Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Students honored with Bob Novack Student Music Awards

Today, I want to say congratulations to all the 2015 graduates — whether you are stepping up from kindergarten to the first grade, or from college to grad school. This is a very important time in your life and my blessings on you all for a great future.

In keeping with that, it’s also “Hats off” time to the winners of the annual Bob Novack Student Music Awards. Each year, music faculty at two local public schools select their most talented and dedicated students. The award, presented by 1308 Productions, comes a scholarship check to inspire continued achievement.

The 2015 winners are Leonardo Tedesco of Nautilus Middle School and Tobias Pagliaroli at Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center.

Leonardo is a skilled bass guitarist and a devoted assistant to the music program at Nautilus. Ray Modia, his music teacher said, “Leonardo has been a great asset to our band. He practices hard, helps his peers in all respects, and plans to become a professional musician.”

Leonardo also has been instrumental in helping to set up for all school concerts and other events. He will attend Miami Beach High in the fall to continue his education and development of his musical skills.

Tobias’ Broad music teacher Onil Rodriguez said of him, “Tobi has been the first chair violin in our orchestra since he was in the sixth grade. He is a great musician and a great young man.”

Rodriguez said Tobias helps tune the orchestra, is a featured soloist and is an enthusiastic mentor to younger students. He has performed publicly many times, including at All State and the Florida Youth Symphony. “I am a better teacher for having Tobi in my classes and ensembles,” Rodriguez said.

Former Surfside Mayor Paul Novack, son of the late Bob Novack, introduced and congratulated the winners at the awards ceremony. Bob Novack was a life-long musician, band leader and music educator who performed with several famous bands throughout the United States, including the Glenn Miller Band. He led the Bob Novack Orchestra in South Florida for four decades.

In addition to sponsoring these two awards, the Novack family also produces many music education programs, including a new one for children in Haiti. For more information visit

Credit union gives scholarships

A warm salute to the South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union for helping 12 graduating seniors from Miami-Dade County Public Schools fulfill their dreams of attending college. The credit union awarded $300,000 in scholarships to the 12 seniors at the 20th annual Hubert O. Sibley Scholarship ceremony held May 21.

The seniors received fully paid college tuition for the next four years through the Florida Prepaid University Plan.

The winners are: Latela Blue, William H. Turner Technical Arts School; Javier Cobas, Coral Gables High; Kiana Corley, Miami Northwestern High; Brenda Davis, South Dade High; Sabrina Fonseca, Hialeah Gardens High; Yanely Garcia, G. Holmes Braddock High, and Kaycee Hodges, TERRA Environmental Research Institute.

Also, James Melvin, South Dade High; Robert Ortiz, TERRA Environmental Research Institute; Claudia Perez-Brito, Coral Reef High; Richard Santos, North Miami Beach High; and Troy Tello, Felix Varela High.

The credit union program has recognized 293 graduates and awarded close to $3 million in scholarships. To be come eligible for the tuition scholarship program, high school seniors or their parents or legal guardians must have had an active credit union account for at least one year prior to the application deadline.

For more information, call 305-270-5250 or visit the website,

Young Entrepreneurs Academy competition

Congratulations are in order for two South Florida students among the southern regional semi-finalists who won their local competition in the National Scholarship Competition’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). They are Daniel Vargus, 18, of Homestead, and Brendan Liebeskind, 16, of Pembroke Pines.

Daniel is a home-schooled junior and a student at the South Dade Chamber of Commerce YEA! class. He created Bin Boss, a company that provides quick and effective sanitation to residential garbage and recycling bins.

Brendan created Love Unity Purpose, which demonstrates the practice of meditation while promoting the core values of clear mindedness and self-motivation. Brendan is a student of the Miramar Pembroke Pine Chamber of Commerce YEA! class.

YEA! is a groundbreaking and exciting class that transforms middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs. It was founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation. Today the program serves thousands of students in communities across the country.

For more information on the YEA! program, contact Wendy Ferrer at

Greater Miami Symphonic Band

The Greater Miami Symphonic Band will present its 36th season grand finale at 8 p.m. Monday at the Gusman Hall, University of Miami, 1314 Miller Dr. in Coral Gables.

The program will include Vaughan Williams’ Flourish, Alfred Reed’s Hounds of Spring, Wagner’s Trauersinfonie, and a new arrangement by Robert Longfiel on themes from Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

Gary Green is music director and Robert Longfield is band conductor. Richard Todd will be the guest French horn soloist.

Tickets are $15 for adults; $5 for students and children over 5, and are available at the box office on the day of the concert or in advance online at

Booker T. Washington 1955 class reunion

The 1955 graduating class of Booker T. Washington Senior High School i n Overtown, will celebrate its 60th class reunion during the weekend of June 12-14.

The celebration schedule is as follows:

▪ At 6 p.m. Friday there will be a Reacquaintance/Get Together event in the J. Kenneth Major Hall at The Church of the Incarnation, 11855 NW 54th St. in Liberty City.

▪ From 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, a Fish Fry at the home of Velma Arnold (sister of Marva Bouie Phillip’s sister)

▪ At 9 a. m. Sunday, June 14, worship service at The Church of the Incarnation. Class members are asked to arrive by 8:45 a.m. to be seated together. Refreshments will follow the service.

Class members may call Ella Simms at 305-253-9034 or Agnes Morton at 305-637-6677 for more information.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.