1. CHEILA ALADRO, eighth grade, Lamar Louise Curry Middle:
Cheila came to the office to report that two of her classmates were upset at each other and planned to fight after school. Cheila asked her teacher for a pass to talk to an administrator. She said that she did not want her friends to fight or for anyone to get suspended. Cheila explained the problem to the administration and went back to class. After the administrator conducted a mediation, both students shook hands and apologized to each other. Cheila played an important role in keeping peace at her school and among her friends. Cheila participates on the girls’ flag football team and is well liked by her teachers. It is for her courage and integrity to keep her school safe that she is being honored with the Do the Right Thing award.
2. MELANIE CABELLO, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
Melanie is a top student who has always surpassed all expectations. She has received A1As in all her classes throughout middle school and has already completed six high school credits. Melanie was also selected to participate in her school’s first ever dual enrollment program at Miami Dade Community College and has completed three college credits. Socially, Melanie has gone through a complete transformation while in middle school. Starting out shy and lonely, through much encouragement, she was able to break out of her shyness, make many friends, and blossom into the amazing young lady she is today. For the past two years, Melanie has been very active in the DFYIT Club and is now club president. She has conducted over 200 classroom presentations on drugs, alcohol, bullying, and cyber safety. Last school year, Melanie was featured on her school’s PSA against alcohol. Melanie has participated in the Cystic Fibrosis Walk for the past two years, the Wear Pink Day Walk for breast cancer awareness for the past three years, the Homeless Awareness Day Brigade rally, and a beach cleanup. She led a Food Drive for her school’s homeless population to assure they had Thanksgiving dinners and led the school’s Live Like Bella sock hop and walk which raised over $3,000 for the foundation. Melanie also collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and cell phones for the Saving Species Project of the Cincinnati Zoo. Additionally, she has volunteered on Saturdays at PAWS 2 CARE, a non-profit organization that rescues dogs. Melanie is an active member of the National Junior Honor Society, plays in the Symphonic band, and was voted “Best All Around” by her peers. She truly appreciates how blessed she is but is often saddened by the loss of her 23 year-old cousin who died in a tragic accident at the hands of a drunk driver. Melanie epitomizes the ideal teen. Even as the school year winds down, she embarked on one more community service project. Melanie coordinated a field trip to her former elementary school to help students in the autistic unit navigate through their Career Day. For always doing the right thing for herself and others, Melanie is being honored with the Do The Right Thing award.
3. GIANCARLO CHEESMAN, twelfth grade, Doral Academy High:
Giancarlo will be graduating from high school this year. He is an Eagle Scout and an avid baseball player. As a true Scout, he follows their motto to always help others. As a result, one afternoon while walking home from his grandparent’s house with his younger siblings, Giancarlo observed some individuals attempting to break into a neighbor’s car and house and decided to get involved. He rushed home and told his parents who called the police. Upon the arrival of the police, Giancarlo was able to provide details and identify some of the perpetrators. All four suspects were arrested and are currently facing charges and possible jail time. Giancarlo showed courage and serves as an example to his brothers and others of what it means to do the right thing.
4. MARIAIRENE DEORTA, twelfth grade, South Dade Senior:
The transformation made by Maria during her high school years is nothing less than astounding. Maria is a student in an emotional/behavioral program, and now she helps others in that same program. She acts as a leader, demonstrating her own growth in having overcome anger issues and risen out of the street life that claimed so many of her former friends. Additionally, for the past three years, Maria has been a Peer Leader, mentoring younger students, and going out to the middle schools annually as part of an outreach program to help them “do the right thing.” Maria performs skits on peer pressure, bullying, etc., and gives her personal testimonial of change. Maria maintains good grades now and receives nothing but accolades from her teachers, who also see the great growth in her. Maria will be graduating with her class this year and attending Miami-Dade College in the fall. She hopes to study physical therapy or possibly pursue a career in law enforcement.
5. YASEL FERNANDEZ, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:
At just 14 years-old, Yasel had to endure the loss of his role model and best friend, his father who passed away from lung cancer. This caring and sensitive young man was by his loving father’s side every step of the way throughout the year-long battle. Yasel was the pillar of strength and perseverance that his father needed and took care of his every need to make him as comfortable as possible. Yasel would feed his father and administer his medications when needed. Many times, he carried him down the stairs of their townhouse. Yasel helped him walk around, kept him as active as possible, and remained at his side constantly during various hospital stays. Yasel will never forget the suffering that he witnessed first-hand, however, throughout the ordeal, he stayed strong, maintained good character and excellent behavior, kept up with school and his grades, and always demonstrated to his friends, teachers, and family what an outstanding example his dad raised him to be. His demeanor, friendly and outgoing personality, and the many talents he possesses make him stand out from the rest. Yasel is a stellar member of the school’s Color guard and Flag line for the past two years. He treasures the numerous activities and events he has performed in to raise funds for charities, etc. Yasel believes giving back to the community is the most noble way of showing gratitude for the opportunities he has been given. Recently, his mother had to undergo surgery for kidney stones and, once again, Yasel was there at her bedside, rolling up his sleeves and ready to take on any chore necessary to make her comfortable during her recovery. He took on the role of housekeeper by washing dishes, cooking, taking out garbage, and cleaning. A young man with such outstanding character and maturity is not easy to find. Yasel is an exemplary student, a pillar of strength, and a role model at “doing the right thing.”
6. ZACHARY GILBERT, third grade, Gulfstream Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
During the summer, Zachary and his mother were walking on the dock that led to their boat. His mom lost her footing, fell in the water, and was completely submerged as well as stuck between the dock and the boat. She was able to get above the water and grab onto the dock ladder but she was experiencing shock. Furthermore, because she has Muscular Sclerosis, she was unable to move. Her feet were slapping against the jagged barnacles on the dock post causing her to bleed. Zachary remained calm and ran to the parking lot to find help. A man told Zachary to get the life preserver out of the emergency box on the dock however Zachary discovered that there was not enough room between the boat and the dock for her to grab it. His mom was losing her grip and knew if she went underwater again she would not be able to come back up because she was very weak. All on his own, Zachary ran to the other side of the boat, grabbed the rope, and pulled the boat far enough away from the dock to get the life preserver to his mom. Fire rescue arrived and was able to get her out of the water. While his mom has gashes and bruises on her legs and a sprained ankle, she did recuperate and is here to tell the story of her little hero Zachary. At school, Zachary has made very significant academic progress. He is a young man on the Autism Spectrum so academics are very challenging but his teacher incorporates creative and fun learning strategies into her daily lessons. Zachary seems to be shy with new people and in new situations, however, when he needed to respond quickly, logically, and thoughtfully to aid his mom, he was able to approach someone for help. Zachary’s parents have raised him to care for others and to share with those who are not as fortunate by participating in canned food drives and the United Way, as well as donating school supplies and toys.
7. DIESAN ROMERO, eleventh grade, American Senior:
Diesan was very concerned about a classmate who recently moved to Miami from Brazil. He reported to an administrator that his friend was suicidal. The friend was seen by a counselor who confirmed that she was indeed suicidal. Through intervention with guardians and counselors, the friend received the appropriate services and is doing much better. Diesan definitely did the right thing by expressing his concern and coming forward. If it wasn’t for Diesan, this student could have lost her life. Diesan is being honored for providing the necessary intervention to help another.
8. NIRMA SANCHEZ, seventh grade, Frank C. Martin K-8 Center:
Nirma is being commended for stepping forward and reporting a crime that was committed at her school. After learning about the incident, she saved links and incriminating evidence and promptly told school administrators. This evidence was crucial to the Miami-Dade Schools Police in the investigation and led to an arrest of the offending student. Nirma definitely did the right thing by coming forward in a timely manner resulting in prompt action by the school authorities. Nirma was concerned about the school’s reputation and the safety and privacy of all students at her school. Thank you Nirma for seeing something and saying something!
9. DAIJAH SUTTON, tenth grade, Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Senior:
An incident occurred in a criminal justice class where a fellow classmate of Daijah’s was being bullied and harassed. After meeting with both the victim and the accused individually, the counselor received discrepancies in the statements which they had provided. Due to the difficulty in getting a clear explanation as to how the events transpired, the counselor started to call in students who witnessed the incident take place. The majority of the students were unable to help however, the counselor later discovered they were texting each other with their version of the story in order to cover up the incident. Daijah was the only student that took the initiative to speak up and give an honesty testimony. Coincidently, this month’s Miami-Dade County Public School’s Values Matter initiative is “integrity.” Daijah clearly stood up for what she knew was right regardless of the peer pressure to do otherwise.
10. XAVIER VILCHEZ, kindergarten, Coral Reef Elementary:
Xavier is a terrific student and friend to all in his class. He loves his two year-old sister and always hugs her before his parents drop him off at his classroom. This year, his school’s Samaritan’s Club, which meets after school, was holding a stuffed animal drive to give to a local police department. Xavier is not in the club because he is a gymnast and he practices daily after school, however, when he saw that they were collecting stuffed animals, Xavier came with two bags of his stuffed animals the next day. Xavier knew that the police department would put the animals to good use for children who had suffered tremendous tragedies such as losing a parent or being in an accident. Xavier’s bag was full of Build A Bear stuffed animals and he was positive that someone needed them more than he did. Xavier’s mom said that he only picked the newest and best ones in his room and that she was so proud. It was hard but he knew that it was for a good cause. It is often difficult for kids so young to think so unselfishly but Xavier did and made his family and school proud!