April 2017


1.  BRIANNA ACEBO, fourth grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:

Brianna never stops when it comes to making sure everyone is being helped. She has served as Captain of the Safety Patrol where she impressed the staff with her thoughtfulness. She holds doors open for teachers and even escorted visitors when she was on crutches. Brianna has been a translator for teachers and parents and volunteered to change her duty post when no other patrol member would offer. When on duty, she was subjected to verbal abuse from an unruly student yet she did the right thing by not engaging and reported the incident to an adult. If Brianna has free time on her patrol duty, one can find her picking up litter and disposing of it properly. She participates in the after school Cooking Club and has decided she wants to be a master chef when she gets older. She has also excelled in class by achieving Honor Roll for academics. Brianna really shines when it comes to helping others in the community. Through the Girl Scouts, she participates in many projects, one of which was helping to clean the Everglades. She also donates her time to the Kiwanis of Little Havana and Key Biscayne. For the past four years, on July 4th, Brianna assists in a fundraiser for handicapped children. She sells tickets, prepares food, and assists handicapped children in their electric scooters. One day while waiting at her grandmother’s clinic, Brianna noticed an elderly lady with a walker having trouble getting in the electric door because it was broken. For the next four to five hours, Brianna held the door open for every senior citizen as they arrived or left the clinic. Brianna also visits a nursing home with her mom. While there, she comforts the elderly residents by talking to them and dancing with those in wheelchairs. Every day Brianna provides company for her next door neighbor, an elderly woman whose husband passed away and is without any family. She helps her hang laundry and waters her garden. While shopping with her grandmother, Brianna helps retrieve heavy items and items on top shelves. One day, she saw a man drop a bag of oranges and she quickly picked them up for him. At home she helps with her baby cousin by changing diapers, feeding, bathing, and reading to him to calm him down until he falls asleep. She also bakes and cooks meals for her parents who arrive home late. Brianna sprang into action by saving her six year-old cousin from harm after she had slipped off a scooter into a pool. At the beginning of the school year, Brianna’s church was unable to continue a program that gave school supplies to children in need. Brianna took out $50 of her savings and along with other donations, she purchased inexpensive book bags and supplies which were given to children in the area.  Brianna also helps pick up litter at Matheson Hammock, contributes to the class garden, and helped escort guests for Career Day. Brianna is just a fourth grader, but she already unselfishly jumps at any chance to help others.

2.  EDWARD DEL PINO, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:

Edward is a young man that loves his family and community. At the tender age of seven years old, he recalls how he would help his grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer by feeding him, assisting him in his daily activities, and spending quality time with him, even reading him stories. This caring and responsible young man continued to do the right thing when in fourth grade he made it a mission to raise awareness and funds for children who are diagnosed with autism in honor of both of his cousins. Edward sold chocolates and helped raise over $400 for autism awareness. His love for his family and community is also evident when in sixth grade, he was associated with the “We the People” competition and in seventh and eighth grade took an active role in Project Citizen. In seventh grade, Edward helped pass a local law for the “S.T.A.R.” Program that prevents kids from being suspended and instead creates other alternatives to suspension. Currently, Edward and a few classmates have worked tirelessly in their Law Studies class to help our brave men and women in uniform. They are involved in filing and advocating for HB 55 and SB 326, two bills in the current Florida 2017 legislation session that will help veterans receive the proper treatment they need to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Edward and the students were involved in a school wide collection of different donations for the VA hospital located in Miami and during the holidays they delivered all the donations to the hospital. Edward along with another peer contacted all the representatives on two different committees. They came up with therapies for the veterans, including meditation therapy, Accelerated Resolution Therapy (which replaces negative images with positive ones), as well as many other therapies. The students went and volunteered at the hospital where they met and talked to veterans and staff. They have advocated for their bill school wide and their class created an app to be able to track their bill and help it on its way to becoming a Florida statute. Edward’s Project Citizen team presented their work district-wide and will have the opportunity to bring more awareness to this issue statewide in the Project Citizen State Competition. For all these wonderful qualities that Edward demonstrates whether at home or in his community, he is a strong candidate for this Do The Right Thing honor.

3.  ASHLEY DIAZ, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:

Ashley is known for trying to achieve and accomplish daily activities to assist as many people as possible in her school and community. Ashley, along with her mom, go around their condominium asking for clothes and toiletries to donate to churches, orphanages, and other ministries. Her compassion for those in need does not go unnoticed when she, alongside her mother, prepares meals to give to the homeless. They make big meals to share and are dedicated women that love to help people in need. One of the many instances where Ashley has helped another was when her neighbor suffered a heart attack. Ashley would go every day after school to cook, clean, administer medicine, and assist her neighbor until her mother would come home from work at 9:30 p.m. Ashley even had a key to her neighbor’s house just in case something happened to her while her husband was at work. At school, Ashley is an English tutor to students that are new in the country and do not know the language. She loves helping kids adjust to school and have a better middle school experience. Indeed, Ashley is what they call an exemplary model of our school district’s initiative of “Values Matter.” She was actively involved in her Law Studies class’ community project where she helped in a school-wide effort to collect donations such as socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and Valentine cards for the Veterans Hospital in Miami. Ashley personally went to the VA Hospital to deliver all the goods and she expressed to them her gratitude and respect for what they do. She also advocates for a new Florida bill that will help veterans receive proper treatment for PTSD and TBI. She presented the bill in front of Senator Bob Graham, among others, to get support and spread awareness on the issue. This caring, dedicated, and responsible young lady has worked diligently in her Law Studies class in order to help our brave men and women in uniform. Ashley, along with her law studies classmates were involved in filing and advocating for HB 55 and SB 326, two bills in the current Florida 2017 legislation session that will help veterans receive the proper treatment they need to treat PTSD and TBI. This law will help veterans by offering them several types of therapy, like musical therapy, animal therapy, yoga therapy, meditation therapy, and many other types of therapy that our brave men and women so greatly deserve. They have advocated for their bill school-wide and their class created an app to track their bill and help it on its way to becoming a Florida statute. Ashley and the Project Citizen team presented their work district-wide and will have the opportunity to bring more awareness on this issue statewide in the Project Citizen State Competition. Ashley is an example of how volunteering and being involved can help and change people’s lives.

4.  NATALIE FARRAMOLA, fourth grade, Somerset City Arts Academy:

Recently, a student at Natalie’s school was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. In an effort to help this student, the fourth grade class decided to hold a car wash to raise money for her medical expenses. Over Spring Break, Natalie took it upon herself to fundraise for the student. At her grandmother’s store, she sold lemonade and was able to raise over $100. On top of being a compassionate person, Natalie is also very artistic. She rehearses every week in preparation for the end of the year show at her school. At home, she creates arts and crafts to give to her friends and teachers. She recently wrote a short autobiography and shared it with her class. She is an Honor Roll student who performs highly in all content areas. Natalie is truly something special!

5.  MAYA FERRER, first grade, Miami Lakes K-8:

Maya makes everyone around her feel special. She is extraordinarily kind to her classmates and is always willing to sit and help them stay on track with assignments or just for moral support if that is what they need. She regularly participates in the “Fun Facts” segment of the day bringing in beautiful poetry, stories, homemade science projects, and of course lots of fun facts. What really makes this remarkable is that throughout most of the year, her father has been seriously ill and unable to work. As a result, Maya has had to give up many of the sports, hobbies, and outings that she enjoyed with her family. However, she never complains. Maya always has a smile and a thank you for her teachers and her classmates. Recently her tennis coach learned of her situation and he praised Maya as an athlete but even more so for her demeanor and sportsmanship on and off the court and insisted that she return to her lessons free of charge. Maya always does the right thing!

6.  DYLAN GARCIA, fifth grade, Flamingo Elementary:

Dylan is a great student and friend to all in his class. His caring nature, desire to be a leader, and need to be of service to all comes through on a daily basis. At school, Dylan is part of the Safety Patrol, a role and responsibility that he takes very seriously. You can count on Dylan to be at his designated post on time every day and to make it a point to greet every teacher and student that he encounters along the way. Additionally, this year Dylan took the initiative to become a “classroom buddy” to a new student in his class. He went out of his way to welcome the new student and took it upon himself to go the extra mile by helping the student stay on task in class and offering him assistance whenever he saw that the student was struggling. Last but not least, Dylan is also known by his peers as being someone that they can depend on. Many of his classmates will say that he is known for giving good advice and for being a calming influence to his classmates when they need it, in particular, when he sees one of his friends about to lose their temper. Dylan does a great job of deescalating the situation by reminding them of what is at stake and the consequences that they may face if they get in trouble. In addition to all the good he does at school, he loves being of service in the local community through the volunteer work he does on Sundays at Paws-2-Care, a non-profit organization in Miami-Dade County. While volunteering, he helps out by bathing, feeding, walking, and playing with rescue dogs even though he is allergic to dogs. For three years in a row, Dylan and his family have also participated in various fundraising walks around the area such as The Suicide Awareness Walk at UM and The Cystic Fibrosis Walk in Miami Lakes. Dylan clearly exemplifies the meaning of Do The Right Thing and has made his school and family very proud!

7.  HECTOR GONZALEZ III, fifth grade, North Beach Elementary:

Hector continues to be a straight A student at his school. Since the day he enrolled in Pre-K, he has never missed a day of school receiving 100 percent perfect attendance for seven years in a row. Hector tries his very best at everything he does. He played baseball and constantly practiced on his own time because he wanted to get better. Hector also has a heart of gold. He has denied the Gifted Program several times to be able to stay in his class and help his best friends when needed. Hector has been Student of the Month at least once every school year. He attends the computer lab every morning before school starts so he can read as many Sunshine State books as possible. After school, Hector attends the Drama Club on Mondays, Typing Club on Tuesdays, and Kindness Club on Wednesdays. Even though he has a full schedule, Hector always has time to help plan the next fundraiser. He has collected more than $5,000 for the Turkey Trot fundraiser at school with the money going to improve his favorite place, the library. He learned about Autism Awareness Month and decided to raise more money in honor of his cousin who suffers from autism. With the help of his parents, two City of Miami Police officers, and their work family, they raised approximately $500 in a very short period of time. Hector wants to be a cardiologist when he grows up so he can help everyone who needs it at a lower price. Hector is truly a one-of-a-kind student and deserves the Do The Right Thing recognition.

8.  JAMAL GRIFFIN, fifth grade, Nathan B. Young Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:

Unfortunately, fake guns and real guns are a continuing problem in communities and schools. When two students decided to bring pellet guns to school, Jamal acted swiftly and sought help. He did not stop to find out the students’ intentions. He knew that he needed to find an adult he could trust and that is what he did. Sometimes it is difficult for a student to tell and risk being labeled a snitch. Jamal did the right thing and helped not only the school but the two students as well.

9.  LUIS PEROZO, kindergarten, E.W.F. Stirrup Elementary:

Luis was born with muscular dystrophy and since then has faced many physical and emotional challenges. Last year, at five years of age, he underwent a major operation to repair the muscles in his legs and feet to increase his ability to walk properly. Luis returned to school in a wheelchair and was unable to perform any tasks without assistance. He also endured many difficult physical therapy sessions that brought him to tears from the exhaustion. A typically smiling and cheerful child, there were many days where he would fall asleep in his wheelchair due to exhaustion. Today, he is out of the wheelchair, walking with the assistance of a walker, and beginning to take steps around the classroom completely unassisted. He also proved himself to be a great role model for his classmates. Luis was able to rise above all the physical and emotional challenges he has endured. The perseverance and determination he has demonstrated at such a young age is commendable.

10.  FELIX RODRIGUEZ, fifth grade, Lorah Park Elementary:

Arriving in the United States at age five from Puerto Rico, Felix lived in a homeless shelter for a year and started school speaking only Spanish. Undaunted, he swiftly overcame the language barrier and today recites the pledge of allegiance and morning announcements for his entire school. He earned an A in Language Arts in the most recent marking period. Being born without a developed pectoral muscle (Poland Syndrome) that inhibits movement and compromises lung capacity has not kept this young man on the sidelines. He enjoys outdoor activities and although he cannot quite participate in the same way as his classmates, he pushes himself in P.E. to be the best he can be. Felix’s willingness to work through his limitations has earned him an A in P.E. during the most recent marking period. Felix has earned the respect of his teachers and classmates as a leader in both the STEM and Gifted programs. He represented his school at this year’s Miami-Dade County Public School’s District Science Fair and shared his insightful exploration of efficient ways of strengthening Wi-Fi signals. He is a consistent member of the Honor Roll and is very helpful to his peers. Felix is a true role model who has also served on the school’s Safety Patrol and as student representative on the Educational Excellence School Advisory Council (EESAC) which brings together teachers, administration, and parents to offer solutions to current school needs. Felix is also very helpful at home even assisting his younger sister with her home learning assignments. He enjoys intellectually stimulating games and puzzles and seeks to improve his physical capabilities as well as enjoy summer fun through swimming. Felix is very deserving of the Do the Right Thing award.