Kendall students who “turned around” their lives were honored by the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations at its 31st “Operation Turnaround” luncheon on May 15, hosted by Miami-Dade Firefighters Local 1403. “Pursue what you love to do in life,” urged Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill, keynote speaker, who led a group of congratulating county and school officials that included Miami-Dade Commissioners Juan Zapata and Javier Souto and Miami- Dade School Board members Larry Feldman and Carlos Curbelo.
Since 1983, the scholarship initiative has honored students with unique individual stories of life-changing circumstances that merit recognition from one of 43 public schools within the greater Kendall community.
Formal presentation of awards and scholarships at the Doral Fire Tower headquarters was emceed by WLPG/Channel 10’s news anchor Kristi Krueger.
A total of 25 students in elementary, middle and high school grades were singled out for employing winning strategies to place them on a pathway to academic and social success, said Jane Walker, who co-chaired the event with Lina Moss and Donna Valls, newest KFHA director.
Capt. Rowan Taylor, Local 1403 president, opened the program with a supporting corps of firefighters, donors of the Doral Fire Tower banquet facility, a complimentary lunch and a $1,000 check.
After Sgt. Melvin Leonor, U.S. Army, sang the National Anthem, Ruben Arias, aide to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, honored each student with special certificates while Miami-Dade College honors were presented by Sol Gonzalez, director of the new Student Center at MDC’s Kendall Campus.
The Class of 2013 included four seniors: Yujailec Benitez, Felix Varela High School; Zainab Ibrahim, Miami Killian High School; Michael Ferrer, Southwest Miami High School, and Ashley Hernandez, Coral Reef High School, winner of the Miles and Lina Moss Scholarship. All four received Miami- Dade College scholarships and book grants.
Middle school honorees received gift bags with tickets to the Wings Over Miami Memorial Day Festival on May 25 and Miami Marlins baseball games. Those honored were: Yael Gomez, Bowman Ashe/Doolin K-8 Academy; Yang Cabrera, Devon Aire K-8 Center; Jimmy Young, Frank C. Martin International K-8 Center; Henry Molina, Hammocks Middle School; Mimi Dong, Jane S. Roberts K-8 Center; Nicole Hicks, Kenwood K-8 Center; Bryan Medina, Lamar Louise Curry Middle School; Derek Rasmussen, Leewood K-8 Center, and Yasmin Silva, Winston Park K-8 Center.
Special awards to elementary students made at their school programs included Elliot Murphy, Bowman Ashe/Doolin K-8 Academy; Emily Diguez, Cypress Elementary School; Amaryss Balceiro, Dante B. Fascell Elementary School; Brian Orosa, Devon Aire K-8 Center; Gabriela Hernandez, Dr. Manuel Barreiro Elementary School; Richard Chong, Ethel Koger Beckham Elementary School; Kentrell Davis, Frank C. Martin International K-8 Center; Justyn Stringer, Gloria Floyd Elementary School; Francisco Barrientos, Kendale Lakes Elementary School; Valentina Lopez, Leewood K-8 Center; Mia Pringle, William Lehman Elementary School, and Jordan Sanchez, Winston Park K-8 Center.