In March, Miami Palmetto High senior Victoria Arguelles collected more than 500 books to be donated to either a school or an orphanage in Medellin, Columbia.
The books will help the children better learn English. The project is called Molding Minds of Medellin and was designed to help children who attend public school in Medellin, Colombia.
“That is the city that my family is from,” she says, “Public school in countries outside the US is insanely different. If you don’t attend a private school, you don’t get much of an education.”
Arguelles says the school teaches English but the children have no way of practicing English.
“I thought I would collect elementary school books that would be donated to the schools,” she says. “I have collected the books. They are all collected and waiting to be donated.”
Depending on which one it is easier to ship to, she’ll send the books to either an orphanage or an elementary school. The children in the orphanage attend the public schools so either way, the books will reach the children who need them.
Arguelles collected the books from family, friends and at school. She also received many from the students at Palmetto Middle School, where her mom works. At the time, her mother was the media specialist and that allowed Arguelles to reach a demographic she would not have been able to otherwise.
“I received a few books that teach phonics, sentence structures and teach vowels,” she says. “I also received elementary school books. I received Dr. Seuss books and at the highest reading level, Junie B Jones.”
When she was sorting the books, she took out the books about American holidays such as Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July which the Columbian kids would not be able to relate to.
“So far I’ve donated some of the chapter books to an elementary school that my aunt teaches at,” Arguelles says. She will also donate books to her former elementary school and a homeless shelter. At Palmetto, Arguelles is involved in school life. She was her freshman and sophomore class president. In that capacity, she planned Plant the Pride her sophomore year.
Her sophomore year she was also part of the cast of one of Impact Theater’s productions. Students involved in Impact Theater write and compose plays that aim to teach tolerance.
This year she’s the public relations chair for student council. She’s also the managing editor of the Panther online newspaper and manages the newspaper’s social network on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
“Our newspaper, we apply for a lot of awards,” she says. “This past year, when I was a section editor, a few of the things I personally worked on were submitted to the Colombia Scholastic Press Association. They won second and third place Gold Circle awards. They won five awards, and I personally won a Certificate of Merit for an info graphic.”
They also submitted entries to the National Scholastic Press Association. For the second year in a row, the Panther is a Pacemaker finalist.
Arguelles is an Advanced Placement Scholar of Distinction, which means she earned an average of 3.5 or higher on five or more AP exams.
In college, Arguelles plans to study communications with an emphasis on public relations, although she still feels torn between journalism and public relations. She’s been accepted to FIU and UCF. She’s applied to UF, University of Maryland and University of Georgia.