Miami Palmetto High School senior Daniel Perez is president of the Science National Honor Society. The club is working to make Palmetto students aware about the environment and climate change. To that end, the club is working with the CLEO Institute to implement the Climate Leadership Information Program (CLIP) at Palmetto.
“We started doing this very big green project at our school,” he says. “We are trying to lower the amount of plastic we use in the school.”
They are being creative in how they institute the program – for instance, they asked the other clubs to stop using plastic when putting up decorations for events such as Homecoming.
“All the decorations had to be reusable or compostable,” he says. “We did that for most of the major events. Homecoming was the biggest event, the others we advocated for but it wasn’t as strict a policy.”
Perez says they are advocating green ideas for the new buildings such as installing water fountains that can be used to fill up water bottles.
He’s taking part in the CLEO Institute, attending meetings where they look over and take political actions such as last September’s climate strike.
The plans for instituting the project was waylaid by the shutdowns for COVID-19, but they were able to get students certified by the CLEO Institute.
“The main effect the coronavirus will have on the CLIP project is that we may go on Zoom,” he says. “The impact on our message, none at all.”
The project is important because of the area’s proximity to the coast.
“We’re already seeing the sea rise,” he says. “Beach erosion is already a factor.”
Perez is not only involved in the Science National Honor Society, but he’s also one of the captains of the badminton team. He usually plays singles, although he can play doubles.
He’s also vice president of Tutoring for Tomorrow.
“We are doing a lot of things; we are trying to fund underprivileged schools now; help them out getting materials and equipment,” he says. “Tutoring For Tomorrow now has a focus on providing free virtual summer school tutoring as a way to help people in these hard times. This program involves contacting summer schools and providing our service to any student, free of charge.”
Perez is vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society. He participates in math competitions for the club and this past year, Palmetto hosted a competition.
He’s also vice president of the Social Studies National Honor Society. For the club, he organized free tutoring every Wednesday afternoon after school. The tutoring sessions would draw a range of kids. Some weeks there were 10 while others there could be as many as 30.
He also competes in the History Bowl and the History Bee.
“Last year we went to nationals in Washington, D.C. for the History Bowl,” he says. “We were supposed to go this year but it was cancelled.”
Perez has also competed in the Science Bowl, the Fairchild Challenge, Envirothon, Chemithon and the Chemistry Olympiad where he qualified for the national competition.
For college, Perez plans to apply to the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Florida.
He plans to major in chemistry or chemical engineering, depending on the institution.
This summer, he was invited to attend the Navy Summer Seminar, which included physical training as well as information about the college and the Navy in general. He also took Calculus in a dual enrollment class at Miami-Dade College last summer.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld