1. The Education Gradebook

Freedom 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.

Annick Landin

Annick Landin
Annick Landin [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. AP Scholar with Distinction

a. I averaged a 4.4 on my AP exams and have scored a 3 or higher on all 7 exams I have taken.

2. Principal’s Honor Roll

a. I have maintained straight A’s throughout my entire high school career.

3. Leadership Positions

a. President of Science National Honor Society i. I lead club meetings, break ties, fill in for missing officers, provide information to club members, and plan ceremonies.

b. Vice President of Environmental Club i. I play a vital role in the recycling program, plan beach cleanings, and raise school awareness on environmental issues.

4. Membership in several school clubs

a. I am a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Rho Kappa, Future Farmers of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Best Buddies.

5. Volunteering on school campus

a. For two years, I have used my lunch period to volunteer as a science tutor for physical science and biology students, assisting them in grasping a deeper understanding of scientific concepts.

b. This year, I revitalized the recycling program at my school along with other officers in the Environmental Club. I wake up early every Wednesday to pick up the school’s recycling bins and take them to the large recycling disposal.

6. Camp Counselor at the Museum of Science and Industry

a. As a volunteer summer counselor, I helped teachers prepare scientific experiments for camps, supervised children during camp lunches, and helped children perform activities.

College Plans: I will attend the University of South Florida in the fall and pursue my major in Biomedical Sciences. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend vet school in order to become a veterinarian with a specialty in neurology.

Tribune Scholars Essay

The porous limestone composition of Florida’s bedrock makes solutions to rising sea levels complex. Saltwater seeps under the seawall into the groundwater, compromising flood mitigation. To manage rising waters, Florida must armor the coasts and retreat residents inland.

Protecting the coast consists of building seawalls to prevent erosion, adding more drainage to counter flooding that occurs due to increased seawater pressure and higher tides, and promoting road elevation to ensure that floods do not interrupt transportation.

Making coastal residents move inland is also crucial. With rising waters, not everything can be saved. Some areas near the coast require hundreds of millions of dollars in funding just to protect a few houses. Retreating inland is imperative because of these high costs. Additionally, living near coastal areas is dangerous, especially in the fall when king tides are prominent.

Some suggest having the government buy out property owners in flood-prone areas. However, the high cost of coastal properties makes it impossible to buy out every property that is at risk of flooding; only some coastal residents would benefit from buyouts. Additionally, it encourages the investment in flood-prone areas (in hopes of later getting bought out) and promotes the redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to coastal property owners, making it a poor long-term policy.

Any efforts taken should be paid largely by coastal counties with assistance from the state government. Several counties have already developed billion-dollar plans to combat rising waters. With an armored coast and well-protected residents, Florida can endure a changing climate.

Galen Rydzik

Galen Rydzik
Galen Rydzik [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

· Graduating from Freedom High School with an Associate in Arts from Hillsborough Community College

· 4-year member of Freedom High School’s marching band; of which I was first chair in mallet percussion for four years and section leader during my junior year. I also frequently contributed to the Orchestra and Theater programs

· Recipient of the Horatio Alger Scholarship for adversity; I was one of 600 applicants chosen out of a pool of 40,000 to receive it.

· Current member of the National Honors Society, Phi Theta Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta, Rho Kappa, Science National Honors Society (Officer: Service Chair 12, Quiz Bowl captain 11-12), and National English Honors Society; previously in Latin Honors Society(10-11)

· Record for most industry certifications held by a student at Freedom High School (15)

· Completed 100 service hours in the following areas:

Freedom High School Color Guard (32 hours)

Suncoast Arts Festival (26 hours)

Freedom High School Band (8 hours)

Relay for Life (10 Hours)

Tampa Palms Elementary Fair (8 hours)

Temple Terrace Community Center (4 hours)

Liberty Middle School Band (4 hours)

These volunteer hours often focus on fundraising for education because it is something that is important to me; the more resources a student has access to, the better off they can make their future.

College or other post-high school plans: I will be attending a Florida university for a degree in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or engineering physics; I have yet to receive accurate financial aid from several institutions, but my list of schools includes USF, FSU, UCF, Florida Polytechnic University, and New College

Tribune Scholars Essay Question

Communities should ideally implement defenses against rising waters in the short run, but over the long term, communities that are too costly to maintain will need to be evacuated. Since it is difficult to predict sea level rise, all communities should prepare for the worst. This transition will need to be managed carefully to ensure that gentrification does not threaten low-income communities (as it is in Miami) while leaving as much of the tourist economy operational as possible, particularly among beach areas.

Since many of Florida’s nuclear power plants may have to close or relocate further inland, Florida should address its energy needs through a drastic increase in solar energy production and a possible introduction of more resilient plants that cannot melt down (to prevent sinkhole or storm damage) and recycle current reserves of nuclear waste.

As sea level rises, saltwater intrusion will put a greater strain on our freshwater resources. This should be mitigated by a universal tax on water usage and drastic reduction in allowed pollutants from agriculture; a law stating that local communities cannot enforce residents to maintain St. Augustine grass and which reduces consumer pesticide usage; and the integration of desalination as a part of proposed nuclear power plants by recapturing water used in energy production.

These taxes can be used to help the state and local governments to subsidize low-to-middle income families that will need to relocate, but these funds should not bail out investors.

Isabella Tritto

Isabella Tritto
Isabella Tritto [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments –

1) History Bowl JV – multiple national qualifications and two years of participation for 10 hours or so weekly

2) Rho Kappa History Honors Society – pre-kappa as a sophomore/member as a junior/officer as a senior

3) Softball JV – 2018 team spirit award and student presenter at the end of season banquet

4) History Bowl Varsity – many nationals qualifications and one year of participation for around 10 hours weekly

5) ACE Engineering Project – participated in county-wide competition

6) AP Scholar – AP World (5), AP Human Geography (5), AP Euro (4)

College or post high school plans – going to the University of Oregon for human physiology to then further education as a Doctor of Physical Therapy

Tribune Scholars Essay

As climate change worsens and Arctic ice continues to melt at increasingly alarming rates the coastal cities of Florida have begun to feel the impact of the global rise in sea level. A recent list of urban areas to be most affected by the continually rising seas named St. Petersburg, Tampa, Miami, Miami Beach, and Panama City as likely candidates to flood in the coming years. Another predicts that by 2100 one in every 8 Florida homes will be underwater causing 413 billion dollars in property loss, and even more alarming predicts that by 2070 Miami will flood annually (1). This proves to be a daunting problem to the nearly 47% of Floridians living on the coasts (2). While government-built sea walls exist to help with some of the rising waters and a fair number of coastal houses are built-up on stilts, the level of government involvement in reacting to climate change effects on Florida’s coasts is lacking. Those who occupy coastal cities could but do not necessarily need to leave flood-risk areas as a good solution to projected flooding would be national allocations of funds (paid in taxes by the people of America) to local Florida governments in support of building higher sea walls or fail-safes against flooding. The government could also give subsidies/tax cuts to those who build houses in areas with lower flood risks or who build higher stilted houses in flood zones.

Taravat Tarahomi (Essay winner)

Taravat Tarahomi
Taravat Tarahomi [ Courtesy of Taravat Tarahomi ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Valedictorian of Freedom High School
  2. Varsity Cheerleading
  3. Co-President of Sierra Club (environmental club)
  4. Mu Alpha Theta member
  5. Capstone Diploma
  6. Key club member

College or other post-high school plans:

University of Florida - Microbiology and Cell Sciences Major

Tribune Scholars Essay

Florida has a uniquely vulnerable coastline due to its low elevation and limestone foundation. These conditions complicate traditional flood mitigation efforts. Ambitious defense projects such as floodgates and hard flooding infrastructure are only temporary bandaids meant to protect vulnerable communities today. The only solution that will “get our head out from under the water” is to armor our coastlines with sustainable defense strategies.

Mangroves and marsh grass integration are examples of living shorelines that actually build back sealines by absorbing wave energy and allowing sediment buildup. Mangroves and marsh grass are salt-tolerant, stabilize the coastline, and reduce erosion. While the solution seems overly simple, these practices are an effective and inexpensive defense agast invading sea levels. Hard infrastructure and shoreline retreating should be recognized as a last resort since they only push off an impending shoreline crisis.

Rather than buying out property owners in flood-prone areas, the government would find more success by concentrating its efforts on more proactive/sustainable protection methods that don’t just postpone the issue at hand.

When considering the party responsible for funding Florida’s coastline protection strategies, many factors come into play. Florida has the most mainland coastal territory coming at 1,350 miles yet it possesses one of the lowest tax bases in the nation. When examining the national average of state and local tax rates to Florida’s, Florida has a -22.8% difference from the state average - the budget is simply not in place using state taxes. Federal grants should spearhead the funding process to give Florida a fighting chance at defending their coastlines.