Palmetto High School senior Sophia Paredes sings soprano in the Miami Children’s Chorus. She has been in the chorus since she was in middle school. After moving to Miami from Ecuador, she says being in the chorus helped her adjust to living in a new country.
“It helped me, I made a bunch of friends,” Paredes says. “I didn’t know that many people.”
The Children’s Chorus meets twice a week and they give concerts on a regular basis, averaging around 15 concerts a year.
“We sing amazing pieces and we are our own community,” Paredes says. “I’ve grown up with these kids, watching them develop their musical ability and their personal potential.”
At Palmetto, Paredes is president of Key Club, a community service group. Club members earn volunteer hours by participating in school supply drives and creating holiday bags for hospitalized children. They also have a peanut butter and jelly drive (to make sandwiches) and donate them to the homeless.
Paredes is on the Student Council, is the student representative to the PTSA and a Student Council representative to EESAC, the school improvement committee made up of teachers, parents, students and staff. Her volunteer work was recognized by the Miami-Dade County Council of PTSAs. They awarded her their PTSA Leader of Tomorrow award.
Paredes is a member of Palmetto’s Model United Nation team. Model UN members attend several conferences each year and talk about world topics of interest, anything from terrorism in Syria to climate change in Somalia.
This past school year, Palmetto hosted its Model UN conference for middle school students.
“It was amazing, there were so many people,” she says. “They came from several middle schools and Mayor Lerner was there.”
Paredes says the conference was so successful, they plan to have it again next year.
Paredes is a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society, the Social Studies Honor
Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She is also on the executive board of the Panther-to-Panther program. “It helps incoming freshman transition to high school,” she says.
“It pairs them with an upperclassman and the upperclassman helps them travel through it.”
If all that wasn’t enough, Paredes also initiated her own project, collecting school supplies and cleaning supplies for a school in Ecuador.
“My uncle is a minister and they have a school there,” she says. “I’ve been selling tee shirts and handmade bracelets. During the summer I’ll go down and I’ll help out and give out the supplies.”
She says the children who receive the supplies are happy to receive them.
“It’s amazing; they are so happy,” she says. “These things are so common place, you never realize how much they really mean to someone who doesn’t have anything.”
When visits Ecuador, Paredes takes along suitcases filled with the supplies. She says it is easier and cheaper to pay the fee to take the extra suitcases than it is to ship them.
“Last year we took about 100 of each type of supply,” she says. “I had three full suitcases.”
Paredes says her family helps her and everyone who makes the trip packs the school supplies along with their clothes.
For college, Paredes is interested in applying to Northwestern, Tufts, UNC and UVA.
“I probably will enroll in pre-law,” she says.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld