November 2018


1. ELENA GUO, second grade, Coral Reef Elementary:
Elena is an excellent student and young lady. She has consistently achieved Principal’s Honor Roll status with a 4.0 academic average and high marks of effort and conduct in her school’s Gifted Program. She is always eager to explore and learn throughout the day with all the experiences presented to her. Besides her outstanding academic performance at school, Elena has participated in various extracurricular activities. As a young artist, she attended Art Fills the Heart, a silent art auction to benefit Miami Bridge where her painting received the highest bid in the youth category netting a donation dedicated to helping youths in crisis. Elena is a girl with discipline, focus, and perseverance. When she tried out for her school’s cheerleading team and did not make it the first time, her determination led her to take a trampoline and tumbling class to improve her skills for the next tryout. The same holds true for all of Elena’s endeavors such as learning piano. She never gives up. Most impressive is her caring, consideration, and empathy for others. As a member of the Girls Scouts, she will visit an orphanage next month. She also plans to bring some presents to the little patients in the Baptist Children’s Hospital during the Christmas and read stories to them. Elena spent two weeks during the Christmas holidays as a patient when she was three years old and understands how hard it is to be in the hospital over the holidays. She remembers the visitors and their gifts which cheered her up and she wants to make giving gifts to the young patients an annual Christmas tradition.

2. BRIANNA GUTIERREZ, twelfth grade, American Senior High:
Brianna is being honored for doing the right thing for reporting an incident that had a major impact on another student. Brianna was in class when she observed another student making statements about suicide and depression. Brianna immediately reported this to the TRUST counselor and the school took action. Eventually, Brianna had the opportunity to reach out and meet the other student and has taken her under her wing. Brianna is also part of the Bio-Medical Program at her school and Legacy Dance Team. Thanks to Brianna’s intervention, she made a big difference and possibly saved her classmate’s life.

3. YOKASTA HIDALGO, ninth grade, Miami Springs Senior High:
Recently, Yokasta took to heart the “See Something, Say Something” campaign when she showed a faculty member a threat to a neighboring school that she saw on Instagram. Yokasta took a screenshot and it was forwarded to the principal. With confidence and clarity, Yokasta showed the principal how to locate the post on Instagram and the school resource officer was called in. The threat was investigated immediately. Thanks to Yokasta’s quick thinking and intervention, all while showing no fear or hesitation, appropriate action was able to be taken. Yokasta truly did the right thing.

4. MARCO MELO, sixth grade, Florida Christian School:
Marco has a heart of gold. He attends Christ Fellowship Church and enjoys blessing others. Marco volunteers in the Kids Ministry at his church and is part of the Winning Our World Ministries where he donates his own money to a 6-year-old boy in Columbia. They talk online and Marco shares the Word of God with him. Marco and his family also put together backpacks for children who are in need. At school, Marco stays on task at school and is a good student. He enjoys sports, is part of the Cross Country team, and is now trying out for soccer. Marco represents the ideals of the Do The Right Thing Program each and every day.

5. OLGA RUIZ, second grade, Colonial Drive Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
Last school year, when Olga received a Do The Right Thing t-shirt for her acts of kindness towards her classmates, she became inspired to do more to help others. All summer, she kept a Do The Right Thing journal in which she described her daily goals to help others. Olga took on many of her family’s household chores such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, and yard work. She was also responsible for taking care of her two younger sisters making sure they were safe while her parents were busy. One day while Olga was feeding one of her sisters, she began to choke. Olga immediately began patting her sister’s back while shouting for her mom. By the time her mom arrived, Olga had stopped the choking by her quick actions. Olga also assists others at her church by reading to smaller children, cleaning church floors, and aiding the elderly. She participated in her church’s food drive by packaging goods to be distributed to the homeless. Recently, while at Southland Mall, Olga found a cell phone on a bench. After she attempted to use the phone to locate the owner, Olga, along with her parents, brought the cellphone to a T-Mobile store where they were able to locate the owner. At school, Olga has achieved the Principal’s Honor Roll. She also goes the extra mile by translating for parents who speak only Spanish. To follow through on her goals to always do the right thing, each day Olga gives her teacher colored 3X5 cards with her Do The Right Thing action of the day. Olga has caught the true meaning of doing the right thing by wanting to give of herself at all times.

6. SETH RYLANDS, eighth grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:
Seth is a great example of a true friend. One Sunday night, he became very concerned when a dear friend of his posted some alarming and desperate posts in reference to her frame of mind. Seth reached out but received no response. He immediately contacted his school’s Trust Counselor through a messaging app. His message was precise and to the point explaining the situation. Seth was able to provide the parent information to the counselor in order to make appropriate contact and put the necessary interventions in place for the young lady’s safety. Knowing when to break the friend code and seek assistance is of the utmost importance in today’s society and nothing can be taken for granted. Seth’s ability to act fast, his resourcefulness in how to get assistance, and unwillingness to ignore this situation makes Seth a true friend and hero. On the school front, Seth has always earned Principal’s Honor Roll and will finish this year with three completed high school courses. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, Castaway Club, and team captain of his school’s District Champion Volleyball Team. Seth is also a peer counselor and has done classroom presentations during Sandy Hook Promise’s “Say Something” Campaign.
On Teacher Planning Days, he can be found volunteering at school to help the faculty. In his free time, Seth has been known to deliver lunch to the firefighters in Hialeah. Yearly through his church, he helps prepare gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child, an organization which provides joy to impoverished children in other countries during the holidays. He enjoys playing flag football and basketball. Seth is beyond well rounded and a humble young man. For all of his daily acts and way of living, Seth was nominated for the Do The Right Thing Award.

7. NOA SOHN, eleventh grade, School for Advanced Studies, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
Noa is being honored for his leadership in organizing the clean-up of Lincoln Memorial Park near Wynwood, a historic cemetery for African Americans who lost their lives in the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars as well as other prominent people in Miami’s history. Noa’s team of 20-plus volunteers made multiple Saturday clean-ups until the job was completed and these brave veterans and others were given the honor and respect they deserve. As one of the first black, African-American resting places, the current owner has struggled to maintain the 20-plus acres. Fortunately, Noa and his team stepped in to restore some luster to the historic site including cleaning more than 150 veteran markers completely neglected and covered in vegetation. For Noa and the volunteers, the restoration was a labor of love and respect and he is being commended for taken action to improve his community.

8. JONIESHA SUMMERSET, twelfth grade, William H. Turner Technical High School:
Joniesha came to the rescue of a classmate who was having difficulty breathing, a headache, and chest pain. She held the student up and managed to get her to the main office/clinic to get help. At this point, the student was unable to speak but Joniesha was able to provide the necessary information. Rescue was called, the student was taken to the Emergency Room, and thankfully recovered without any major issues.

9. LIHEN VAKNIN, seventh grade, Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8:
It is often rare for students to stand up, do the right thing, and be a voice for students who don’t have one. Lihen has proven time and time again that this is the kind of person that she is. Recently, outside of school, Lihen saw a friend that was being pushed around by another student. Instead of escalating the situation, she used her voice to calm both girls down and avoid an all-out fight. Lihen spoke to the instigator and told her that even though they were not friends, that she cared for her and worried about the consequences if she continued with this argument. She did not want either of the girls to get hurt or in trouble. She expressed her concerns to the girl threatening a fight and told her about the potential dangers that can occur. She wanted to make sure that the girl understood that she was making bad choices and gave her options to deal with the conflict that did not involve using their hands. Lihen is being honored for deescalating a situation that could have resulted in someone getting hurt.

10. JAMIE VILLEDA, tenth grade, South Dade Senior High:
Doing the right thing is something Jamie does daily. She is an AP Computer Science student who saw the gap that exists with females in computer science. She started a community service project to introduce young females into the field. Jamie volunteers her time after school to work with second and third grade female students teaching them the basics of algorithms, loops, and conditions using music and dance. She helped start a new partnership with the Homestead Library to teach computer science concepts to the community through workshops which will be held during the coming months. Jamie is a member of Girls Who Code, Bucs Who Code, and Mini Corps. She was nominated this year by her teacher for the NCWIT Aspirations in computing award. She also participated in the FIU Mentor Programming event this school year. Jamie also started a campaign in school through the Sprint 1 Million Project to help students get free phones for data usage for homework if they had no internet at home. While she was volunteering during lunch promoting the project, she noticed a small group of students too shy to approach the information table. Jamie reached out to them and because of her professional and friendly demeanor, the students admitted that they did not have a phone or internet at home because their families were struggling. The students ended up getting phones and were so grateful when they received them. Jamie is always willing to lend a helping hand and has impacted many students this school year. She is becoming a true leader at her school and continues to strive to push more minorities and girls into computer science.