Wharton 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.
Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in New Tampa, opened in 1997.
Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in New Tampa, opened in 1997. [ DENNIS JOYCE | Times ]
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.

Adam M. Thor

School activities and accomplishments:

· Weighted GPA 5.48 unweighted 4.00

· Volunteered over 100 hours the past calendar year at Bay Chapel Food Pantry, associated with Feeding America

· Prior to lockdown status, I worked as a volunteer at the New Tampa Library evenings and weekends. It is still currently closed

· 3 years first violist in orchestra (not first chair, but first violin section)

· Consistent member of the Math Team and participant in the Math Bowl.

· Member of the Robotics and Chess clubs

· Member of the National Honor Society

· Member of the National Beta Society

· Member of the Key Club (service organization)

· Volunteer at homework help station for other students during my lunch period

· Tutor Algebra in the evenings

College plans

Have been accepted at all colleges I applied to; FSU, UF, University of Tampa, USF, Auburn. Currently making final decision. Plan on majoring in Engineering and/or Applied and Computational Mathematics. My desire for the dual major or at least minor may be driving the decision as not all of these schools offer both.


There is much conflicting advice and mandates within both federal, state and local levels with regard to how to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Additionally, mainstream media, alternative sources, as well as medical experts report different data and opinions.

I’ve been hearing comparisons to such past epidemics as the Spanish Flu, and Swine Flu, SARS and various other similar world-wide problems. I believe when we are faced with something that is new, unknown, or seen to be unusually virulent, we need to try to be more aggressive. Unfortunately, this is best accomplished with mandatory lockdown types of decrees. There are those that will object, not incorrectly to some degree, that it may be a violation of civil rights.

I think the government (whether federal, state or local I don’t know) needs to be able to invoke something similar to eminent domain whereas they do have the right to take over in extreme situations, like a declaration of war as it were. While we did all experience to varying degrees all over the country some sort of mandate, they were both inconsistent as to the strictness as well as duration. I think we should have had, and maybe even still need to do, a more widespread and strict shutdown.

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Had we done this over a year ago, as hard as it would have been, we would be much farther along than we are now.

Alexandria D. Fuertes

Alexandria D. Fuertes, Wharton High School
Alexandria D. Fuertes, Wharton High School [ Alexandria D. Fuertes ]

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1. Officer in the AVID club, appointed the role of Success Coach.

2. Yearbook copywriter, senior year.

3. Took part in service clubs such as Key Club, Beta Club, and Environmental Club.

4. Completed 50+ hours of community service at a local animal shelter.

5. Participated in clean-ups with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

6. Earned Principal’s Honor Roll numerous times, enrolled in multiple AP and dual-enrollment courses, currently possess a 6.3 (weighted) GPA.

College or other post-high school plans:

I intend to attend Florida State University in the fall of 2021, where I will pursue a degree in Creative Writing with the aim of eventually finding employment in the publishing industry.


COVID-19 has been a blight upon our world, not just due to its fatal nature- although, indeed, this is a large part of it- but also due in part to the incredible mass of contradictory solutions that have sprung up in hopes of thwarting it, tearing people apart. I align myself with one specific solution, one that I believe produces the swiftest path to stemming the virus once and for all; an approach that tackles the head- the logic often buried beneath the waves of ideas that have no proof to defend them.

The path towards a safer post-COVID-19 world, I believe, bears a much more significant reliance on science that we see now. The scientists studying the virus- highly skilled, trained, and practiced individuals- are without a doubt far more qualified to speak on matters of their field of study than anyone else, politician or not. As they understand the inner workings of the illness best, it is the moral obligation of all other people to consider their advice on how to handle it above all else; countries such as New Zealand, who reacted to the virus’ onset swiftly in accordance with the urgings of its scientists, are proof of this. Should we rely more heavily on the advice scientists continue to spread, we are likely to see positive improvemnt.

Jake Parker

School Activities and Accomplishments:

Member of the National Honors Society

Member of the Beta Club

Eagle Scout from Troop142 holding the leadership positions of Chaplain’s Aide and Assistant Patrol Leader

Speech and Debate

Humane Society Volunteer (over 150 hours logged)

College Plans:

My plan is to go to the University of Central Florida this fall and major in business.


The question of how to deal with the CoronaVirus Pandemic has been a heated and controversial debate for over the last year. With no end in sight and no clear game plan many people are losing hope in the government’s role in effectively stopping the spread of the coronavirus. At this point in time, this long and drawn out process is creating an entirely new issue itself.

The constant lockdowns and restrictions have been taxing to people’s mental health, education, and financial well being. People have lost it all.The “3 weeks to stop the spread” is long overdue. The only way to give people hope is to give them a solid plan on reaching the end goal. It’s simple, we need to get people back out into the real world and transition into our normal lives once again. We cannot wait until it “gets better” because the harsh reality is that CoronaVirus will never be completely eradicated. There needs to be a continual cautious reopening of states and a loosening of coronavirus restrictions as seen fit to each individual community. Students need to go back to school and people must go back to work.

We need to integrate people back into normal life. People will be able to build immunity to the virus with time and other means such as vaccination. The governments must take action to reopen states and start the process of returning to normality and stopping the spread of the virus through integration and immunization.

Johnnie Cason II

School activities and accomplishments:

- Salutatorian (rank 2) of my senior class

- Starting Defense End on our 2020 Varsity Football team (we won SSAC Class A and became state champions)

- Earned my Cambridge AICE Diploma through completion of courses and exams

- Completed over 100 hours of volunteer service at the South Shore Regional Library and Feeding Tampa Bay

- Part of Student Government Club

- Part of National Honors Society

College or other post-high school plans:

Enroll at the University of Florida or University of Michigan Ann Abor for pre-nursing (I am still trying to decide which to commit) and try my best to start working as early as possible. Potentially work at the Tampa general hospital in future career years or open my own nursing practice.


In the past year, all of our lives were altered in some way due to the coronavirus. A pandemic that could have been avoided has extended far too long and caused nearly 580 thousand deaths in the US alone. I believe there were many steps that could have been taken and still can be right now to help us return to normal society.

As we know the only way to get the virus is through exposure to one who is infected, this being said the immediate course of action should be to limit interactions with others. I believe a law should be passed that requires the usage of masks in public spaces even if a person has already had the vaccine. This is because the Vaccine is simply another layer of protection against contracting the illness. It is of best interest to wear face masks in any public spaces until herd immunity is reached where around 70% of the population becomes immune to the virus ultimately reducing the spread of the virus altogether. Social distancing should remain a guideline alongside frequently washing your hands and keeping hand sanitizer on your person at all times. Those affected by the virus should quarantine immediately and notify those with who they have been in contact to avoid further complications. Everyone must respect these basic ideals since the only way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus is for everyone to work towards a better tomorrow together.

Kayla Victorino

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1. I am a part of the top 7% of my graduating class.

2. I have received all (A)s on my report cards.

3. I am in a variety of national honors societies such as National Honors Society, Science National Honors Society, and Beta.

4.I have volunteered over 100 hours for Bright futures and clubs combined.

5. I have been Word certified through the school and I am currently working on getting PowerPoint certified.

6. I have taken a variety of AP courses such as: AP Human Geography, AP Psychology, AP World History, AP Biology, AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government, and AP Calculus AB.

7.I have also taken a dual enrollment course called ENC1101 and am currently taking ENC1102.

College or Other Post-High School Plans:

I will be attending the University of Central Florida in the fall. I am hoping to double major in nursing and biology so I can pursue a career in veterinary medicine.


Coronavirus arose in 2019. At first, many countries did not take any protocols to stop the spread. Many countries including the United States were thinking that nothing would happen to their citizens, and that they would be safe. They remained to think this way until “mid-March, all 50 states... and four U.S. territories had reported cases of COVID-19” (“Geographic Differences in COVID-19 Cases, Deaths, and Incidence — United States”).

Once Covid-19 started to spread around the U.S., the government decided to implement certain protocols to help slow down the spread, so hospitals could keep up with the amount of people getting sick. According to the FDA one of the most important things to do is wash your hands. In order to slow the spread of the virus, an analysis must be taken of each city to determine the best protocols to use. If the area does not have a lot of Coronavirus cases, then they can remain socially distanced, and masks must be worn in all facilities and outside if it is not possible to remain 6 feet apart.

If the area analyzed has a spike in cases or an overwhelming number of cases, a 2-week lockdown should be mandated in addition to wearing your masks and social distancing. If everyone follows the lockdown protocols, then people will not be able to spread the virus to others, especially if someone is asymptomatic or has been exposed without having the knowledge of it.

Works Cited

“Geographic Differences in COVID-19 Cases, Deaths, and Incidence - United States, February 12–April 7, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Apr. 2020,,of%20COVID%2D19.

Mustafa Haider

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1.) 3rd place in Annual sports Day in 2017-18

2.) 2nd place In Taekwondo in 2013-14

3.) 3rd place in Basketball Tournament in 2018

College or other Post High School Plans:

University of South Florida (USF)

I will be doing biology in majors, pursuing dental course in it.


Its passed one year since the Global Pandemic started and the Federal Government are strictly making the local people following the SOP’s and I have experienced the difference in other states vs the United State. Back in Pakistan SOP’s were held but it was not strict on the people there but here in America Federal Government are doing their best to follow the rules.

Some studies states that Pandemic situation significantly improved air quality in different cities across the world, it lessons the water and noise pollution and reduced the pressure of Tourist destination. People are taking precautions by using masks and sanitizers, but People also are careless for example when People go for the covid test and their results comes negative they think that they are immune to it and cannot be attacked by it.