Silver Knight

2011 Miami Dade winners and honorable mentions


Amelia Grant-Alfieri

Ransom Everglades School

Armed with a camcorder and a desire to preserve the rich history of West Coconut Grove, Amelia embarked on a project that will become a permanent record of black churches in the area. Introduced to the Black Church Oral History Project by her father, a University of Miami law professor who runs the school's Center for Ethics and Public Service, Amelia spent two years interviewing and recording subjects, writing narration and transcribing video. She helped create a documentary on the project that premiered at the university's Bill Cosford cinema. Passionate about painting, Amelia has had work featured in the Lowe Art Museum's student showcase and at Coconut Grove's Windisch-Hunt Gallery. She was named an AP Scholar with Honor, a National Merit semi-finalist and will attend Brown University in the fall.

Honorable mentions: Allie Mikelle Perry, Miami Beach Senior High; Evan Burr, Miami Killian Senior High; Chelsea Emilie Dombroskie, New World School of the Arts.


Emma Lipshultz

Ransom Everglades School

After spending a month helping to build a community center in a small village in Ghana, Emma wanted to do more. Consulting village leaders, she learned about two crucial issues: transportation and sanitation. With the nearest school about four miles away, bicycles became one solution. Emma received a grant, then raised money by selling avocados, making jewelry, going door-to-door to get donations and placing drop boxes in supermarkets. She raised $1,500 to buy 60 bikes for village students. Emma researched composting toilet designs and used money she earned working over the summer to pay a local builder to install them at the school as a model for the village. An AP Scholar with Distinction, Emma captained her varsity soccer team and was named the Tropical Soccer League's most valuable player. She will attend Harvard in the fall.

Honorable mentions: Jillian Roberts, Coral Reef Senior High; Nicole Michelle Aguirre, John A. Ferguson Senior High; Douglas Anthony Ramos, Christopher Columbus High.


Grether Barbon

G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School

Inspired by a trip to New Orleans to help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, Grether decided to address the issue of shelter in her own community. The cause was a personal one as well. As a child, her family moved from Cuba with little means. Their first apartment was so small, Grether slept on a recliner. Inspired to help others, she launched a multifaceted project. She collected clothes for Covenant House, a shelter for homeless teens; gathered supplies for Habitat for Humanity; and created a project to teach teens about responsible saving and spending. She received the highest national honor from the Future Business Leaders of America and is CEO of her chapter. An AP Scholar, Grether won awards from Smith College and Emory University. She will attend Mount Holyoke, which awarded her a full scholarship.

Honorable mentions: Kristen Marie Cope, Miami Palmetto Senior High; Ryan Leibowitz, MAST Academy; Lourianne Apollon, Miami Edison Senior High.


Jazmin Lightbourn

Miami Carol City Senior High

For Jazmin, drama is not just a passion. It's a lifeline. Growing up poor, her family often lived without electricity or water. When they lost their home, they moved to her grandmother's back porch. Jazmin said she was abused, teased in school, angry and withdrawn. Then a middle school teacher introduced her to the theater and she found what she described as "the glue that held my broken mind together." Life would still bring struggles, but two close friends refused to let Jazmin give up. Recognizing the importance of such support, Jazmin started a program called Building Bonds to help at-risk children through drama, for which she was awarded the President's Volunteer Service Award. A gifted performer, she received a superior rating in voice and was selected as one of 12 students to perform at the Superintendent's Benefit Gala last year.

Honorable mentions: Nicole Toby Elimelech, Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High; Catalina Vanegas, Miami Northwestern Senior High; Frank J. Oliva, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School.

English & Literature

Alexandra Garfinkle

Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School

Alexandra has long been a volunteer on her own, working in Ghana and Vietnam. But she sensed apathy among her classmates. Her school's service club, Interact, had only eight members. In three years, Alexandra increased membership to 82 and helped spark more than 3,000 hours of community service. While Alexandra had to overcome dyslexia and didn't read until she was 10, she worked hard to excel. She is a gifted writer who was honored at Carnegie Hall for a personal essay. She won a superior rating from the National Council of Teachers of English. She was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, received the President's Volunteer Service Award, was a student advisor to the School Board and will attend the University of Chicago.

Honorable mentions: Mallorie Anne Thomas, Miami Country Day School; Oliver Hart III, Miami Killian Senior High; Adrianna Patrice Mozell, Miami Carol City Senior High.

General Scholarship

Alexandra Dreyfuss

Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School

Alexandra has volunteered hundreds of hours playing music for sick and underprivileged children and ailing senior citizens. She also organized and played in a concert to raise money for Haitian earthquake victims. But one of her most impressive projects was creating Books Across Borders, a book collection drive she started with her sister that shipped 5,000 books to children on three continents. In addition to rounding up books, Alexandra also raised money for shipping, often more than $1,000 per shipment. She was named a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She won the Music Teachers National Association state competition and placed second in the New World Symphony Concerto and the Alhambra Orchestra Young Artist Concerto contests. She was co-captain of her varsity tennis team.

Honorable mentions: Adam Joseph Gayoso, Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High; Chelsea Cosner, Miami Palmetto Senior High; Shirin Razdan, Palmer Trinity School.


Maximilian Sanchez

Belen Jesuit Preparatory School

Five years ago, Maximilian began raising money for a cancer ward for uninsured patients. He became concerned about their emotional state after chemotherapy. Growing up with three half brothers who lost their mom to cancer, he was well aware of the toll on families. Maximilian came up with the idea of a journal for patients to record their thoughts and experiences. The book, My Hat Off to Me, offers prompts in English, Spanish and Creole. His project spread from one hospital to four. His hundreds of hours of community service included collecting cellphones for domestic abuse victims. Miami-Dade officials declared a day in his honor. Maximilian's poetry has won first place at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition. He has received gold medals at Belen Jesuit for his achievements.

Honorable mentions: Amanda Christine Di Lella, Felix Varela Senior High; Regina Honorat, William H. Turner Technical Arts; Julian Alejandro Hernandez, Christopher Columbus High.


Columbia Clancy

Miami Country Day School

A commitment to learning inspired Columbia to share her passion for education. As a sophomore, she taught seventh grade math to struggling students. In the Breakthrough Miami program, she worked alongside college students. Columbia founded PALS (Partners in Academics, Leadership and Service) to provide middle school students with more year-round opportunities. She donated $2,500 she received as a stipend to fund the PALS program. She convinced Miami Country Day to become a site for the Breakthrough summer program. Columbia has dedicated hundreds of hours to helping young people with disabilities through Best Buddies. She was captain of her varsity softball and track teams, president of the orchestra and a National Merit Commended Scholar. She received the Presidential Award for Service, and will attend Amherst College.

Honorable mentions: Ba'Carri K. Johnson, Miami Carol City Senior High; Kelly Hsu, Miami Palmetto Senior High; Andres Pedro Casas, Southwest Miami Senior High.

Music & Dance

Solansh Hernandez

Southwest Miami Senior High School

Solansh was inspired to help abused and orphaned children in Guatemala after learning of her mother's tragic past - she grew up in an orphanage after fleeing her abusive father at age 12. Solansh knew then she would one day repay those who cared for her mother. Four years ago, she launched a project that raised more than $60,000 for the children at Misioneros del Camino. The donations have helped to buy sheets, medical supplies, hygiene products, a TV, toys and art supplies. Every year Solansh, an accomplished dancer, has staged performances and organized dinners to benefit the orphanage. She has maintained a rigorous academic schedule in AP and honors courses and performed with the school's dance team. She has won top honors in the Superintendent's Showcase and won first place at the state DECA competition in marketing.

Honorable mentions: Luciana Valencia, La Salle High; Josephine Veloz, Coral Gables Senior High; Timotheus James Harper, Miami Central Senior High.

New Media

Rebecca Sonn

North Miami Beach Senior High School

Rebecca has volunteered at the Humane Society of Greater Miami for six years. She quickly advanced from cleaning dog kennels to rehabilitating animals and working in the clinic. She became a recruiter for the agency, finding volunteers and creating documentaries on the plight of homeless and abandoned animals. She started a research project in her senior year to study how therapy dogs can help disabled students. She began bringing a dog to The Victory School for autistic children every week. Rebecca, who has dedicated more than 1,500 hours to the Humane Society, used her documentary skills to film her research, with the hope of bringing more therapy dogs into schools. She is also a debate champion and district bowling champion. She will attend the University of Colorado's pre-veterinary program in the fall.

Honorable mentions: Kamilah Zahira Acebal, MAST Academy; Eduardo Tomas Salas, Miami Coral Park Senior High; Elizabeth Rita Hernandez, Southwest Miami Senior High.


Daniel Brooks

Miami Palmetto Senior High School

A talented scientist, Daniel designed an environmentally sustainable aircraft; worked with a University of Miami professor researching a method for using mathematics and computer technology to treat breast cancer; and designed a building based on a termite mound. He also launched a project that promoted water conservation in Pinecrest. Concerned about the cholera outbreak in Haiti, Daniel started a program to buy LifeStraws, a portable water purification system. He held events to raise money and used grant money he had won for his projects. Daniel raised enough money to provide clean water to 1,000 Haitians for a year. He also volunteered as an urgent care assistant at Miami Children's Hospital, is president of the Science National Honor Society and was named a full-tuition Posse scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Honorable mentions: Bradley Rene Jean-Baptiste, Miami Country Day School; Erin Alexander, Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High; Eduardo R. Gomez, Miami Killian Senior High.

Social Science

Lauren Henschel

Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School

Lauren launched a project to help victims of psoriasis as a way to honor her father, who has long battled the disease. Four years ago, she created her first walk. Her walks have since raised more than $200,000 and inspired walks in 22 other cities. She has been an ambassador and youth spokesman for the National Psoriasis Foundation. When Lauren was diagnosed with the disease in 2009, medicine to alleviate pain caused her to lose her hair and 25 pounds. As she felt better, Lauren caught up in school and created the organization Pso Like U, which aims to link children suffering from the disease. Lauren was instrumental in gaining legislative backing for the first psoriasis patient registry at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is also an award-winning photographer. Lauren will attend Duke University.

Honorable mentions: Shaquira Robinson, Young Women's Preparatory Academy; Liana Alicia Guerra, Southwest Miami Senior High; Pulkit Agrawal, North Miami Senior High..


Stephanie Jennings

Miami Carol City Senior High School

Tormented by a troubled childhood, Stephanie wanted to help other teens facing similar problems. She reached out to girls in her community, forming a support group called Birthing Imperishable Diamonds. Stephanie, whose mother faced life-threatening injuries when she was shot by a boyfriend, worked with teens to build their self-esteem. She provided counseling, tutoring, mentoring and support. The group, which expanded to three chapters, held retreats, went on picnics, studied together and formed bonds. Stephanie helped the teens express themselvesthrough writing and art. Stephanie, who has served on the youth advisory board of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, received the President's Volunteer Service Award. She has also repeatedly placed in the state and regional SkillsUSA competitions.

Honorable mentions: Veronica Esther Dagostino, Mater Academy; Ayesha Ali Sayed, American Senior High; Joshua Evan Kleinman, Ben Lipson Hillel Community High.

Vocational Technical

Nathalie Figueroa

Coral Reef Senior High School

A visit to a child care center with her Spanish Honor Society inspired Nathalie to come up with ideas for the center's afterschool program. Nathalie offered the children various activities, including soccer, painting, first-aid skills and healthy eating habits. For the next two years, she visited regularly as part of her project, Kids Without Limits, teaching various skills to children from low-income families. Nathalie served as state president of the Florida Health Occupations Students of America. She was also a peer leader in her church's youth ministry. Nathalie has maintained a rigorous academic schedule in her school's health science academy, taking both AP and college classes. Nathalie received a President's Volunteer Service Award, was named an AP Scholar with Honor and was awarded a Posse full-tuition scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.

Honorable mentions: Carlos O. Rigali, Hialeah Gardens Senior High; Geraldine Placide, Miami Edison Senior High; Charlton Cheng, John A. Ferguson Senior High.

World Languages

Daniel Barcia

Miami Palmetto Senior High School

For nearly three years, Daniel has spent most Saturdays rounding up supplies for a small church in the Dominican Republic. While visiting the church on a trip, he noticed a community center for impoverished children. He decided he wanted to help, and launched a large-scale project. Daniel held garage sales to raise money for items such as toiletries and school supplies for the 48 children. Daniel also collected books, toys, clothing and used computers, which he fixed. He devoted nearly 500 hours to the project. Daniel also organized a pen pal program to encourage the children to write. He won the Hispanic Heritage Youth Award for Community Service, was president of the Spanish Honor Society, served on his student council and was named an AP Scholar with Distinction. Daniel has earned recognition and admission offers from a host of top tier universities.

Honorable mentions: Tatiana Suridis, Ransom Everglades School; Ariadna Bu, Hialeah Senior High; Yelena Orrelly, Southwest Miami Senior High.