Humanitarian concern, honesty, integrity, positive decision making and heroism were recognized March 27 at the Lee County Sheriff's Office's "Do The Right Thing" awards ceremony.
The following local students were honored:
- Zachary S. Pitt, of Lehigh Acres, a seventh-grader at the Alva School
- Hunter A. Truhn, of Lehigh Acres, a seventh-grader at the Alva School
School Resource Officer Zac Wilson wrote, "Hunter and Zack were fishing in one of the ponds in the neighborhood when they observed smoke coming from the rear of a residence. Both young men sprang into action. Hunter called his mother to alert her. Together they ran towards the home, noticing the garage door was closed and the smoke getting heavier the closer they got to the house. Both Zachary and Hunter began pounding on the front door of the house hoping to determine if anyone was inside. A woman answered the front door and the young men quickly relayed what they had observed. The woman went to check on her husband in the garage. Within seconds she began screaming for help. Zachary and Hunter did not hesitate, as they responded to her cries for help and also alerted nearby neighbors asking for their help. A few short seconds later, the collective community of neighbors had responded to help. Together they were able to enter the home, extinguish the fire, remove the man out of the heavily smoke filled garage and provide basic medical attention. The fire department was summoned along with EMS. The man, who had been rescued from the fire in the garage, was transported to the hospital and has subsequently made a full recovery. Zachary and Hunter are two young heroes. Due to their quick response to a serious threat their brave actions led to the rescue of the man in the garage. If they were not in the nearby area, the outcome of this event may have been much worse. Through it all these young heroes remained calmer that the other adults around. They provided information to the emergency responders with great detail, maturity and calmness. They did not panic; instead they had enough sense to recognize the importance of the situation and acted like responsible young men."
- Ann Gracy Satyr, of Lehigh Acres, a first-grader at Bayshore Elementary School
Teacher Kristen Santiago wrote, "Ann is the most compassionate and motivated student I have ever known. She is always going above and beyond to assist her classmates and to fill their buckets. Even when she finds herself in a disagreement with one of her classmates, she keeps a smile on her face and mediates between them. Not only is Ann kind, but she is focused. She sets high goals for herself and strives to reach them. If anyone is deserving of this award, it is Ann. I look at her everyday with admiration - she is a true role model."
- Felicity Gadsden, of Lehigh Acres, a fourth-grader at River Hall Elementary School
- Zoe Fontan-Beyerl, of Lehigh Acres, a fourth-grader at River Hall Elementary School
- Bobi Jo Butler, of Lehigh Acres, a fourth-grader at River Hall Elementary School
- Paige Henderson, of Lehigh Acres, a fourth-grader at River Hall Elementary School
- Rebeca Gonzalez, of Lehigh Acres, a fourth-grader at River Hall Elementary School
Teacher Linda Bochering wrote, "This school year these students have been kindergarten helpers. They have faithfully come to school, complete their fourth grade morning work duties, and then have gone to the kindergarten class to help the students. They have assisted the children by helping them take accelerated reading tests, collect homework folders, counting papers and more. They also help the children log onto the computer program, read and answers questions, sharpens pencils, clears tables, help stamp planners, and whatever the teacher needs to have done. Felicity Gadsden, Paige Henderson, Bobi Jo Butler, Zoe Fontan-Beyerl and Rebeca Gonzalez also help the kindergarten students at dismissal to make sure they get on the correct bus. Bobi Jo Butler has also taken on the challenge of reading ten books in ten categories - that's one hundred books. Rebeca Gonzalez has also displayed honesty and integrity at school. Zoe Fontan-Beyerl and Bobi Jo Butler also help write the class newsletter. These seven students have accomplished many more things at school, while they have taken great pride in being helpers. These children have shown cheerful attitudes and dedication to the kindergarten students while they handle to responsibility of being fourth grade students. Our school and staff appreciate their responsibility and respect. These students are all-around super students."
n Annmarie Sheehan, of Lehigh Acres, first-grader at Tortuga Preserve Elementary School
Principal Alane E. Adams wrote, "Annmarie Sheehan is a remarkable first grade student at Tortuga Preserve. Annmarie heard from her grandma that we were going to be gathering items in our food pantry to make sure every family had a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Annmarie wanted to help. She had her birthday party and instead of her family and friends bringing her gifts, she asked that they donate money so she could buy turkeys and food for our school families. She raised $250, and donated every penny to our school pantry. What a wonderful young leader."
- Aleyna Potpolak, of Lehigh Acres, an eighth-grader at Lehigh Acres Middle School
Teacher Carmelita Hampton wrote, "Aleyna has shown significant improvements in her behavior, has not been involved in any peer conflicts and shows a new positive attitude towards her teachers. Aleyna has been working with her school counselor on social skills and study habits. Aleyna's grades have improved as result of her taking responsibilities for her actions and making better choices."
- D'Keria Calhoun, of Lehigh Acres, an eighth-grader at Lehigh Acres Middle School
School Resource Officer Jevon Matthews wrote, "D'Keria showed maturity and leadership recently and I felt that she should be rewarded for how far she has come along. D'Keria came to my office and requested peer mediation with another student. Rather than get into a conflict or physical altercation with the student, D'Keria was able to meet with a counselor and together the situation was resolved. I believe D'Keria should be recognized for her progression and for doing the right thing."
- Michelle Carver, of Lehigh Acres, a senior at Riverdale High School
Guidance department secretary Jill Snyder and information specialist LaDonna Land wrote, "Michelle is an extraordinary eighteen year old student who unselfishly put the need of an unknown four year old child, currently suffering and battling a rare form of bone cancer, ahead of her own financial gain. Michelle's story starts with a wonderfully fashioned art work of a giraffe relief sculpture created in her art class at Riverdale High School. It was constructed from joint compound on screening, filled with newspaper that gave it a 3-D effect. Michelle spent well over fourteen weeks (at four hours weekly) honing her talent and exceptional work. Her creation was on display at the Fort Myers Art Show as well as in the lobby at Riverdale High School for all to see and admire. After we spotted the artwork, we knew, without a doubt, that that we needed to approach Michelle and ask if she would be willing to sell the item to us. We proceeded to tell her why we were so interested in this piece of art. You see, one of our school counselors, recently was given the devastating news that his four year old son, is currently suffering from a rare form of bone cancer. This four year old boy loves giraffes and always has. Everything around him is a giraffe and even his IV pole at the hospital is wrapped in a giraffe for him to gaze at when he is receiving his chemotherapy treatments. The artwork that Michelle created was perfect for this child it even had a bow tie with the initial 'E', the first letter in this child's name, which we took as a sign. Michelle took in everything we said, and we told her to think about really wanting to sell it - we did not want to pressure her into doing something she did not want to do. Michelle's art teacher even suggested a possible price, which we told her to think about. Well, we were not even out the door, when Michelle approached us with tears in her eyes and proceeded to tell us that she did not want to sell it, but rather she wanted to give it to the four year old child without compensation. We were dumbfounded - this beautiful artwork, all the love and intensive labor put into it - and she wanted nothing more than to give it to this little boy who she did not know or have any connection to. Wow - what a testimony to an unselfish and giving life young lady - traits that are beyond her years and rare to see in teenagers these days. We came to see her as not only beautiful on the outside, but the inside as well. It is for this reason and more we nominate Michelle Carver who is deserving of highest praise and the recognition under the banner of the 'Do The Right Thing' Program."
- Chyla Washington, of Lehigh Acres, a senior at Dunbar High School
- Chablis Brown, of Lehigh Acres, a junior at Dunbar High School
School Resource Officer Garfield Young wrote, "Chyla and Chablis became aware of a safety concern at school. They made a decision to get involved and they took action. School security was notified and they were able to take the next appropriate actions. With all the economic adversity, teenage peer pressures, academic challenges, both Chyla and Chablis set the standard and set the bar high for all their peers to emulate."