Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. and Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo joins Governor Ron DeSantis to recognize student and educator winners
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This week, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month student and educator contest winners. Contest winners were invited to the Florida Governor’s Mansion where they received prizes and were recognized for their art, essays and educational contributions. This year, students wrote essays and created art that reflected the theme “Celebrating Florida’s Hispanic Heroes and Their Contributions to Freedom.” Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated in the United States from September 15 to October 15.
“Florida has extensive Hispanic heritage, and many Hispanic Floridians have played a significant role in defending freedom and liberty,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are proud to teach students about their important contributions and the role they have played in preserving freedom.”
“Hispanic Floridians have played a vital role in the history of our great state and continue to have a tremendous impact,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “This year’s theme honored the contributions Hispanic Floridians have made in ensuring that Florida and the United States continue to be a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world and I am proud of the students who participated in this year’s contest.”
“As Florida’s first Hispanic female Lieutenant Governor, I believe it is important to recognize the ideals and values that bind us together as Floridians and Americans,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “It is a privilege to work with our Governor and First Lady to ensure our students are learning about the positive contributions of Hispanics from all walks of life. So many leaders throughout our state’s history have made great strides to protect and defend freedom. This year’s participants were able to learn about Hispanic Floridians who have worked to secure a better future for the generations to come. I congratulate every one of this year’s winners.”
“Congratulations to the educators recognized and the art and essay contest winners celebrated for their outstanding work honoring the remarkable accomplishments of the Hispanic community in Florida,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “As a Hispanic Floridian, it was heartwarming to learn about the many Hispanic Floridians who impacted our communities through their heroism and contributions to freedom.”
“We are proud to honor the great and varied contributions and influences of the Hispanic culture, as well as educating our future generations on the value of community and service to others,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo. “Congratulations to all the art, essay and educator winners of this year’s contest.”
Student Art Contest
Students in kindergarten through third grade were invited to submit original artworks for the contest. Four art contest winners were chosen, and each received a $100 gift card for school supplies and a one-year pass to Florida state parks. The winners of the student art contest are:
Danna M. Diaz Falero, South McKeel Academy, Polk County
Danna, a kindergarten student, painted a piece titled “Los Colores de Mi Isla/The Colors of My Island.”
Claire Aguilar, Golfview Elementary Magnet School, Brevard County
Claire, a first grader, drew a piece titled “Romero Britto Inspired Artwork.”
Niko Cancio, Indian Trace Elementary School, Broward County
Niko, a second grader, created the piece titled “Ponce de Leon.”
Farah Haddouche-Miranda, Homeschool, Pinellas County
Farah, a second grader, painted a piece titled “Cierra los Ojos y Respira Profundo” or “Close Your Eyes and Breathe Deeply.”
Student Essay Contest
Students in fourth through twelfth grade were invited to submit essays based on this year’s theme. Six winners were selected including two elementary students (grades 4–5), two middle school students (grades 6–8) and two high school students (grades 9–12). Winners received a two-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation and a $100 gift card for school supplies. The winners of the essay contest are:
Norah Hall, Grade 5, James E. Plew Elementary School, Okaloosa County
Angelica Urena, Grade 4, Sandpiper Elementary School, Broward County
Camila Romero, Grade 6, Alice B. Landrum Middle School, St. Johns County
Joseph Norman, Grade 7, Oakleaf Junior High School, Clay County
Jasmyn Cabral, Grade 12, Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School, Polk County
Bella Jiron, Grade 12, School for Advanced Studies, Miami-Dade County
Excellence in Education Award
The First Lady announced the four winners for the Excellence in Education Award Contest. The winners were selected from nominations sent in by principals, teachers, parents or guardians, and students. Excellence in Education Award winners received a $2,500 monetary recognition provided by Volunteer Florida. The Excellence in Education Award winners are:
Christopher Morales, who teaches biology to 9th and 10th graders at Fort Myers High School in Lee County.
Fabiola Galarraga-Cole, who teaches Spanish at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Collier County.
Nathalia Camacho Alzate, who teaches Spanish at Cooper City High Schol in Broward County.
Rosario Silva (Del Valle), who teaches Spanish to grades 7 through 12 at Doral Academy Charter Middle/High School in Miami-Dade County.