April

April 2018

 

1.  ISABELLA BENNAR, sixth grade, Southwood Middle, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:

Isabella was involved in a golf cart accident on July 4, 2016 where her brother Devin suffered a traumatic brain injury. Family members spent many months taking turns living at the hospital. When summer ended, Isabella returned to school but continued to visit her brother daily and take turns sleeping by him on the weekends. Through this ordeal, Isabella has suffered a lot. She wakes up at night sometimes crying that her brother died or that she is in a car accident. The family is trying to help Isabella work through the anxiety but her main concern is always for her brother. She has maintained Honor Roll since the accident. Now that Devin is home, Isabella shares a room with him, even helping with his feeding machine and administering his medications. Devin is Homebound now for school and Bella sits with him and helps with his homework even with the amount of work she does on her own. She has also made it into the Dance Magnet at school. But her days spent taking care of her brother have not stopped her from her dreams and goals in and outside of school. She deserves this award because she continues to do the right thing in school and at home on a daily basis.

2.  SAVANNAH BENNAR, tenth grade, Coral Reef Senior. Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:

On July 4, 2016, Savannah was involved in a golf cart accident that left her brother Devin with a severe traumatic brain injury. She was the first one to attend to her brother at the scene of the accident. She has always wanted to be a doctor and her natural instincts went into play. Savannah made sure all the other children in the golf cart were okay. She then moved her brother from the middle of the road and cared for him until first responders and other people arrived. Savannah remained completely calm, all the while knowing how injured her brother was. She visited her brother every day in the hospital for several months and would take turns sleeping there. When the school year began, Savannah had been planning to attend MAST but without transportation, she attended another high school closer to home. Still visiting her brother daily, Savannah maintained Honor Roll every quarter. She recently entered into a HOSA called Medical Innovation Original where she placed 4th in state. Savannah has a bright future ahead and she deserves to be awarded for all she accomplished through this tragedy. She is a hero to her brother, siblings, friends and family!

3.  SHANE BENNAR, ninth grade, Florida Virtual School, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:

Shane witnessed all three of his siblings get into a horrific golf cart accident on July 4, 2016 leaving his younger brother Devin with a traumatic brain injury. While his brother spent five months in the hospital, Shane never left his side. He even joined Home School so that he could help take care of his brother. It has been almost 2 years and Shane still has not left his side. He does his class work on a computer by his brother’s side and has maintained Honor Roll grades. He gave up his dream to attend Coral Reef Senior High to become an engineer so that his brother would not be alone. Shane witnessed the accident, which has been traumatizing for him, but he knew the right thing to do was to be strong for his brother and continue his schooling. He wants to show his brother the importance of never giving up regardless of what he has been through. Prior to Home School, Shane was in the Art Magnet Program. He has been an Honor Roll student since Kindergarten and he takes every day as a blessing that his siblings are alive. He truly deserves recognition for his hard work and dedication to his brother.

4.  AILEN FLEITES, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:

Ailen comes from a very humble background in Cuba filled with tragedies and sadness. Prior to her older sister’s birth, her maternal grandmother died of cancer causing her mom to suffer depression for some time. Thankfully, with the birth of her daughters, she was able to move on. Ailen’s early years were spent in her native country of Cuba, surrounded by family but as destiny would have it, everything started to change one day. At just three years old, the family was broken up with Ailen’s father leaving and her mom becoming a different person, barely leaving her bedroom or eating. She stopped pursuing her career in medicine and one day overdosed, taking her own life and leaving behind her two small daughters. Thankfully they lived with a great-aunt and great grandmother who helped raise them. Ailen remembers for years just staring at that bedroom door never going back inside after that night, crying herself to sleep and until this day having nightmares about it. Her father would sometimes come on the weekends, but when Ailen was seven, he left the country on a “mission” and would only send money once in a while. In Cuba, she excelled as a student despite her tragic young life and achieved numerous awards for Best Student of the Year, and Highest Grades and won several mathematics and literature contests. At just 11 years old, she also volunteered over 100 hours at a nearby daycare helping by feeding the children, telling them stories, and putting them to sleep. She tried to be the mommy to them that she also longed for. Sadly, she had to live with the stigma of her mother’s death, but thankfully everything was about to change. During her father’s “mission” outside the country, with much effort and sacrifice, he was able to immigrate to the United States, and later reunite by bringing Ailen and her sister here. From the moment Ailen arrived in the U.S., she decided to quickly adapt. She loved to read and would bury herself in books for days determined to learn English. She felt close to her mom in doing so since she had been an avid reader too. She decided to write a letter to her mother which she later turned into a monologue that she performed during the Hispanic Heritage Show earlier this school year where she also served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Although Ailen arrived in the U.S. midway through sixth grade, she achieved perfect attendance that year, an ESOL 1 Best Student Award, History Best Student Award, and Science Best Student Award. In seventh grade, she achieved Superior Honor Roll and Principal’s Honor Roll, and the Language Arts thru ESOL Best Student of the Year Award and had the leading role in the school play. This year, she has achieved Superior Honor Roll and is a stellar member of the Spanish, Art, and Drama Clubs. A talented artist, she won First Place in the district’s Peace Poster Contest where her poster was on public display and entered into various other contests. Despite her past, Ailen is a confident, studious young woman with set goals and aspirations in her mind for finding a cure for cancer. She is changing her story from someone once pitied, to someone admired and wants to honor her mother as well as the sacrifices of her dad, great-aunt, and great grandmother by demonstrating the amazing woman she will become.

5.  LUNA GARCIA, fifth grade, Frank C. Martin K-8:

Luna and another student (Iliana) went to their counselor over concern for a mutual friend who had talked about committing suicide. They also shared that there was another student in the class encouraging the girl who wanted to hurt herself to go ahead with it. She even went as far as to give the girl ideas as to what she could do. Iliana and Luna were extremely concerned about their classmate and friend so they came and sought help. They wanted to make sure the school was aware and that their friend would be safe despite the fact that the other student told them not to say anything. Those involved are very proud of these two young ladies for stepping up and showing great character. They did not let anyone intimidate them as they spoke up to protect their friend. This shows empathy, integrity, honor, care, kindness, and human decency all of which are amazing qualities that we wish more students would display. Luna and Iliana absolutely deserve to be recognized for doing the right thing!

6.  ISABELLA GONZALEZ, second grade, Dr. Gilbert Porter Elementary:

Isabella is an amazing student who always does her work to the best of her ability. She is a kind and generous friend and a good listener who helps others whenever possible. According to her mom, Isabella has had a heart of gold since she was a baby. She is always willing to assist at home as well as help her younger brother and family. If anyone has a rough day, Isabella makes sure to put a smile on his or her face. Recently, Isabella saw a fellow student choking on a snack next to her. Isabella sprang into action and helped get the food dislodged from his throat doing all the right things and saving a life. The child that was choking had his mom come to the class so she could meet the young lady who saved his life.

7.  ILIANA HILL, fifth grade, Frank C. Martin K-8:

Iliana and another student, Luna (see below), came to see their counselor as they were concerned about a friend in their class who had talked about committing suicide. They also shared that there was another student in the class encouraging the girl who wanted to hurt herself to go ahead with it. She even went as far as to give the girl ideas as to what she could do. Iliana and Luna were extremely concerned about their classmate and friend so they came and sought help. They wanted to make sure the school was aware and that their friend would be safe despite the fact that the other student told them not to say anything. Those involved are very proud of these two young ladies for stepping up and showing great character. They did not let anyone intimidate them as they spoke up to protect their friend. This shows empathy, integrity, honor, care, kindness, and human decency all of which are amazing qualities that we wish more students would display. Iliana and Luna absolutely deserve to be recognized for doing the right thing!

8.  ALEXAVIER PEREDA, eighth grade, Hialeah Middle:

Alexavier was born into a family struggling with a chronically ill 8 year-old child. His older brother has Battens disease, a fatal disease that effects the nervous system and usually presents itself between the ages of 5-10. His brother has been blind for as long as Alexavier can remember. He suffers from mental impairment and seizures, and is progressively losing his ability to communicate through speech. Alexavier is now 13 years old, and his brother is 21 years old, an age considered a milestone for a person with Battens disease. This life is the “normal” life for Alexavier, filled with challenges and grief. Being raised by a single mother who has struggled immensely to raise her sons, Alexavier has helped to care for his brother since an early age. He has taken the role on full force with no complaint. He is a dedicated, loving brother and son who assists with feeding his brother, helping his brother get in and out of his wheelchair and bed and even dressing his brother. Alexavier does not only go above and beyond every day at home but he continues doing the right thing for his peers at school. Alexavier has volunteered to assist new students entering his school by showing them around to their classes and offering to be a friend. He is an Honor Roll student and challenges himself daily with two high school courses. An exceptional leader, Alexavier has been the president of his Drama Club where he has played the lead role in numerous plays. He has always dreamed big with aspirations of becoming a legendary actor. Acting is Alexavier’s getaway from reality, helping him cope with all the trauma from home and stress from school. Alexavier also learned how to set up the stage lights and run the sound system and he volunteers his time to assist other clubs with performances in the auditorium. Alexavier also volunteers at his step-sister’s Girl Scouts Troop attending bake sales, beach cleanups, and food drives. Although Alexavier has missed out on the innocence of a childhood, he is a very giving and kind individual who strives for greatness each and every day using life’s challenges to grow and be a strong leader.

9.  A’MIRACLE WALLACE, fourth grade, Colonial Drive Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:

A’Miracle is just that, a miracle. Her mom was not sure she would live through her early life when doctors discovered she was born with a rare condition that affects her digestion. A’Miracle has had an uphill climb due to the difficulties of her illness that affected her attendance in school. However, A’Miracle perseveres through it all and does the right thing. A’Miracle realizes that many people have helped her through the years to maintain her health and education and she wants to give back to others. One day, after school, A’Miracle noticed a new student having difficulty finding his bus. The student, who is autistic, was visibly frustrated and A’Miracle intervened making sure he got on the right bus knowing he needed extra help and kindness. Now, each day A’Miracle waits for her new friend to talk to him and escort him to his bus. A’Miracle’s bus is usually the last bus to arrive after school, so after she sees her friend off, she helps around the school, putting away heavy security cones, assisting the Safety Patrol Supervisor with lowering the flags, and with general clean up. A’Miracle’s kindness to classmates knows no bounds. In class, A’Miracle helps lowers chairs to desks. She also sets up computers for her teacher and straightens backpacks on chairs. She goes above and beyond to help others such as retrieving paper towels for a sick student and putting her arms around the child for comfort. She has also come to the aid of a child who was crying due to bullying. At home, A’Miracle does the right things to help her mom who works long hours such as checking the mail and cleaning up around the house. A’Miracle is striving to do the right thing.

10.  DAVID WOLF, fifth grade, E.W.F. Pinecrest Academy South Charter:

David’s kind heart and good behavior caught the attention of the school counselor who nominated him. Not only is he well behaved, David excels academically. He is a quiet boy who doesn’t brag or bother others and who instead helps out, is a good friend and a good student. He is a funny, compassionate, caring, and inquisitive child. Outside of school, David goes above and beyond any child of his age. For many years, he has been volunteering for several different foundations. He has joined the Miami Dolphins and the AARP and has participated in the 1,000,000 meal pack. David has also participated in the Relay for Life walking to try to raise funds to find the cure for cancer. Cancer has personally touched his family and his mom is a survivor. Yearly, he participates in the Honor Flight where he gets to greet soldiers who are returning from their tours and hand them thank you letters from other children in the community. David enjoys honoring our veterans and is proud to show them his gratitude. David and his mother also participate in the Miami Autism, Juvenile Diabetes, and Kidney Foundation walks. He truly believes in raising awareness and funds to help people affected by these diseases. For many years, David has also volunteered for the Possible Dream Foundation where he plays with children with disabilities and enjoys making a difference in their lives. David has even donated his hair twice to the Children with Hair Loss Foundation. David encompasses what a good citizen and a good human being is all about. His good heart, noble deeds, and dedication are impressive and inspiring.