1. LAUREN BLANCO, fourth grade, Coral Reef Elementary:
Lauren is a Citizenship and Honor Roll student yet manages to stay involved in many extracurricular activities. She is a member of the varsity cheerleading team, Run Club, and the Youth Crime Watch program. Lauren is the daughter of a firefighter and noticed that many of them are suffering from cancer. While visiting her father at his station, she found a large amount of unused firefighter shirts from previous years. Lauren is a creative young girl and was inspired to make use of the shirts. She did some research online and found a way of turning the shirts into tote bags. Between homework, cheer practice, and tutoring, Lauren found time to make over 50 bags. She took the bags to an event at the Firefighters Memorial Building in Doral and raised over $200 for the Firefighters Charities and The Firefighters Cancer Support Network. Lauren continues to create more bags to raise money and awareness for a cause that is very important to her.
2. TAKIRA BROWN, tenth grade, South Dade Senior High:
Takira arrived at her high school under unique circumstances. As the oldest child of six children, Takira and her siblings were under the custody of the Department of Children and Families. During Takira’s ninth grade year, she struggled with managing her grades in all classes due to absences, tardies, and misbehavior. Takira’s personal situation had a huge impact on her low performance in school. She had been bounced around to multiple foster homes within the same school year. However, her unfortunate situation is not hindering her from excelling this school year. Currently, Takira is an extremely ambitious tenth grader and has earned the Honor Roll the first nine weeks. She consistently drops in to see her mentor and also plays a tremendous role in motivating her siblings to do the right thing. Takira has become very responsible and concerned with her future plans. Her drive is truly inspirational and she is the true definition of a Do The Right Thing winner.
3. CHRISTOPHER FLORENTINO, third grade, Colonial Drive Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
Three years ago, Christopher lived in an abusive home where he would hide food at night so he would not go hungry. Since being taken out of a house full of neglect and verbal and emotional abuse, he has slowly evolved into a caring student whose goal is to feed all the homeless and needy people. This is just the beginning of the remarkable change of a troubled student who first came to school with sudden angry outbursts and turned away those who wanted to come to his aid. As a result, Christopher was retained and in need of therapy. Last year, he was placed in a family friend’s home and with tutoring, therapy, and love he transformed into a student with a positive outlook on life. Christopher has learned to control his negative impulses and insecurities, trust those around him, and always think of others. He is to be commended for his courageous act of putting his arms around an aggressive bully who had injured a classmate which was witnessed by a teacher. Last year, he also did the right thing by asking his teacher to let a classmate with a physical impairment win a running event during Field Day and helped instruct the others to run slowly. At a party, he came to the aid of a friend whose hand was tangled in a bounce house. He has also found and returned money to a student. Recently, Christopher noticed two boys vandalizing the school’s anti-drug slogan and intervened as needed. When a neighbor lost their dog, Christopher walked his neighborhood in a daily search. He was also able to rescue the family kitten that was stuck in a tree. Christopher has become an avid reader and he now helps his stepsister with her home learning. He also wanted to improve communications with an older brother who is deaf so he learned sign language. As his mom is going through a divorce, Christopher compassionately reassured her that he will be there for her like she has for him. From setting up computers for his peers, to helping them with their assignments or volunteering to carry books, there is nothing that he won’t do to help others. Most recently for Thanksgiving, he packaged food for those in need. He has gone from being retained in second grade to becoming an Honor Roll student in Academics and Citizenship. By being recognized by Do The Right Thing, Christopher will have achieved in getting the best of life instead of life getting the best of him.
4. JESUS GARCIA, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:
Jesus is an honest and honorable young man where doing the right thing comes quite naturally. Around Halloween, the media warned of iconic clowns being spotted creating havoc and panic, terrorizing many. With all the media and public focus that these incidents received, it is no wonder that copycats emerged in an attempt to get attention. Utilizing social media, a student at Jesus’ school pretended to be one of the clowns with the purpose of causing a little disturbance and mayhem. As word began to spread among the student body of the possible threats, fear started creeping through the hallways and corridors robbing it from the usual nurturing safe learning environment. That is when Jesus, knowing who the culprit was, decided to come forward. He courageously took a stand and without hesitation reported the culprit to the administration. This young man was the one responsible for restoring order and tranquility to the school once more. Jesus surely did the right thing in following the superintendent’s golden rule of, “when you see something, it is our citizen’s duty to say something.” Jesus chose to follow those words of wisdom regardless of the trouble it could bring to him personally. In addition to being courageous, Jesus excels academically and earning his way to the Honor Roll. He is a very well-rounded young man who also enjoys singing and dancing, and is a stellar member of the highly acclaimed drama troupe at his school. Jesus is also a vital member of the school’s choir and has been invited to perform and sing live at the Walt Disney World Student Performing Arts stage in Downtown Disney in March 2017. This talented young man recently performed a solo at the Hispanic Heritage Assembly delighting faculty, staff, parents, students, and even visiting dignitaries from the school district. A multi-talented, outgoing, and well-rounded individual, Jesus always finds a way to do the right thing.
5. NOEL GARCIA, fifth grade, Somerset Oaks Academy:
Noel is thoughtful and polite. Every day he walks his little sister to class, comes in with her, and comforts her as she has some problems with anxiety. He always stays with his sister, helps her unpack her backpack, and makes sure she is settled. After he is done helping his sister, Noel stays in her class and helps the other children. He unstacks the chairs, helps students with their backpacks, and even logs some of them on the computers for the teacher. He is always willing to help and doesn’t ask for anything in return. He is always patient and kind to all students. One day, his sister came into class, started coughing and then vomiting. Noel, without complaining, ran and retrieved the garbage can. He held it for his sister and comforted her until she was done. He then helped her get a new uniform out of her backpack and escorted her to the bathroom to change. He was very calm and beyond helpful. Noel is an extremely kind, steady, and committed student, day in and day out. He is organized and follows through with his work. His positive and open attitude has helped him build his knowledge and investigate new ideas. He listens well and eagerly shares his thoughts in class discussions. Noel is willing to take the risk of asking questions to check his understanding. He has the confidence to share connections he is making. Noel has frequently shown he is willing to go above and beyond in his efforts to progress. In addition to his enthusiastic approach to learning, he is genuine and upbeat with everyone. He begins every day with a “Good Morning” greeting and a smile, and will typically end the day with a comment like “Have a great afternoon!” These may seem like small things, but they warm the teacher’s hearts! For his academic effort, enthusiasm about learning, and positive engagement in his school community, Noel deserves the Do The Right Thing award.
6. GISELLE JIMENEZ, eighth grade, Howard D. McMillan Middle:
Giselle immediately went to the counselor during class to share that another student had said that he wanted to kill himself. She reported that this student had stated that he did not see any point to living. Her quick response allowed the administration to assist this depressed student in a time of need. Giselle’s choice to do the right thing and report the incident helped prevent a potential tragedy and saved her classmate’s life.
7. KIARA LLAUGERT, seventh grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
Academically Kiara has always excelled. In middle school she surpassed all levels of expectation and received A1A in all her classes. Kiara is currently completing her foreign language requirement for high school along with Algebra I and Physical Science. For the past two years, Kiara has been an active member the DFYIT Club, Drug Free Youth In Town, which focuses on helping others by training its members to be peer counselors. She has blossomed in her new leadership role as club officer. Kiara has participated in countless community service projects within her school and in the community. At school she has done over 200 classroom presentations in the areas of mental health, acceptance & tolerance, drugs, alcohol, bullying and cyber safety. Kiara has been a part of many events such as the Cystic Fibrosis Walk and the Live Like Bella Sock Hop and Walk where they raised over $1,500 for the foundation. Additionally, she volunteers on Sundays at PAWS 2 CARE, a non-profit organization that rescues dogs. Kiara has also participated in the breast cancer awareness walk, the homeless awareness day brigade where over 300 students rallied in front of the school, and the school’s food drive for the homeless students so they would have Thanksgiving dinner. She collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and cell phones for the Saving Species Project at the Cincinnati Zoo. Kiara volunteered and helped the students in an autistic unit navigate through their career day at a local elementary school. Furthermore, she rallied the school to participate in Operation Christmas Child, a project she took on as her own. She registered, bought 100 boxes and most of the supplies herself, and packed all 100 boxes making sure every child will be happy. In addition to DFYIT, Kiara is an active member of the National Junior Honor Society, FFEA Club, HOSA Club, yearbook staff, teacher’s assistant, and participates in her schools bowling team. Although Kiara is an excellent student and community member, she has had to endure and overcome some hardships in life. Her parents divorced at an early age and although they are both caring and loving parents she feels like she’s missed out on family times since her father lives in another state. Kiara lives with her maternal grandparents but her mother is very involved and sees her daily. Kiara is a true inspiration and always does the right thing for herself and those around her.
8. NAIDA MILIAN, twelfth grade, Miami Southridge Senior High:
Naida grew up in a neighborhood where drugs and gangs were prevalent. By the time she was 13, she was dating a gang member which led her to be kicked out of the house. She struggled for years to rise out of the ashes that her life had become. Her life now consists of school, extracurricular activities, night school, and the search to find a job. There are nights that she goes hungry because there is no food in her refrigerator. Regardless of her past, she is pressing forward to do the right thing and graduate her senior year with straight A’s so that she can go away to college and have the best chance to take hold of her bright future. She is interested in studying nutrition and medicine. Naida is constantly asking questions, studying, and hungry for knowledge. Naida deserves to be recognized because of her perseverance to do the right thing, change her situation, and better herself every day.
9. YARA MIR, fifth grade, Eneida Hartner Elementary:
Yara was contacted through social media by an older individual who solicited her attention by sharing a pornographic image. Yara sought help from the counselor and told her mother. A few weeks later, Yara went through the same situation yet again, but from a different user. Yara went to speak to the counselor in order to get help, and did not reply to the perpetrator. Yara followed instructions to block the user and shared the information with her mother to see if the offender could be reported to the police. Yara does not want other girls to be solicited in this manner, and even though she was embarrassed to show and tell the counselor and her mother about the explicit photograph, she still had the courage to report the incident and do the right thing.
10. YENNIS TEJEDA, fifth grade, Southside Elementary:
Recently while having lunch in the cafeteria, Yennis noticed a group of students looking under one of the tables. From her table she observed that the students were looking at another student who was under the table showing off and playing with a real knife. Since she understood that this was a potentially dangerous situation, Yennis asked the boy next to her to tell the cafeteria monitor what was happening. The boy refused saying it was his friend with the knife and he didn’t want to tell on him. Since Yennis was concerned that somebody might get hurt, she decided to alert the cafeteria monitor about the situation. The cafeteria monitor confiscated the knife, which was a sharp and dangerous antique knife with a metal cover, and brought the student to the assistant principal’s office. One never knows when a safe situation can turn dangerous when there are weapons involved. Yennis followed the policy that the school’s superintendent which is: “If you see something, say something.” By alerting the cafeteria monitor, not only did she do the right thing, but she also helped prevent a possible tragic situation. For her courage, Yennis is being recognized by the Do The Right Thing Program.