1. DOMINIC BAXTER, first grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:
Dominic had a difficult start to this school year. Due to difficulties with his mom and dad, Dominic had to live in foster care and more recently with his aunt. Though Dominic has hopes of someday being with his parents, he hasn’t stopped doing the right things for others. He shares with everyone and is very kind. When his teacher had a sore throat, he sweetly brought cough drops the next day. Dominic comes to school with pencils and gives them away to students who are in need. He does anything and everything that is asked of him and lets his teacher know when students don’t allow him to concentrate. When Dominic sees a person on the street in need, he will give any change he might have to help them. Dominic cares for his baby brother by feeding him and changing diapers. He sweeps, mops, and always helps around his aunt’s house. What makes Dominic a “Do The Right Thing Winner” is his compassion for others. When Dominic found a little puppy, he brought it home and tried to find its owner. He took the responsibility to care for it just like he does for the dog he already has. A little boy from his neighborhood who plays with Dominic liked his new puppy. The boy did not have a pet so even though Dominic became attached to the puppy, he gave it the little boy. Dominic is always doing the right thing!
2. VITALIA BORGES, seventh grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
With utmost courage, Vitalia did not hesitate to do the right thing during an impending crisis at her school this past November. Vitalia is an incredibly intuitive and caring friend who was able to identify that something was not quite right with a young classmate who was facing the adversities of her mental state, suffering from despair and plagued with self-destructive thoughts. During their Algebra class, Vitalia noticed her friend was displaying signs of drowsiness and incoherent speech. After many attempts to engage her in conversation, Vitalia was finally able to break the silence of this girl who was noticeably and significantly hurting inside. She admitted to taking numerous over the counter pills that morning, as well as other prescribed medications from her mother’s medicine cabinet, and said that she may have overdosed. They were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the bell, and the young girl stormed out of class. Vitalia quickly turned to another friend and they decided to go to the Principal’s office to report what was happening. The administration was able to locate the girl and get her the medical attention needed before any long term damaging effects could take place. She recovered both physically and mentally and what could have been a tragedy became a success story. Vitalia saw and recognized signs of danger that had gone unnoticed by adults. Vitalia herself has struggled with health issues since she was little and was finally diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia. Vitalia is not only an amazing friend, but she is also a scholar at heart. She has never missed a day of school since Kindergarten, and has made the Principal’s Honor Roll for her entire school career. Reading since the early age of four, Vitalia was placed in the Gifted Program upon entering school. She is currently taking two high school credit courses. Her love for music earned her a place in her school’s Show Choir where she will be performing live at Walt Disney World in March. Vitalia would like to be a pediatric orthodontist to give other children the opportunity to improve their self esteem through a spectacular smile. Vitalia is truly a hero who took the “See Something, Say Something” campaign to heart. She is deserving of the Do The Right Thing award.
3. KARMINE DE LEON, fifth grade, Flamingo Elementary:
While using Instagram, Karmine noticed a fellow student had been posting videos about cutting or self-harming. The next morning, he immediately notified his teacher who then contacted the school counselor. Upon speaking to the school counselor and administrators, Karmine explained what he had seen and informed them that he had also heard the student talking about self-harming. Upon further investigation, it was determined that not only was that student cutting, but that there was also another student involved. The required procedures were implemented and the necessary steps were taken to ensure the students’ safety and that they received the assistance they desperately needed. Although Karmine knew it was possible he would be called a snitch, he placed the wellbeing of his classmates above everything else. It is very likely that Karmine’s quick thinking and responsible actions may have saved at least one of their lives. Karmine’s strong sense of values and responsibility deserve recognition above and beyond our school level.
4. KAYLAN ESTRADA, seventh grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
One does not need to have super powers or wear a cape to save a life. Kaylan, knowing how beautiful and precious life is, did exactly that last November. This admirable young lady did not think twice about seeking help when a friend brought to her attention that another classmate was in distress and had taken too many over the counter pills. It was Kaylan’s spontaneous response in this matter that allowed the proper measures to be followed, providing the much needed medical attention that prevented irreversible consequences including death. Exemplary in her studies, Kaylan is currently taking two high school credit classes while earning Principal’s Honor Roll since she started school. Throughout elementary school, Kaylan was on the Safety Patrol where one of her responsibilities was to put up the flag every morning. She has been involved in many sports including, track and field, archery, and tennis. A musician at heart, Kaylan has delighted many with her musical skills for the past two years. She is part of the Jazz Ensemble, the Symphonic Winds, and the Drumline playing the French Horn Trumpet and Tenor. Kaylan is indeed a sweet and caring young lady who thinks of everyone’s well-being. She has participated in many community benevolent activities as part of the Drumline Ensemble including Homeless Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness, Pediatric Cancer walk-a-thon (Live Like Bella) and Breanna Vergara Foundation 5K to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest in children to name a few. As part of her school’s Biomedical Academy Program, Kaylan would like to attain a career as a neurosurgeon and attend the University of Miami. A lofty goal indeed, but for this bright, talented, and caring young lady, there is nothing that can stop her from reaching her dreams. For all these reasons, Kaylan is a hero and deserving of this honor.
5. JAIDA FARQUHARSON, third grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:
Last year, Jaida was new to her school and was inconsistent with her efforts to achieve. This year, Jaida has made a commitment to excel and she achieved Academic and Citizenship Honor Rolls for the first time. Jaida focuses on what needs to be done and goes after it. Last month, Jaida assisted our counselor with United Way sales. She also always opens doors for teachers and classmates, helps fold the American flag after school, and collects class cones on the sidewalk. Three weeks ago, Jaida was outside her house when she noticed a girl falling off her bicycle. Jaida hurried over and helped her up. The girl was bleeding so Jaida took her inside her house and cleaned and bandaged her wound. Afterward, Jaida offered her new friend an ice pop and now they are best of friends. Jaida even helps tutor her friend who also achieved Honor Roll. Jaida also does the right thing by saving her chore and birthday money which she donates to her church to feed the homeless. Jaida assists her grandmother by helping her walk with a cane and washes her car. She also carries in the groceries and puts them away. To show her appreciation to her hard working parents, Jaida proudly cooks breakfast. Jaida never stops doing the right thing because she feels responsible to show others what can be accomplished by caring.
6. ADIANY GONZALEZ, third grade, Miami Heights Elementary:
Adiany did the right thing! A peer confided in her that she was being abused. Adiany knew that she had to tell an adult. She told her friend that they needed to tell someone right away. They went to the closest adult and told them the situation. Due to the fact that the abuse was reported, it was stopped from reoccurring and the appropriate authorities were called. Adiany was a good friend and continues to support her classmate throughout the ordeal. Her immediate response to tell an adult should be recognized and awarded. Thank you Adiany for choosing to help a friend in need.
7. KAILYNN JOHNSON, third grade, Coral Reef Elementary:
Kailynn is a very active young girl who loves to play with her dolls and her friends, and to read novels in class. At the young age of eight years old, Kailynn has shown that she understands the true meaning of friendship and going above and beyond when a friend is in need. A student in the class was consistently not bringing lunch to school and refused to eat the cafeteria food, because, like many children these days, she is a picky eater. When Kaiylnn asked why she did not bring a lunch to school, this student expressed to her that there was not enough food in the house to do so. So each day, Kailynn would split her sandwich and snacks in half to share with her friend. After a few days of sharing her lunch with her friend, Kaiylnn started packing two lunches each day to bring to school, one for herself, and one for her friend, so her friend would not go hungry. After the school found out what was going on, she talked to both students individually. Kailynn was praised for being so thoughtful and caring about her friend to take the time to make her a lunch each day. Kailynn definitely did the right thing.
8. CALIYAH MANN, third grade, Dr. William A. Chapman Elementary:
Caliyah is an extraordinary young girl who exemplifies the qualities of an individual who does the right thing. Even at the risk of being labeled a “snitch” by her peers, she speaks up for what she believes is right and has learned the difference between tattling and reporting important information. In one instance when there was a substitute teacher providing coverage for Caliyah’s class, fellow students were taking candy off the teacher’s desk and looking up inappropriate material on the computer. Caliyah wrote a very detailed note about her classmates’ behavior so the teacher could address it. In another similar instance, while the class was in the library, Caliyah went back to get something and witnessed another student stealing candy and snooping through her teacher’s desk. Caliyah told the girl that she was going to tell her teacher what she had done. The girl put the candy back, hoping Caliyah wouldn’t say anything and when Caliyah said she was still going to tell, she tried to bribe her with a quarter to stay silent. Caliyah didn’t have to say anything to the teacher, but she immediately explained what happened. It proves that Caliyah knows right from wrong, that she is a trustworthy individual, that she has morals, and that she is not afraid to take a stand even though others may be upset with her. Caliyah has an emotional/behavioral disability and is diagnosed with ADHD, but she does not let that stop her from achieving greatness. She has excellent class participation, perfect conduct, and always does her best. Additionally, Caliyah is helpful and kind. For example, there was a fellow student who had frequent outbursts and exhibited some disturbing behaviors, such as swearing, hitting staff/students, and throwing things. While other students laughed at the girl and provoked her by telling her to do inappropriate things, Caliyah did not incite her problematic behavior. Rather, she remained calm, ignored the inappropriate behavior, and assisted her teacher in getting security/administration to remove that student when her behaviors escalated. Caliyah was kind and compassionate to the little girl even though she would swear, hit, and spit at her because Caliyah understood she was sick. Caliyah demonstrates the qualities of a leader and truly does the right thing.
9. GABRIELLA VERGARA, fifth grade, Palm Springs North Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
Since a very young age, Gabriella and her sister Breanna loved to dance and participate in competitions. Sadly, two years ago, Gabriella witnessed the unexpected passing of her sister while they were dancing due to a heart condition. It was later revealed that a simple EKG would have detected her condition and saved her life. Knowing this information sparked an idea and hope for Gabriella and her family. They established the Breanna Vergara Foundation and through a partnership with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, have organized various community activities in order to provide children with free EKGs. Additionally, they have also partnered with local schools and dance studios to raise awareness and provide CPR training and AED machines. Vivian Greene once said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Gabriella has done just that. Her love for dancing and helping others has been the driving force behind her devotion to save lives. The loss of Breanna will never pass or be forgotten. However, Gabriella’s goal in life is to spread awareness and prevent another tragedy. Despite her obstacles, she has managed to maintain amazing grades earning Principal’s Honor Roll since the first grade. In addition, she is an active member of her school’s Safety Patrol and is Student Council President. Gabriella’s love for her sister and love for dance are the contributing factors that will ensure she continues on the path towards raising awareness and always doing the right thing.
9. LOUIS VILLA, seventh grade, Somerset Oaks Academy:
Louis is a true inspiration for a recent random act of kindness. When his classmate was hospitalized for several weeks at the start of the school year, Louis made it a point to have his parents drive him to Nicholas Children’s Hospital on several occasions to bring smiles to his classmate during the hospitalization. When the student returned to school, Louis stayed by his side and made sure that his every need was taken care of. For Christmas, Louis asked his parents to purchase an Xbox for his classmate after hearing that his classmate doesn’t always get gifts for Christmas. Students like Louis are a reminder that kindness and love is alive even in our pre-teens despite societal messages to be selfish. Louis has been a beautiful reflection of selflessness, love, and attentiveness.