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  1. The Education Gradebook

Riverview 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.

Ashley Then

Ashley Then [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. I was involved in many clubs throughout high school including National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Environmental club, Key club, Junior and Senior Steering.
  2. I was awarded a presidential service award by key club for completing over 75 hours in a one-year span.
  3. Throughout High School I completed a total of over 250 hours by doing different activities like making toiletry bags for the homeless and I also participated in a local food pantry where I helped the less fortunate by handing out food.
  4. I was one of the secretaries for Spanish Honor Society club. I would help coordinate our meetings and help our members get involved to make sure they were participating.

College or other post-high school plans: Hillsborough Community college

Tribune Scholars Essay

As Florida faces the difficulties of changing climate, sea levels are rising. With the concerns this bring to our communities we should retreat from parts of the coast. This would allow for our environment to change safely, considering that adding armor to the shore would be making our environment more hazardous. If our community armors against the rising shores it will only be a matter of time before the communities are endangered again. However, if individuals retreat from the coast it would make sure that everyone is no longer in danger and are able to live in a safer area. Moreover, we should let those in dangerous areas know a couple of months in advance before moving them out of their homes, so that they are well prepared to make a big move. Furthermore, the government should be assisting these individuals by paying for the work to make sure they move safely and ensure they are given some money for the inconvenience because it is not their fault that they have to move out. To continue, the government should not just buy out the property owners in the flooded areas, they should instead help the individuals in the areas, find places to live in because giving them money to move is not going to do anything but stress them out since they would be forced to leave the property they use to own and the money given will most likely not be sufficient to help them afford a new home.

Brianna Yanqui

Brianna Yanqui [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Environmental Club at Riverview High School - assisted with the planning of local school clean-ups
  2. National Honor Society, Vice President - Involved with peer tutoring on campus and community service projects
  3. Florida Aquarium Student Environmental Action (S.E.A.) League, Senior Advisor – Founding member using experience to plan and lead local beach clean-ups and events for the League
  4. Florida Aquarium Student of the Year Award 2019 – awarded for the most teen involvement from 2018-2019
  5. Daily Point of Light Award – The national award recognizes volunteers who are donating their time and talent to better their communities

College or other post-high school plans: Attend the University of South Florida to major in Chemical Engineering.

Tribune Scholars Essay Question

Of all the contracts signed in any coastal development area, we forgot one signature: mother natures. Now, it is obvious that we can’t receive consent from these natural habitats, but that is why we try to protect them as much as possible with legislation. Take Florida’s Coastal Construction Control Line Program (CCCL) as an example. On their website, they state: “CCCL regulates structures and activities which can cause beach erosion, destabilize dunes, damage upland properties, or interfere with public access.” This is great and all, but Florida still is one of the prime states in danger from coastal flooding – which is showcased by our failing grade in coastal flooding given by statesatrisk.com. When we’re dealing with this, along with; extreme heat, droughts, wildfires, and inland flooding, what’s the right course of action?

The key to a flooded question like the one presented here is to immediately take action. Using National Geographic’s MapMaker Interactive, one can see that the population density is focused on the west coast by Tampa Bay, and down by the southwest coast by West Palm Beach. Around the densest areas, the Florida government should enact a pause on any growth in residential or commercial development. This will provide the time and patience needed to create a detailed statewide climate change adaption plan that will not only include coastal flooding, but as well factor in extreme heat, droughts, wildfires, and inland flooding.

Emma Richards

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Editor-in-Chief of the Shark Encounter Newspaper Staff at Riverview High School.

2. Recipient of the Florida Scholastic Press Association Journalism Commentary and Instagram Reporting Awards.

3. Member of National Honor Society at Riverview High School (which includes volunteer work at Metropolitan Ministries, Dance Marathon for Kidz 1st Fund, Relay for Life, etc.)

4. Captain of the Riverview High School varsity soccer team.

5. Recipient of the A.P. Scholar with Distinction Award.

6. Recipient of the Riverview High School Poseidon Award for Outstanding Law Studies Student.

College or other post-high school plans: I will be attending the University of Florida in the fall to study Journalism/Mass Communications with a focus in Telecommunications.

Additional information for judges (will not be made public). This may include family, health, financial or other personal information (no more than 250 words).

Tribune Scholars Essay

There is no avoiding the eminent issue which is attacking Florida’s coastlines in waves of annihilation; climate change. This may seem like an issue for the future; however, the detrimental effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide may take effect sooner than anticipated. This problem results in an increase in sea levels and coastal flooding. Coastal flooding in Florida communities could result in the destruction of homes, schools, businesses, and other properties. Propositions for addressing this issue include armoring communities and retreating from coastal areas. Communities should armor their shores against rising waters; however, they must redefine their means of ‘armoring’. Traditional methods of armoring such as constructing walls could pose a threat to important coastal habitats, whereas utilizing green infrastructure and elevating coastal homes could address this issue without creating further environmental consequences. It would also be effective to retreat from flood prone areas until the issue of climate change can be addressed through bills for cleaner energy usage and through penalties on immense carbon dioxide emissions. A useful option is for the government to buy out individual’s properties that are flood prone so that they are no longer involved with the risk that flooding poses. However, these resolutions come at a substantial cost. Aiding vulnerable communities should be paid for by insurance companies and tax payers. By involving tax payers, it would encourage individuals to think twice about their own contributions to carbon dioxide emissions; which we as humans have created for ourselves and need to fix.

Jaylyn Bido

Jaylyn Bido [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. National Honor Society: Junior Secretary my junior year, and Secretary my senior year
  2. Science Honor Society member
  3. Poseidon Award for AP Psychology (2018)
  4. Poseidon Award for AP World History (2018)
  5. Volunteered at Nativity Catholic Church making PB & J sandwiches for the homeless
  6. Perfect attendance for my entire K-12 school career

College or other post-high school plans: I plan on attending New York University in the fall.

Additional information for judges (will not be made public). This may include family, health, financial or other personal information (no more than 250 words).

Tribune Scholars Essay

There is no question that the planet is going through serious environmental changes. Florida, a piece of land that already faces the threat of eventually sinking below the ocean, is no stranger to the effects of the rising waters. Many people have taken up residence on the coast, and while it may seem ideal in fair weather, flooding disasters have proven it to be risky, dangerous, and expensive.

Communities along the coast should both armor their shores and retreat from especially high-risk areas and flood zones along the coast. While the land is potentially dangerous, those are still the homes of many. If they can afford the costs of flood walls, raising their houses above sea level, or other method of preventions, homeowners should ensure their protection. For those who cannot afford it, the state should work out a plan to protect those at risk from elements not under their control.

While it may seem logical for the government to buy out property in flood-prone areas, residents still have a right to establish themselves there. Instead of forcing people out of those spaces, they should provide resources to help make the properties less susceptible to flooding. This could include engineering natural flood barriers using beaches or building seawalls around threatened areas. These methods would come at a high cost, but prevention and safekeeping now would not only help save disaster relief money, but also the lives of many Floridians.

Jerrin Joyson

Jerrin Joyson [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Future Business Leaders of America district champion
  2. Track and Field runner
  3. Knanaya Catholic Youth League Regional Secretary
  4. Key Club distinguished member
  5. Relay for Life Captain
  6. YMCA Camp Christina Leaders Club

College or other post-high school plans: Study Accounting at the University of South Florida

Tribune Scholars Essay

Florida water crisis is a rising issue because the water level is rising 1 inch every 3 years which a ridiculous rate. In this rate residential, business and government property will all be underwater. As a response to this problem government should first try to armor up the shores by trying a variety of tactics. Implanting seawalls, raising roads, stormwater pumps, upgrading sewage pumps, and creating natural infrastructure can all be great “armor” strategies to protect against flooding. The federal government should be responsible for purchasing these resources because it is their responsibility to prevent disasters from happening and it’s much better to take precautions rather than costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Armoring up will be a less stressful process for the property owners instead of forcing them to move. The very thought of taking five-star property which generates lots of tax money for the government and converting it into beaches and dunes is defiantly not an option for the government. Once flooding becomes a more frequent issue then the government has full right use eminent domain and buy out property owners in high-risk areas. Only once the flooding gets high risk and more frequent should the government consider those options.

Justin Moore

Justin Moore [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. National Honor Society 10th-12th

Junior Secretary 11th

2. College Club 11th-12th

Founding Board Member

3. Varsity Swimming 11th-12th

Earned Varsity Letter each year

4. Junior Varsity Wrestling 9th-10th

Team Player Award 9th

Most Outstanding JV Wrestler 10th

Scholar Athlete Award 9th-10th

5. AP Scholar with Distinction Award 11th

6. Poseidon Award for Science Excellence 10th

College or other post-high school plans: I will attend the University of Florida and major in Aerospace Engineering.

Tribune Scholars Essay

As Florida faces a changing climate, I believe that communities should armor their shores to combat the rising waters as well as retreat from parts of the coast. Rising ocean levels result in increased soil erosion for beaches. This would break up shorelines and move intertidal areas further inland. Florida’s shores are home to millions of businesses and homes crucial to its infrastructure. If there is nothing done to tackle the rising waters these businesses and homes could be lost to the rising waters, causing a significant decrease in the quality of life and revenue in coastal areas. In areas where the coast is already developed the shores should be armored to reduce further erosion. However, armoring shores in areas with minimal to no coastal development would be more harmful than beneficial. Armoring shores can potentially damage the habitats of marine organisms and restrict the natural movement of sediments. As a result, armoring shores should only be done in areas where retreating is not an option due to the importance of the development to the community and their infrastructure. In areas with little coastal development we should retreat from the coast to allow nature to take its place and reduce our negative impact on the coastal ecosystems. Government buy outs in flood-prone areas should be evaluated based on environmental impact and cost. I believe the government should fund these projects because they are supposed to safeguard the infrastructure and provide a stable community for its citizens to live in.

Matthew Newcomb

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. National Honors Society Member
  2. Top 3% of class in terms of GPA
  3. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Rising Star Award
  4. Certified, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint
  5. 132 hours of community service
  6. 100+ volunteer hours with the Habitat for Humanity Organization.

College or other post-high school plans: I will be attending Florida State University beginning in fall 2020.

Tribune Scholars Essay

With the incoming threat of climate change, we in high-risk areas such as Florida need to take massive steps in order to prepare ourselves for danger. With the state being largely at sea level, flooding will be an inevitability if temperatures continue to climb.

In order to combat this issue, steps will need to be taken to save all the land possible. One of the best ways to do this would be to create higher sea walls where possible, so that no land area will simply start to fade away. Similarly, if they wish to do so, plenty of opportunity needs to be given to those with waterfront properties if they wish to move further inland, as rising sea levels can easily destroy their property. The government does not need to buy out property in these flood-prone areas, but that option should be available.

To fund these programs, there should be a reallocation of or increase in taxpayer money. While taxes are not fun to pay, citizens should understand the need to save their land from the threats of climate change that are possible to come.

But most of all, Florida needs to ramp up the efforts to reduce the factors which have caused climate change in the first place. By dramatically reducing climate-changing issues, the rise in sea level can be stopped or delayed in order to save the shorelines. In doing what we can now to combat these issues, we can prepare for a safer future.

Miranda Holder

Miranda Holder [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Valedictorian
  2. Future Farmers of America (FFA) President
  3. Certified veterinary assistant (250 volunteer hours)
  4. Varsity swim team
  5. National Honors Society
  6. Science Honors Society President

College or other post-high school plans:

I will attend the University of Florida and pursue a degree in forest resource conservation environmental pre law.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Rising waters due to climate change is an ever more impending threat. Our communities need to be protected from the potentially devastating impacts. However, there is time to prepare and there are two ways of accomplishing it. First, stopping it from happening all together buy ending the causes of climate change at the source. On the other hand, we could brace for the impacts to not only our community but also the landscape and wildlife that are a huge impact to our economy. I believe that it would be best for the community to protect its shores by stopping it at the source before it causes irreversible damage. Therefore, eliminating the possible need for the government to buy out property in flood-prone areas. The prevention efforts should be paid for through taxes on companies as well as the people of the community as everyone impacts climate change from the industrial producers to the consumers who create the demand. However, our coastal waters are parts of global oceans and therefore impacted globally. Any solution would work best on a federal if not global level. If our coastline were to flood the economic impact would be a profound loss far greater than the cost, it would take to put preventative measures into place. Right now, we are experiencing unprecedented events and while there are many negative impacts the reduction of pollution due to the closing of factories and reduction of travel is undeniable. We are very capable of implementing these changes.

Natalia Forero

Natalia Forero [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Competition Cheerleading (Sixth place at FHSAA State 2018, Semifinalist at FHSAA State 2019, Fifth place at FHSAA State 2020, Western Conference All Conference Athlete)
  2. Track & Field (First place shot put team at Manuel Griffin Relays 2019)
  3. Yearbook (Business manager 2017-2018, Editor 2018-2019, Editor-in-chief 2019-2020)
  4. National Honor Society (Logistics Coordinator 2019-2020)
  5. Science Honor Society (Vice President 2019-2020)
  6. DECA (Chapter Officer 2018-2019)

College or other post-high school plans: Columbia University in the City of New York (Major: Applied Mathematics)

Tribune Scholars Essay

Climate change is one of the greatest threats that the state of Florida will have to face in upcoming years. A rising sea level poses a danger to multiple facets that provide stability to coastal communities including tourism, residential life and local businesses. In order to protect the state’s economy and the safety of the public, we must take action.

Some proposed solutions to protect the coastlines include the installation of sea walls.

This, however, would be both ineffective and expensive due to Florida’s porous limestone bedrock. Instead of turning to manmade structures, we should first consider natural alternatives. For example, coastal ecosystems naturally provide protection against water influx and erosion. Rather than spending money on activities that will further contribute to climate change, the government should provide incentives to businesses who work or invest in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of these areas. By supporting local efforts, we would not only protect against flooding but also create jobs and stimulate regional economic activity.

Overall, it is within our greatest benefit to try to prevent the problem of flooding all together. The first step towards slowing down the current rate of rising sea levels is to educate communities. In doing so, the public will become aware of the effects of their actions and learn how they can contribute to the solution. Our ability, as a state, to combat climate change lies within our ability to work together for a greater purpose.

Nidhi Patel

Nidhi Patel [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. National Honor Society – Officer: Historian
  2. The President’s Volunteer Service Award – Bronze
  3. Outstanding AVID I Student – RVHS Poseidon Award
  4. Science Honor Society – Member
  5. Senior Steering – Member
  6. Microsoft Office Specialist – Certification

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

Tribune Scholars Essay

As global warming is on the rise, so is precipitation levels; consequently, causing sea level to rise. Most Floridians don’t even know what is happening underneath their feet or should I say above. We cannot control rising water levels and floods, but communities should armor their shores against the dangers that are caused by the changing climate. Barriers, sand dunes, multiple level landscapes, and dams are protections shields that will allow communities to act against the rising waters. It is important to note that homeowners should take precautions; however, I don’t feel the need to cause a panic for Florida’s economy because ocean view properties are a major resource to the state. Yet, property owners need to make sure they are aware and prepared with where they are living. I think that these coastal properties should come with the protective safeguards against rising waters and floods. Property builders and housing companies should build and pay for it while they are manufacturing the home and then they can add it on to the cost of the house or the insurance plan, so property owners are forced to already have insulted the precaution needed. If the government had to pay for the work, it would raise taxes on citizens that aren’t apart of the situation. The government shouldn’t forcefully buy out property owners in flood prone area, but they should give them the option to because it would allow for the damage control of flood to be decreased substantially.

Pam Rodriguez

Pam Rodriguez [ UIKS | handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. I’ve been a member, as well as an officer, for the National Honor Society at my school the last two years.

2. I have been the Vice President of the Spanish Honor Society for the last two years as well.

3. I have earned my Seal of Biliteracy for taking AP Spanish Language and Culture, and AP Spanish Literature and Culture; along with meeting the GPA requirements.

4. This year our school begun to develop the Sandy Hook Promise program through a Save club. I was one of the seven students chosen to head this project along with our school’s psychologist and social worker.

5. I worked for the school newspaper, the Shark Encounter, for two years and wrote various articles on issues within the school and the community.

6. I’ve joined the environmental club at school this year to aid our community.

College or other post-high school plans: As of now, my plan is to attend Hillsborough Community College for the upcoming summer term so that I can complete the few credits I have left for my AA in political science. It was a goal of mine throughout high school to finish before attending a 4-year university. In the fall, I will attend the University of South Florida and work toward my bachelor’s degree. However, I am considering to dual major political science with international relations. I ultimately plan to attend law school after college.

Tribune Scholars Essay

As climate change progresses, and temperatures grow on average, we see an increase in sea levels. The rise of sea levels will worsen the impact flooding has on entire communities, and therefore poses a threat to the inhabitants of Florida. In the state of Florida, flooding is a common occurrence; citizens continuously face the threat of losing their homes because of the damage those areas face. I believe the solution to this issue should be having Floridians retreat from the areas that deal with the most danger. Although it might seem like this option displaces residents from their homes, it would be a choice made for their safety. Since moving from flood-prone areas can prove to be economically challenging for some, the state government should aid those citizens, financially. The federal government should provide some funds, or even a grant, to the state of Florida to ensure the security of American citizens. In addition, certain measures to armor our shores should also be taken in response to flooding. Flooding is a natural phenomenon and cannot be detained without causing harm to the environment. Therefore, shoreline armoring should take an environmentally friendly route; that focuses on not disturbing organisms on the coasts of Florida, like planting trees, and lessening the inflow of the tide. The relocation of Florida residents in flood-prone areas and the process of shoreline armoring, with government and community support alike, can prove to be an effecting plan against the dangers of flooding.

Sarah Lorduy

Sara Lorduy [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Completed over 75+ community service hours at Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center in their drowning prevention program by assisting the swim instructors.
  2. Was a part of the RVHS swim team throughout all 4 years of high school and qualified for Regionals Championship in 10th grade. Earned Co-captain in 12th grade and helped train all the new and younger swimmers.
  3. Was a member of National Honor Society in 11th and 12th grade and completed 40 hours of community service at school events through this club. (Dance Marathon, Trick or Treat Street, Relay for Life, Dodgeball Tournament, etc.)
  4. Participated in class steering clubs for 3 years (Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Steering) and helped make decisions regarding big events and selling class shirts.
  5. Was in Key Club during 10th and 11th grade and received the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award for achieving over 100+ community service hours in one year.
  6. Received both the College Board AP Scholar with Honor Award and the College Board AP Scholar with Distinction Award for exceptional scores on AP exams.

College or other post-high school plans: I will be attending the University of Florida in the fall as a Health Sciences major.

Tribune Scholars Essay

You move away for college, relocate to another state for a job, and years pass. Next thing you know, it’s been 50 years and you come back to visit the beautiful city of Tampa, where you grew up, only to find… it’s almost completely underwater! The worst part is, you realize, this whole situation could’ve been avoided. Back in 2020, it was common knowledge that global warming was causing sea levels to rise, and Florida was at the highest risk for flooding. If only people had been more proactive in their preparations before any damage occurred. The residents and local governments could’ve worked together and proposed a solution to armor their shores by building barriers between land and water or investing to raise roads and buildings. In more high-risk regions, relocation efforts could’ve been started earlier, and the government could’ve bought out those properties, before any floods.

The local government alone could never have afforded the protection needed against rising waters. They would’ve relied on help from the federal government and individuals themselves. If every single person donated just a single dime, Florida’s 20 million residents would’ve raised enough to build barriers on beaches in the most populated areas. All these efforts combined could’ve saved many people from losing their homes and cost the state so much money as a result of not doing anything. If only the people of Florida would’ve made the decision to change earlier on. Maybe then, our dearest city of Tampa would still be standing.

Sarah Mapu

Sarah Mapu [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Captain of Varsity volleyball team

2. Secretary of Senior Steering

College or other post-high school plans: Attend USF and study biomedical science

Tribune Scholars Essay

Growing up in Florida has had many perks, but when it comes to climate change, this state is highly vulnerable to the rising sea levels. What is concerning is that communities will be affected by this in the next coming years, and a plan of action needs to be set to deal with this matter effectively. Communities should definitely armor their shores against rising waters as well as retreat from parts of the coast. In situations like these, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Communities should be prepared for this high-risk situation, and if that means moving farther inland or building a higher seawall, it will pay off in the long-run. On an economic standpoint, the work should be funded by the local communities and those in flood-prone areas with some government help because that is the most logical and peaceful way to get the job done. It would definitely help if the government bought out property owners as it provides a high incentive and a perfect opportunity for those in flood-prone areas to evacuate without suffering a financial burden. Although climate change is inevitable, humans are significantly increasing the rate at which our planet is warming up. The more educated our communities are on how we impact climate change, the easier it will be to find ways to prepare and deal with them.

Sophie Wright

Sophie Wright [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Varsity Cheer Captain

2. Varsity Track and Field

3. National Honor Society

4. Science Honor Society

5. Earned over 320 community service hours

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

Tribune Scholars Essay

Beauty. Serenity. Elements that are strongly desired when considering buying a home. With its picturesque beaches and promises of ocean views, there is not much stopping people from settling down and securing a house in Florida.

Pollution. Contamination. Words that first come to mind when thinking about doing damage to the environment. Words that we generally associate with purposeful harming.

But, as Floridians, we are harming the environment trying to protect it. We are disrupting the beauty on accident. No, we aren’t polluting it or contaminating it, but we are weakening the shoreline through the practice of coastal armoring. As Floridians are trying to prevent the effects of erosion, the effects are actually being magnified as the natural pattern of the sand is being modified. Biodiversity is being lost and organisms are losing habitats in this effort to keep the shoreline from retreating. This strategy is only being practiced for our own benefit, as people, trying to keep real estate where it is. But the only responsible action we can really take is retreating from the shore.

If the government cares about protecting our environment, they will buy out land that is in flood-prone areas. Keeping a beach natural and free of human development will allow the area to flourish. The beauty of the beaches will increase tourism to help pay for the environmental care in return. If we want to maintain the beauty of the beaches, we need to maintain the nature of the shorelines.

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