News from Falcon Student Media

The Perch

News from Falcon Student Media

The Perch

News from Falcon Student Media

The Perch

Five seniors nominated for Silver Knight

Five PTS seniors were nominated for the annual Silver Knight Awards organized by the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald. Receipients of the award in each category will be announced during the 66th annual ceremony scheduled for May 22. According to the program. “The purpose of this awards program is to recognize outstanding students who have not only maintained good grades but have also unselfishly applied their special knowledge and talents to contribute significant service to their schools and communities.”

Interviews have been condensed for brevity and clarity.


Category: Art
Service project: Volunteer for The Center for Great Apes

After her mom’s friend introduced her to the ape sanctuary in Wauchula more than 10 years, senior Scout Dingman wanted to get involved.

“Growing up in Miami, I was raised to care about the environment,” Dingman wrote in her Silver Knight application supplement. “I learned from watching my mom on family beach days to wade into the water whenever I see trash and remove it. When I was younger, I saved little animals in our backyard. This culture of giving back to nature has surrounded me my entire life and it is what propelled me to dedicate myself to the Center for Great Apes.”

The Center for Great Apes, which is located about four hours north of Miami, rescues chimpanzees and orangutans, which are endangered species, from lab testing, the entertainment industry, and other damanging environments and rehabilitates them. According to the organization’s website, there are estimated to be fewer than 120,000 chimpanzees and fewer than 60,000 orangutans living in the wild.

“I care deeply for this sanctuary and will continue to support them in the future,” Dingman wrote. “My experience with them has taught me how to fundraise and get things done for the causes that I care about.”

Dingman helps the organization in a variety of ways including by volunteering at the santuary and working on their website. Recently, she helped organize three art exhibits in Miami celebrating the center’s 30th anniversary.

“I just want to know that I helped and made an impact,” Dingman said.

Click here to read Dingman’s supplement, including her academic, leadership, and art accomplishments, as well as her involvement in other activism and community service.


Category: World languages
Service project: Creator of “Chasing Chinese” comic series

Isabella Mora Gonzalez has studied Chinese at PTS for the past four years and now hopes to share her knowledge with others. Through the use of her “Chasing Chinese” comics that she illustrates, Mora Gonzalez primarily teaches elementary school children about Chinese language and culture. During a lesson with third-grade gifted students, for example, she printed her comics and stickers, designed instructional materials on Webtoon, and created a Kahoot! quiz to assess their understanding of the lesson.

“Chasing Chinese’s purpose is to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Chinese language and culture through fun, engaging, and easy-to-understand stories,” Mora Gonzalez wrote in her Silver Knight application supplement. “My mission primarily focuses on cultural awareness and language learning through educational storytelling.

Mora Gonzalez said she has always been interested in East Asian culture and had started learned Japanese prior to formally studying Chinese. Now, she hopes to spread her passion for the Chinese language and culture with other students.

“…especially here in Florida, where the majority people are Latinos, there’s not much awareness of Chinese culture, like some people will misinterpret things from Chinese culture, so I just want to spread awareness,” she said.

Click here to read Mora Gonzalez’s supplement, including her academic, art, and STEM accomplishments, as well as her involvement in other activism and community service.


Category: Dance
Service project: Dance volunteer for Branches

A dancer since the age of 4, senior Juana Muguerza Campazzo now shares her love of dance with the Branches community once a week. In addition to teaching children various choreography, Muguerza Campazzo also tutors at the facility.

According to their website, Branches “provides life-changing opportunities to hardworking families and their children to help them break the cycle of generational poverty.”

For each dance lesson, Muguerza Campazzo prepares music and moves to teach the children. In October, she taught students how to dance salsa, bachata and merengue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. For Halloween, she invited the children to role play while dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” In addition, at the end of every class, Muguerza Campazzo and the children switch roles – the kids then teach her a dance move they had seen online or had learned from someone else.

Muguerza Campazzo hopes she is able to offer a safe space for children to just dance and relieve stress.

“I hope to help little kids or just people in general to feel comfortable just dancing or expressing themselves. It doesn’t have to be something really technical or competitive or something,” she said. “It’s just something to have fun.”

Click here to read Muguerza Campazzo’s supplement, including her academic, leadership, and dance accomplishments, as well as her involvement in other activism and community service.


Category: Journalism
Service project: Volunteer reporter for Islander News

Since the summer before freshman year, senior Isabel Papp has been contributing to Key Biscayne’s Islander News in a variety of ways: writing articles, translating others’ articles from English to Spanish and vice versa, answering phones, managing bank deposits, updating the news website, filling out real estate listings, and training new volunteer journalists just like herself.

“It’s something of a funny story: my mother knew very well that I wanted to be a journalist more or less since I was a sixth grader, and, by complete coincidence, she encountered the Islander News’ office…” Papp said. “The next time … I was introduced to the lovely editor-in-chief, Justo Rey. I promised him that I’d be happy doing anything, whether it be getting coffee or filing pictures, but he had me writing from the very first day, so long as I could be learning from experienced journalists.”

Papp said that her time volunteering for the newspaper has not just given her valuable career experience; working there has also given her a deeper appreciation for her community, as well as for the value of journalism.

“Since I was younger, I had been brought up on stories about how it was journalists who had been able to bring to public attention the atrocities committed by the world’s most famous dictators, and had often been killed in their efforts. I was obsessed with the idea that something as simple as information could pose such a threat to some of the most dangerous men in the world, and it’s what initially inspired me,” Papp said. “However, what I learned at Islander News was that writing was not only a source of danger for dictators but it’s a way to bring up a community, not only tear down those who threaten it.”

Click here to read Papp’s supplement, including her academic, theatre, and Model UN accomplishments, as well as her involvement in other activism and community service.


Category: Athletics
Service project:
Volunteer for Our Pride Academy and Special Olympics

Cross country regional champion senior Daniella Perez-Cartaya has advocated for the developmentally disabled community since elementary school.

In the first year she attended her previous school, she noticed a classmate with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who was consistently left out of friend groups because students thought he was “different,” Perez-Cartaya said. This “stigma” around disabled individuals, she said, leads to othering and sometimes bullying. However, her teacher encouraged her to get to know the boy and when she did, they easily became friends.

“I realized that we’re actually really similar and we liked the same stuff. We bonded over normal things that normal people bond over,” Perez-Cartaya said. “We always would do races at recess against each other because I always liked sports and he liked sports too.”

This experience inspired Perez-Cartaya to dedicate herself to promoting inclusivity to help developmentally disabled individuals feel welcomed. Now, Perez-Cartaya is the vice president of the school’s chapter of Best Buddies, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for people who are developmentally disabled.

“I’ve always wanted to work with [this community] to make them feel like we are the same. Just because you have a disability doesn’t make us different,” Perez-Cartaya said. “A human is a human and everybody should be treated with respect no matter what.”

On Jan. 6, Perez-Cartaya partnered with Special Olympics of South Florida to host the first Unified Strides Track and Field Invitational at PTS. More than 120 Special Olympics and Falcon cross county/track athletes competed against each other in various events.

“It was impactful for not only the athletes of Special Olympics, but also for our school because PTS students actually made real connections with the athletes and they were able to see like, ‘Oh, we’re not all that different,'” she said. “[Special Olympics] athletes are real athletes.”

Click here to read Perez-Cartaya’s supplement, including her academic, athletic, and leadership accomplishments, as well as her involvement in other activism and community service.

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