February 2021


1.  Shamzee I. Abdulrahman, sixth grade, Bob Graham Educational Center:

Shamzee is a very bright young man who is always thinking of others.  He is very creative and enjoys being a productive member of society.  He believes strongly in donating and helping those who are less fortunate.  Shamzee recently celebrated his birthday and when his teacher inquired as to his plans for celebrating the occasion, Shamzee stated he had plans to GIVE rather than receive on his special day.  He said “I want to do something different, I want to celebrate my birthday through other’s smile, those who are less fortunate.”  Therefore, on his birthday, he woke up early and cooked eggs, toast, bananas, and fresh orange juice and went downtown to deliver a delicious meal to the needy.  When asked his reasoning for such a gesture he replied “I wanted to provide food to the poor because some people don’t have food and we are lucky to have a meal on the table. On birthdays we always buy something, but instead of buying something you can instead do something for the poor. The poor can’t buy food for themselves. We have a chance to help the poor and we have to help in every way possible. This is how we can be a better society”.  Shamzee’s kind heart, thoughtfulness and generosity are qualities that we all should admire.

2.  Vida Azcarraga, fifth grade, Pinecrest Academy South, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:

Vida is a student that exemplifies perseverance.  Last school year she was involved in a serious car accident on her way to school when the bus she was riding flipped over after colliding with another car, pinning Vida’s arm under the van.  Vida had to undergo multiple surgeries on the road to recovery and thus has had to miss school on multiple occasions.  Despite this setback, she continues to give her best and maintain her academics.  Vida is also a true friend and stands up for what is right.  Recently she overheard two students making fun of a student that was sitting close to them in the cafeteria. The students continued their bullying behavior and at that moment Vida intervened and asked them to stop mocking the girl that was sitting next to her. She told them their behavior was mean and unacceptable.  It was difficult for her to speak up to the other students as there was a possibility that she would lose their friendship but her conscience was telling her she needed to say something and she did. The girl she defended felt much better and felt she wasn’t alone after all.  Not only does she take care of her peers at school but she also takes care of her family at home by helping her mom with chores, being a good big sister, and an amazing grandchild.  Despite what circumstances may come, Vida will persevere and continue doing the right thing.

3.  Crystal Bradley, eleventh grade, Booker T. Washington Senior High:

Crystal exemplifies the true meaning of giving a helping hand to anyone in need.  Although she experiences personal obstacles at home, she always maintains a positive attitude. When she transitioned from online to physical school, she did not have a laptop and was working from a cell phone that she had to share with her little brother and sister. When she received the laptop provided by the school, she successfully completed all her assignments, receiving A’s & B’s in all her classes. Even while dealing with difficult circumstances, she still found time to assist her peers with their work.  She takes her academics very seriously and is determined to give 110% to be a highly effective student in and out of the classroom.  She volunteers in her community by tutoring students of all ages virtually.  She also volunteers at local food giveaways and participated in creating Thanksgiving and Holiday Baskets for underprivileged families in her community. Her community service is always greatly appreciated and essential to the success in all that she does. Even through unfortunate circumstances, she always has a smile on her face and continues to be in great spirits and jumps at every opportunity to be readily available to assist when she can. Crystal is an amazing and strong young lady with remarkable talents and a prosperous future ahead.

4.  Jaylyn Freeman, seventh grade, Madison Middle:

Jaylyn is a kind-hearted student who tries to spread joy and happiness in each person she meets despite having endured difficult circumstances this past year.  She recently experienced a devastating loss, yet she tries to remain positive and kind.  She also knows that when she sees something, she needs to say something.  Recently, she noticed inappropriate activity taking place while in school. Consequently, she did the right thing by alerting the authorities.  Thanks to Jaylyn, the situation was handled in an appropriate manner.

5.  Katie Gude, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:

Katie Gude is currently a happy and successful 8th grade student but it was not always this way.  Unfortunately, in 6th grade Katie was failing and withdrawn.  However, in 7th grade Katie began to take ownership and care about her future. Katie is now an honor roll student making friends, participating in school activities, and most importantly, happy. When asked to describe her 7th and 8th-grade self she said “I got better mentally which allowed me to try harder. I was pushed to do this by my teachers and friends.”  Her transformation began in 6th grade when her history teacher Ms. Richardo was the first teacher to ever tell her how proud she was of her and motivated Katie to be her best self.  In 7th grade Ms. Busch volunteered to be her mentor and she also credits all her current teachers for helping her discover her love of science and fostering a sense of responsibility in her.  Katie has endured many losses and struggles in her life that no child should have to experience.  Growing up Katie faced several family problems. Her biggest struggle has been being separated from her mother and younger siblings.  Her current protector and confidant is her older brother Nicholas who is only 17 but provides a calming presence in her life.  In the future Katie would like to become a police officer or join the military to help others the same way she’s been helped.  Katie’s turnaround behavior and resilience through difficult situations is to be truly admired.

6.  Aden Karp, twelfth grade, Miami Beach Senior High:

Aden’s life has been filled with lessons of unyielding perseverance as he was born with a rare congenital retinal disease, severely impacting his ability to see. Through acting he has been able to make people feel comfortable in their own skin. Aden has been volunteering at the Sabrina Cohen Foundation (SCF) and Sabrina’s Adaptive Beach since his sophomore year. These programs are based on inclusion and strive to provide an avenue so that all people regardless of age or disability, can have equal opportunity to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of recreation and exercise.  Aden has utilized his acting skills and relationships in the industry to raise money for this cause and has assisted with several fundraisers in order to help the foundation embark on its most ambitious project: the development of a state-of-the-art Adaptive Fitness and Recreation Center which will be the first health and wellness facility in the nation designed exclusively for individuals with disabilities.  Aden has also used his knowledge of fitness and exercise gained after losing 40 pounds along with his ability to engage and entertain, as a means to create bonds and build trust as a volunteer with blind people and paralyzed individuals who attend the Adaptive Beach program. He has dedicated weekends volunteering; helping the blind navigate the water as well as guiding wheelchair bound individuals in the ocean on specialized chairs.  For his dedication to transforming lives and establishing a legacy of inclusion and hope for generations to come, Aden is a deserving Do The Right Thing winner.

7.  Anthonyka Myrthil, eighth grade, John F. Kennedy Middle:

The transition to online learning due to the ongoing pandemic has been difficult and many students have been feeling isolated and alone. Many are using chat rooms to communicate with their friends. Anthonyka was chatting with a friend who was feeling despair and loneliness.  Not only did she try to help her friend by providing support, but she also alerted school staff that her friend was having severe emotional issues. Because of her compassion and care her friend was able to receive the help she needed.  Anthonyka did the right thing and made a difference in her friend’s life.

8.  Andre Nejad, fifth grade, Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8:

Andre found a wallet while walking to school one day. He immediately picked up the wallet and turned it in to the nearest adult, his PE teacher.  According to his teacher, the wallet had money, ID, and a social security card.  Andre is a good student who puts forth maximum effort to achieve academic goals.  He is active and likes to skateboard with his friends on his leisure time and participates in a soccer program after school.  In addition to being thoughtful, considerate, and respectful, Andre did the right thing and demonstrated honesty and integrity.

9. Natalie Quintana, eleventh grade, Miami Springs Senior High:

Many students with physical limitations allow their disabilities to consume their whole lives, causing them to be introverts, closing themselves off in order to prevent feeling the pain of others’ harsh words or stares.  Not Natalie, she is here to take the world by storm!  By two months of age, Natalie was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy which currently has her wheelchair bound.  Despite her physical limitations, Natalie is happy to meet you, talk with you and always full of smiles.  This young woman is an academic powerhouse and is a part of the Cambridge and Hospitality & Tourism Academies.  On top of her rigorous course load, she is currently in dual enrolled college courses and plans to graduate during the summer of her 11th grade year.  Even while maintaining such stellar academics, she finds time to participate in two favorite activities, drama and chorus, lighting up the stage during every performance. Natalie’s passionate mind, soul, and drive to succeed is truly inspiring!

10.  Kara Semelfort, twelfth grade, Doctors Charter School, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:

Throughout her early school years, Kara and her family persevered through various obstacles including losing their home and all their belongings in a fire when she was younger and also caring for her brother who was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  With the support of the community and friends, they were able to overcome and conquer these difficult situations.  Kara also had to deal with losing her father to cancer which made her transition from a private middle school to Doctors Charter School that much more difficult.  After receiving her first D for the quarter, she knew she had to step up and work harder. Since then, she has been consistently on Honor Roll, was announced the Highest Achieving Student in Spanish, inducted as a member of the National Honor Society and awarded the President’s Award for Educational Excellence. Last year she was selected for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence and recognized as a Philidalelphie Panthers Pathfinder Club Instructor of the Year.  Kara has volunteered at her church for the past 3 years and is a member of the Sister to Sister Organization at her school, the Cross Country team, and has played the alto saxophone for three years.  The adversities she and her family experienced helped fostered a sense of wanting to help others through volunteering at a nursing home helping to transport patients and assisting during fun, brain stimulating activities. Kara would like to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist or a Pediatrician in the future in order to give back to her motherland of Haiti and help the disadvantaged, especially children, hoping to one day raise money to open an orphanage.  Being able to defy the odds and successfully juggle high school classes, sports practice, dual enrollment classes at night and volunteering all at once has been a most outstanding accomplishment for Kara.