Gulliver Prep senior Rodrigo Simoes is interested in architecture. He is enrolled in the Urban Planning and Design Class of Gulliver’s architecture program. One element of the class is a group project to design park space on Clarington Island, a project that comes at the behest of the City of Miami’s Waterfront Commission.
“We are developing a site plan,” he says. “We’re designing paths, placing picnic tables and a tiki hut classroom. The point of the project is to make the island an education and recreational park.”
Plans call for ferries to and from the island park and they would be provided by the Coral Reef Yacht Club.
In his three years in the program, Simoes has participated in the Fairchild Garden Environmental Challenge. Last year, the rules called for the class to create an environmentally friendly green space. “We had to collect edible raw materials to use and create relaxing green spaces,” he says. “We were basically told to build a community garden/green space that could bring the community together. As teams, we picked places in Miami and my team picked the Miami Circle Park. We based our green space around that already existing park.”
Simoes is also in the engineering program. He’s working with a group to develop a waterproof device that enables surfers to take along personal items such as keys, cell phones and wallets while surfing.
“What they carry in their pockets,” he says, “They would put in little compartment in the back of the board to be safe.”
The idea came to him because of a recent experience.
“I’m a surfer and one day I tried to bring my keys with me in what was supposed to be a waterproof bag; but it got wet and I lost the keys and I had to have my mom pick me up in South Beach,” he says. “The device would be something that you could stick on the board and it could be interchangeable. And it’s not restricted to surfing; it could be used for kayaking or sailing, for any craft that goes on the water.”
Simoes says they are still in the preliminary stages and are researching materials.
“We haven’t built a prototype yet,” he says.
The group must make a presentation to the engineering department soon and if the project is given the okay, they have a year to complete it.
Simoes is originally from Brazil and he loves to play soccer competitively. However, here in the U.S., he limits his soccer activities and only plays for fun with autistic children at the Goals Club. He’s an officer of the club, which holds clinics four times a year for the autistic kids.
While he doesn’t play competitive soccer here, he does swim competitively. He is the Gulliver team captain and one of the strongest swimmers. He swims the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. He also does relays including the 200 medley, 400 freestyle and 200 freestyle.
“The past three years I’ve made it to the state meets,” he says.
He plans to continuing swimming competitively when he goes on to college. Right now he is talking with the coaches from Georgetown, the University of California San Diego and Brown University about scholarship possibilities. Wherever he goes, Simoes plans to major in business, economics or finance.
In the meantime, he is working on starting a surf club at Gulliver. He wants his classmates to learn the joy of riding the waves, something he learned from his uncle in Brazil. He stopped surfing for a while because of the disappointing waves in South Florida, but now he goes as often as he can when the surf is up.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld