May 2019


1.  O’NEILL COOPER, fifth grade, Howard Drive Elementary :

O’Neill is always kind and considerate and thinks of his peers. Recently, his teacher has just passed back projects that students had submitted to the Miami Dade Youth Fair. One student was very upset and crying because his project was disqualified for not meeting size requirement of the Fair. O’Neill was very upset that his classmate’s project was disqualified because O’Neill thought this student did an outstanding job. O’Neill went home and made a card for this student telling him what a great job he did. The next day, O’Neill had his whole class sign the card. He also took $10 of his own money and gave it to this student. The Fair gives a small check for projects entered based on the level of award they are given and $10 is more than the highest amount. O’Neill said this other student deserved it because he really had an amazing project.

2.  ELIJAH DEARMAS, sixth grade, Cutler Bay Middle:

Eli is a very special young man, who is being honored for his courage, selflessness, dedication and achievements. Eli was born at 23 weeks and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. Given only a 2 percent chance to survive, Eli has beaten the odds. Even though Eli has Cerebral Palsy, that has not stopped him from pushing himself and allowing himself to overcome obstacles that most individuals could not overcome. Eli pushes himself daily to succeed both in his schooling and medically. Even though Eli may have some physical impairments, that hasn’t stop him from volunteering and competing in the Special Olympics and playing baseball with the Miracle League. He is the face of Thumbs Up International and Thumbs Up 2 Nike and ran the South Beach half marathon. Eli also just recently ran with the Superintendent at the Superintendent’s 5K walk/run. Not only does Eli participate in all these activities, he is also currently studying Hebrew for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. He volunteers his time at the temple and helps out with food drives for foster children and the homeless. Eli is being commended for his extraordinary effort to keep moving forward and always being positive despite his daily obstacles.

3.  VICTORIA DE LEON, twelfth grade, Alonzo & Tracy Morning Senior:

During Victoria’s elementary and middle school years, she struggled with her academics and frustration. She also dealt with her parents unexpected divorce and some moments that were very difficult for her to face while worrying about her younger brother and then medical concerns that came up. Once in high school, Victoria slowly started to become a different student. She joined the volleyball team representing her school with pride. However, after a bad fall at practice, she was devastated to learn that she needed surgery and would be out for the rest of the year. Surgery was rough and very painful. Her recovery was difficult, having to push through the pain and challenge herself mentally during her physical therapy appointments 3-4 times a week for many months. During this time she realized who her true, caring friends and family were. Once she got back to school it was a struggle– having a heavy backpack, crutches, and leg brace while in pain was not a good combination. But she fought through it. She never let her grades drop and never complained. Once she was given the all clear she pushed herself to reach a playing position again with her volleyball team and even tried a new sport once her season had ended- girls flag football. She was able to return to volleyball for her senior year and was happy as a Varsity team member. Currently, as captain of the girls high school flag football team, she mentors the younger athletes and reminds them to always push through the hard times, surround yourself with good people and be patient for the outcomes you want out of life. Victoria is being honored for never giving up, setting her goals, and understanding why it is important to always do the right thing in life.

4.  ALIYAH DOMINGUEZ, third grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:

Aliyah is a model student who looks for opportunities to make the lives of people better. She wanted to welcome the school’s new police officer in a special way. With the help of her sister, Aracely, they purchased little cakes and made a card for the officer and also bring him drinks when he is thirsty. Aliyah also did the right thing when she saw something and said something. After a disturbance occurred, she came forward to explain that one of her friends threw a pencil and hit another student. Aliyah has also volunteered other information as her teacher relies on her to be his eyes behind his back. Aliyah also displays honesty by picking up items that she has found and trying to locate the owners. Aliyah is in the Exceptional Student Education Program and has excelled. Aliyah helps others organize their work and her teacher credits her with the success of her classmates. On the home front, Aliyah assists her nephew who suffers from water on his brain. She changes his diapers and calms him down when he gets upset. She also cooks a full breakfast with coffee for her mom every day. Recently, while shopping with her mom, Aliyah saw an elderly lady fall and ran to help get her up. It is the wonderful thoughtful acts of kindness that have been Aliyah’s persona as she does the right thing throughout this school year.

5.  ARACELY DOMINGUEZ, fifth grade, Colonial Drive Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:

Aracely is kind, helpful, and caring. Last October, her former teacher fell and broke her tibia bone landing her in a wheelchair for two and a half months. Each day, Aracely waited for her teacher to arrive and depart from school and would bring the school’s wheelchair to transport her to the main office and her classroom, always with a smile and a friendly conversation. Aracely even bought her former teacher a Christmas present. As captain of her school’s Safety Patrol, Aracely made it her mission, along with her sister, Aliyah, to welcome the new school police officer. Aracely helps purchase food and drinks to deliver to the new officer. Aracely also escorts adults to meetings and helps the little ones to class when they are late. Aracely has held up posters for Feed The Hungry and promoted awareness against violence by handing out pamphlets for Blue Ribbon Day-“Stop The Violence.” Under Aracely’s direction, she assisted other safety patrols in placing cups on the fence spelling Say No To Drugs! Aracely also did the right thing when a classmate did not have an after school snack so she shared her sandwich. At home, Aracely, along with her sister Aliyah, takes turns caring for her nephew who is six years old and suffers from a disease which requires changing his diapers and feeding him. Aracely takes care of him almost every day. Aracely also helps her grandfather with his medication and helps put on his shoes after leg surgery. Aracely is an inspiring student who epitomizes a Do The Right Thing achiever.

6.  GISELLE ESTOPINAN, twelfth grade, Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial High School, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:

Since Giselle was 9 years old she has set her goals and has accomplished every one of them to date. Giselle is extremely focused and determined to continuously make changes in herself and within her community. Giselle takes pride in everything she does yet stays extremely humble. Not many students are like Giselle and because of that many depend on her. Some of her accomplishments include: Student Government President, Major for Post #4 Police Explorers of Bay Harbor, Rho Kappa Honor Society President, Law Honor Society Treasurer, Chapter President for the Florida Public Service Association (FPSA) and V.P. for the state board. She has completed well over 1,000 community service hours assisting in police events, community events, church activities, 5K walk/runs, etc. Throughout the last 4 years, Giselle has continuously visited her former school voluntarily to speak and encourage middle school students about setting goals for high school and beyond. She has also volunteered with the PE classes by offering free boot camp classes and encouraging kids to lead a healthy lifestyle. She is currently finishing an executive internship with the City of Miami Police Department in which she helps to train cadets and goes on ride-alongs. Giselle is also a first degree Black Belt and teaches younger students Taekwondo voluntarily. She was the youngest camp counselor ever hired by the Town of Bay Harbor Islands. Her home life has had some turmoil including watching her older brother get incarcerated and in and out of special programs since he was 12 for making wrong decisions. This affected Giselle greatly and pushed her to want more out of life. In school she has had to work harder than most would think based upon her character and mannerisms. She has had to study, get tutored, and put forth an extreme amount of discipline in order to maintain good grades and passing test scores. Giselle is being honored as a Do The Right Thing winner as she continues to pursue her career in public service while molding and mentoring our youth.

7.  EMANI ESTRADA, fifth grade, Lorah Park Elementary:

Sometimes doing the right thing is complicated, costly, and not the popular choice. Emani, who is in the Gifted Program, has been faced with such choices. When Emani intercepted a journal entry from one of her friend’s notebooks, she grew concerned. Her concern seemed justified because the journal entry that she shared with the counselor was disturbing and indicated a possibility of the student doing harm to themselves. Proper authorities were alerted and intervened with the student and parents. Emani worried that her friendship with the student could be compromised, and there have been some strained distance between the two. Emani was reassured that she acted out of love and concern, that she did indeed do the right thing, and that eventually her friend will come to understand and appreciate her actions. Besides being an A student and an outstanding student, Emani is creative and enjoys art projects. Outside of school she is very helpful at home with babysitting and assisting in the kitchen. She has also in the past, been involved with helping the less fortunate at the Rescue Mission. As Emani moves on to middle school, her future is bright with the positive contributions she will bring to society.

8.  NATALIE GIRALDO, eighth grade, Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8:

Natalie has always been a sweet young lady, a good daughter, and a great sister. She knows when to come for help and is a great listener. Natalie works as one of the office aides and is extremely helpful at school. One day Natalie got a text from a friend regarding a conversation they overheard about a possible school shooting. Without hesitation, Natalie and the other friend that also received the text went to administration with the information. They were not afraid of violating their friends trust. They understood that this was something that needed to be communicated right away. It was obvious that they were concerned with the safety and security of their school. They gave all the information that was needed to continue the investigation of this possible threat. The boys did not come directly to the administration because they thought that it was a joke. Natalie understood that the risk was too high and not one she was willing to take had it not been a joke. Natalie is being honored for her bravery in alerting her school about a possible dangerous situation.

9.  LIZZETH MEDINA, eighth grade, Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8:

One day Lizzeth and a friend received a text from a two boys regarding a conversation they overheard about a possible school shooting. Without hesitation, Lizzeth and the other friend that also received the text went to administration with the information. They were not afraid of violating the boys’ trust. They understood that this was something that needed to be communicated right away. It was obvious that they were concerned about the safety and security of their school. They gave all the information that was needed to continue the investigation of this possible threat. The boys did not come directly to the administration because they thought that it was a joke. Lizzeth and her friend understood that the risk was too high and not one that they were willing to take had it not been a joke. Lizzeth truly did the right thing and stood up against a potentially deadly situation.

10.  SHOSHANA SIEGEL, eighth grade, Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8:

Shoshana transferred to her school in the sixth grade and quickly got acquainted with her teachers and peers. Despite her many medical issues, including Spina Bifida, Shoshana comes to school and gets the job done. Although there have been times she must miss school due to her extensive exams, hospitalizations, and surgeries she always finds the way to get her work done and stay on top of things. She is a determined and responsible individual. Shoshana was treasurer of the Student Council Club this school year and has a passion for sea turtles. She enjoys helping the younger students. Considering everything that she has faced in the past and is currently facing, she continues to push forward and remain strong. She recently traveled to Washington D.C. with the National Spina Bifida Association to support health care issues that she and others are facing. Shoshana is being recognized for her strong will and courage.