WEST ORANGE — Hundreds of students, parents and community leaders attended the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Education Awards to honor students for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom. The event was held May 4 at Olympia High School.
“The purpose of these awards is to promote academic excellence by providing recognition for today’s outstanding youth, opportunities for our future leaders and inspiration for young students who aspire to achieve the same academic success as (the) honorees,” Chamber President Stina D’Uva said. “The most valuable investment we can make in today’s students is education.”
The Danniel J. Petro/West Orange Chamber Scholarship Program awards eligible students financial assistance to attend Westside Tech, Valencia College or the University of Central Florida. One dollar of every ticket sold at various chamber functions goes to the scholarship fund. The $2,500 scholarship is awarded through the Petro Family Foundation, and the $1,000 prize comes from the chamber’s scholarships program.
This year’s recipients are Samantha Day, of Olympia High School ($2,500); Kelsey Butcher, of Foundation Academy ($1,000); and Masaru Sakata, of West Orange High ($1,000).
Day plans to major in biology at UCF, Butcher will attend Valencia and major in health sciences, and Sakata will attend UCF and major in chemistry with a minor in informational technology.
“Receiving the scholarship is important to me because I can worry a little less about my financial situation throughout my first year of college and, instead, focus on my studies and becoming adjusted to a new lifestyle,” Day, of Orlando, said.
Butler, a Windermere resident, wants to be an occupational therapy assistant and work in a nursing home.
“I have developed great appreciation and respect for the elderly and the impact that they have made,” she said. “Having the honor to assist in their care would by my way of giving back.
“This scholarship is important to me because it symbolizes my accomplishments I have achieved over the years,” Butler said. “The scholarship, for me, is not the end but just the beginning.”
Sakata, of Winter Garden, will study to be a pharmacist.
“Receiving this scholarship is important for me because it eases my transition to college economically,” he said. “Also, knowing that this scholarship is courtesy from my own community makes receiving this scholarship extra special.”
Debbie Clements, chairwoman of the West Orange Chamber Board of Directors, served as mistress of ceremonies of the education awards banquet.
“The most valuable investment we can make in today’s students is education,” she said.
The vision of the West Orange Program for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs, sponsored by Bright Future Electric, is to raise the awareness of youth regarding West Orange County’s business community and what it offers. The six-month program also gives high school juniors a chance to become more informed regarding career opportunities.
Graduates of this program include: Raul Meza, Austin Snyder, Lauren Wade and Maria Yang, of Dr. Phillips High School; Ashley Shaw and Samantha Threadgill, of Ocoee High; Alayshia Green, Seth Grether and Ivette Rustand, of Olympia High; Justin Boisvert, Arielle Lewkowitz, Tiffany Magoutas and Jaimie Steck, of West Orange High; and DaeshaMaree Brown and Veronica Vaval, of Evans High.
The S.O.A.R. (Students of Achievement and Renown) Award is one of merit, and students in fifth, eighth and 11th grades are recognized for their initiative, good citizenship, commitment and personal growth in the classroom. This year’s recipients received a medallion.
The 2015 S.O.A.R. honorees are:
• Elementary School: Amal Salem (Bay Meadows), Gavin Richardson (Citrus), Aubrielle Robinson (Clarcona), Sanjay Tewari (Dillard Street), Jackson Hoffman (Dr. Phillips), Hannah Nixon (Foundation Academy North Campus), Lauryn Ulysse (Frangus), Niche Henry (Hiawassee), Cecilia Fulmer (Hope Charter), Zachary Polidoro (Keene’s Crossing), Carl Pierre (Lake Gem), Taylor Duncan (Lake Whitney), Daniela Aguilar (William S. Maxey), Angela Dorvil (MetroWest), Elle Martinez (Montessori of Winter Garden Charter), Aleem Rasheed (Oak Hill), Brandon Imes (Ocoee), My’Khia Key (Orlo Vista), Abhiram Akella (Palm Lake), Irmanie Pompilus (Pine Hills, Widjina Jean Gilles (Pinewood), Victoria Castellanos (Sand Lake), Ingrid Lucas (Spring Lake), Sarah Redditt (SunRidge), Riley Bax (Sunset Park), Talia Austin (Thornebrooke), Jordan Monson (Tildenville), Jimishia Desir (Westbrooke), Nathan Tibert (West Oaks), Makayla Blunt (Whispering Oak) and Nicole Clarisey (Windermere).
• Middle School: Isabella DiMeo (Bridgewater), Daniel Velazquez (Edgewood Ranch Academy), Riley Desin (Foundation Academy South Campus), Carlos Rodriguez (Gotha), Branden Young (Lakeview), Jeremiah Adams (Meadowbrook), Emily Lewis (Ocoee), Kei’era Key (Robinswood), Natajah Williams (Southwest), William Ortiz (SunRidge) and Madeline Henson (Windy Ridge School).
• High School: Stringara Glorieux (Dr. Phillips), Jessica Brown (Evans), Hannah Finn (Florida Virtual School), Madison Strong (Foundation Academy South Campus), Tianqi Jimmy Wei (Montverde Academy), Ashley Shaw (Ocoee), Michael Greenwald (Olympia), Olivia Griffith (West Orange) and Bradley Woolgar (Westside Tech).
The awards event was sponsored by Orlando Health, Mathnasium, The Tutoring Center and Trophies Unlimited.