Hispanic Heritage Essay Contest Florida

February 7, 2017

Erin VanSickle
850-339-3184

Hispanic Heritage Month Winners Announced

Tallahassee, Fla. – Volunteer Florida is proud to announce the following winners of the Governor’s 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month art, essay, and educator awards. The awards were presented to recipients at the Governor’s Mansion this week. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year in Florida from September 15-October 15; the 2016 event honoring awardees was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.

Governor Scott said, “My wife Ann and I were honored to join Volunteer Florida in recognizing the many great students and teachers who participated in last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month contest. We are proud of our diverse and vibrant state and these winners and their projects represent the countless contributions Hispanic individuals and families have made to our communities.”

Volunteer Florida Chief Executive Officer Chester Spellman said, “It is an honor to join Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott to present awards to these outstanding educators, artists, and students. We are grateful for the many partners who made the recognition event possible – particularly the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, which provided three, 4-year Florida College Plan scholarships. Volunteer Florida was also thrilled to present the Champion of Service to a college student and service leader.”

Commissioner Pam Stewart said, “I was honored to join Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott in recognizing the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month student contest winners and Excellence in Education educator award recipients. Hispanic Americans have contributed greatly to Florida’s rich history. I commend the student participants for taking this opportunity to learn more about Hispanic American heroes, past and present, and to celebrate the hard-working educators who share those contributions and inspire our state’s students.”

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said, “I heartily congratulate the winners of Governor Rick Scott’s student art and essay contests, as well as the educator recipient of Excellence in Education award. The Governor’s art and essay contests inspire students to learn about and honor Florida’s Hispanic heritage and then to translate that rich history into visual arts and creative writing in honor of Hispanic American heroes. As Florida’s Chief Cultural Officer, I am privileged to celebrate the talents of these remarkable educators and student artists.”

The 2016 Florida Hispanic Heritage Month theme was “Honoring Hispanic American Heroes” in recognition of those who have protected Florida’s communities and families.
Award recipients are as follows:

Essay winners: 
Elementary school category:  Ailanie Sanchez
Fourth grade, San Jose Catholic School, Duval County

Middle school category: Madilynn Vidal
Sixth grade, Southwood Middle School, Miami-Dade County

High school category: Cristian Ramos
Eleventh grade, Manatee School for the Arts, Manatee County

Excellence in Education Award winners: 
Elementary school category: Rossana Chiarella, Palm Springs North Elementary, Miami-Dade County

Middle school category: Carla Ford, St. Luke’s Lutheran School, Seminole County

High school category: Mirelys (Mindy) Goode, Pine Ridge High School, Volusia County

Student art contest winners: 
Karla Angelina Valencia-Gonzalez, first grade, John Walker Elementary, Seminole County
Title of art: “Honoring Hispanic Heroes”

Victoria Grace Sanchez, third grade, St. Theresa School, Miami-Dade County
Title of art: “A Celebration of Hispanic American Heroes: Veterans, Military, Law Enforcement and First Responders”

Abraham Cadaval, third grade, Coral Reef Elementary, Miami-Dade County
Title of art: “Just in Time”

Volunteer Florida also recognized Champion of Service Donavan Ebersole, a sophomore at Chipola College. Donavan serves as a tutor at Chipola’s Academic Center of Excellence and recently created a Science Day at Chipola College for over 70 area high school students.

Volunteer Florida is grateful for the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Florida Prepaid College Foundation
  • Comcast
  • Walmart
  • Florida Blue
  • Florida Power and Light
  • Prudential
  • Publix
  • Mosaic
  • Florida Lottery
  • Sunshine Health
  • Aetna
  • Maritza Rovira-Forino Family
  • AT&T
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Tallahassee, Fla. – To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott will host a reception this evening celebrating the contributions of Hispanic community leaders, educators, and students. Governor Scott will announce the winners of the 2011 Hispanic Heritage Month contests, including the Excellence in Education Award, and recognize Miami artist Damien Cruz as the featured artist.

“During Hispanic Heritage Month, we take time to recognize how Florida’s growing Hispanic population enriches our state and strengthens Florida’s cultural and economic ties to Spain, Latin America and beyond,” Governor Scott said. “The diversity of Florida’s people and cultures truly makes our state one of the most vibrant in our country.”

“I congratulate all of Florida’s students who participated in the Hispanic Heritage Month contests for taking the time to learn more about some of the people who make Florida a great place to live,” Mrs. Scott said.

Featured artist Damien Cruz came to the United States in 1999 from Havana, Cuba, where he attended the prestigious San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. Paintings from his collection have been displayed at the Florida State Capitol Building throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.

Governor and Mrs. Scott will honor three outstanding Hispanic educators with the Excellence in Education Award. These individuals were nominated by students and peers, and each will receive $1,500 at the Governor’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

Excellence in Education award winners are:

• Emma Gonzalez – Mike Davis Elementary School in Naples, Second Grade.
• Sonia Botero – Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences in Sarasota, Spanish.
• Dr. Erick Hueck – Miami Senior High School in Miami, Chemistry.

Three student essay-contest winners – one elementary, one middle-school, and one high school student – will also be honored by the Governor and First Lady. Winners will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

Student essay contest winners are:

• Matthew DeRose – Bay Point Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Fifth Grade.
• Mackenzie Moreno – Clearwater Fundamental Middle School in Clearwater, Sixth Grade.
• Miguel Labrador – C. Leon King High School in Tampa, 12th Grade.

Two art-contest winners will also be recognized. Each winner will receive $250, which will be awarded at the Governor’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

Student art contest winners are:

• Vanessa Longsworth – Coconut Palm Elementary School in Miramar, First Grade.
• Nicole Lugo – Joella C. Good Elementary School in Hialeah, Third Grade.

The Hispanic Heritage Month reception is supported by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Additional sponsors include Walmart, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Publix Super Markets Inc, Wells Fargo, Mosaic, and Prudential.

The student contests focused on the theme “Celebrating Hispanic Leaders in Business – Past, Present and Future.” Information about Florida’s Hispanic heritage is available on Florida’s Hispanic Heritage Month website www.FloridaHispanicHeritage.com.

About Hispanic Heritage Month

Several Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of independence during Hispanic Heritage Month. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate independence on September 15. Mexico achieved independence on September 16, and Chile, on September 18. Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1974 when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long celebration, from September 15 through October 15.

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