April 2021


1.  Dorline Alferus, third grade, Morningside K-8 Academy:

Dorline is a very honest young lady. One day during morning arrival she turned in a pair of AirPods that she found on the ground. Dorline did the correct thing and turned in a valuable item that she found. She is a perfect role model for her peers. She definitely deserves this recognition.

2. Ameerah Balogun, eleventh grade, School for Advanced Studies Homestead Campus, Washington D.C. Trip Winner:

Ameerah is a junior who shows the utmost dedication to her academics and has a GPA of 5.14. Once her school day ends, Ameerah dedicates a lot of her time to her local area youth group. Ever since the age of thirteen, Ameerah has served as the President of her local church’s, Greater St. Paul A.M.E, Young People and Children’s Division (Y.P.D).  The sole purpose of this organization is to engage youth in serving their community through volunteer work along with strengthening their faith so that they can mature into natural leaders who help their fellow man. As President of her local church’s Y.P.D she was also chosen to be Vice President of the Fayson Gay Area Young People’s Division (Y.P.D.) where her duties included overseeing and helping to plan community service projects for youth from eighteen different churches.  As Vice President, Ameerah has led two volunteer projects which include organizing a hat drive for the non-profit organization Hats Off for Cancer where over one hundred hats were collected and later distributed to youth cancer patients and a book drive to support reading among African American youth.  In 2019, Ameerah was elected President of the organization and collaborated with the non-profit “We Care Chemo Kits” by donating items for the organization to use in their chemo kits to comfort cancer patients who had to endure chemotherapy. Ameerah played an essential role in this project, collecting around 200 items to donate to chemotherapy patients.
Ameerah has been accepted into two special Ivy League programs for rising high school seniors this summer. She will be participating in the very prestigious Yale Young Global Scholars Program and taking an online class with Harvard as well. She aspires to be a Pediatric Oncologist and is active in clubs such as the Pre-Med Club, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) where she has won awards in their competitions, and currently serves as Vice President of the Student Government Association (SGA). Ameerah is a role model to her classmates and is an extraordinary example to her peers as a young lady who always will “Do the Right Thing.”

3.  Theo Bernard, fifth grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:

Theo Bernard has come a long way in his six years at Colonial Drive Elementary. Behavior issues plagued Theo in his early years and he had to learn to stay on task. Now, Theo does the right thing and even stopped a potential physical fight by urging a classmate to “calm down and take a deep breath.” Theo loves his Spanish teacher and is at the “Top of the Chart” in assignments completed and is proud to help his teacher in the classroom.  He is very kind to others and donates toys through Big Brothers and Big Sisters.  What makes Theo special is his resilience to not be brought down by bullies himself. Theo has endured homophobic insults and has risen above. He has even been able to help another student choose not to fight and instead concentrate on positives. Those at the school have rallied behind Theo in his efforts to stop those who bully and his classmates have become closer as a result of Theo demonstrating what it means to choose to do the right thing.

4.  Joshua Estrada, fourth grade, Miami Gardens Elementary:

Joshua is a caring friend. He recently proved this when faced with a situation in class. He used the idea behind the “see something, say something” initiative and reported something that could have been harmful to another student. He saw a text message about a student who was feeling down and was contemplating hurting themselves.  Joshua took a picture of the text to get help for the student before the chat was deleted. He took the initiative to stop a negative situation and then proceeded to tell an adult. Throughout this he demonstrated the utmost respect for the student’s privacy and exercised complete discretion.  At school, Joshua’s favorite subject is reading and his favorite hobby is exploring the outdoors, hiking, and finding animals to watch. He is a true pleasure to have in class and a wonderful friend to his peers.

5.  Joseph Gonzalez, seventh grade, Lawton Chiles Middle School:

Joseph exemplifies the value of honesty.  One morning on his way into the school building, Joseph found $200 on the floor and turned the money in. Instead of taking the money for himself, he was not selfish and chose to do the right thing.

6.  Miral Gonzalez, first grade, Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:

Miral is always thinking about ways to help others and her community. In school she excels for her effort, dedication, participation in school activities, and academic excellence. Outside school, she does community service mainly through her work with the Girl Scouts Troop 2013, as a 2nd Year Daisy. This school year she has participated in several activities such as a park clean-up in Coconut Grove and a food drive during Thanksgiving to help a family in need. She also helped her troop sell Girl Scouts cookies. This cookie season alone she has been working more than 40 hours on weekends and collected over $2,500 to donate to the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, to help threatened manatees and marine mammals. She also donated some cookie proceeds and cookies to local firefighter stations. In addition, she participated in the National Service Project: Cupid Crew Valentine’s Day Cards 2021. She made over 20 cards to send some love to tens of thousands of older adults who are socially isolated. In addition, Miral loves sports and the Arts. She is dedicated to her Karate practice (she is a Yellow belt), to her Flamenco dance with The Dream Dance Studio, and does theater in Spanish with the theater group Para Bajitos and Beatriz Studio. She has performed in several plays at the Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center in Little Havana. At a personal level Miral is always happy, positive, cheerful, enthusiastic, curious about learning new things, and willing to help in any way she can.

7.  Isabella Menna, first grade, Pincrest Academy South:

In class Isabella is always participating and although she is on zoom she is always raising her hand to answer questions or give thoughts about the topic being discussed. She is a great student, turning in all assignments on time and passing all her tests. She also enjoys reading, drawing, dancing, and playing with Legos.  Isabella is always thinking of ways she can help in the community. She finds ways to feed the homeless and help animals. Recently, she cut her hair to donate to people with cancer.  At only 7 years old she is always trying to do things for others before she does it for herself.

8.  Jacari Pooler, fifth grade, Robert Russa Moton Elementary:

You can count on Jacari to do the right thing. Earlier this year, Jacari came across some very inappropriate student messages in one of his Microsoft team rooms. Rather than engaging in the conversation, Jacari informed his teacher of what was going on so that she could address the issue. As 5th-graders, doing the right thing is not always easy, but Jacari can be counted on to be honest and respectful at all times. At home, Jacari loves to help out around the house and always keeps his room neat and clean and even helps little sister make her bed and clean her room. He volunteers to rake the yard and is always respectful and kind to his siblings and parents. Jacari enjoys watching and playing any sport, especially football. He excels academically, always completing his homework and trying his best. Jacari is a great kid with a great sense of humor, and is always a joy to be around.

9.  Alex Sanso, seventh grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle School: 

Alex stands out for his kindness and ability to always help others. Even though he just moved to Miami this school year from Argentina he has made friends quickly by solving technology issues for others. What’s most impressive is how he mentors other ESOL students in class. He quietly shows them what to do but also helps them learn how to do it for themselves.  Alex is a real asset to have in class for his teachers and other students.  When asked about his life Alex shared a touching story of survival, tragedy, and hope for the future. Alex was born in the US but at the tender age of 3 months had to move with his Mother to Argentina due to her visa expiring, while his father remained in the US. During his time in Argentina Alex witnessed many dangerous situations in his neighborhood from break ins where food and tools were stolen to gun fights between neighbors that ended up hitting his home. He has personally experienced 2 fires which made him evacuate his school and the other his home. As he was preparing to return to the US one of his closest friends passed away tragically in a home explosion due to a gas leak.  One of his biggest regrets is not being able to attend the funeral as he was set to travel to the US.  Alex has been in the US for a little over one year now. He currently lives with his father and the family is in the process of applying for a visa for his mother and 2-year-old baby sister for the family to be reunited legally in the US. Although he speaks with his Mom daily his emotions are raw when he speaks of her and misses her every day.  Alex explains that the most difficult thing for him this school year in the US has been learning English. However, this has not held him back as he has had straight A1A the entire school year earning Principals Honor Roll each quarter.  The driving force for Alex to excel is wanting to be able to help and provide for his family.  Alex enjoys reading, playing soccer, and swimming. His future aspirations are to join the Marines and study medicine. He has a true admiration for the people who fight and protect the country’s freedom.  For his bravery, determination, kindness and goodwill, Alex is deserving of recognition.

10. Justin Wilson, seventh grade, Citrus Grove Middle School:

Justin is a phenomenal gifted student and office aide, helping his peers and classmates any chance he gets.  One day Justin saw one of his school’s “self-contained exceptional” students sitting alone and he went and sat down with the student. Justin stated that, “my mother taught me that if I saw a student sitting alone, that student is probably going through something and I should talk to them.” The student and Justin exchanged numbers and now they are friends. With such a small gesture, Justin made a big difference in that student’s life.  Especially during these times were many are left feeling the pain of loneliness, Justin is always making sure everyone feels special and included.