A young fellow who graduated from the same high school I did, Jeffrey Bezos, excelled at a Miami Palmetto High School that is consistently ranked in the highest-scoring scholastic tests in the nation.
He was 1982’s school valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar, and won a Silver Knight award for science that Knight-Ridder newspapers founder John Knight instituted at the Miami Herald when Knight was its publisher. Bezos told the Miami Herald at the time that he wanted to “build space hotels, amusement parks, yachts and colonies for two or three million people orbiting around the earth.” Lofty dreams, indeed!
His dreams changed our world. He is the founder of Amazon.com, the world’s largest retailer on the Internet. In doing so, he became one of the world’s wealthiest men, and just completed the purchase of the Washington Post for $250 million.
According to the Miami Herald, at Palmetto High teachers and fellow students knew Bezos as one of the smartest students in a school full of smart kids with an obsession about space colonies. Bezos’ high school girlfriend’s father, Robert Werner, said of Jeffrey Bezos: “He said the future of mankind is not on this planet, because we might be struck by something, and we better have a spaceship out there.” Now the man who created Amazon.com and is the new owner of the Washington Post has investments in the space industry, and has founded a space flight company called Blue Origin. His dreams have no boundaries, a premise instilled in students at Miami Palmetto over the decades, including my years there.
I never met Jeffrey Bezos but I’m proud to claim him as a fellow Palmetto Panther. The friendships I made during those years are still some of my most precious, and it’s amazing that my class of 760 often keeps up with each other, not only through reunions but in spontaneous email blasts about so-and-so is going to be at a certain place for lunch on a certain day, and in this very big state of Florida, a dozen people will show up and toast their long-standing friendship.