Student spotlight


This year’s Coral Gables High School Student Council president, Brooke Nelson, wants to increase school spirit. She plans to publicize events in a bigger and better way — with posters. “A lot of people listen to the morning announcements but they look at the posters around the school and they say, ‘that looks fun,’” Nelson said.

Student Council is responsible for such things as Homecoming and the Educational Excellence School Advisory Committee (EESAC), which is a mix of parents, teachers and student representatives that makes priority decisions for the school.

“Usually we listen to the issues brought forth and we give our opinion,” Nelson said. “They’ll talk about test scores and what we have to do to deal with it.”

As president she wants to get more students involved in school.

“To make people realize that high school is what you make of it,” Nelson said.

Aside from Student Council, Nelson is a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club. She also is involved in Newfound Hope, an organization that collects clothing from the lost and found at area schools.

“We wash the clothes, we sort them and then deliver them to the South Miami-Dade Homeless Shelter,” she said.

The first delivery was 20 trash bags full of children’s clothes.

“I hope to continue this or have someone continue this when I go to college,” she said.

Her college plans call for her to apply to Florida schools. “I think it’s more important to focus on graduate school,” Nelson said. “I’m interested in the medical field and I want to major in biology.”

She would love to attend Johns Hopkins for graduate school because of its cardiology program. Nelson has been dancing since she was 4. At 13, she began volunteering as a student teacher. “When I first started out, I’d observe and I’d correct the girls on technique,” Nelson said, adding that she become a teacher the second year.

She used to dance competitively, winning national dance titles in small group dances, but stopped to focus on school.


Coral Gables High School senior Casey Breznick spent much of last year interning at the Museum of Science helping develop an app. He was one of 30 students from Coral Gables and MAST Academy chosen to participate in the project.

“It’s the first year they were doing the program,” Breznick said.

The app will help advertise the museum. It also is a way to get more students involved in the museum.

Breznick said the students were assigned to different sections of the museum. He was assigned to the bird and snake areas, so he would take pictures and wrote captions that could be used for the app.

He found the work interesting and says it allowed the students to use various talents. The plan called for the app to be completed in May.

Breznick also used his writing abilities on the school newspaper.

“I’ve written editorials for opinion sections,” he said. “I like opinion stories. I like to write in a dark humor.”

One of those pieces explained the PERT testing, which he said is like FCAT for 11th and 12th grades.

“We did an explanation of the test and how it was thrown on the students, but also how it was thrown at the schools — they were notified just weeks in advance,” he said. “PERT is a college readiness exam. You can be exempted from the PERT, if you have above average SAT/ACT or FCAT scores. This PERT one wasn’t humorous.”

Breznick is a member of the National Honor Society and as a junior was president of the Math Club. He helped tutor fellow students in math and participated in math competitions.

“The one at our school, I came in second,” he said.

As a sophomore, he was on the team for a calculus competition.

For fun, he plays ice hockey. He played for two teams last year, one made out of Miami-Dade students who played in a Broward league. He started playing hockey as a child in Michigan and continued when he moved to Miami.


Coral Gables High School senior Michelle Lee volunteered for the Red Cross in China.

“We got to serve people while they sang karaoke,” she said. “They were singing in Taiwanese. Most of us were from the Americas, the Netherlands and Canada.”

Lee speaks Mandarin, which helps her communicate with the people she is helping. She has visited several times but this was the first time she was there volunteering independently.

“We went a few weeks ahead of time to visit my family, then my parents dropped me off and we went to the camp,” she said.

There were three students from Florida on that trip — Lee, Jonathan Chang from Palmer Trinity and a boy from Tallahassee. “I learned how to share a room with a whole bunch of teenage girls and guys,” Lee said.

“I learned how to get along. I met so many friends from around the world. I learned how to be independent, how to be neat and how to wash laundry. I got to see how Taiwan was and how they respected the elderly.”

Lee attends Gables for the International Baccalaureate program. She has a long commute to school from the Miami Lakes area. Her father drives her to the Metrorail station on Okeechobee Road and then she walks to the school from the Douglas Road Station.

While that commute makes it hard to be involved, she is a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and the Chinese Club. She used to be in the Math Club because she thought the tutoring was amazing but she had to quit in order to work.

As a Chinese Club member, Lee volunteers at Dragon Boat festivals and the Chinese New Year festival at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus.

For college, Lee would like to go out of state, but she also will apply to the University of Florida or Florida State.

“I want a new experience. I love cold temperatures so I would want to go up north,” she said. She plans to apply to Yale, Princeton or Johns Hopkins.

“I really like biology. I was thinking of taking premed,’ Lee said.

— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld

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