Plant City 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.
The current campus of Plant City High School, at 1 Raider Place in Plant City, opened in 1972. The original school was built in 1914.
The current campus of Plant City High School, at 1 Raider Place in Plant City, opened in 1972. The original school was built in 1914. [ Hillsborough County School District ]
Published May 19, 2021|Updated May 19, 2021

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 2021 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.

Barrett Hall Lindsey

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1) Unweighted GPA 4.0; weighted GPA 7.60

2) 262 community service hours conducted to include volunteering at local hospital (South Florida Baptist Hospital)

3) Camp counselor in training for Camp Invention – a summer based STEM camp for elementary aged children – freshman through senior years

4) Treasurer of Science and Engineering Club, junior and senior years

5) One of 10 high school seniors selected to participate in a Physics research grant project at USF for the summer of 2021

6) Member of Future Farmers of America (FFA) Food Science and HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) competition teams

College Plans:

Attend the University of South Florida, in the Judy Genshaft Honors College, to obtain a BA in Chemistry with an eventual Master’s in Biotechnology


Stemming the spread of coronavirus has been a much debated topic between authorities at the federal, state and local levels. The responsibility of these authorities is to provide the public with factual information to assist them in making informed decisions as to what is best for their personal safety. Due to the pandemic, all people should have a heightened awareness of their personal hygiene practices.

Increased measures of protection for our most vulnerable elderly population in assisted living facilities should be the norm. However, most other adults want and expect a freedom of choice to make decisions they feel are best for them. For example, government regulated mandatory mask orders have proven to be ineffective as they are not realistically enforceable. However, businesses have been allowed to require the wearing of masks by citizens wishing to utilize their services. The public then has a choice to comply with wearing a mask or not to utilize the service. Just as students were given the choice of wearing a mask to attend school or enroll in on-line learning if they did not want to or felt safe enough in the public environment.

When people feel they have a choice in matters, they are more open to understanding different points of view. Unfortunately there is no defined solution that works across the board for everyone. Making educated decisions and understanding that it is everyone’s part to contribute to the safety of themselves and others, is the key to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Cayden Pippin

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School Activities & Accomplishments:

1. Over eighty hours volunteering at a Stem camp.

2. Varsity Swim team, two years

3. Been an active member in National Honors Society

4. Twentieth in my class

5. Community Service club Interact, three years

College or Post-High School Plans:

Medical Field, Neurology, University of South Florida


When I first heard the prompt, I thought of several ways to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, the things that we should be doing every day. Washing your hands, refrain from touching your face and other objects that could be contaminated with bacteria, or staying home when we feel sick. These are things that have been pushed very hard into society even though those are everyday activities.

I then began to think about how I have managed to survive other viruses just as deadly as coronavirus. The virus that came to mind was the Flu. Even though I have gotten shot I still manage to get sick each year that it comes back, because it is a virus. A virus does not go away, it stays around for hundreds of years until our body’s immune system has created a defense against the virus. This idea that we should stay inside hasn’t allowed our bodies to get exposed to bacteria or sickness that would normally help strengthen our immune system overall.

This led me to the idea of Herd Immunity! Herd Immunity is the idea that if everyone is exposed to the virus, that everyone’s immune system will begin to develop antibodies against the virus. By exposing ourselves to new viruses we allow ourselves to strengthen the next time we encounter that virus. Through herd immunity we can get our normal lives back faster and help future generations in the long run.

Gracie Ellen Hinton

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1. Volleyball (9-12); Lettered in Volleyball (11-12); District Champions (12)

2. 108 Volunteer hours at local elementary schools and events (9-12)

3. National Honor Society (11-12)

4. National Technical Honor Society and Vet Tech Certification (12)

5. Student Government Association (9-12) – Pep Rally Chair (10-11); Historian (10);

Jr. Vice President (11); President (12)

6. Principal’s Senior Council Female Representative (12)

College Plans:

I plan to attend the University of Tennessee to attain a master’s degree in Biological Anthropology and become a DNA Analyst.


The Covid-19 Pandemic has turned the world I know upside down. This is mostly because my senior year of high school has been filled with many disappointments due to the virus. At times, I do focus on the impact to myself, but I realize the lives of others is what is most important. My greatest hope is for the spread of this virus to become under control and our country to thrive again.

Vaccinations for people most susceptible is key to this process. Those with underlying health issues, the elderly, and the people with compromised immune systems should be able to easily receive the vaccines. In low-income areas, mobile clinics should be used for easy distribution in their neighborhoods. A bonus would be if the health personnel share a common ethnic bond with the people. This would add trust in the administration of the vaccine.

Another way to lessen the spread of the virus is to re-purpose vacant buildings for quarantine. Even in our small town, there are numerous empty buildings that are available. Larger families in close quarters don’t have the financial means to isolate when one member becomes ill. This causes the virus to run rampant through all family members. Providing a place for the sick would help immensely.

Covid-19 has brought many challenges. I realize the virus will not disappear overnight, but with smart decision making, together we can see a decline in the number of cases and a return to normalcy in our world.

Kitty Leigh Shelton

Nearly 200 of Hillsborough County's top high school seniors from more than 35 public and private schools accepted an invitation to share their accomplishments and plans through the 2020 R.F. "Red" Pittman Tribune Scholars program. Most of them also entered essays in the program scholarship competition.
Nearly 200 of Hillsborough County's top high school seniors from more than 35 public and private schools accepted an invitation to share their accomplishments and plans through the 2020 R.F. "Red" Pittman Tribune Scholars program. Most of them also entered essays in the program scholarship competition. [ Handout ]

School activities & accomplishments:

1. 18th in class

2. Completed 2 year degree from HCC

3. NHS member

4. 4 years of ASL

5. Over 75 hours of community service at local summer camps and schools along with service hours at a local feeding ministry with my church.

College plans

I will attend USF in Fall 2021 for a degree in Deaf Studies and Interpreting


Stem the Spread of Coronavirus

March 13th, 2020 is a day that will stay clear in my mind for many years to come. It was the last day in 2020, and the last day until now, that the Coronavirus did not change my way of life. The Coronavirus did not just change things for people in America; the whole world has felt the effects of this global pandemic. It is important that we each do our part to slow the spread of Covid-19.

We spent hours watching press conferences, doctors and other professionals giving direction on ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The information and direction have changed and continue to change with differing opinions and new studies as we have had more time to understand and research this virus. I believe the best way to slow the spread is by taking personal responsibility. I am graduating this year and one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that I am responsible for my own choices. I believe we, as individuals, must take all the information we are given, do research and educate ourselves and then make a personal decision.

I look forward to a time when life looks like it did before March 13th. Until that time, I plan to continue listening to the professionals, spend time educating myself and ultimately making personal decisions that will keep me, my family, and my friends safe and healthy.

Om Patel

School Activities and accomplishments:

Completed over 250 hours of volunteering at South Florida Baptist Hospital and 326 hours in total

  • Team Captain and champion of January 2020 RoboFlag
  • AP Scholar with Distinction for two continuous years (sophomore and junior years)
  • Will complete 84 college credits by the end of senior year (not including AP Credit)
  • Has been involved in seven clubs at PCHS as well as holding an officer position for four clubs
  • Salutatorian at PCHS with weighted GPA of 9.69

College or other post-high school plans:

Will be studying biomedical engineering at University of South Florida, and will later attend medical school.


Communication and innovation are two key factors crucial to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Efficient communication should consist of information that is accurate and comprehensible easily accessible to the average civilian. Many people have chosen not to wear masks, but if they knew that they are indirectly saving a life, wouldn’t that spur many into rethinking their decision? Moreover, the message given to the masses should be simple to avoid contradictions and confusion. According to an article by Jatali, Hosseinian-Far, and Mohammadi, many scientists publish papers of scientific study with personal goals rather than the improvement of public health. Many would assume that as the number of published articles increases, so would public awareness but instead, not only are there cases of contradiction between scientists, but also misunderstandings as a result. Efficient communication stunts away confusion and keeps the message unambiguous and brief motivating the public in the process.

Innovation is what has kept the human race at the top of the food chain for thousands of years. Our ability to innovate has led to astounding inventions that have shaken the world into what it is today. Similarly, I believe that the pandemic should be viewed as an opportunity for innovation. According to the CDC, COVID-19 has allowed the emergence of a new type of vaccine: mRNA vaccines. Typical vaccines place inactivated pathogens into the body to help develop a resistance but due to research and an opportunity, COVID-19, the mRNA vaccine allows for proteins to help build resistance.


Jalali, R., Hosseinian-Far, A. & Mohammadi, M. Contradictions in the promotion of publishing academic and scientific journal articles, and the inability to cope with the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 10, 10 (2021).