By the time he leaves Palmetto High School, rising senior Ethan Paikowsky will have earned more than a thousand community service hours. In fact, he’s already received an award for outstanding community service for PTSA.
“My entire life, my family and I have gone to a homeless shelter – The Chapman Partnership for the Homeless,” he says. “We bring in toys every Christmas. The past three years I’ve initiated a toy drive at school.”
His love of helping others led Paikowsky to work as a counselor-in-training and junior counselor at the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center summer camp for three years. He followed his kids who were going into kindergarten then first grade and second grade.
Helping kids also led to creating a program at Palmetto Elementary for those kids who would have been in the now-cancelled theater program. He and friends Zach Gassenheimer and Alexis Corradino went to Palmetto Elementary with the idea of doing a showcase but that morphed into a mentoring program.
“We kind of give private lessons,” he says. “They don’t have a dance or theater program anymore.”
Looking at the next schoolyear, they hope to be able to put together a showcase and use any money raised to expand the program.
His community service started early. As a freshman, he and a friend revived Palmetto’s Jewish Student Union. All that he does is driven by his two major passions.
“My two things are drama and student council,” he says.
He started in drama at Palmetto Elementary School and hopes to have professional drama in his future. At the same time, Paikowsky feels the lure of politics calling him.
Representing Palmetto this year Paikowsky received superior ratings and qualified for the state theater competition.
“I performed a solo,” he says. “I did a small group and a duet. I received superiors in all three.”
However, he wasn’t able to go to the state competition because Palmetto did so well at the district level that only students who won Critic’s Choice awards went on to state. Palmetto was limited in how many students could go to the state contest.
Paikowsky has participated in many of the plays and musicals put on by the Palmetto drama department.
“I was in Little Women, I was in Curtains last year and Shrek the year before,” he says.
He was focused on testing during the auditions for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so he didn’t try out but when the test period was over he tried out for Hairspray at Miami Children’s Theater and won the role of Corny Collins.
“This is my first show with Miami Children’s Theater,” he says. “I tend to stick with school shows.”
Another play he did outside school was Rent.
He takes private voice lessons weekly and has taken dancing lessons in the past. Musical theater may well be his college major. His other option is political science.
“Which is where my student government comes into play,” he says. “I’m auditioning for schools for musical theater but also applying for political science.”
Paikowsky is the junior class vice president and will serve as student council vice president in the next school year. He was class vice president as a freshman and junior – he lost the election for sophomore class VP.
“I think the reason I am so invested in political science is that my dad is a politician,” he says. “He works for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.”
For college, he’s considering the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin at Madison, UF, and USC.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld