Nicholas Gonzalez is the Palmetto High School Silver Knight nominee in Business. Asenior, he says he was tapped for the honor because of his high grades in business classes, his Outstanding Junior Business Award and his participation in DECA.
“It’s a business club and it focuses on helping you develop business skills,” Gonzalez says. “I used to be the historian; now I’m a member. When I was an officer last year, we started Palmetto’s first business fashion show.”
The students featured attire that could be worn in business; not only clothing for the office, but casual clothes that could be worn at a company picnic. Gonzalez’s role that day was to be the main photographer for the show.
“We set up the auditorium with a mock runway,” he says. “We had our business teacher working with us on this. Basically it was just the students deciding what different locations we would focus on.”
In his junior year, Gonzalez participated in the DECA competition in the area of principles of business management and came in first at the district level.
“I went to states and I placed fifth to qualify for nationals,” Gonzalez says.
However, he couldn’t go to nationals because it was the day of the Eagle Court of Honor for Troop 457. He was one of 14 Boy Scouts who became an Eagle that day.
Gonzalez worked on his Eagle required community service project at Zoo Miami in September, 2011.
“We planted over 100 gumbo limbo trees,” he says. “We also built a 12×24-foot greenhouse and then built five shelves of five-foot length for the greenhouse.”
Gonzalez says he wanted to work on a project at the zoo because he has lived near it for all of his life.
“I spent my summers there at zoo camp,” he says. “I wanted to get back to it.”
The trees planted at the zoo were donated by a local nursery that couldn’t sell them and needed to move them off the property. More than 120 volunteers helped Gonzalez complete the project that day.
“It was awesome!” he says. “The only way to get the job done was to go in at a specific time, but I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough people there on time to complete the job. I had over 100 volunteers there by 8 a.m.”
The trees were planted in an area far back on the property.
“We planted the trees where the old zoo used to be,” he says.
Gonzalez says it took him most of the summer to plan the project. “There were so many things to figure out,” he says. “And there were many meetings at the zoo.” Then the plans were complicated by a change in zoo personnel. But eventually the project came together successfully. Gonzalez has been accepted by several universities including Florida State, Central Florida and Florida International. He is considering a major in either business or biomedical engineering.
This year at Palmetto High he is enrolled in an extra class – an internship with Palmetto’s network technician. As the intern, he is learning how to fix computers in the office. He also helped set up Palmetto’s first i-Prep classroom.
“That was pretty cool,” he says. Because of his interest in computers, he is in the American Technology Honor Society.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld