Silver Knight

Meet the 2015 Broward Silver Knight Award winners

Art: Martina Potlach, University School of Nova Southeastern University
Art: Martina Potlach, University School of Nova Southeastern University


Martina Potlach

University School of Nova Southeastern University

Martina Potlach visited her Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather at a senior center and found inspiration inside its art room.

As an artist, she knew art therapy and mindfulness could help ease the discomfort of disease. She worked at the Joseph Meyerhoff Senior Center alongside seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and dementia. Using recycled toilet paper rolls, wiggly plastic eyes and markers, she helped the residents fashion cardboard puppets to stimulate their mental and motor activities.

Martina is an AP Scholar with Honors, vice president of her school’s Art Honor Society, and a recipient of regional scholastic art awards.

Honorable Mentions: Phoebe Gould, North Broward Preparatory School; Lindsay Raham, J.P. Taravella High School; Leah Ramsaran, American Heritage School.


Margaret Schloss

Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich inspired Margaret Schloss to tackle South Florida’s homeless population challenges. She got involved with her former elementary school to feed Fort Lauderdale’s homeless eight years ago. She now leads the project. Initially, the group made 300 sandwiches a month for LifeNet4Families and the Cooperative Feeding Program in Broward County.

Today, they deliver more than 3,000 sandwiches, contributing to the Pantry of Broward, St. Mark’s Episcopal Oktoberfest and the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Lauderdale. Margaret is a state champion cross country runner, student council president and National Honor Society member.

Honorable Mentions: Scott Gringauz, North Broward Preparatory School; Rachelle Jillson, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School; Adam Jurko, The Sagemont School.


Tanner Redding

Pembroke Pines Charter High School

When Tanner Redding saw kids at Covenant House Florida without Christmas presents, he found a way to play Santa. He organized the Keystone Lake Jingle Bell Trot, a three-mile holiday fundraiser walk to benefit runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. As the event grew, Tanner garnered additional support from his school’s Student Government Association and club T.R.O.O.P. (Teens Reaching Out to Other People.)

In 2014, they donated more than 350 gifts.

Tanner also participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life 18-hour walk. He is a National Society of High School Scholar, captain of his varsity football team, a Key Club member and student council treasurer.

Honorable Mentions: Tiffany Brazer, Western High School; Elizabeth Carsello, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School; Adriana Gray, Coral Glades High School.


Rachel Huss

David Posnack Jewish Day School

Rachel Huss founded the Nexus Education Foundation to educate the public on how technology can help sick school children. She and her classmates produced a short film, Posnack Technology, A Day in the Life of Kyle, which was featured at the inaugural White House Student Film Festival in 2014.

Kyle, a pediatric patient, used a V-GO Robot to attend classes while undergoing treatment in Philadelphia.

Rachel is a founding member of her school’s mock trial and debate team, a school photographer and videographer, and a camp counselor in training for students with special needs.

Honorable Mentions: Grant Besner, University School of Nova Southeastern University; Pablo Damonte, Somerset Academy Charter High; Kelsey Farenhem, Pembroke Pines Charter High School.


Oliver Shore

North Broward Preparatory School

Oliver Shore loves everything that has to do with the theater: the lights, the stage, the technical marvels.

He has expanded his school’s technical theater program while stage-managing numerous productions. He created sets, established a mentoring program pairing veteran students with newcomers and developed an after-school program in set construction.

Oliver is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and founder and president of his school’s Environmental Club. He is a published theater critic, and a recipient of the Critics’ Choice Award for ensemble acting with the International Thespian Society. He’s a member of Model UN.

Honorable Mentions: Daniel Abia, Miramar High School; Valeria Ceballos, Nova High School; Alyssa Fantel, American Heritage School.


Lauren Goboff

American Heritage School

Lauren Goboff is committed to self-expression, except when the language hurts the people she loves. She believes that while the word “retarded” is not meant maliciously when said at school, it still has no place in common usage. She joined the “Spread the Word to End the Word’’ campaign to help end its use at her school.

Her sisters, who both have intellectual or developmental disabilities, inspired her to action. She spent more than 100 hours planning and directing a ninth-grade assembly that featured two speakers with special needs, along with a guest panel. The group discussed the potential pain of uttering the “r-word” as a synonym for “stupid” or “dumb.”

A recipient of Bronfman Youth Fellowship, a National Merit Semifinalist and AP Scholar with Honor, Lauren is also chapter president of Best Buddies at American Heritage. She is a free verse poet, a speech competitor and dancer.

Honorable Mentions: Juanita Castro, Cypress Bay High School; Andrea Giugni, North Broward Preparatory School; Joseph McCully, Pembroke Pines Charter High School.


Jocelyn Roth

North Broward Preparatory School

Jocelyn Roth found her calling for global philanthropic work after participating in a leadership-training program through BBYO, a teen-led Jewish youth movement. Within two years, she became its international chairwoman of global education and philanthropy. Since 2013, she guided a team to raise more than $45,000 to help Jewish youth attend enrichment programs in North America, and was chosen to revamp decade-old curricula for two international service trips to Bulgaria and Argentina.

Jocelyn is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Merit Semifinalist. She is co-founder of her school’s community magazine, Brainwash, and a member of the Senior Thespian Troupe. She earned a perfect score of 800 on the SAT reading and writing sections, and a 740 on the math section. She will be attending Yale University to study quantitative economics.

Honorable Mentions: Jude Alawa, American Heritage School; Cole Bianco, University School of Nova Southeastern University; Silvia Moreno, Pompano Beach High School.


Jennifer Gaver

J.P. Taravella High School

Jennifer Gaver was moved to action when her best friend was diagnosed with cancer. She went door to door to raise money to support her friend’s family. She sold beaded bracelets, hosted a battle of the bands and held car washes. To maximize potential, she teamed with Kids of Love, a charity that provides support for children and families battling cancer. In her junior year, she started a Kids of Love club at her school and motivated 50 teens to join. Over her high school career, she has raised more than $30,000 for childhood cancer.

Jennifer is currently editing an animated school screenplay for a film to be produced next year. She is a National Honor Society district liaison, captain of her cheerleading team and an intern at the Coral Springs Sports and Activities magazine.

Honorable Mentions: Amanda Aloy, Charles W. Flanagan High School; Keyera Lyn, Hallandale High School; Alexandra Oshinsky, Pine Crest School.


Adam Azan

Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

In seventh grade, Adam Azan founded his own nonprofit charity, Bags N’ Stuff, to provide children who were new to foster care duffle bags filled with toiletries, toys and prayer cards. Since its start, Bags N’ Stuff has partnered with Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn; WDNA, South Florida’s jazz radio station; and a Miami yoga and Pilates studio. He also has helped others start similar initiatives outside Florida.

An AP Scholar with Honors and member of Mu Alpha Theta, the national math honor society, Adam also has co-created an international charity that donates bedding supplies to Jamaica. He is part of the National Honor Society Teachers Assisted by Students (TAB) program, and was a 2014 Wendy’s High School Heisman winner. He has been a tutor for Mu Alpha Theta since his sophomore year.

Honorable Mentions: Vivek Miglani, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; Yasmeen Sarsour, McArthur High School; Miranda Vogt, North Broward Preparatory School.


Julia Sabra

Pine Crest School

After Julia Sabra visited the United Cerebral Palsy’s Early Beginnings preschool in sixth grade, she felt an immediate attachment to the students. A year into her involvement, Julia learned that government funding for the toddler program would be cut. To help the program continue, she started raising funds by hosting monthly pizza, smoothie and bake sales at her school.

Julia found a job as a music specialist at a local summer day camp and donated her earnings to the Early Beginnings preschool. She also supplements donations to UCP by organizing, producing and directing the bi-annual ‘‘Playing for Change’’ charity concert at Pine Crest.

Julia has performed as a concert pianist with the Hallandale Pops Symphonic Orchestra and was a recipient of a Music Club of Hollywood summer study grant. She has been named an AP Scholar and is president of her BBYO chapter.

Honorable Mentions: Nafeesah Attah, Plantation High School; Dalit Merenfeld, University School of Nova Southeastern University; Hannah Parr, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School.


Lauren Bendesky

Coral Glades High School

Lauren Bendesky was diagnosed with Stage IV pediatric cancer at 14. Once in remission, she created the Lauren’s Love Foundation to support adolescent cancer patients.

In 2014, Lauren became one of five national ambassadors for the national St. Baldrick’s Foundation that works to support pediatric cancer research. Through Lauren’s ambassadorship, she was invited to intern at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she will return this summer.

Lauren is an AP Scholar with Honors, was featured in a Scholastic Scope magazine cover story, and is a member of her school’s Key Club, National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society.

Honorable Mentions: Shari Kumar, University School of Nova Southeastern University; Kona Menyonga, Everglades High School; Alexandra Pellot, Charles W. Flanagan High School.


Parker Abt

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Parker Abt, a guitarist and student of the School of Rock of Coral Springs, channeled his love of rock ’n’ roll into Rock Buddies, a five-week program that teaches children with special needs how to play music.

He founded the program in 2013 after working as a volunteer with Parkland Buddy Sports, an organization that offers sports programs for children with special needs.

Parker has been named a National AP Scholar and National Merit Semifinalist. He is the founder of his school’s national history bowl team, captain of his debate team and three-time participant of a summer internship with Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson.

Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Abcug, J.P. Taravella High School; Justin Friedman, Nova High School; Omarley Spence, Pompano Beach High School.


Samuel Gelfand

North Broward Preparatory School

In seventh grade, Samuel Gelfand embarked on a national speaking tour to raise awareness for Asperger’s Syndrome. He spoke from experience: Samuel was diagnosed at 9.

As a youth ambassador to South Florida for Autism Speaks, Samuel aims to shatter stereotypes surrounding the disorder. He’s given more than 50 speeches about Asperger’s over five years.

Samuel has been nominated for the 2015 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, an award given to 15 exceptional Jewish teen volunteer leaders across the country. He is a debate team member and a seasoned PA announcer for South Florida baseball and football.

Honorable Mentions: Gina Bae, Coral Glades High School; Neha Saini, Miramar High School; Cody Sklar, Cypress Bay High School.


Mayuri Viswanathan

American Heritage School

A first-generation American Hindu, Mayuri Viswanathan learned about her cultural origins and spirituality at Shiva Vishnu Temple of South Florida. Inspired, she wanted to help other young Indian-Americans embrace their cultural identities.

For four years, Mayuri taught yoga, spirituality and the Tamil language, an ancient Dravidian language primarily spoken in India, at the Vidya Mandir learning center. Her goal: Eliminate misconceptions about Hindu philosophy.

Mayuri has completed an internship at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, is a two-time biology Olympiad semifinalist and a National Merit semifinalist.

Honorable Mentions: Katherine Castaner, Pembroke Pines Charter High School; Stefanie Francis, William T. McFatter Technical High School; Mitchell Ramos, Nova High School.


Ian Olsson

American Heritage School

As a freshman, Ian Olsson collected more than 2,000 books to donate to communities in need. He called the initiative Letters for Better. The first few thousand books went to Cypress Elementary School in Pompano. Encouraged, Ian and his younger sister established a club at their school that soon gathered more than 14,000 books earmarked for four elementary schools that had empty or nearly bare libraries. His goal is to share his passion for reading with others, one book at a time.

Ian is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, an AP International Diploma and Scholar with Distinction and a classical guitarist. He is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish.

Honorable Mentions: Nathalia Piedrahita, McArthur High School; Thalia Navia, Fort Lauderdale High School; Rachel Sereix, University High School of Nova Southeastern University.