American Heritage School
A gifted painter, Christie started a volunteer organization, Team HeArt, that specializes in donating large-scale murals to the community. The group, which brings its own supplies so that the murals are truly free of charge, has designed and painted murals for the River of Grass Community Center nursery, as well as the science lab at Welleby Elementary School in Sunrise. The Welleby mural is ocean-themed and includes the school mascot — a dolphin. Christie has also volunteered extensively to benefit the Falmouth Place of Safety Girls’ Home in Jamaica — donating her artwork, a small library of books, and serving as an in-person mentor at the home, which serves orphaned, abandoned and abused girls. She was named a National Merit and National Achievement semifinalist, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and will attend Yale University in the fall.
Honorable mentions: James Chapman, St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Lauren Nicole Bertino, Coral Glades High School; Jenin Emerald Mohammed, Everglades High School.
Michael Antonio Marese
Cardinal Gibbons High School
Michael has been a varsity standout on three Cardinal Gibbons teams — sailing, lacrosse and ice hockey, the last of which he has played since his freshman year. At the same time, Michael was named an Honor Roll student for every grading quarter in high school and has spent hundreds of hours volunteering to help the homeless through the Broward Outreach Center. Through partnerships with Offerdahl’s Café Grill and various student clubs at Cardinal Gibbons, Michael has delivered both food and everyday items such as toothbrushes and socks to the homeless. Michael is also a vice president/blood drive coordinator for the National Honor Society; president/treasurer of the Math Honor Society; and recipient of the Excellence in AP Statistics award. Michael will attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in the fall.
Honorable mentions: Harrison Albert, West Broward High School; Hannah Farwell Montague, Pine Crest School; Adam Jamal Mustafa, Plantation High School.
St. Thomas Aquinas High School
While on a freshman-year surfing trip to Nicaragua, Michael witnessed what he describes as “overwhelming” poverty — and he resolved to do something about it. Michael soon after founded Build N’Barrel, an organization that recruits students for twice-a-year volunteer trips to Nicaragua to rebuild and improve some of that country’s poorest communities. Build N’Barrel projects have included building elementary school playgrounds, refurbishing old clinics, and upgrading the condition of modest homes. Michael’s nonprofit organization has steadily grown in popularity, and he plans to start recruiting students from outside Florida, and to organize trips benefiting other countries, as well. Michael is also student body vice president, a National Honor Society member and the recipient of the Best Content award at the Nova Southeastern University Entrepreneurship Summer Camp.
Honorable mentions: Jared Ross March, University School of Nova Southeastern University; Gabrielle Doobrow, David Posnack Hebrew Day School; Sheli Elana Demry, Coral Glades High School.
Cypress Bay High School
An award-winning playwright with a passion for acting, Anna has used her love of theater to boost the self-confidence and communication skills of special-needs students. Anna founded a new theater group, called S.T.A.G.E.S., that encourages teens with intellectual disabilities to perform onstage. Anna serves as organizer, director choreographer and mentor to the teens who take part. Anna also serves as a Teen Ambassador for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and has volunteered with the Exceptional Theater Company, which creates productions for special-needs adults. Anna is a National Hispanic Merit Scholar recipient, an AP Scholar with Honor, and is performing the lead role in her high school’s production of Legally Blonde, The Musical. Anna is also head of her school’s Cappies team, a national high school theater critic and awards program.