The Pinellas Education Foundation announced the winners in the 10th annual Walker's Rising Stars Scholarship Competition May 20 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. The event was attended by more than 1,000 people, who were treated to a great show by a roster of talented teens.
More than 200 juniors and seniors from Pinellas County's public schools applied to compete in the event, with the Pinellas Education Foundation awarding about $66,000 in college and technical school scholarships in the areas of dance, drama, vocal music, instrumental music, visual arts and video arts.
The Rising Stars competition was created by neurosurgeon and Pinellas Education Foundation board member Dr. Jeffrey Walker, who provided the initial funding for the program in 2003.
First-place winners from North Pinellas are Clearwater High junior Alexandra Chandler in the video arts category, and Palm Harbor University High senior Amanda Springer in the vocal music category. After a tally of online votes, Amanda was also named "Fan Favorite" in the vocal category and given an amethyst pendant and necklace from Gold and Diamond Source.
In her profile on the Pinellas Education Foundation's website, Alexandra expressed her feelings about working with video.
"Filmmaking is my passion. I love creating and editing videos that are relevant to today's societal issues in hopes of being able to connect with viewers on a personal level," she said.
On the same website, Amanda's profile explained why music plays such an important role in her life.
"Nothing brings me more joy than performing and sharing my voice with others," she said. "I can only hope that I can utilize my talent to positively impact others."
South Pinellas seniors Marquis Floyd, Dylan Barlowe, Kaitlyn Resler and Shannon Michaud, who all attend the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, St. Petersburg, took first place in the categories of dance, drama, instrumental and visual art, respectively.
All first-place winners received a $5,000 scholarship.
East Lake High senior Sarah Ginnetti received a $2,000 scholarship for placing second in the dance category; a Galaxy Nexxus phone, courtesy of Verizon Wireless, and an additional $500 scholarship for being voted "Audience Favorite" through text messaging by audience members. After a tally of online votes, Sarah also was named "Fan Favorite" in the dance category, for which she received two general admission tickets to MOSI, a $100 gift card to Attitudes Dance Wear Inc. and a $25 Visa gift card.
In the instrumental category, a second-place win and $3,000 scholarship went to Justin Ma. The Palm Harbor University High junior also earned an online vote of "Fan Favorite," for which he received two half-day fishing trips courtesy of Hubbard's Marina, a $50 Best Buy gift card and a $25 Visa gift card.
Lamont Kaiser, a senior at Tarpon Springs High, placed fourth in the instrumental category for a $1,000 scholarship.
Clearwater High junior Justin Reyes received a $1,000 scholarship for his fourth-place win in the video arts category.
Each fan favorite winner also received gift cards from McDonald's, a canvas print by Canvas Zoo, a certificate for tickets to a Rays game, a "swag bag" from Nardo's Natural, a $10 iTunes gift card and a four-hour limo ride provided by Ambassador Limousine.
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Two Pinellas Sunstar employees have received state awards for providing stellar emergency medical service.
The 2013 Excellence in EMS awards are part of an annual program sponsored by the Florida Department of Health in recognition of National EMS week.
Roy W. Coosey was named emergency medical technician of the year. The award honors an EMT whose job responsibility is direct patient care and who has demonstrated independent initiative in the areas of quality assurance/improvement, patient care, public access, medical control, disaster preparedness, public education and/or training, and support, involvement and dedication to the EMS community and profession.
Paramedic Robert E. Lanoue was named 911 public safety telecommunicator of the year, which honors a dispatcher for outstanding effort in processing a Florida medical emergency call.
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By challenging her students to read this summer, St. Cecelia Catholic School principal Valerie Wostbrock literally put herself on the line for literacy.
For every five books purchased at the school's book fair, students received a can of aerosol string. Wostbrock offered to be the target.
Garbed in a wig and robe, she honored her promise and stood in front of a line of children, who sprayed her with string from head to toe.
The event produced a lot of laughter and cheers from the students, and a good time was had by all.
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