From the time he was young, Christian Johnson has been a gifted trumpet player. That spark grew into a flame when he was in fourth grade and got invited backstage to meet legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
Marsalis encouraged Christian to practice every day, and the young musician took it to heart, picking up the horn for hours on end day in and day out. As the end of his high school career drew to a close, the practice yielded results — Florida A&M University offered him a full-ride music scholarship.
But Christian was unable to take advantage of it. The long hours practicing music and the academic momentum lost during the Covid pandemic combined to leave him short of the credits needed to graduate with his class in 2020.
The news hit him hard. “I completely gave up.”
But then, via Facebook, he found out about Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies, which works in partnership with the public school district to provide a flexible, personalized path to graduation. For students like Christian who missed the chance to graduate with his class, this opportunity is life changing.
He only had two classes to go. “I could have been at college. I could have been playing trumpet,” he says. “Instead, I wasted all this time.”
When he enrolled, MDAA Director Marcus Moore was the first to greet him. “The first time I walked in, he said, ‘I’m glad you’re here. Welcome in.’ ”
Christian is the first to admit that, initially, he didn’t put in enough effort. He had found a job that paid decent money and school no longer held much of an appeal. His momentum sagged — but Moore did not give up on him.
“He pulled me to the side, he said, ‘Hey man, half a credit, you should have been finished by now,’ ” Christian recalls. “I was like, man, he’s right.”
Moore, along with other members of the MDAA team, stayed right there with Christian as he built the study skills and self-discipline needed to finish strong. And in January, the young man reached his goal and earned his diploma.
He’s on to college and, some day, his name and music in lights. Christian gives Moore much of the credit.
“He’s one of the people who put me back on the path.”
Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies accepts new students on a rolling basis. For more information, check out the academy web page and fill out an online enrollment form.