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  1. The Education Gradebook

Durant High School: Tribune scholars profiles and essays

An invitation was extended to the top 3 percent of Hillsborough’s graduating seniors to take part in the annual competition.

More than 200 of Hillsborough County’s top high school seniors from 35 public and private schools accepted an invitation to share their accomplishments and take part in an essay contest through the 2020 R.F. “Red” Pittman Tribune Scholars program. Their profiles and essays are published here, just as the students submitted them. To search all schools, click here.

Alyssa Personius

Alyssa Personius
Alyssa Personius [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1) National Honor Society member

2) President of Students All Connected

3) Vice President of senior council

4) Have over 120 community service hours

5) Was a member of both girls flag football and cheerleading

College or other post-high school plans: I plan to attend the University of Florida and major in Architecture.

Tribune Scholars Essay

The state of Florida is majorly bordered by bodies of water. As the climate is changing, the amount of floods and disasters that occur are increasing. I believe that communities near bodies of water should armor their shores against rising waters, rather than retreat the coast. As a born and raised Floridian, I can’t imagine beaches being closed or not being able to retreat to a beach vacation paradise. Part of our Florida culture is entwined with our many beaches and coastal communities. This is why I believe coastal communities should armor their shores and protect the areas from storms and climate changes, in order to protect this culture. I believe the governments, local and national, should help pay for these costs and not buy out property owners. We must preserve our Florida culture, and arguably the most beautiful parts of Florida. The government should help and assist the homeowners to armor their properties and stay safe. This will insure that everything is safeguarded and preserved for generations to come.

Arianna Thompson

Arianna Thompson
Arianna Thompson [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  • National Honor Society
  • Florida Academic Scholar
  • DHS Varsity Volleyball
  • Student Council (Sophomore – Junior year)
  • DHS Show Choir
  • Girl Scouts (kindergarten- present)

College or other post-high school plans:

Attending the University of South Florida in the Fall of 2020 pursuing a degree in pre med

Brianna Thompson

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. National Honor Society
  2. Florida Academic Scholar
  3. DHS Varsity Volleyball
  4. Student Council (Freshmen – Junior year)
  5. DHS Show Choir
  6. Girl Scouts (kindergarten- present)

College or other post-high school plans:

Continuing education at the University of South Florida in the Fall of 2020 majoring in pre-med

Ashley Trussell

Ashley Trussell
Ashley Trussell [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Vice president for Spanish National Honor Society 2019-2020, and Treasurer for 2018-2019

2. Member of National Honor Society for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.

3. Junior Varsity Cheerleader for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years.

4. Junior Coach for the Brandon Bears Youth Football and Cheerleading organization for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

College or other post-high school plans: University of Florida

Tribune Scholars Essay

As Florida faces a future with a changing climate, I think the best solution is to armor the shores against rising waters. It is not feasible to buy out all property owners of their own land just because they are in flood-prone areas, and it is also not feasible for people to up and leave, retreating from their homes and businesses just because of a flood risk. That is why I believe the best solution is to armor the shores. While it is an expensive task, it would make sense to increase the taxes in the coastal areas that need the assistance, so that tax dollars can go towards a solution that would help prevent Floridians from needing to retreat from their homes and ways of life. Much of what makes Florida special is its beaches and coastal towns, so we must try to preserve what we can, while we can, which is why I think it is best to try to armor the shores, so that we do not have to retreat our lovely home.

Denim Hughes

Denim Hughes
Denim Hughes [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Young women of promise/ Athena Society recipient and member

2. Durant Flag Football

3. Girls Swim and Dive

4.2020 Cover Girl for Durant

5. Council member all four years

6. President of Rotary Interact at Durant

College Plans: I plan to attend Florida State University and double major in statistics and marketing with a minor in Psychology.

Emma N. Henry

Emma N. Henry
Emma N. Henry [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. 1st place nonfiction writing H.C.T.E. 2018

2. Durant Buddies club freshman year

3. National Honor Society

4. Principle’s honor roll

5. Random Act of Kindness club sophomore year

College or other post-high school plans: Florida State University

Tribune Scholars Essay

I believe that we should first armor the shores against the rising waters and see if that is effective before fully retreating from the coast. I feel like a full retreat is a hasty decision and we should first see if armoring the shores is an adequate way of protecting Florida. I think the state itself should pay for the work since the work is to protect Florida, after all. If the state needed to raise taxes a little, I believe that would be alright as well, since the work of armoring the shores is to protect the residents of Florida. Finally, I think it should be a person’s choice whether they want to leave their home in a flood prone area. If they wish to leave, I believe they should get some sort of compensation so they can find a new house and not struggle with expenses. However, if the person does not wish to leave, I do not think the government should buy their property because in the end, it is their decision to live in a flood prone area.

Emma Lauren Poole

Emma Lauren Poole
Emma Lauren Poole [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. FFA President of Durant, Hillsborough County, and District IX

2. National Champion in Extemporaneous Public Speaking

3. 2019 and 2020 Calendar Girl Miss February

4. 2018 FFA Sweetheart

5. East Hillsborough Historical Society Summer Intern

6. National Honor Society Member

College or other post-high school plans: I will attend Florida Southern College to pursue a degree in Communications.

Tribune Scholars Essay

As Florida moves into an uncertain future, there is one industry that contributes greatly to both our economy and our climate – tourism. According to the Florida Climate Institute, in 2015, 106.3 million tourists visited the state. While our state does prosper through the $90 billion a year that tourism brings to our economy, we have reached a point where it is necessary to evaluate our options when it comes to climate change.

There are, of course, the options to move off of Florida’s shorelines, or create barriers along our coasts. However, neither of these things will lessen climate change, they will only prevent it from affecting our citizens. But, if we take steps to decrease the climate change that does occur in our state, our own residents and native beachgoers will have no need to worry. First, in order to preserve our state’s natural beauty and exquisite coastlines, tourism must be limited. Although this would diminish the economic benefits that we receive from the industry, it would save the money that we would have to spend buying out coastal property owners in the event of a severe climate situation and help avoid the costs of creating armor against rising water on our coasts.

We live in a very unique state – from our vast expanses of swamplands in the Everglades, to our historical cattle ranches in Polk County, or the beautiful Ocala and Apalachicola National Forests, it is our duty to preserve the habitat, the home, that we love so dearly.

Jordan Fahringer

Jordan Fahringer
Jordan Fahringer [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. National Honors Society

2. Spanish National Honors Society

3. SWAT Club

4. Students All Connected Club

5. Cultura Latina

6. Biliteracy Award

College or other post-high school plans:

After high school, I plan to attend UF and major in Mechanical Engineering. I will get a Masters Degree and hope to intern at NASA while going to school. In the future, I want to work at NASA as an Aerospace Engineer.

Laura Bergman

School activities and Accomplishments:

1. I am part of the students all connected club which focuses on student inclusion, student leadership, and community service

2. I am part of the Honors Society

3. I have earned the title of honors AP scholar from college board

4. Maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA in both Durant and Hillsborough County Community College

5. I completed numerous community service activities which included leadership roles involving the mentoring of both peers and young students and special needs children.

6. I was a competitive gymnastics coach from my sophomore to senior year.

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan on majoring in health sciences and becoming an occupational therapist so I can continue to assist and learn from children and those with disabilities.

Tribune Scholars Essay

The first duty of any government is to protect the citizens it serves. Many past presidents and our current white house resident Donald Trump have stated that a citizen’s safety is of the upmost importance to the Unites States government. As the climate changes, Florida citizens along the coast may face the dangers of rising waters. Although many are aware of this threat, without government intervention it is highly unlikely that widespread precautionary measures will be taken to ensure the well being of all endangered citizens. It is in the citizens’ best interest to retreat from the coast. However, one of the many beautiful things about this great state is the beaches, which are surrounded by the expensive homes citizens have purchased to be near. Therefore, without monetary incentive, it is unlikely these residents will be willing to part ways with the building and beach they have come to call home. The government should buy out the property owners in these flood prone areas to not only ensure they evacuate the possibly hazardous areas but to also provide these citizens with the means to rebuild their home someplace new. The money may not be able to compensate for the inconvenience or emotional hardship the citizens may endure but it may be able to prevent widespread financial suffering. By implementing a financial incentive and an order to retreat from the coast, the government will be fulfilling its most basic responsibility.

Madison Smith

Madison Smith
Madison Smith [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Senior Class President

2. President of National English Honor Society

3. Copy Editor of Yearbook

4. Award for Academic Excellence in AP Capstone Research

5. Volunteer for Teen Court Tampa

6. Completed an individual Research project about Sexual Misconduct and have actively been working with local and state governments for solutions to this problem

College Plans:

Attending University of Central Florida as a LEAD Scholar double majoring in Political Science and Public Administration with a Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies while on a Pre-Law Track.

Tribune Scholars Essay

With 8,400 miles of coastline there is no debate that rising waters are a danger to Florida’s coastal environment causing erosion and damage to the signature beaches of the state. However, there is debate when it comes to a solution for this problem. Some believe in shoreline armoring and others believe in retreating from the coast altogether, however when the long-term effects on the environment are considered the better choice is clear; retreating from the coast. The state and local governments of Florida need to establish a plan for retreating from the coast and buying out the property of those willing in flood prone areas. Retreating from the coast is the more feasible option as armoring has a history of causing further environmental issues including habitat destruction and the construction and implementation of shoreline armors is extremely difficult because of the complex approval process for property owners. In states with shoreline armoring the habitats of marine life have been destroyed. Additionally, the process for approval of construction of shoreline armors has to go through the specific approval of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as “eligible” structure in a “vulnerable” area. Adding extra bureaucratic steps for property owners, discouraging them from implementing this solution. Retreating from the shorelines would be the more plausible solution as property owners would have a financial incentive and the government would be making an investment in the environment while leaving marine life untouched, truly protecting the future of Florida’s environment.

Marah Aluri

Marah Aluri
Marah Aluri [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Volunteer at South Florida Baptist Hospital
  2. Member of National Honor Society
  3. Member of National English Honor Society
  4. Member of Spanish National Honor Society
  5. Graduating with 30 college credits from HCC
  6. Being in the top 10 of my senior class

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan to get my bachelors in Public Health (Pre-Med track), in hopes of entering medical school to become a Physician.

Miranda Bihler

Miranda Bihler
Miranda Bihler [ handout ]

School Activities & Accomplishments:

1. Organizer of Anti-Vaping Initiative

2. Vice President of National Honor Society

3. Member of Spanish National Honor Society

4. Member of Senior Council

5. Varsity Flag Football Team

6. Varsity Swim Team

College plans: I will be attending Stetson University as a J. Ollie Edmunds Scholar, pursuing a Bachelor’s in Mathematics.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Communities should retreat from parts of the coast because armoring their shores against rising waters would only be a temporary solution; as the sea levels continue to rise, more money would have to be put into building up the shoreline only to repeat the vicious cycle. Although armoring the shores would allow people to stay in their current residences and maintain their lifestyle, it would only be putting off the inevitable. The issue is not just from the rising sea levels but also the saltwater seeping through the limestone of Florida. Retreating appears to be the only option that would not be putting countless amounts of taxpayer dollars into technology that is fighting an uphill battle. The government, instead of armoring the shores against the increasing sea levels, could research how to make the new and future conditions livable and profitable to society. Furthermore, the government could buy the properties from the owners to use as on-site locations for investigation and exploration. Taxes would not have to be raised but funds would be relocated from other agencies and, potentially, combining departments would take place to allow for greater monetary resources. For instance, departments devoted to conservation and wildlife would work hand in hand with these new research institutions and departments to engineer a new technology or innovation to allow for the higher sea levels to become a livelihood. There is no current solution to the issue Florida faces but there is the possibility of it developing in the near future.

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