In an effort to recognize deserving South Florida youth who promote the values of the Be a STAR anti-bullying program, World Wrestling Entertainment tag teamed with the Miami Herald for a contest in conjunction with a WWE show at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
The nominees exemplified the Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) mantra.
Be a STAR was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011. The mission is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.
Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.
WWE superstars and divas often make school visits throughout the country (and even internationally) throughout the year, discussing how they dealt with bullying and stereotypes growing up and even into adulthood. They encourage students to Be a STAR -- including be positive, ignore cyber-bullying, help others and tell someone (an adult and a friend) if bullying occurs.
Coaches, family members, friends and teacher nominated South Florida youth, describing how that youth has been a STAR at home and/or school, in the neighborhood or within a activity, club or sports environment.
• Here are some stellar South Florida Be a STAR nominees:
From Deborah Waks: “My 10-year-old son, Sean Greene, personifies what it means to be a STAR. Sean is an intelligent and highly sensitive young man who was elected president of his 4th grade class based upon his platform -- no bullying allowed. Sean spoke on the topic with the full authority of a child who in 3rd grade stood up to children who were being bullies toward a young boy with autism whom he had mentored and befriend since they were both 5. Sean told them to stop being mean and that people with autism are the same as anyone else; it’s just that their brain works a little differently. Sean then told the adults at school what happened. This lead to a school- wide discussion about respect and tolerance for people with disabilities.
“This year, at a new school, Sean became a member of the Future Educators of America Club. Sean would go into a 2nd grade classroom where there were children who had been main-streamed from Special Ed, and he would help tutor these kids and assist with special projects. His patience and kindness with these children have never wavered.
“Sean has been an amazing example of a young man who exhibits the utmost of respect, kindness, tolerance and understanding of those who have differing abilities. Throughout the school year, he has maintained straight As, been a member of the safety patrol and competed in Taekwondo where he qualified for Junior Olympics. He has done all of this while being an example to his classmates and Taekwondo teammates of what it truly means to be tolerant and respectful of those who are different.
“I hope that Sean will be considered for the honor of being a STAR. He is most certainly a star in the eyes of his family and friends.”
Sean, who just completed fourth grade at Whispering Pines Elementary School, is from Cutler Bay.
Be a STAR also promotes positive messages. So much of what we do and say is there for others to see via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
As you grow up, whether it’s seeking a club position, a college scholarship or a job interview, you need to show Tolerance and Respect, especially via social media.
Good behavior, a positive attitude, equality and proper language are important, and those interviewing will check.
The words you use can make or break you.
Friends of Loxahatchee’s Jessica Lorenzo:
Ofelya Acosta: “I nominate Jessica Lorenzo. She’s a nice, caring friend you can always go to for help or to talk to. She will stick up for you no matter what situation you’re in and be by your side. She’s not a rude person. If she ever does have a problem with you, she just ignores you. She’s not the type to start drama or make a bigger problem...She’s a very nice down to earth girl. She’s not a judgmental person either....She’s been idolizing these wrestlers since she was a little girl.”
Joey Ippolito: “I nominate Jessica Lorenzo. She deserves this so much. She’s such a great person who shows tolerance toward others, and she helps others and stands up for students when they’re being bullied. She’s always there for me, when I need someone to talk to. She’s helped me with everything. She’s the kind of person everyone wants to be around -- so friendly and kind to others. I couldn’t think of a more deserving person.”
Victoria Trammell: “I nominate Jessica Lorenzo because she’s a great friend and words don’t affect her. She will support anyone who is going through any sort of bullying and be there for you always. She has built up this character through idolizing many wrestlers.”
B.J. Teltsher, the assistant athletic director at Miami Country Day School in Miami Shores:
“I have a wonderful young man we would like to nominate. He is junior Joshua Rivas.
“Josh is the President of our school’s Anti Bullying Club and organized a Self-Harm Awareness Day. He is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and is working on an initiative to bring a “belly button” to Facebook, which would facilitate the reporting of bullying. He attended an Anti-Defamation League conference in Washington DC as well as participated with his peers in the first “No Place for Hate” flash freeze on Lincoln Road in Miami.”
Manatee Academy teacher Dennis Rookwood: “I would like to nominate two of my middle school students as STARS (Show Tolerance an Respect).
“I have the opportunity to observe Taylor Sauer on our team, in my advance math and critical thinking class periods. She is an avid reader and has gifted characteristics. Taylor is an above average student, who has received learning gains of 5 on the Reading and 4 on the Math portions of her FCAT. She has exceptional study habits and is very engaging. She continuously asks challenging questions and is a very productive student.
“Taylor is very enthusiastic in helping her classmates and our team. She has a wonderful personality with good moral character and integrity. She continuously assists and tutors her classmates in their math assignments and projects. Taylor’s career plan is to become the youngest and first female college graduate to edit and write sports articles for WWE.
“Page Hollander has very good organizational skills; works well on team projects and often takes on a leadership role in group settings. I have observed that Page is very consistent in her behavior, in her math class and around campus. She is very active in National Junior Honor Society and participates above 110 percent collecting donations for the sick, shut-ins and the homeless.
“Furthermore, she is involved in student leadership classes to talk to her peers, helping them manage negative behaviors and combating bullying.”
Nanci R. Horn: “I want to nominate Katie Steel. She is a amazing teen from Weston. Please check out her video below. She goes to schools singing and talking about anti-bullying.”
Nominee Sean Greene, 10, of Miami shares his first-person bullying story and thoughts.
• For students who are being bullied or who would like to start their own Be a STAR chapter, WWE provides these resources.
For teachers who would like to take action against bullying, WWE offers a downloadable teachers guide here: