1. ISABELLA CORTEZ, third grade, Sunset Elementary:
Isabella is a student who is always looking to help others. One day during her PE time she was observing her surroundings and noticed that there was a tree on fire on the perimeter of the school property. She immediately alerted her teacher and helped in avoiding a major disaster at her school. Isabella did the right thing by letting her teacher know what she observed.
2. NINA CRESPI, second grade, Coral Reef Elementary:
Nina is a 7 year old young lady who takes pride in her studies in the accelerated Gifted Program and consistently achieves Superior Honor Roll. Nina enjoys being a part of the junior varsity competitive cheer team at her school and has participated in community service as part of her team including recently helping with a program called Feed My Starving Children. In addition, Nina is an active member of her Brownie troop and has recently been selling boxes of cookies to send to the troops. She has also gone to retirement centers to entertain the elderly residents. She has a passion for art and has been a student of Reach for the Arts in Miami. In her spare time, you can find her quietly drawing and sewing. Nina has a heart of gold and often puts others before herself. She is the first person to help someone in need and shows compassion through her words and actions. For example, she saw an adult in the cafeteria fall and helped her up. When she came home, she wrote a beautiful letter to take to her the next day. Nina always brightens others’ days with her smile and positive attitude and is a deserving Do The Right Thing award recipient.
3. DE’ANGELO FREEMAN, eleventh grade, South Dade Senior High, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
After losing both of his parents at a young age and dealing with the aftermath effects of an abusive household, De’Angelo had no choice but to rise above all the turmoil surrounding him and help his aunt/guardian raise his siblings. He was forced to grow up quicker than most kids his age and is a true testament to the cliché that “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” In the beginning, the weight and baggage he bore on his shoulders was evident in the way he carried himself and the way he reacted to situations around him. There always seemed to be an underlying struggle within him that he kept trying to fight and push back. Though De’Angelo still has bouts with his past, he has transformed that negative struggle within into a vehicle that he uses to unleash his talent and passion onto the stage at school. As a theatre magnet student, De’Angelo has been able to explore his emotions with a wide range of characters he has portrayed in numerous school productions. He has a strong stage presence, and is truly captivating to watch. De’Angelo is not just a model, actor, and performer, but he has been steadily growing academically, passing all of his classes and bringing up his G.P.A. with each grading period that passes. At this year’s district theatre competition, he received perfect scores in the category of duet acting, making him and his partner a contender for “Critic’s Choice,” which is only given to one pair of students in the whole competition. His success has earned him the right to attend the Florida State Thespian Festival in Tampa, FL and represent his school. In preparing to attend this festival, it was very difficult for De’Angelo to find the money to be able to go. The total cost of the trip for each student was $668, and it did not feel like an attainable amount for him to acquire with the given timeline. However, De’Angelo worked hard at every fundraiser, and with some help from his aunt he was able to raise enough money to attend the festival. Even more incredible he worked tirelessly to help others raise the amount that they needed in order to attend as well. This is just another shining example of De’Angelo’s character and what an incredible student, man, and human being he is. He has always done the right thing and will continue to do so all of his life despite the circumstances.
4. CELINE HUTCHINS, fifth grade, Howard Drive Elementary:
Celine is an exemplary person. She has volunteered every day for the last 3 months in her classroom from 7:45 a.m.-8:25 a.m. to assist her teacher in any way she needs. Because of her help, her teacher feels more prepared each day to teach class. Her volunteering helps her stay busy while sharing a connection with her teacher and mentor. She is consistently helpful and kind to her peers and is the first to volunteer to help a student catch up if they are absent. For her willingness to help and be kind to others, Celine deserves to be recognized by Do The Right Thing.
5. EMILY LEON, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:
On a Monday night Emily answered a call that would challenge everything she believed in and made her question herself a million times over when a desperate friend facetimed her in distress. Emily heard pills roll on a counter and her friend was upset and crying saying she drank 20 pills and was going to sleep before hanging up on Emily. Emily began to call and text her friend back immediately. After many failed attempts, Emily logged into her social media account where she saw her friend had just posted a lengthy goodbye for all. Emily knew this was it. She had to do something. She was afraid of waking up her parents and proceeded to call 911. Emily gave them all the details they needed along with her friends’ address while the dispatcher assured her that an officer was already at the home as they spoke and the call ended. The next 30 minutes were the most stressful moments of her life. Her mind kept thinking the worst but her heart hoped for the best. Emily called 911 again and they informed her that her friend was safe and on her way to get help. Many other students saw the posting and did nothing. Others posted positive and encouraging comments but no one did anything to stop her. About an hour later Emily mustered up the courage to wake her mom up and tell her what was going on. Only then did Emily receive the much-needed comfort that she needed assuring her she did the right thing. The following Tuesday at school was a very difficult day for Emily and her friends. They realized that you never know what someone is feeling even if they are your best friend and you never take a chance and stay quiet when someone is considering self-harm. Emily is a quiet, sweet, and wonderful young lady. She will be starting high school with 6 completed high school courses. Emily is an amazing, mature, young lady who was put to the test of saving a life or being a spectator and she chose the right thing.
6. ISABELLA OROZCO, first grade, Claude Pepper Elementary:
Isabella participated in the Pennies for Leukemia campaign held at her school during the month of February. She collected money and donated it to the campaign. However, she still wanted to do something more to help the children sick with leukemia and other cancers. She decided to donate her beautiful long hair. They cut off 12 inches of hair which was donated to “Wigs for Kids.” Isabella has shared that she will keep letting her hair grow so she can then cut and donate it to children with cancer. She is proud of the personal sacrifice she has chosen to do to make a difference in the lives of others.
7. ANNETTE ORTIZ, first grade, Ethel Koger Beckham Elementary:
Every day during Annette’s lunchtime she takes it upon herself to take care of another student who has difficulty staying on task. If he stands up and begins to wander off she quickly and gently brings him back to his assigned seat. Sometimes he has difficulty feeding himself and Annette kindly picks up the spoon and feeds him. It is truly a pleasure to witness such kindness coming from such a young student. Annette does this not because she is told or praised but because it is innate. She was born this way. It’s within her to be kind and loving regardless of praise and recognition. In today’s society this makes her unique, especially at such a young age. Her loving heart makes her one of a kind.
8. LILIAN SOLANO, kindergarten, E.W.F. Stirrup Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
November 2015 was an infamous day that would alter the Solano family’s lives forever. Lilian was diagnosed with leukemia at just four years of age. Described by Lilian’s mom as “my brave little fighter,” Lili endured countless doctor’s visits, transfusions, and surgeries. Her fear of the doctor and needles slowly diminished and she was able to understand that this was going to become part of her life. When she goes in for her infusions and sees other children who are starting the course with fear and nervousness on their faces, Lili approaches them, holds their hand and tells them to be strong. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital nominated her for “Patient of the Month” for her uplifting personality. Everyone in the oncology department knows when Lili is around because of the amazing and caring personality she exudes. Her mom says Lili is her hero, and that she reminds her to never, ever give up, and not let the petty little things in life get to her. Lili holds so much love for others that we forget she is battling cancer. For her bravery and courage, Lilli is a deserving Do The Right Thing winner.
9. DWAYNE UPTGROW, fifth grade, Liberty City Elementary:
Dwayne is a student who sometimes struggles with doing the right thing. However, he has committed himself to work on always doing the right thing. While in class, Dwayne noticed that another student had a hole in their shoe. Instead of making fun of the student, Dwayne asked if he could help. Dwayne quietly walked over to the student and offered him his Jordans then without fanfare he sat down. Dwayne gained a new friend and has continued his commitment to doing the right thing even though sometimes it’s not easy. Because of his compassion and commitment to doing the right thing, Dwayne deserves to be honored.
10. YALITZA ZUNIGA, third grade, Redland Elementary:
Yalitza is being recognized for her courage, quick thinking, and for doing the right thing. She recently came to the rescue of her little brother. She saved his life by rescuing him when he fell into a pool while attempting to retrieve his toy that had fallen in the water. Her little brother, a second grader, does not know how to swim and of course, began to panic. Ten year old Yalitza, who can swim, saw what was happening, ran over and jumped in the pool to rescue her brother. She is truly a hero and should be recognized for her bravery.