School Scene: Palmetto High School ‘Planeteers’ win $10,000 in Lexus Eco Challenge

William Nunez, Renzi Wise, Meryl Kornfield, Mark Hellinger, Ashlynn Dobbs and their advisor Pam Shlachtman — the Planeteers of Palmetto High School — recently earned $10,000 as winners of the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national scholarship competition for students in grades 6-12 that encourages young people to learn about the environment and make it better for their community.

The Planeteers wanted to find a way to help their school reduce the electricity that is used to charge golf carts. Students researched photovoltaic cells, solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity, and set up a solar charging station to reduce the energy consumption by 7 kilowatts.

For information about the competition, visit

Our Lady of Lourdes Academy

Carolina Gonzalez, a senior at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, was named one of Florida’s top youth volunteers for 2015 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program that honors young people for acts of volunteerism.

She has raised more than $22,000 to help pay the application fees for young undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary residence and employment in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Carolina will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and a free four-day trip to Washington, D.C., in May, where 20 honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2015.

Coral Reef High School

Leila Abdelrahman of Coral Reef High School has been selected as a 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar. Leila will receive a $20,000 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Foundation and will attend a Leadership Summit every five years in Atlanta to meet alumni of the scholars program.

Christopher Columbus High School

Luis Moas, Sebastian Polo, Christian Llop, Daniel Padron and Gabriel Sieglie of Christopher Columbus High School were announced as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

These students will continue to compete for a $2,500 scholarship.

School For Advanced Studies

Sergio Torres, Felipe Colon and Kevin Castano of the School for Advanced Studies placed second in the Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Communications and Enrichment (SECME) Competition, at Miami Dade College North Campus, for the robotic hand they created.