1. Amanda Abdala, twelfth grade, School for Advanced Studies Kendall Campus, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
At the beginning of this school year, Amanda’s History teacher gave an assignment to all of her students to reach out and offer support to a classmate during this stressful online learning environment to help them adjust. Amanda didn’t just reach out to one friend or classmate, she offered her support to 11 classmates in a lower grade that she didn’t even know personally. This demonstrated what a big heart Amanda has. Her teacher referred to her as a “treasure and an ambassador.” Amanda is currently working on a project of hand sewing Covid masks for the homeless children of Lotus House. She also volunteers her time on Saturdays to tutor a younger student. Recently she hosted a book drive for the Spanish Honor Society where the group donated books to the Redland Christian Migrant Association to support education for the children of migrant working and low income families. Amanda was personally responsible for collecting 475 books for the migrant children. She will be graduating in 2021 in the top 10% of her class with a GPA of 5.22. In addition, she excels in her AP Calculus exams and helps tutor other students who find that class very difficult. Amanda is truly one in a million and always looking for ways to help others.
2. Genesis Aguilera, fifth grade, Claude Pepper Elementary:
Genesis is a student participating in school online. Recently she sent the school counselor an email sharing that she has a friend that is dealing with a dangerous situation at home. Genesis stated that she felt sad for her friend and was very worried about her. She wanted to know what she could do to help her friend feel better. She reported the situation and helped make a difference in another person’s life. Genesis embodies the values of kindness, bravery, integrity and citizenship.
3. Reese Almazan, fifth grade, Pinecrest Elementary:
Reese’s honesty and ability to demonstrate citizenship and responsibility is quite phenomenal at such a young age. When an unknown student lost a diamond encrusted heart charm, she found and turned it in immediately to the first adult she saw. Through her kindness and her respect towards others property and feelings, the item was reunited with its owner the next day. Reese is not only setting an excellent example for other students and in the process making her parents and teachers proud of her actions, but she proved that when the opportunity presented itself, she knew to “Do The Right Thing”.
4. Raina Beckford, fourth grade, Colonial Drive Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
Raina is truly a life saver. Two weeks ago, Raina’s father was watching football with relatives on their outside patio while her aunt was in the kitchen frying chicken when she got distracted by a neighbor outside and did not realize she left heated oil on the stove. Raina was in her room when she noticed smoke had filled the rest of the apartment. She followed the smoke and saw the oil on the stove was on fire. Raina quickly ran outside and alerted the others and her uncle was able to extinguish the flames. Raina’s mom is proud of her daughter and exclaims, “Thank God for Raina! She is our ‘She-ro!” Raina was also quick to spring to action when she heard a noise in the adjacent bedroom and came in to find her grandmother on the floor passed out. She called out for help and stayed by her grandmother’s side while her mother ran in and was soon able to bring her grandmother to a stable condition. Raina also displays kindness when helping an elderly neighbor who is wheelchair bound with her chores. At school, Raina saved candy that she had received and gave it to her teacher to reward her peers for “Doing Good Things!” In addition, she is attentive, helpful, and tries her best to cheer up her classmates. Raina’s heroic acts and kind deeds make her a deserving “Do The Right Thing Winner!”
5. Amanda Castillo, twelfth grade, Hialeah Gardens High:
Amanda and her younger brother Andy came up with an idea for a business creating stickers which became popular among her peers. They created 5 designs and the proceeds of the sales were donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Amanda is also involved in a community project called Teen Court that is making a positive difference in the lives of teenagers in her hometown. The project is sponsored by the City of Hialeah and is designed to help troubled youth. In Teen Court, when a young person commits a minor crime, they can choose to be judged in Teen Court rather than the traditional Court. In Teen Court, defendants are tried and judged by other teenagers. The jury, bailiff, and attorneys are teens. Amanda has been the bailiff and has served as a juror in several hearings. She believes in the program so strongly that she wants to start the program at her school and has earned a nomination for the Silver Knight Award for her efforts. Amanda has struggled with frustration this past year with the changes that came with the pandemic as her junior and senior years of high school are not as she imagined. Despite the circumstances, Amanda maintains a positive outlook on life and in helping others. She is an officer in several school clubs, including: The Film Club; Drama Club; and Women of Tomorrow. She maintains a 4.4 GPA and is looking forward to attending college. Amanda is making a difference in the lives of many people, from serving as an excellent role model to her younger brother, to being a great student and person, to helping other youth in her community turn their lives around.
6. Stephanie Diaz, third grade, Henry S. West Laboratory School:
Stephanie is good-hearted, humble, and considerate of other’s feelings. Ever since she was a toddler, her mom knew that she would have the patience and persistence to accomplish wonderful things. She’s been a role model student in her classes and is passionate about helping others. She loves to draw, build things with Legos, and considers herself crafty. She also attends an acrobatics class at a local dance studio called Miami Dance Project. At home, Stephanie helps her mom with the dishes and loves to get in the kitchen and create some of the meals herself and during the weekends she helps her dad with the garden. Stephanie also takes care of her 8 pet birds all by herself. Recently, Stephanie saw a couple of older students damaging one of the statues at her school. She told them to stop, but they laughed at her and ran away. That didn’t stop her though. She then reported to her teacher what was going on and insisted that she find out what class they were in. The students were found, and she was right next to them making sure that they didn’t lie about the situation. Stephanie isn’t afraid to speak up for what is right and demonstrated responsibility and that she will fight for justice and advocate for the people and items in her school.
7. Luis Inda, ninth grade, Brucie Ball Educational Center:
Luis is a well-mannered young man who always shows excitement and a positive attitude for completing school tasks. Nothing stops him from his number one responsibility: to keep being the excellent student he has always been. Luis is enrolled in the Hospital Homebound Instructional Program because he has a chronic medical condition called Spasticity which is also associated with brain damage and motor dysfunction. However, Luis does not let his condition hold him back. He always chooses to work hard and even when he feels fatigue or pain, he takes pride in finishing his assignments for the day. Due to his medical condition, Luis is permanently exempt from taking the State Exams. When his teacher told him about this exemption, he reacted unexpectedly; he WANTED to take the exams and prove to his family and himself that NOTHING interferes with his responsibilities as a student. Luis also makes it a point to be a responsible citizen. He is 18 years old and since he started studying Civics as a seventh grader, he showed great interest in learning about the different aspects taught in class. This year, for the first time, he had the opportunity to participate in the Presidential Elections and he felt truly proud to actively be part of the democratic process. He not only got himself ready for this important event, but he also used his Civic knowledge to debate at home with family members, his nurses, therapists, and teachers about the importance of giving our vote and being an active protagonist of this democratic process. Luis truly exemplifies what it means to be resilient and persevere.
8. William Keel, fourth grade, Kendale Elementary:
William is a very caring and kind young man. It is in his nature to offer care and compassion to all who need it, including animals. William has a knack for rescuing animals in order to heal them and incorporate them back into nature. He has a very high interest in all animals and insects and is very knowledgeable in that area. During the Covid-19 pandemic William made masks and sold them. He then donated all the proceeds to an animal rescue shelter. Recently despite having to deal with the loss of his own sick dog, he remained committed to his schoolwork. He always puts forth great effort in his academics and is intrigued by the world around him past and present. William is a very thoughtful and caring young man that knows how to do the right thing.
9. Kryssian Lugo, tenth grade, John A. Ferguson Senior High:
Kryssian has been through much in his life in the past few years. Despite facing his own challenges, recently he came across a student who was in dire need of help and was contemplating suicide at his school. He took the time to talk to the student and get her to agree to seeking help. He then brought the student down to the principal’s office. He believes he did what anyone would’ve done by stepping in when seeing someone in crisis. Outside of school, Kryssian became scuba certified at the age of 12 and plans on joining the Navy upon graduating from high school. Kryssian saved a life that day and for his heroic actions he is being honored today.
10. Maximo Mayora, twelfth grade, American Senior High:
Maximo is involved with his school’s student government and continues to try to reach and encourage students even though they are remote. He has always been an important member of the 1st place winning debate team. He prioritizes his academics and takes his post-secondary plans very seriously. He hopes to attend the University of Miami and major in business and marketing upon graduating. In addition, Maximo is a talented singer and his performances have always made his peers feel included and special. Recently he volunteered his personal time to assist his teacher who was feeling overwhelmed. Maximo is President of the American Debate Society, the National English Honor Society, and senior member of the American Heritage Players Group. Through debate, he has sponsored a clothing drive for the homeless at Camillus House, delivering over 100 pieces of clothing to the organization. He has led his team through victory time and time again, leading the best team in the Miami-Dade Urban Debate League and in the state of Florida. He has reached out to hundreds of students through debate, mentoring them, helping with assignments, and making them realize their potential to succeed. Through NEHS, he has helped countless seniors apply for scholarships and colleges to ensure their successful careers after high school. Maximo demonstrates true leadership.