Plant 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.
Plant High School, 2415 South Himes Avenue in Tampa, opened in 1927 and was named for railroad magnate Henry B. Plant.
Plant High School, 2415 South Himes Avenue in Tampa, opened in 1927 and was named for railroad magnate Henry B. Plant. [ Times (2004) ]
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.

Alejandro Rodriguez

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1. Spanish National Merit Scholar

2. Moffitt Cancer Center VolunTeen

3. Astronomy Club Vice President

4. Spanish National Honors Society Treasurer

5. Senior Committee Member

6. Ecology Club Board Member

College and Other Post-High School Plans:

Major in Economics at UChicago, Brown University, or Georgetown University (currently undecided)


Inconsistency will cause chaos, and chaos inevitably leads to tragedy when faced with such a serious challenge to our public safety. Our country cannot afford to have the federal government’s efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus undermined by local governments. One state opening up prematurely can easily cause a new wave of contagion, which will bring down the whole country with it. Thus, I think decisive action from the federal government is the best fix for this. After all, if we don’t put all of our efforts into stopping covid’s spread, we will feel its effects compounded over a greater span of time.

Therefore, I would suggest a consistent national policy meant to flatten the curve. However, given the pandemic’s resilience, this must be a national policy that is sustainable over a reasonable period of time. I believe that the strategy used in Sweden could provide a useful template. This strategy consisted of quarantining the old and at risk, while young people continued working with the necessary precautions at work to minimize spread.

I think that this strikes the right balance, as though measures could be more thorough, they would likely not have much staying power, and thus, leave us all worse off once the measures are canceled to salvage the economy. I think that this strategy can be continued with the priority of vaccinating all at risk individuals, and later the rest of the population, with annual boosters meant to prevent any future covid outbreaks.

Logan Black

School Activities and Accomplishments:

- Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook publication; Design Editor of book that won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown (2020); President of Quill and Scroll (Journalism) Honor Society

- Student Government Association Member- Vice President of Class in Freshman and Sophomore year, Executive Board Member in Junior and Senior Year

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- President of Kiwanettes Service Club

- Campaign Intern for State Attorney Office of Hillsborough County

- Member of the Gold and Black Honor Society, National Beta Club (Communications Board Member), National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Science National Honor Society

- Volunteer at Camp Jenny, a camp for impoverished Atlanta elementary children, as Staffer-in-Training, Counselor, and Unit Head; Volunteer at St. Peter Claver School summer program

College Plans:

I will be attending the University of Florida as a Finance major with hopes of becoming a financial advisor for a nonprofit organization.

Tribune Scholars Essay:

As once said by the character Meredith Grey from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, “the unexpected is what changes our lives.” Holding true to that statement, the American people have been subjected to a year-long tragedy filled with sorrow and death as we grapple with the societal changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To say that the everyday lives of Americans have been disturbed is an understatement. The fierce debate and conflicting legislation passed from place to place have created a divide in the country over the handling of this virus. From my standpoint, I see that the best solution to prohibit further spread of the coronavirus is simple- wearing a mask. While this comes across as a basic response, it is one that many citizens view as a limit to the freedom guaranteed to them as Americans. The absence of mask mandates, or the lack of enforcement, is a key contributor to the prolonged pandemic, despite them being proven by the CDC to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by up to 95%.

The first step of complying with mask wearing can further reduce the amount of people that contract the virus, and additionally the amount that are hospitalized or killed. As the state of Florida, along with many others in our nation, transitions back to pre-COVID lifestyles, it is of the utmost importance that we protect one another. The smallest act, like wearing a piece of cloth over your nose and mouth, can cause enormous benefits for time to come.

• • •

Charleigh Baab

Activities and Accomplishments:

1. Distinguished Young Woman of Tampa

2. Co-President of Plant Chorus

3. Vice President of Black and Gold Honor Society

4. Florida All State Chorus Member

5. Actress in School and Community performances (including working as a professional scare actor)

6. Working at a local studio for young performers as their choreographer as well as teaching music class and private piano lessons.

College Plans:

University of Florida; majoring in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology with a minor in Dance

• • •

Riley Ratto

School activities and accomplishments

5th in my class

Mayors Youth Corps member - volunteered for many city wide events

President of tutoring BETA honor society - volunteered weekly

Tae Kwon Do 3rd degree black belt

Plant High Rowing - Varsity Rowing member

Hillsborough Community College Phi Theta Kappa member (dual enrolled )

College plans

Computer Science / Marketing majors (dual degree program), Florida State University

Samantha Sparks

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Wellesley Book Award recipient.

2. Captain of high school dance team.

3. President of Honor Council, junior year.

4. Senior Vice President of service club.

College or other post-high school plans:

University of Florida