For Sara, Saturdays were once reserved for picking up trash on the Dinner Key spoil islands serving Shake-A-Leg, a nonprofit that makes water sports accessible to children with disabilities. But she and a few classmates wanted to do something more meaningful. So three years ago, they founded We Can Sail, a free Saturday mentorship program providing arts and sports to children and bonding time for families at the Coconut Grove center. Today the program has about 30 mentors and 30 children who attend. Sara runs the arts and crafts room, and with a paint brush, palm fronds and driftwood converted a rusty storage container into an underwater-themed boat rental office. She also plays the bass, double tenor and ukulele. Her paintings have been shown and sold at B West Studio in New York and Urban Garden in Miami.
Honorable mentions: Katiuscia Gregoire, Design and Architecture Senior High School; Jasmine Johnson, Gulliver Preparatory School; Cindy Becerra, Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School.
Ransom Everglades School
After suffering his third concussion in four years in a head-to-head collision on a soccer field, David endured months of agonizing headaches that forced him to sleep through part of the school day in the school nurses office. When he recovered, he launched a public safety campaign that helped change state law to require that high school athletes suspected of suffering a head injury be removed from play until they are cleared by a medical professional. He started Countywide Concussion Care to reduce the dangers of concussions in Miami-Dade County, raised $35,000 to provide concussion testing at dozens of high schools, and became a spokesman for the Florida Brain Injury Association. He was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, was a National Merit semi-finalist and has been admitted to Princeton University in the fall. He still plays soccer, with the aid of a rugby helmet.
Honorable mentions: Valery Gue, Booker T. Washington Senior High School; Betty Poler, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School; David Butter, Miami Country Day School.
Coral Reef Senior High School
With a basketball and a background in business ethics, Cedric established a weekly basketball clinic that honed the skills of some of southwest Miami-Dades young athletes. Many of his students had the desire and drive to make their high school teams or the jump to college ball, as Cedric will do this fall. But they lacked the funds to sharpen their skills. So, inspired by his basketball coach father, Charles Hankerson, Cedric volunteered his Saturday mornings and worked on his students passing, dribbling and shooting. Named an AP Scholar with Honor, he spent hundreds of hours tutoring students in geometry, algebra and chemistry. He was part of a team that won the University of Pennsylvanias Entrepreneurship Competition last year, and will be attending Boston University on a full athletic scholarship.
Honorable mentions: Jhasir Bermudez, Miami Southridge Senior High School; Emily Anne Vargas, John A. Ferguson Senior High School; Ivan Levy-Hara, Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School.
Abigail Frances George
Miami Southridge Senior High School
As a sophomore, Abigail found escape from death, family tragedy and addiction in acting and improvisation. And then she shared her positive outlet with others. In 2011, she volunteered during the summer with Knowledge Builders of Florida, a nonprofit that helps elementary school age children overcome learning disabilities and behavior disorders. She created a new drama class in which she taught groups of 10 to 15 students. When she wasnt teaching, she was chaperoning field trips and sharing meals. Last year, she became president of her schools drama troupe. She is a peer mediator, a member of the National Honor Society and part of student government and the 300 Club. Her time with the Knowledge Builders of Florida inspired her to seek a career in social work.