Student Spotlight: Shannon Fenn

By Linda Rodruguez Bernfeld….

Shannon Fenn

Shannon Fenn has been so involved in extracurricular actives at Coral Gables High School, she stopped logging her community service hours after her sophomore year. Now a senior, Fenn is still active both at school and at the Coral Gables Youth Center.

“I’m a gymnastics coach at the Coral Gables Youth Center,” she said. “I’ve been doing gymnastics there since I was 3. I’ve been coaching since I was 14.”

She stopped doing gymnastics herself last year because of an ankle injury. During her recovery period she realized she no longer had the mental toughness needed to compete at the high level she had achieved.

“The beam was the worst, because at the level you start doing things backwards,” she said. “My little ones, that I coach, they are crazy, they don’t question [what could happen].”

Fenn injured her ankle when she started pole vaulting. She said she really didn’t know how to pole vault properly so she didn’t realize she wasn’t supposed to land on her feet.

Even though she didn’t have much training, she did well enough to get into the regionals, jumping eight-feet-six to nine feet. But regionals did not go as well as hoped.

Over the summer, she and a friend were coached by a for-mer German decathlete who taught her proper technique and helped her jump to 11-feet-six.

“That was pretty awesome,” she said.

Since quitting gymnastics, she has joined a competitive cheerleading squad for girls 18 and older.

“It’s pretty relaxed,” she said. “We’ve competed five times this year. It’s pretty fun. It was actually easy making the transition.”

At school, she is president of Interact, a service club tied to Rotary. She was vice president her junior year and secretary as a sophomore.

Interact raises money for worthy causes and last year the club purchased a Shelter Box. The boxes come with essentials such as sleeping bags, food and pots and pans.

“You pay $1,000 for one shelter,” she said. “We raised $500 and Rotary matched us; we sent it to Haiti.”

Interact’s main fundraiser is the caroling competition sponsored by the Rotary Club.

“We sell food for five days,” Fenn said. “This year we raised $1,200.”

The money raised this past December is going to organizations that do research on autism and kidney diseases.

Beautifying the school is another one of Interact’s projects. Fenn said she is expecting the next project to be sprucing up the area next to the weight room.

“It’s pretty ugly so we’re going to paint it,” she said. “Since there are a bunch of tables, we want to give each table to a club.”

For Christmas, the club collected toys for migrant children. The club also is taking part in an Angel Tree project.

Fenn is the treasurer of the senior class. Her friendship with the junior class officers last year led them to convince her to take the position.

Her volunteer efforts include her church, Plymouth Congregational. In summer 2009 she went on a mission trip to the Heifer Ranch for the Heifer Project, which sends heifers to third world countries.

One of the highlights of the trip was the day they pretended to be third world countries. Each country was given rice or wood or some type of food and they were supposed to barter with each other for food.

“The whole lesson of it all was if we had shared, we would have all had food.”

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