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Riviera Beach community raises $126K to benefit Suncoast High School

Suncoast Foundation helps thousands of students in 10 years
Posted at 11:18 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 11:18:44-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A $126,000 donation is set to take academics at Suncoast High School to new heights. The school said it's the largest donation received in its history.

The Riviera Beach school has many students that come from underprivileged families but still succeed academically.

"It used to be a hidden gem, and I think people within the past few years especially are starting to realize just how much talent is coming out of the school," Suncoast High valedictorian Alana Ferguson said. "It definitely wasn't easy. I took almost 30 (Advanced Placement) classes. I got my IB diploma, and I duel enrolled almost full credits every single semester since I was able to."

Ferguson is set to attend Princeton University on a full-ride scholarship in the fall and credits her academic success to the Suncoast Foundation.

Suncoast High valedictorian Alana Ferguson
Alana Ferguson discusses how the Suncoast Foundation helped her become valedictorian.

Suncoast High School Principal Kathryn Koerner said the foundation provides students with resources like SAT prep and college application help, as well as summer programs that get students ready for more challenging courses that some may otherwise not be able to afford.

"The why is our students, and without a doubt, it's what keeps us going. It's why we're invested. It's why we remain invested and why we continue to do what we do," Koerner said. "When they seek that success or when you see them personally proud, it's euphoric."

The money was raised by local philanthropists within the community, who saw the need after funding for the foundation ran dry during the pandemic.

Suncoast High School Principal Kathryn Koerner
Suncoast High School Principal Kathryn Koerner explains what the foundation provides to students.

"We've got your back, and we're going to help you be the most successful that you can be with technology, additional support. But it's really you who has to make it happen, but we've got your back on the community," Janna Ronert, who helped fundraise the donation for the Suncoast Foundation, said.

Koerner said the Suncoast Foundation has been around for 10 years and helped thousands of students.

"We have a number of students who are first-generation college-bound, and while their parents want to support them and provide those opportunities, they may not have had those same experiences," Koerner said.

Ronert said next year she hopes to double the fundraising total.

Janna Ronert, Suncoast Foundation
Janna Ronert explains how the Suncoast Foundation is helping students achieve academic success.

"This provides so many opportunities that throughout the country honestly are not provided to students so being able to attend a school in an underprivileged area where I was able to get the best math education, best math education that paralleled so many competitive high schools in the country and land me at Princeton with a full ride," Ferguson said. "That is a really big deal, and I think a lot of students need to know that that is also possible for them if they use the resources which Suncoast can provide."

Suncoast was ranked No. 119 in the national rankings for Best U.S. High Schools in 2022, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Nearly 18,000 schools were ranked on six factors based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college.