‘Turnaround’ marks 30 years, honors 28 Kendall students

Five seniors honored at Operation Turnaround include (l-r) Casey Robleto; Pedro Taveras; Vanya Albury of Miami Dade College, guest speaker; Stephanie Perez; Karolina Conseugra; John Vazquez, and Sol Gonzalez of Miami Dade College.

For the 30th year, Kendall students who have reshaped their lives were recognized by the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) during its annual “Operation Turnaround Awards Luncheon.”

Fourteen of 28 students from Kendall area public schools were honored in front of a capacity crowd on May 10 at the Miami Fire Tower banquet facility in Doral.

Five graduating seniors presented with numerous scholarships and awards included:

Stephanie Perez, G. Holmes Braddock High student with an exceptional GPA and inspirational story;

Karolina Consuegera, an ROTC student at Miami Killian High, for her strong leadership role;

Casey Robieto, an inspired student who worked on construction jobs part-time while attending Coral Reef Senior High;

Pedro Taveras, active in both student government and activities at John A. Ferguson Senior High, and

John Vazquez, Miami Sunset senior who displayed an outstanding attitude leading to his award for “Tenacity.”

Stephanie Perez, bound for the University of North Carolina, also received the Norman Shulevitz and the Miles and Lina Moss scholarships.

Vanya Albury, director of Retention and Transition Services at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus, was the keynote speaker.

Event co-chair Jane Walker noted, “We are so grateful to have Miami Dade College in our community. They have been a great support to our organization.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez presented former KFHA president Miles Moss with a special proclamation in recognition of the program’s 30th anniversary. Moss and his wife, Lina, have nurtured Operation Turnaround for years after its creation 30 years ago by the late Dorothy Cissel, community activist and educator.

The organization recently was re-branded KFHA Operation Turnaround Scholarship Initiative Inc. and has attracted support from Miami Dade College, Metro-Dade Firefighters, KFHA, Miami Elks Lodge 948 and the Norman Shulevitz Foundation.

“Of late, the organization has added focus to the progress and outcomes of graduating seniors.” said Walker, who worked with Lina Moss and Libby Perez to produce this year’s event with KFHA president Michael Rosenberg and Michelle Steele of Metro Dade Firefighters Local 1403. Ryan Weiss, grandson of Norman Shulevitz, representing the Shulevitz Foundation, will join the event committee next year.

Emcee Channel 4’s Gio Benitez opened the program by introducing 2011 honoree Ksenija Cvetrova, now studying in a Miami Dade Honors College.

Those attending to add their support included Miami-Dade School Board members Carlos Curbelo and Larry Feldman; State Rep. Frank Artiles; Miami Dade College’s Sol Gonzalez; Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Weiss; Chief William “Shorty” Bryson; Firefighters union second vice president Rowan Taylor, and members of Miami-Dade Firefighters Local 1403.


Grade 8-6 students and their schools honored were Gabriel De Leon, Arvida Middle; Mamoun Abdeldayem, Devon Aire K-8 Center; Juan M. Bermudez, Hammocks Middle; Daniel Mendez, Jane S. Roberts K-8 Center; Leonardo Rosa, Jorge Mas Canosa Middle; Leonardo Portillo, Lamar Louise Curry Middle; Marco Fernandez, Leewood K-8 Center; Paulo Castro, Riviera Middle, and Jessenia Travieso, Winston Park K-8 Center.


Kindergarten-grade 5 students who received awards at their Elementary or K- 8 Center schools included: Bryce Reed, Calusa; Richard Hollis, Claude Pepper; Anthony Fiallo, Coral Reef; Krystal Mata- Hernandez, Cypress; Shelton Green, Devon Aire K-8; Jennifer Martinez, Dr. Manuel C. Barreiro; Fengxin Ma, Ethel Koger Beckham; Oscar Benitez, Gloria Floyd; Ammi Duran, Jane S. Roberts K-8; Eduardo Pounds, Kendale; Kane Jackson, Leewood K-8; Hilda Infante, Norma Butler Bossard; Sebastian Cardoso, William Lehman, and Hannah Hernandez, Winston Park K-8.

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