Silver Knight

2013 Broward Silver Knight Award winners


Christie Ramsaran

American Heritage School

A gifted painter, Christie started a volunteer organization, Team HeArt, that specializes in donating large-scale murals to the community. The group, which brings its own supplies so that the murals are truly free of charge, has designed and painted murals for the River of Grass Community Center nursery, as well as the science lab at Welleby Elementary School in Sunrise. The Welleby mural is ocean-themed and includes the school mascot — a dolphin. Christie has also volunteered extensively to benefit the Falmouth Place of Safety Girls’ Home in Jamaica — donating her artwork, a small library of books, and serving as an in-person mentor at the home, which serves orphaned, abandoned and abused girls. She was named a National Merit and National Achievement semifinalist, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and will attend Yale University in the fall.

Honorable mentions: James Chapman, St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Lauren Nicole Bertino, Coral Glades High School; Jenin Emerald Mohammed, Everglades High School.


Michael Antonio Marese

Cardinal Gibbons High School

Michael has been a varsity standout on three Cardinal Gibbons teams — sailing, lacrosse and ice hockey, the last of which he has played since his freshman year. At the same time, Michael was named an Honor Roll student for every grading quarter in high school and has spent hundreds of hours volunteering to help the homeless through the Broward Outreach Center. Through partnerships with Offerdahl’s Café Grill and various student clubs at Cardinal Gibbons, Michael has delivered both food and everyday items such as toothbrushes and socks to the homeless. Michael is also a vice president/blood drive coordinator for the National Honor Society; president/treasurer of the Math Honor Society; and recipient of the Excellence in AP Statistics award. Michael will attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in the fall.

Honorable mentions: Harrison Albert, West Broward High School; Hannah Farwell Montague, Pine Crest School; Adam Jamal Mustafa, Plantation High School.


Michael Jones

St. Thomas Aquinas High School

While on a freshman-year surfing trip to Nicaragua, Michael witnessed what he describes as “overwhelming” poverty — and he resolved to do something about it. Michael soon after founded Build N’Barrel, an organization that recruits students for twice-a-year volunteer trips to Nicaragua to rebuild and improve some of that country’s poorest communities. Build N’Barrel projects have included building elementary school playgrounds, refurbishing old clinics, and upgrading the condition of modest homes. Michael’s nonprofit organization has steadily grown in popularity, and he plans to start recruiting students from outside Florida, and to organize trips benefiting other countries, as well. Michael is also student body vice president, a National Honor Society member and the recipient of the Best Content award at the Nova Southeastern University Entrepreneurship Summer Camp.

Honorable mentions: Jared Ross March, University School of Nova Southeastern University; Gabrielle Doobrow, David Posnack Hebrew Day School; Sheli Elana Demry, Coral Glades High School.


Anna Leiman

Cypress Bay High School

An award-winning playwright with a passion for acting, Anna has used her love of theater to boost the self-confidence and communication skills of special-needs students. Anna founded a new theater group, called S.T.A.G.E.S., that encourages teens with intellectual disabilities to perform onstage. Anna serves as organizer, director choreographer and mentor to the teens who take part. Anna also serves as a Teen Ambassador for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and has volunteered with the Exceptional Theater Company, which creates productions for special-needs adults. Anna is a National Hispanic Merit Scholar recipient, an AP Scholar with Honor, and is performing the lead role in her high school’s production of Legally Blonde, The Musical. Anna is also head of her school’s Cappies team, a national high school theater critic and awards program.

Honorable mentions: Kelsie Templin, Flanagan High School; Rachel Leah Rosier, Coral Glades High School; Kasandra Meiler, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

English and Literature

Gabrielle Higgins

Fort Lauderdale High School

Gabrielle says she is “fascinated” by words and language, and she has put her mastery of English to good use by serving as the chief copy editor for both the student yearbook and the school newspaper. Gabrielle also used her academic ability to help others, as she twice a week — for three months — volunteered to tutor fellow students who were at risk of not passing the FCAT reading exam. Gabrielle says the students struggled with feelings of inferiority and embarrassment over their poor test scores. Her task was to not only improve their test performance, but also their self-confidence. With Gabrielle’s help, most of those students went on to pass the exam, and are now on track for graduation. Gabrielle is also her school’s Student Government Association president, a National Merit Achievement Scholar and a Comcast Leaders and Achievers recipient.

Honorable mentions: Amanda Mancino, Cypress Bay High School; Alejandro Cuadros, Cardinal Gibbons High School; Aruba Khan, Flanagan High School.

General Scholarship

Carleigh Shaheen

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Ranked first in her class with a near-perfect GPA, Carleigh has excelled in just about every way academic achievement can be measured: class grades, SAT scores, difficulty of coursework. Carleigh also distinguished herself in the realm of public service by creating a Spanish tutoring program at Coral Springs Middle School. The tutoring program, which serves about 20 students a week, was a natural extension of Carleigh’s active role in her high school’s Spanish Honor Society — an organization she leads as president. The Spanish Honor Society’s student membership has grown dramatically in recent years — in part due to outreach efforts Carleigh spearheaded. She also volunteers in the annual two-week band camp held at Coral Springs Middle, and is active in the National Honor Society, Best Buddies and Mu Alpha Theta organizations, among others.

Honorable mentions: Lauren Greger, Flanagan High School; Julia Grace Sutton, Coral Glades High School; Hayley Gearheart, Fort Lauderdale High School.


Gabrielle Beecher

Archbishop McCarthy High School

Gabrielle has received plenty of kudos over the years for her journalism abilities — for example, her school’s English department named her the “Best Writer of 2012.” But in launching an ambitious book drive to raise money for children in war-torn Uganda, Gabrielle achieved such astounding success that she herself became the news story. Both newspapers and TV stations rushed to interview Gabrielle, eager to hear how she had managed to collect more than 20,000 books in total. Those books were then sold, and the roughly $20,000 collected will pay for scholarships for children in Uganda, as well as school-rebuilding efforts there. In addition to organizing the book drive, Gabrielle is also a volunteer tutor, an AP Scholar, and is the recipient of the Editorial Leadership Award from Indiana University’s High School Journalism Institute.

Honorable mentions: Brooke Denton, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; Jeremy Tache, Cypress Bay High School; Melissa Danz, American Heritage School.


Rohan Batra

American Heritage School

Rohan’s strong ability in mathematics was apparent quite early — he caught teachers’ attention as the rare freshman enrolling in Honors Pre-Calculus. From there, Rohan’s math- and science-related achievements would only grow, as he became co-president of the Math Team, won first place in the Florida BioGENEius Challenge, and placed first nationally in statistics at the Mu Alpha Theta National Math Convention. Most impressively, Rohan has used his strong problem-solving skills to tackle real-world issues. Rohan spent the past three summers doing research in a Florida International University medical lab, hoping to find a solution to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Specifically, Rohan has focused on the feasibility of using black olive extracts to help fight one particular bacteria: Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Rohan plans to submit his findings to a medical journal.

Honorable mentions: Maria Florencia Caruso, Coral Glades High School; Jake Rheingold, Cypress Bay High School; Sarah Feeley, Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Music and Dance

Miranda Palumbo

Coral Springs Charter High School

Miranda’s life began in a quite challenging way — born three months premature and weighing only 1 pound 8 ounces, while measuring a mere 10 inches long. Thanks to the medical treatment she received (partially provided through the March of Dimes), Miranda recovered from that premature birth with minimal aftereffects. In fact, Miranda became an accomplished dancer — her awards include being the national winner of the Intrigue Dance Intensive Creativity in Motion IMAGINATION Choreography Competition. Miranda made it a point to use her dance ability to benefit the March of Dimes — for two years in a row, Miranda organized a Preemies Can Fly fundraising dance showcase at her school, which raised thousands of dollars. Miranda is also editor in chief of her school newspaper, Drama Club president and a National Honor Society tutor.

Honorable mentions: Alexander James Carsello, St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Arik Maurice, David Posnack Hebrew Day School; Drew Kurzman, American Heritage School.

New Media

Danielle Boyd

St. Thomas Aquinas High School

As an aspiring filmmaker, Danielle has a heightened awareness of the power of images — including some negative images in films and magazines that can lead young girls to think they are not good enough, or not pretty enough. To help teach young girls self-acceptance and self-worth, Danielle created the Mini Leaders Growing Project. The initiative, which targeted a group of female students at Westwood Elementary School, included twice-a-week leadership classes taught by Danielle, using teaching tools and lesson plans that she designed. Students in the class created a “dream book” that served as a permanent reminder of their life goals. Danielle is also a varsity golfer, a National Honor Society member and a past volunteer with the YMCA, Pantry of Broward County and the L.E.A.D. Program in Lauderdale Lakes.

Honorable mentions: Brittney Sinitch, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; Angelli Mae Aguilar, Flanagan High School; Christina Bukata, Coral Springs Charter High School.


Bettina Teng

University School of Nova Southeastern University

A gifted student in science and music, Bettina found a practical use for her talent in playing the violin: improving the lives of disabled children and adults. By volunteering to play the violin at the Ann Storck Center, a nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities, Bettina witnessed firsthand how the simple sound of music engaged the center’s clients and improved their days. Determined to do more, Bettina went on to establish the Ann Storck Charity at her school. The charity has raised money for the center and also collected school supplies for the center’s preschool. In addition to her violin abilities, Bettina also achieved a first-place finish at the Broward County science fair (going on to place second statewide) and received the Yale Science and Engineering Award for her work in physics.

Honorable mentions: Bancy Makavana, Nova High School; Lorenzo Julio Cabrera, St. Thomas Aquinas High School; John Edward Rudnik, Pine Crest School.

Social Science

Annabelle Juin

West Broward High School

Annabelle, who has long been focused on volunteer work and helping others, started her school’s chapter of the Do Something Club — a national organization focused on young people pursuing positive change. At West Broward, Annabelle’s club has launched big-impact projects, with the biggest being a massive food-packing event to benefit an orphanage in Haiti. Ultimately, Annabelle was able to recruit hundreds of volunteers for the event, and more than 20,000 meals were packaged and shipped to Haiti. The Do Something Club also launched a shoe-collection drive that donated more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to Broward’s homeless population. In addition to her volunteer work, Annabelle is also captain of the varsity girl’s flag football team, a College Board AP Scholar and a past participant in the Youth Leadership Broward program.

Honorable mentions: Mary Elizabeth Shoaff, Hollywood Hills High School; Alexia Alter, Cypress Bay High School; Camille Traslavina, Cooper City High School.


Eryn Mari Hughes

St. Thomas Aquinas High School

A highly skilled public speaker, Eryn is president of her school’s debate team, and placed first in the Sunvitational National Forensics Tournament. Eryn has also performed extensive volunteer work, including a Pencils for Progress program that she founded. The goal of the program: donating pencils to students in Sub-Saharan Africa, where children often cannot attend school because they lack basic supplies. Eryn credits her speech and debate activities (and by extension, her education) with helping her discover her own strong personal voice. Through the pencil-donation program, Eryn hopes that more African children will be able to pursue an education — thereby discovering their own important voices in this world. Eryn is also director of her school’s leadership program and student council, an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Hispanic Recognized Scholar.

Honorable mentions: Brendan Krimsky, American Heritage School; Carina Tenaglia, Coral Springs Charter High School; Samantha Lewis,

Vocational Technical

Teeka Green

Flanagan High School

Certified as a medical administrative assistant while still in high school, Teeka has always had a career focus. But Teeka has also maintained a high GPA while taking a challenging course load, been active in student government, and oversaw a peer mentoring program that seeks to help low-performing Flanagan students. Teeka’s biggest high school project was an Adopt-A-Dell fundraising drive that raised money to replace the outdated computers in the school’s media center and computer labs. The project required the creation of a promotional website and video that were used to inform the community and attract donations. Teeka has also volunteered with numerous school and community-based organizations, received a first place in interview skills award from the Business Professionals of America, and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Honorable mentions: Brian Mazur, McFatter Technical High School; Samantha Rae Robinson, Coral Glades High School; Catherine Mae Kaupp, West Broward High School.

World Language

Isabela Umana

Calvary Christian Academy

Isabela has a natural gift for learning languages — she is fluent in Spanish, English and German, and is in the process of learning French. But it’s her determination to change the world that is perhaps even more impressive. As president of her school’s National Honor Society, Isabela launched a CCA: Educates the World initiative that includes nine “micro teams” of students, each pursuing a different volunteer project. One group, for example, organized a book drive that raised hundreds of dollars for an orphanage in Uganda. Isabela has also written a children’s book, published in English and Spanish. All proceeds from sales of that book flow to two orphanages — one in Uganda and one in Isabela’s native Colombia. As a varsity tennis player, Isabela received the team’s Scholar Athlete Award for having the highest GPA.

Honorable mentions: James Webb McCready IV, St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Miguel Paredes, American Heritage School; Chiara Kruger, Coral Glades High School.