Palmetto High School senior Brittany Schiffer has earned her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards for Girl Scouts.
For her Silver Award, she and the members of her troop went to the homeless shelter in Homestead a couple of times a month.
“We’d work with the children there and read stories to them or play with them,” Schiffer says. “Last December, we donated toys, clothes and toys. In October, we made a bunch of goody bags for them because they couldn’t go trick or treating. They are restricted to stay at the shelter.”
For the Gold Award, Schiffer and the other girls wrote, illustrated and published children’s books. Her book was about being careful around animals.
“I made the book about myself. When I was younger, I was bitten by a dog and I have a big scar on my cheek,” Schiffer says. “It’s kind of like a dimple but it’s a pretty big dimple.”
She was bitten by a family pet, an aging golden retriever.
“I usually just played with the dog. I took naps with him,” she says. “I put my head on his ribs, but he was frail and when I did that, he just snapped on me. I think it was just old age.”
The book is about how to approach animals, which calls for being still and holding your hand out first.
After she reads, the children wanted to feel her scar.
“They also enjoyed the pictures,” she says.
Schiffer illustrated the book herself, drawing the scenes in a cartoon fashion. The troop donated the books they wrote and illustrated to Palmetto Elementary School.
“When we donated the books, we made puppets and performed at Palmetto Elementary,” she says. “We read the books to them.”
They read the books to children in the after-school-care program who were in Pre- K through first grade.
Despite being bitten in the face by a dog at two years old, Schiffer’s dream is to become a veterinarian. The experience did not scar her mentally.
“No, it just made me understand dogs more, that I’m the one that has to be careful; it’s not them,” she says.
Schiffer and her fellow troop members received the Gold Award last spring.
This fall, Schiffer had one of the best moments of her high school career when she was voted Homecoming Queen.
“It was a really nice feeling,” she says. “I was actually expecting another girl to win.”
She says waiting for the announcement was nerve wracking. They made the announcement at Panther Prowl and then introduced the court on the field at the Homecoming game.
“It was a big deal being on the field with the band; I felt like royalty,” she says.
Usually when Schiffer is on a field, she is playing lacrosse. She has been on the Palmetto lacrosse team for three years and is in line to be a captain of this year’s team.
One of her other extracurricular activities is being an HIV Peer Educator. As a peer educator, she goes into classrooms to teach fellow students about HIV and AIDS. Peer educators undergo training in order to be eligible to go into the classroom to teach others.
When she leaves Palmetto, Schiffer hope to attend the University of Georgia, which has an excellent pre-vet medicine program. She has also applied to several schools in Florida, including FIU, Florida Gulf Coast University, UCF, FSU and the University of North Florida.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld