Coral Reef senior John Stathopulos likes to help others. He earned most of his community service hours by working with the Public Housing and Community Development agency doing a variety of projects. He and a friend would go almost every day of the week and put in full days.
“We would go around the community and we would pick up trash,” he says. “We’d help young kids study and tutor them and do after care.”
He did that for four summers. And, if he doesn’t start college in the summer session, he plans to be there again, helping out.
“It was fun,” he says. “We played different sports like football and basketball. We showed them fundamentals. And we would do arts and crafts.”
The children were in a program that prepared them for the next school year. The kids would leave the program understanding the school work that they hadn’t quite grasped before.
“The children really made me enjoy being there and wanting to go back there,” he says. “We had fun playing and doing the activities. I liked them and they liked me.”
Another community project Stathopulos participated in was the Miracle League.
“We would go help children with disabilities play baseball,” he says.
The baseball games were held at Suniland the first year and then Marlins Park. Along with his teammates, Stathopulos helped children with disabilities with the parts of the game that they couldn’t do. The players would team up with a “buddy.” Stathopulos partnered up with his dad’s boss’ daughter.
“If the kids couldn’t hit, we would help them hit,” he says. “We would guide them around the bases. It was a great time.”
Working with the children was important to him.
“It made me feel happy to help kids who really want to play but can’t play,” he says. “It was rewarding to me that I got to do that.”
Stathopulos said he had a great time working at the games.
“I was happy to be able to help and cheer them on,” he says. “They were also happy that we did that. It was great.”
At Coral Reef, Stathopulos is in the legal academy. He helps his classmates prepare for the mock trial events – he can’t participate in the competitions because of baseball.
He has been able to participate in the Asian Club. The club meets once a week, tries different foods and the members learn about the culture.
Stathopulos is a pitcher for the Coral Reef baseball team. He has higher expectations for the team this year.
“This year, we are actually looking pretty good,” he says. “I’m hoping that we do the best in Coral Reef history and go to district playoffs.”
He’d like to go from the playoffs into a college where he can play baseball. He played travel baseball with the Pinecrest Patriots for two years and has gone on college visits to a number of Florida school. The trip also took them to New Orleans and Alabama.
Stathopulos also visited Cleveland State Community college in Tennessee. The coach there is interested in him and will be following Stathopulos this season.
He’s applied to FIU, FAU. FGCU, and the University of West Florida. If he’s not offered a scholarship, he is willing to try out as a walk-on.
In college, he plans to major in criminal justice. He’s interested in becoming a police officer, an FBI agent or joining the U.S. Marshalls Service.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld