After seven years, Richmond Heights Middle students get a yearbook to call their own

Richmond Heights Middle School students celebrate finally having a school yearbook, the first one in seven years.
Richmond Heights Middle School students celebrate finally having a school yearbook, the first one in seven years.

A school yearbook is important. Yearbooks are cherished. They are tradition.

Excitement builds throughout the school year especially before the big reveal. And then, when books are in hand, students quickly search for their photos and those of their friends. They celebrate.

At Richmond Heights Middle School, students have not experienced this for seven years.

But this year, the yearbook is back with support of the Motivate Miami Team from Leadership Miami, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and The Children’s Trust-funded Be Strong International program.

It all started with a conversation between the school’s Be Strong Youth Enrichment Director Celida Hernandez and Principal Larhonda Donaldson.

“Ms. Donaldson told us that the kids had done a survey and that many of the students were interested in taking photography lessons,” Hernandez said. “She told us that the school had not had a yearbook in the past seven years. So it all started on that day. We had a dream!”

Be Strong was invited to share their club members’ dream with several Leadership Miami teams, all of whom were looking for a project, Hernandez said.

“Motivate Miami selected Be Strong, adopting the Be Strong club members’ dream to give all the RHM students a yearbook. The Motivate Miami team members fund-raised throughout the year, paid for printing costs and helped the kids learn and operate the software,” Hernandez said.

“The school was able to hire a professional photography teacher and lend many hands to help the Be Strong club RHM members produce their own yearbook. And with the help of our outside sponsors, Be Strong purchased high quality cameras and computers.”

Beginning in August 2018, club members learned about photography and took photos. For the second semester, between January and April, the students learned what it means to produce a yearbook.

They received guidance from their photography teacher, Sasha Jordan, who worked with club members many hours over many weeks and the Motivate Miami team.

“Our students were the ones who put it together, selecting and editing from thousands of pictures, those that made it to the final proof,” Hernandez said. The mission also involved copy editing and meeting production deadlines.

At a special ceremony May 3, the 2018-19 Be Strong club presented the yearbook to all the students at Richmond Heights Middle.

After School Director Celida Hernandez with Principal Donaldson.JPG
Youth Enrichment Director Celida Hernandez with Richmond Heights Middle School Principal Larhonda M. Donaldson at the yearbook ceremony, the first in seven years.

Miami-Dade Public School Board Member Lawrence Feldman, members of MDCPS District 7, and Bevone Ritchie, The Children’s Trust senior program manager, were in attendance.

“It’s been an amazing experience for everyone,” Hernandez said. “It was a dream come true!”

Get active with gilded lilies

For almost 45 years a South Florida group has welcomed volunteers to help them in raising funds for Easter Seals. Programs help individuals who have special needs and disabilities, as well as their families, live fuller lives.

Gilded Lilies is actively seeking new members and the group would love for existing members to become “re-active.” Organizers have new great ideas for the coming year and “some lofty goals.”

A recent project involved helping Easter Seals South Florida Culinary Arts High School students. The school is known for its education and vocational training to help students, ages 14-22, with autism and other disabilities.

Gilded Lilies worked with Pasarela Beauty Salon stylists who generously donated their time to nine graduating Easter Seals South Florida Culinary Arts High School senior students to get them “graduation ready.”

“We are grateful to Jackie Milanes, new Gilded Lilies president, and Pasarela Beauty Salon for volunteering their time and for their generosity with our students at Easter Seals. Thank you also to Tax Leaf Kendall and Integrity Business Partners LLC for donating breakfast, lunch and refreshments for our students,” said Nanette Molina, of Easter Seals South Florida.

Gilded Lilies members also presented a $23,000 check to Easter Seals at a dedication for a sensory garden in honor of Eugenia Beckwith McCrea. The meditative space memorializes “Ms. Ginnie” for her legacy of kindness, compassion and volunteering at Easter Seals, her passion for more than 40 years.

Gilded Lilies is hosting a bingo night July 2 at Clutch Burger on Giralda Avenue. All are welcome to join in. Contact Gloria Burns at 305-968-3090 for more details.

If you have news for this column, please send it to CHRISTINAMMAYO@GMAIL.COM.