps.  Students wore t-shirts from their chosen colleges, received kudos from inspirational guest speakers and attended ceremonies and rallies while celebrating with their educators, community leaders, friends, families and classmates.  Students, educators and community members also took to social media with photos of soon-to-be grads adorned in college gear, using hashtags such as #CollegeDecisionDay, #CollegeSigningDay, and #ReachHigher.

In Miami, five high schools celebrated College Decision Day with the support of City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, who declared May 1 College Signing Day and announced it as an annual event. At Miami Senior High, Mayor Regalado congratulated the student body at a rally in their honor.  After describing the city’s commitment to the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Mayor Regalado told students, “…No matter what system you live in, no matter what community you come from…you have the right to go forward with your education and graduate from high school and go to college; so we accepted the challenge and the reason we [did so] is because we believe in you.”

Students at Seminole Ridge High School in Loxahatchee (Palm Beach County) celebrated by signing a banner committing to their educational pursuits at an event energized by a school band performance. “We were excited to be a part of College Decision Day and to provide the class of 2015 a collective opportunity to show pride in their college choices. Through their participation, our seniors helped to reinforce Seminole Ridge’s goal of making all our Hawks college- and career-ready,” said high school principal James Campbell.

At Miramar High School in Broward County, over 500 students declared their college decisions during College Decision Day.  The school had a varied program including a recorded message from the First Lady Michelle Obama, a presentation of colors by the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, banner signing, a student theatrical production called “Going to College” and a keynote speech from Dr. Frankie S. Laanan, a higher education professor at Florida Atlantic University.

Several College Decision Day events also helped younger students and undecided seniors with resources to make their postsecondary plans.  Monique Byrd, a school counselor at Haines City High School, said “We are celebrating our seniors who are furthering their education (college/career/military) and encouraging our underclassmen to start preparing for their future now. It is this attention on preparing students early on for college and career readiness that helps to make college access and completion possible.”

Florida CAN congratulates all the schools and organizations throughout the state that participated in College Decision Day. In particular, we would like to extend special recognition to those schools and organizations that shared their College Decision Day experiences with us: Haines City High (Polk County), Bloomingdale High (Hillsborough County), Miramar High (Broward County), Poinciana High (Orange County), Seminole Ridge High (Palm Beach county), Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida (Orange County), Miami Lakes Education Center, Booker T. Washington High, Miami High and Northwestern Miami High, Miami Edison High and Miami Jackson High.

College Decision Day is certain to become a spirited tradition across Florida. The Florida College Access Network congratulates those schools that plan to make Florida College Decision Day an annual event.  We look forward to next year’s Florida College Decision Day and celebrating the future plans of thousands of Florida students across the state!

Are you interested in hosting a College Decision Day event in 2016?  Would you like to learn more?  Contact Arianna Pineiro, FCAN’s Special Projects Coordinator, for more information at or view the College Decision Day toolkit here.

Click here to view more photos from the event.


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