1. The Education Gradebook

Strawberry Crest 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.

Abigail Petrus

Abigail Petrus
Abigail Petrus [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. First Place team in the National FFA Environmental and Natural Resources competition

2. Yearbook Editor in Chief

3. Volunteered at the South Florida Baptist Hospital

4. Volunteered for Unity in the Community at the Florida Strawberry Festival

5. Upcoming member in the LEAD Scholars program at UCF

6. Volunteered for KidsPACK, helping to organize food donated for children in need

College or other post-high school plans: I am planning to attend UCF to get my bachelor’s degree in business management.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Florida is a popular location due to its coastal beaches, but with the rise in sea level, this changing climate poses an enormous risk for its communities. For the safety of future Floridians, encouraging coastal communities to build new lines of coastal barriers could be an effective solution to this issue. A common protection against strong waves and storm surges on coastal areas is seawalls. However, over time they are subjected to erosion and need constant maintenance in order to stay effective at protecting against outside forces. Additionally, due to Florida’s foundation of primarily limestone, sea water still can penetrate under seawalls, soaking into the porous ground and causes flooding. Integrating living shorelines would eliminate these issues and provide biodiversity in sea life and promote the recreation of ecosystems. Building oyster reefs and plant terracing would absorb wave energy and create natural barriers for Florida shores. If actions were to be put in effect to combat this issue, Florida’s government should be put in charge to fund these projects in order to protect their citizens. Tax money and other funding could be used towards the strengthening of Florida’s coastlines, building these blockades against future storms surges and flooding. Also, to further prevent property damage, the government should encourage flood-prone areas to relocate and offer to buy their land to rebuild more of the coastal ecosystem. The government should not however forcefully buy property and it should ultimately be the landowner’s decision.

Alexandra Haasser

Alexandra Haasser
Alexandra Haasser [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. National Honor Society

2. American Sign Language Honor Society

3. High School Swim Team

4. Fellowship of Christian Athletes

5. AP Scholar with Distinction

6. Forensics Club

College or other post-high school plans: Attend Gardner-Webb University

Tribune Scholars Essay

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches and ability to live along the shore. While this is a vital part of our Floridian culture, the safety of the community is more important. With our climate rapidly changing, the future of living along the coast could become more dangerous leaving our coasts uninhabitable. Until our shores begin facing serious threats, I believe the best solution to this problem would be armoring the coast since it would not displace anyone from their home. This would provide a way to stop incoming waves and decrease flooding. If Florida’s climate continues to drastically change and becomes more dangerous, then I believe the best idea would be to remove people from the shore and bring them inland. While this may result in backlash from the public and people may lose their homes, it is a necessary action to keep everyone safe. I believe the government should pay for the structures to protect the coast since it would be a public addition that would benefit the entire community. If the government were to pay for it, everyone would be receiving the same protection and would not have to sustain the full financial burden. If the climate continues to worsen, and some people begin facing higher threat levels, then I think the government should buy out property owners in these areas.

Arturo Fuentes Jr.

Arturo Fuentes Jr.
Arturo Fuentes Jr. [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Salutatorian of the class

2. National Honor Society

3. Spanish Honor Society

College or other post-high school plans:

Attending USF to major in Biology. Hoping to transfer to UF Dental after.

Benjamin Sherwin

School activities and accomplishments:

1. CEO and Co-founder, Patch Up Pediatrics LLC

Started non-profit to help underserved children improve their health; distributed custom first-aid kits; working with Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay; talked to congresspeople on Capitol Hill about expanding my organization

2. Intern, High School Internship Program in Mathematical Oncology

Coded differential equation models to predict bladder cancer patient response to BCG immunotherapy; wrote research paper published on bioRxiv

3. Co-President, Health Occupations Students of America; 2nd Place in the State for Transcultural Healthcare

Competed at the regional, state, and international levels in pharmacology & transcultural healthcare tests; led events & meetings

4. Co-President, Mu Alpha Theta

Competed in Math Bowl, AMC, & MAT; wrote qualifying tests for geometry, pre-calc, & calculus teams; led practices; taught geometry & algebra students

5. Treasurer, Future Business Leaders of America; 9th Place International Award in Advertising Competition

Competed at the regional, state, and national levels in organizational leadership & advertising; led meetings and mentored club members

6. Co-President, Environment Club/Envirothon; 1st Place Aquatics at State Environthon

Won awards at the state Envirothon for the 1st time; participated in local cleanups; recruited people to join the club to save it

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

Tribune Scholars Essay

There’s no doubt that Tampa will face the threat of climate change in the near future. In fact, I’m the president of my school’s Environment Club and have spoken with congresspeople on Capitol Hill about this crisis. Whether it be the Tampa Bay port, Bayshore Boulevard, or the Hyde Park district, every part of Tampa will be affected by rising sea levels.

With this dilemma approaching, it’s critical that our community combats climate change by armoring our shores with a variety of defenses and by potentially retreating some areas in danger of flooding. However, it’s essential that we first attempt to preserve our communities along the shoreline before retreating because of their cultural and historical significance. If the aforementioned construction projects aren’t effective, the government should buy out properties so that home and business owners can purchase new properties in safer areas.

As this project could cost billions, it’s imperative to receive support from the state and local levels, even if that causes tax increases. For example, Miami has already initiated a $400 million program to brace the city against sea rise. By endorsing such a program, Tampa Bay could borrow money from the bond market to create a new property tax that pays for construction projects of sea walls, surge barriers, storm drains, water pumps, and overflow chambers. Since the Bay is an estuary that supports mangrove trees, the government should also support a project that plants more mangroves to create a natural buffer zone from rising sea levels.

Hunter Croslin

Hunter Croslin
Hunter Croslin [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Student Government Association (10th – 12th grade)

Secretary 2019 - 2020

One of 20 students selected during sophomore year by my peers and teachers. Responsible for planning and executing school pep rallies, spirit weeks, teacher appreciation week, and homecoming; promoting all school sporting events, fundraisers, and other miscellaneous events; assisting teachers during summer break and during the school year when needed; and participating in community service events and Student Government meetings at the county level.

2. National Honor Society (11th – 12th grade)

3. High School Basketball Team (9th – 12th grade)

Member of JV basketball team 9th, 10th, 11th grade

Member of Varsity basketball team 11th, 12th grade

4. Member of the Ryan Nece Foundation Student Service Program

(2018 – present) Approx. 56 hours to date

One of 19 high school juniors selected from Hillsborough and Pinellas County. Responsibilities include attending monthly meetings with leaders in the Bay area regarding nonprofit management, business and leadership skills, and civic involvement; participating in monthly community service projects throughout the Bay area, including Feeding Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries, and Tampa Bay Watch; and participating in various fundraising activities and an annual service trip to support a community in crisis (Panama City to assist in rebuilding houses damaged by Hurricane Michael).

5. Volunteer at the United Food Bank of Plant City

(2016 – 2020) Approx. 83 hours to date

Volunteered during summers, Thanksgiving breaks, Spring breaks, and Christmas breaks. Responsibilities include packing and distributing food to needy members of the Plant City community.

6. Volunteer at the Plant City Family YMCA

(2018 – 2019) Approx. 22 hours to date

Coaching and refereeing youth basketball.

College or other post-high school plans:

I will be attending the University of South Florida in the fall, majoring in Architecture with plans to receive a master’s degree in Architecture.

Tribune Scholars Essay

It is no secret that our world’s climate is changing at a rapid pace. This proposes many different issues depending on which part of the world you live in, and here in Florida, one of the main issues is rising waters, specifically among costal communities. As a peninsula, Florida is almost completely surrounded by water, which is great for our economy when you think about the tourism industry, however, this can have a negative impact on residents who have decided to build their dream and vacation homes along the coast. I feel as though these residents should join in partnership with local governments to establish a plan to armor their shores against these naturally occurring events. This will serve to benefit both the private residents who reside along the coastline, as well as the community and public at large who also enjoy these precious natural resources. Establishing this plan will require substantial financial resources to implement. I believe this should be a shared public-private financial partnership between the private owners and local governments. For instance, this might be a cost sharing plan where a fifty percent impact fee to residents along these coastal communities will be assessed, and the government will pay the additional fifty percent through taxes from all of the community residents who enjoy these natural resources. It is important to keep in mind that all of these residents built or purchased their homes with the approval and permitting by local governments, both knowing about our ever-changing climate.

Roxana Gomez Ramos

Roxana Gomez Ramos
Roxana Gomez Ramos [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1.Spanish Honor Society, I will be graduating with my biliteracy seal. Through the Spanish honor society organization, I was able to get more involved in my community by participating in helping non-English-speaking families be more involved in their child’s education journey through translating for them during conference nights and school events.

2. Varsity Cross Country.

3. Graduating with honors and number 4 in my class.

4. Enviornmental science club: Performed community service by cleaning up the street that the club adopted.

5. Recycle club: Performed community service and helped the school and the environment.

Allowed me the opportunity to take leadership in the problem that the school was having with all of the dirty recycling, I was able to inform my fellow classmates about the proper ways to recycle so it all wouldn’t be going to waste.

6. Art club

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan to obtain my Associate degree in Business administration at Hillsborough County Community College. Then I plan to transfer to the University of South Florida to obtain my bachelor’s in business administration with a minor in finance.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Facing a Future with Changing Climate

Climate change is a phenomenon that affects everyone worldwide, but specially places like Florida that is surrounded by water. I believe that communities should armor their shores against rising water, as well as retreat from parts of the coast.

First, by having communities armor their shores it would be less devastating when a disaster strikes. They will be prepared, and it would take less time to recover. Armoring the shores will be beneficial to the tourism industry in Florida which is one of the industries that generated the most money for the state’s economy (Obesity). Armoring the shore means a safer enviornment for people to vacation. Since, climate change will bring on stronger hurricanes as well as severe flooding, moving out of the shores would be a good precaution to take to minimize causalities . Government should pay for the work done to the shores since it is for the well being of everyone, it can also bring economic benefits later on. The government has already started working on protecting the shores species against climate change; therefore, it would be a good initiative for the government to start working on protecting its citizens (I. Linkov). In order to reduce harm to individual the governmet should buy out property owners in flood-prone areas.

In conclusion, the government should take an initiative to armor the shores against climate change. Also, the people need to take a stance in the problem as well and take precaution in battling this world wide phenomenon.