Palmetto High School senior Sarah Flanders has accumulated about 600 community service hours. She earned many of the hours working at Camp Mustard Seed, a Christian-oriented camp at Kendall United Methodist Church.
“I watch the kids and take them from place to place and supervise,” she says. “I love kids. I love being around them, especially little ones.”
Flanders tries to work the camp for about eight weeks each summer, scheduling her vacation around the camp dates whenever possible. She has also volunteered at an after-school program for underprivileged kids at The Barnyard Children’s Center in Coconut Grove. She worked with the fourth graders there.
“The parents can’t afford after-school care or babysitters,” Flanders says. “I volunteer once a week after school for three hours. I help them with their homework and they get snacks. They are involved in a steel-drum competition.”
Working with kids, she says, has taught her patience.
Flanders is also involved in after-school activities at Palmetto. She’s president of the Ecology Club because she cares so much for the environment.
“It interests me,” she says. “I got really involved in the club during my freshman year. I was just trying to get more involved in the school and that was one of the clubs that caught my eye, so I went for it.”
The Ecology Club participates in school events and does other community events, including beach cleanups.
“We schedule and organize our own cleanups and participate in the international events, including Baynanza,” she says.
Club members were planning and organizing a beach cleanup over the summer. Ecology Club members also organized a petition drive last year protesting drilling in the gulf.
“We circulated petitions and some of our members went to K-Mart and got people to sign them,” Flanders says.
As a result of her interest in ecology, Flanders took Advanced Placement Environmental Science in her junior year. She’s also an officer in the Photography Club and participated in the Fairchild Tropical Garden Challenge.
“We had to take pictures of people and edible plants, locally-grown fruits and vegetables,” she says. “Overall, we (Palmetto) got second place in the whole thing, with all the contests combined.”
Flanders also took part in a fashion show at Fairchild. The outfits modeled had to be made of botanical materials. The skirt and top she modeled was made with meshed palm fronds.
“We weaved the fronds and we glued them together with glue guns; it was hard,” she says.
Flanders’ photographs have been entered in numerous competitions and her art has been put on display at the Miami Art Museum.
“I mostly focus on people, playing with light and shadow,” she says.
Flanders is also involved in the honor societies, including the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, the English Honor Society, Social Science Honor Society and she is vice president of activities for Mu Alpha Theta. As a member of the math honor society, she tutors students in math.
Outside of school, Flanders plays the piano. She studied with a teacher for seven years, but now she plays on her own.
As for college, she’s in interested in the University of Florida, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Michigan and Boston College. Although she is not certain of her major, she’s considering biology, sciences, zoology and veterinary sciences.