1. JA’QWAN BAKER, fourth grade, Nathan B. Young Elementary:
Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy. You know what you should do but actually following through is the challenge. For Ja’Qwan, the decision to do the right thing was made one afternoon in the boy’s restroom. He asked for permission to go to the bathroom and after entering, saw his friend and another student playing with a lighter. The two students were setting fire to paper in a stall and called Ja’Quan over to see it. One of the students happened to be his friend from class who wasn’t supposed to be in the restroom. Ja’Qwan didn’t think twice and told his friend that he shouldn’t be playing with fire and that he was going to tell. His friend told him that he was going to stop and go to the Media Center but Ja’Qwan still knew the incident needed to be reported. Ja’Qwan immediately told his teacher what he had witnessed and the proper protocols were put in place. Ja’Quan’s actions saved the school from the possibility of any damages or injuries. Ja’Qwan is being recognized for his ability to do the right thing in a difficult situation.
2. BRADLEY DERAVICE, first grade, Eneida M. Hartner Elementary:
Bradley is a bright young man who is full of compassion and is always willing to help others with their academics without being asked. In his after school program at a local park, Bradley was deliberately punched in his eye by a fellow classmate. He came to school the next day in obvious discomfort, barely being able to open his eye, but he did not complain. Afterward, he had to miss four days of school due to the injury. The student who initiated the incident was suspended from the park for a few days. Bradley has not retaliated in any way and has gone a step further by offering to help the student who hit him with his assignments. They even play together at times during recess. By not retaliating and instead offering his help, Bradley exhibited a truly remarkable response for such a young child.
3. GABRIELLA FAEDO, seventh grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
Gabriella has always excelled and surpassed all expectations. She received A1A in all her classes so far in middle school and is currently taking high school credit courses and electives. Gabie is an active member of the DFYIT Club, FFA Club, and Varsity Competitive Dance team. With DFYIT, she has been a club officer since 6th grade and has taken on a leadership role within her school having participated in countless community service projects within the school and in the community. Gabie has done numerous class room presentations in the areas of mental health, acceptance and tolerance, drugs, alcohol, bullying, and cyber safety and has participated in the Live Like Bella Sock Hop and Walk at the school. She also participated in the Wear Pink Day Walk for breast cancer, the Homeless Awareness Day Brigade, and Alzheimer’s Walk. Gabie also volunteered with autistic students at a local elementary school at their Career Day. Last Thanksgiving, over 30 needy families within her school received a free turkey thanks to Gabie facilitating the donations of the turkeys. This school year, she has secretly been bringing extra snacks daily to give to a friend whose family is in a tough financial situation. Gabie goes every morning to class and gives the teacher the snack to sneak into the student’s bag along with a note. In her free time at home Gaby is still involved in giving back. For the past three years she has been a part of Santa’s Helpers where needy families are adopted and provided with not only the basic necessities but everything on the children’s wish lists. This school year Gabie presented to DFYIT a project to help the children living at The Village South whose parents are currently in recovery. In December, 20 club members went to the day care center bearing Christmas gifts for all of the children currently living there and the peer counselors were able to spend the day playing with the children. In 2014, Gabie was dealt a serious blow when one of her friends died suddenly of cardiac arrest during dance practice. As a result, last school year Gabie introduced the Breanna Vergara Foundation which raises awareness on the importance of pediatric heart screenings to identify children at risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Last month, this incredible program was able to provide 400 students at the school with free EKGs. Gabie is also very involved with the foundation’s fundraising activities throughout the year. Gabie epitomizes the ideal, well rounded person who makes a positive impact on their community.
4. OLIVIA HARDIMAN, second grade, Dr. Gilbert L. Porter Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
Olivia is an amazing young lady and a gifted student. She is always well prepared for school, completing her homework and class work, and going above and beyond to help others. She is always doing something nice for her classmates or her teachers and has a kind heart. At home, Olivia tries her best to be fair and empathetic and is patient with her little sister. When she was younger, Olivia had cancer and seeing other children and families struggle with the disease has made her a more compassionate person. In kindergarten she was invited to dance as part of a dance team for Relay for Life. In addition, the dance teacher informed her that the dance would be in her honor. Olivia was thrilled to be in the spotlight but decided that she wanted to dedicate the dance to Emily, a friend she had lost to cancer. When talking about the dance, she told everyone that Emily would have liked that and that is the reason why she asked to dedicate the dance to her. Olivia is a spunky, fun loving, and kind soul. She definitely has what it takes to be a Do The Right Thing winner.
5. ANDREW KELSON, first grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:
Andrew was scared when another student exhibited a 14-inch hard plastic dagger from a book bag. He did the right thing by alerting an adult in the cafeteria. Though the dagger was a toy, the student was escorted to the counselor while Andrew was congratulated for his courage in coming forward. Andrew also does the right thing by being kind. He helps his teacher bring passes to the Main Office and is thoughtful to others. He picks up jackets for forgetful peers and carries P.E. equipment to his classroom. He also found a classmate’s money and gave it to his teacher. After school, Andrew helps his teacher by picking up cones. At home he cooks, cleans, and washes dishes. He helps his grandma with her breathing machine and when his mom is sick, Andrew helps to take care of her. Andrew is only in first grade, but he already does the right things on a daily basis.
6. JOSEPH LEVI, fourth grade, RASG Hebrew Academy:
At nine years old, Joseph was responsible for saving his 11th month old brother from what could have been a horrific fall. A home surveillance video captured Joseph springing into action to catch his brother when his mother turned her back for just a second to help one of her other kids with their homework. Thanks to Joseph’s alertness and swift action, his little brother escaped what could have resulted in serious or fatal injuries. Joseph’s mother posted the video on social media to remind mothers to be cognizant of their kids and surroundings. The video went viral and Joseph made international headlines. Joseph is to be commended for his quick response to save his brother’s life.
7. REBECCA SANCHEZ, fifth grade, Leewood K-8:
This young lady is a well-mannered child, who is very humble and strives to do her best. Rebecca expressed a desire to donate her hair and has since then donated to Locks of Love. Her mother wanted to spread awareness to children who would benefit from such acts of kindness. Rebecca, being the humble child that she is, is not looking for recognition but does want to spread the news so that others reciprocate an act of kindness. She is a sweet and loving girl, who wants to help others, and this is one way she is able to impact and make a difference. Her compassion and kindness make Rebecca a great candidate for Do The Right Thing.
8. EVAN TABARES, fifth grade, Academy for International Education Charter:
Evan deserves to be nominated for doing the right thing. His school was raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and he decided to donate all of the money that he had saved from Christmas. Evan donated over $400 so that he could help those in need. When asked why, Evan said that he wanted to help those that are less fortunate. He is a great example of a caring student with a big heart at such a young age.
9. GEORGIA VALENCIA, fourth grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:
For the past two years, Georgia has wanted to achieve being a Top 10 Do The Right Thing winner after seeing other students receive that honor. This year has been a breakout year for Georgia, going above and beyond for others. She arrives early to school every day to perform her responsibilities as a Safety Patrol Officer. Each morning, she walks through the hallways to keep the children safe and assist smaller children to their classrooms. At school she earns awards for academics, attendance, and citizenship. Georgia goes out of her way to cheer up her peers who are not feeling well. For three weeks, she volunteered to help a fellow student on crutches. She opened doors, carried the student’s book bag, and brought the lunch tray to the table. After dismissal, she assists students with homework in after school care. On one occasion, Georgia noticed a boy attacking another student. She did the right thing by getting involved to separate the boys and let the boys realize that their actions would get them both in trouble. Georgia also attends her school’s Cooking Club where she prepares meals and assists the chef in clean-up. She then brings her cooking talents home to help her tired parents as well as sets the table and washes the dishes. Georgia assists her grandmother by carrying packages from her car. For Georgia, doing the right thing means taking care of the young and old. At her church, she assists the elderly to their seats. She donates clothes and toys to children in Colombia. Recently one of Georgia’s aunts passed away and her uncle moved to Orlando to start a new life for his children. Unfortunately, the family fell on hard times and moved back to Miami. Georgia was determined to keep her cousin’s outlook on life positive, so she spends any extra time with her cousin and gives him toys. Georgia’s enthusiasm and kindness to others has brought her Do The Right Thing achievements to the top!
10. LEILANI WOMACK, second grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:
Last month, Leilani received an honorary medallion from School Board Chairman Dr. Larry Feldman’s District 9 Town Hall and Awards Ceremony. She was recognized for her enduring efforts in academic achievement and citizenship. Leilani’s teacher can always count on her desire to do the right thing, to cooperate with her classmates, and to display responsibility to fulfill requests for special tasks that only a student with her qualities can perform. For a second grade student, she is beyond her years in caring for the well-being of others. A week before Thanksgiving, Leilani assisted an outreach program that helps families of incarcerated parents. She gave the children clothes, shoes, and toys. Leilani also helped blow up pink balloons for cancer awareness month. The balloons were released in the air at an area park. Through her church, Leilani also participated in a Thanksgiving community program where she distributed coloring books, cookies, and juice to families in need in West Perrine. Leilani also has a place in her heart for senior citizens. She ran to an elderly lady whose shoe was caught on a rug and was able to catch her before she was on the floor. She also sings to the elderly in a nursing home and helps her uncle get in and out of bed and changes his sheets. Additionally, Leilani came to the aid of a friend at a water park who slipped and fell in the water. With the aid of another swimmer, Leilani was able to guide her friend to safety. Helping the young and elderly personifies Leilani. Not only is she being honored for her efforts in her education, but more important to Leilani, her care for the well-being of others.