The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School


The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School


The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School


Graceful Graham: The building block of Charter

“July 5th, 2000.”

Twenty four golden years were spent well worked by the now retired, highschool receptionist, parent volunteer coordinator, bookkeeper, and so much more, Anita Graham. “It’s difficult sometimes,” she says. “It’s not like I’m in a room and office with the door closed and I can get my stuff done without interruptions. That’s a big thing, you have to kind of multitask and to learn to cover other people’s jobs,” she explains.

Before working at Charter, Ms. Graham worked four years at Flanagan, accompanying her two daughters who were attending the school at the time. According to her, there were 2,600 children enrolled in the system, with a deficit in staff. Graham still remembers faces from her short lived office duties.

“By the end of 1999, the principal was saying, Anita, I’m leaving- and I’m looking at her like, ‘You’re leaving? Who am I going to get?’ She says ‘I’m opening the City of Pembroke Pines Charter High School and I want you to come with me.’ I agreed but I also had to make sure that the years I had with our schools were gonna work with my Florida retirement system, which I found out they did.” With 10 years Ms. Graham had in the system between working at a middle school and Flanagan, she was successfully able to leave.

According to Ms. Graham, when she first arrived at Charter, only the A building, S building, M building, and the college were open. During the beginning of her career at Charter, Graham oversaw the construction of the C building, D building, U building, and the River of Grass auditorium. “The bookkeeper and I. That was the only desk in the entire A building,” she reminisces.

Over her career, Graham was a devoted woman, the kind who believed that “hard work pays off.” As an administrator, Ms. Graham often spent many summers recording textbooks and other supplies in the system. “If the supplies for the new school year are already approved, I would have to enter them in the system and once they come in, they would be delivered,” she said. Graham opened each box of supplies, counted them, making absolutely sure everything was received just as on the forms. She then boxed them up, taped them and had maintenance transfer the goods. “Those were challenges. I thought, wow, to do this all day.”

Those were challenges. I thought, wow, to do this all day.

— Ms Graham

During the school year, Graham worked as a secretary who assisted with bookkeeping regularly, answered calls, and coordinated all of the parent volunteer hours. Between her job functions, she also managed to support each and every employee, even in her years working downstairs in the U building.

Ms. Graham worked 14 years at the high school, 7 years at the middle school, and finished with 3 years back at the high school. According to Graham,“one of the very positive things I saw while working was watching all the kids grow. Some of these kids were so shy and they’re so timid. There’s little 6th graders, next thing, you know, they’re so grown up and mature. They come up to you, asking certain questions, just so sweet and innocent. Now I see them as seniors graduating, and it’s just so mind boggling.”

Ms. Graham’s computer is often swamped with an abnormally large amount of tabs as she racks attendance lines, responds to emails, and checks people in through their driver’s license or through the national database. “Those things have to be open first thing in the morning because I’m telling you, it gets crazy like around 7:00. Sometimes I have students that come in shadowing or doing their internships there. You also have city workers coming on behalf of orders that I have done like to fix the overflowing toilet in the S building, or the sink leaking, just anything that needs maintenance throughout that facility,” she explains.

But, most importantly, beyond any job Ms. Graham has ever played a vital role in, she’s never lost sight of being a hardworking mother. For eight years, she stayed at home with her daughters. After briefly working at an elementary school, she then followed them to highschool, which allowed her to oversee their progress and growth. And now, as of two years (and a couple months), Graham has earned a title with heavier weight than any she could earn on campus: a grandmother.

“She is a ball of fire,” Graham describes. “We all enjoy her so much and she is just so much fun to be with. I have her sometimes on the weekends. We do things with her, we take her to the beach, we swim in her pool in the backyard, and she’s just such a blessing.” Her granddaughter sums up to one of the many reasons Graham has to leave two decades of service behind.

“I want to enjoy my retirement. I want to be with my husband. He’s retired. I want to start doing a little bit of traveling. We have a trip scheduled for Alaska in the summer on a cruise and I want to check off some of my bucket list. I want to see the leaves fall, and visit a friend over in the west coast, when I want to; to have a routine and activities each day,” she proclaims. “Keep busy, cause that’s the key to not just sitting around.”

Graham also notes how important it is to be mindful of health along with enjoying the fruits of your labor. “We all don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know how many years I have, you know, or anybody for that matter.”

Just before her retirement, the school celebrated her prowess with a jubilant gathering, where she was surrounded by loved ones and close coworkers. “I’m going to miss Cindy Velez. I love working with her. She’s just very bubbly. I’m going to miss Debbie Tabby years ago when she was here, Savina who was a registrar who’s no longer here at the school, and Cristina Wheeler. There’s a lot of people that come and go but I can say I had a fulfilling place here.”

Ultimately, Ms. Graham leaves one last comment before her retirement. “When you work hard, you want to be able to sit back and enjoy what you did.”

When you work hard, you want to be able to sit back and enjoy what you did.”

— Ms Graham

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Abigail Wheeler
Abigail Wheeler, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Abigail Wheeler (but you can call me Abby)! I am a sophomore and this is my first year as a Staff Writer for the CHAT. I am so overjoyed to take part in such an honorable class and I am looking forward to write to my heart’s content. I love music, writing stories (and poems), and most importantly, art! I try to master many different forms of art but my personal favorite is rendering digital art. Be sure to contact me: [email protected]!
Tatiana Cruzado
Tatiana Cruzado, Photo Staff
Hello, my name is Tatiana Cruzado! I am currently a junior and this is my first year in The CHAT. This year I will be a part of the photo team and I am also an officer of our school’s theatre department as a Content Creator. I enjoy photography, dance, singing, acting, and performing in general. I am looking forward to all the amazing things that The CHAT has in store for this year! Contact me at [email protected] for anything. Go Jags!

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