Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Alumni Hall of Fame
 
2020

Miami Northwestern Senior High School (Class of 1998)

Film director, producer and screenwriter 2017 Academy Award Winner Best Adapted Screenplay for Best Picture Moonlight

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The first African-American to ever direct an Academy Award winner for best picture with Moonlight,
Barry Jenkins was raised in Liberty City to a single mother who became consumed by drug addiction,
and a father he never knew. Jenkins became a distinguished football player at Miami Northwestern
Senior and studied film at Florida State University where he found like-minded cinephiles with
whom he has worked with ever since through his production company, Pastel. With Moonlight and
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry is one of the few filmmakers to ascend the narrow spires of
American prestige cinema with work that centers black characters, and the image of a character
staring straight ahead has become a hallmark of his work. Considering himself an introvert and
“intensely private” person, Jenkins is most comfortable engaging through his work. Like writing the
screenplay for Flint Strong on the life of the gold-medal-winning boxer Claressa Shields to be played
by Ice Cube, and directing the entire Amazon video series, The Underground Railroad.

Mitchell Kaplan

Miami Beach Senior High School (Class of 1972)

Owner, Books & Books Founder of the Miami Book Fair Publisher, podcaster, and movie producer

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It’s a good thing for Miami-Dade that Mitchell Kaplan decided against becoming a lawyer. Born and
raised on Miami Beach, this Beach High graduate went on to receive his English degree and for a
short time debated whether his father’s profession of law was a better choice. However, his love of
literary culture landed Mitch back in Miami as an English teacher at Southridge Senior High.
With the idea of becoming a bookseller in the back of his mind, Kaplan opened Books & Books in
Coral Gables in 1982 – just 2 blocks from where the flagship location stands today. Two years later,
he co-founded the Miami Book Fair, now the largest of its kind in the nation, deepening Miami’s
cultural footprint. Over time, Books & Books has expanded to nine locations including one in Grand
Cayman and one in Key West with children’s author, Judy Blume. Although always connected to
bookstores, Mitch is now also a publisher, podcaster and successful movie producer. His company
Mazur Kaplan will commence production, this spring on the suspense thriller, Let Him Go, starring
two-time Oscar winner Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.

Tarell Alvin McCraney

New World School of the Arts (Class of 1999)

American Playwright and Actor 2017 Academy Award Winner Best Adapted Screenplay for Best Picture Moonlight

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Acclaimed for his script that was the basis for Moonlight, which won him and fellow inductee
Jenkins an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s academic potential was
recognized early. Raised in a working-class family in Liberty City by a mother who struggled with
drug addiction, he found himself tracked into a magnet program from middle school that let him
focus on literature and performing arts; graduating from New World School of the Arts.
McCraney says he is obsessed with telling stories, and credits his grandfather, who was a Baptist
minister, for deepening his understanding of the spiritual power of narrative. Growing up alongside
immigrants from Haiti and Cuba also influenced his writing as seen in the trilogy of dramas, The
Brother/Sister Plays. His ability to merge the mundane with the profound and to draw complex
emotions out of people is a hallmark of McCraney’s work. He has seen eight plays produced, written
two screenplays, won a MacArthur Genius Grant and adapted Shakespeare for the Royal Shakespeare
Company in London. Not to mention serving as the Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama.

Sam Moore

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Booker T. Washington High School  (Class of 1953)

Singer, songwriter and musician Grammy award winner Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

At 84 years young, the singer behind the Sam & Dave hits including Soul Man, Hold On, I’m Comin’
and When Something is Wrong with My Baby, is the only man from Miami in the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame. Moore’s career began, like many others--inside the long gone, black nightclub on
20th Avenue in Liberty City called The King of Hearts. But unlike others who performed on that
stage like Memphis-born Aretha Franklin and Georgia-born partner Dave Prater, Sam Moore was
homegrown. Born in Overtown, he attended Booker T. Washington Senior and is the only Miamian
in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has played command performances for the Queen of England
and six presidents from Jimmy Carter to present day bringing his Miami music royalty to Ocean
Drive as grand marshal of the Veteran’s Day parade this past November. Sam’s hometown pride is
contagious and his love of young people is evident--partnering with local organizations like Guitars
Over Guns, Miami Music Project and Little Kids Rock to put musical instruments in the hands of
students and lending his voice to the a cappella choir from Miami Arts Studio 6-12 at Zelda Glazer.

Stephen M. Ross

Miami Beach Senior High School (Class of 1958)

Chairman of The Related Companies Principal owner of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium

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Growing up in Detroit, Stephen M. Ross graduated from Miami Beach Senior and was a tax attorney
prior to founding The Related Companies in 1972. Owner of both the Miami Dolphins and Hard
Rock Stadium, Ross embraces the opportunity to give back to the community. His more than $700
million investment in Hard Rock Stadium has transformed the venue into a global entertainment
destination that attracted the recent Super Bowl, major concerts and international soccer matches.
But it is his charity work that sets him apart. The Dolphins Cancer Challenge has raised more
than $32 million for cancer research, and the Junior Dolphins program where more than 25,000
high school players, coaches and parents have been educated on the health and safety of football.
Believing that Football Unites, the Miami Dolphins have partnered with the school district on Values
Matter Miami, a values education program that exposes students to core values like respect and
kindness inside and outside the classroom. As part of a Super Bowl collaboration between several
partners including the Miami Dolphins, Miami Beach High’s football field, named after Ross in 2011,
received a $1 million investment for new turf to benefit current and future students.