Miami-Dade County

Coral Gables teen gives back at her high school, and in Bimini

Alexa Alcalay, 18, spent about a year working on getting bike racks set up at her school in Coral Gables. She took part in the unveiling of the metal bike racks last year.
Alexa Alcalay, 18, spent about a year working on getting bike racks set up at her school in Coral Gables. She took part in the unveiling of the metal bike racks last year. Courtesy

While most high school students try to balance their time between school, clubs and sports, 18-year-old Alexa Alcalay also found time to launch two major community projects — a library in Bimini and her school’s first bike rack.

Alcalay, a senior at Coral Gables Senior High School, spent all her summers fishing and diving off the coast of Bimini with her family. When she started high school, she worked at a swimming summer camp on the island, and would read to the kids in her spare time.

“I brought about 400 books by boat to donate them to a library on the island, when I realized they didn’t really have a library,” Alcalay said. “They just had a few books at the school.”

Alcalay wanted to give back to what had become her second home, so she started a book drive to collect a large sum of books and purchased bookshelves. She worked with the Bimini Primary School Principal Robertha Lindsay, to set aside space in a new building at the school.

Alcalay’s project became a community effort, with family and friends helping transport the hefty boxes filled with book donations to the island.

The Bimini Primary School Library opened last summer, just in time for the new school year.

At the same time, Alcalay worked on a project to bring bike racks to her high school through her involvement with the Gables Earth club. Together, the students held fundraiser events and sought out sponsors. Alcalay said the students were directly involved, looking for metal workers and planning out the design for the bike rack.

“People would chain their bikes to the the fences around campus,” Alcalay said, adding that having proper racks to chain bikes would motivate more people to use their bikes as a mode of transportation.

Alcalay’s second community project, located on the Le Jeune Road side of the school campus, was unveiled in August. At school, her club this year plans to add a second bike rack to increase the number of students cycling to school.

While she waits to hear back from colleges in the Northeast, Alcalay is figuring out how she’ll help continue the service project that are near to her heart.

In Bimini, Alcalay said she hopes one of her two younger brothers will continue adding books to the kids’ library.

“I’m hoping my brother will take over when I’m gone,” she said.

As a senior, she has been offering advice to younger students to inspire them to find a community project they enjoy and get involved.

“I tell [my peers], the idea is to find something you love, and build on that,” she said.

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