Palmetto High School rising senior Ross Ladis and five of his friends took over the three-on-three basketball tournament known as the Miracle Games.
They held the Tenth Annual Miracle Games Basketball tournament in May and raised more than $4,000.
The tournament includes the “3’s for Z three-point contest. The three-point contest began in 2011 in memory of Palmetto High graduate Zander Standiford.
In the past, proceeds from the Miracle Games went to the Transplant Foundation. However, this year, the student organizers decided to donate the profits to Achieve Miami.
“Achieve Miami is an organization that helps achieve literacy for underprivileged students in Miami-Dade schools,” Ladis says.
The teens planned the tournament for several months. This year they held it at Temple Beth Am, in the gym. They had planned to use the outdoor courts, but the weather forced a change in plans.
“There were about 25 teams and they played all in one day,” he says.
Winning teams won trophies, basketballs and gift cards. The tournament drew teams from several schools including Palmetto, Riviera, Ransom Everglades, Coral Reef, Coral Gables and Palmer Trinity.
Ladis has been volunteering for a long time. His mom works for Miami-Dade Legal Aide and he has volunteered at Legal Aid events, setting up for the event and playing with children who attend.
He’s active in school activities. In April, he won the Tulane Book Award at Palmetto’s end-of-the-year awards ceremony. He’s a member of the National Honor Society and he’s involved with the student council as the vice president of the Class of 2019 for the past two years. As a class officer, he’s worked on a variety of events, including organizing Movie Night, the magazine drive and the ring ceremony. Next year, he’ll be student council vice president.
As the vice president, he’ll work with the activities director and the rest of the board to ensure that all the school clubs turn in their monthly minutes and report. He’ll also head the Interclub Council.
e’s an active member of the Social Science Honor Society.
“Within is History Bowl, where I’ve found my niche,” he says. “You can get anything ranging from a sports question to battles to presidents.”
The History Bowl teams go to three competitions a year, four if they qualify for nationals.
He’s the incoming president of the Jewish Student Union and served as treasurer this school year.
“Every meeting has a Jewish aspect,” he says. “We had one meeting where we educated students about Israel. The different inventions that originated in Israel. We teach them about holidays such as Passover. We’ll eat foods related to that.”
At the Passover meeting, this year, they taught members about the holiday and played a game. They had a bag with slips of paper with the names of foods eaten during the holiday. Everyone picked one out and ate the food listed.
“I ate a spoonful horseradish. I immediately regretted that decision,” he says with a laugh.
Outside of school he’s in BBYO. Although he doesn’t have a leadership position now, he’s held numerous offices, including chapter president. Through the organization he attended an international conference and met teens from all over the world.
Last summer, Ladis attended a semester at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. The experience changed his life.
“The most amazing experience is when our teacher told us he’s not worried about the future of the Jewish religion because he had faith in us.” He says. “Overall, that really instilled the sense of identity in my faith and in religion and perspective about the world.”
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld