Three Silver Knights leave lasting legacy

silverFor more than five decades, the Miami Herald has bestowed Silver Knight awards to the region’s top high school seniors. Many honorees have gone on to become successful civic and business leaders.

Thus, the future looks bright for the Cosner family. All three children — Chelsea, Zoe and Zachariah — are Palmetto High School graduates and were named Silver Knight honorees. Chelsea was named Sliver Knight honorable mention in the General Scholarship category in 2011. Twins Zoe and Zac were named 2013 honorable mentions – Zoe in the Science category and Zac in Speech and Debate.

So, how do three children from the same family earn a place in one of the top recognition programs in the country? Proud parent Kim Foster-Cosner sheds a little light.

“They are very bright, independent, selfmotivated kids,” she said. “My career has allowed me to be an active parent in their school and at home. I’ve been here to help guide them.”

Toss in some good genes and a great high school experience and you’ve got a winning combination. Kim is a graphic designer who has owned her own business since the 1970s. Chris Cosner is a world-class mathematician and has been a math professor at the University of Miami for 30 years.

The Cosner family moved to Pinecrest years ago to be in the Palmetto school district. All three children attended Palmetto Elementary School and Palmetto Middle School before enrolling at Palmetto Senior High.

“Palmetto gave them the opportunity and freedom to follow their own interests,” said Kim. “All three took AP classes and their experiences were enriched through student clubs and activities.”

Zoe and Zac will join Chelsea at the University of Miami, a natural choice. Chelsea is on her way to earning M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. She has been working at Miami Project to Cure Paralysis for five years. A watershed moment came during her freshman year at Palmetto when a young Miami Project volunteer gave a presentation to her biology class.

“This really touched a nerve; she knew right then that this was what she wanted to do,” said Kim.

Zoe starts UM this year with 60 credits under her belt. She plans to study biochemistry and also will pursue M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. Zoe accumulated approximately 1,400 community service hours, many earned working in a biochemistry and molecular biology lab at UM. At Palmetto, Zoe was an active member of the Science National Honor Society and Science Competitors Club, serving as president of both clubs during her senior year. She has competed successfully in numerous science competitions, including Chemathon and Envirothon, and will compete in the Envirothon nationals this August. She also competed in Mu Alpha Theta competitions and served as vice president. Like Chelsea, Zoe earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. Her project benefitted Holtz Children’s Hospital.

“I created 1,000 busy bags for patients of different ages,” Zoe said.

The bags included an activity book that she created and other items to keep young patients occupied.

Zac was a member of Palmetto’s debate team for four years, specializing in policy debate. He competed in Model UN, National History Bowl and Envirothon, which helped prepare him for college. Zac intends to major in Environmental Science and Policy at UM. His goal is to become an environmental lawyer.

Zac’s Eagle Scout project helped spark his interest in the environment. He organized a group to refurbish and beautify Camp Mahachee – the Girl Scout camp his sisters attended for many years.

“We built trashcan holders and new benches and cubbies for the shower house,” he said. “We also mulched and improved the campgrounds.”

“The group removed invasive plants under the guidance of Palmetto’s environmental science teacher Pam Shlachtman,” said Kim. “Zac took the project one step further and made an educational booklet about local invasive plants and presented it to Palmetto Elementary students.”

The Cosner clan leaves behind an unparalleled legacy at Palmetto High School. Now it’s onward and upward to UM and beyond.

“They’re very well prepared and ready to be on their own,” said Kim.

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