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November 2013 Recipients

Brandon Alderman is an 8th grader at Sleepy Hill Middle School and he was nominated by Officer Doris Diaz, the School Resource Officer.

Officer Diaz learned about Brandon through one of his teachers and was told that Brandon and his mother did a lot of volunteer work. She started talking to Brandon about it and learned that he volunteers for an organization called This organization teaches wounded soldiers how to scuba dive as a form of therapy. When school is not in session it’s not unusual for Brandon to volunteer 30 or more hours per week. When school is in, he still volunteers approximately 30 hours per month. Part of what he does is prepping the scuba gear and loading the gear. He also dives and helps the wounded soldiers in the water, takes pictures of them underwater, works top side assisting the divers with the equipment or any other needs they have while in the water.

Brandon says that it helps the divers feel comfortable when they see him, a kid, jump in with them. He says he doesn’t look at them as disabled, he sees them as heroes. One day he wants to be a dive master but for now he’s happy helping to certify the divers.

Brandon’s mom also shared a story about Brandon. When Brandon was 12 (he’s now 14) he was doing a scuba dive off a boat when one of the warriors who suffered from PTSD decided his anxiety was too much and refused to leave the boat. At the time Brandon was buddied up with another soldier who was a double amputee. When the anxious warrior saw Brandon in the ocean he looked at Brandon’s mom and said, “If the boy can get in the ocean and dive with another wounded vet, so can I”. Even a child can teach us how to lead by example and show others what it means to “Do the Right Thing”.

Justin Downing is a senior at Teneroc High School and Tracy Seeden Jr. is a senior at Kathleen High School. Both boys were nominated by Mrs. Rose Rodriguez.

Mrs. Rodriguez said that in mid March, a dear friend and neighbor found herself in a life threatening situation. On a Saturday morning Justin and Tracy were going door to door seeking donations to help them pay for their participation in a football camp at Florida State University. They rang the doorbell at one home and they could see the occupant as she got up from the table to answer the door. After the occupant stood up she quickly fell to the floor and was unable to get up after several attempts. She was aware that the boys could see her and she motioned for them to go to the rear of the house, which they did. However, when they got there they found that all doors and windows were secured and they were unable to gain access to help her.

Tracy immediately called his mother to inform her of the situation and then he called 911. Both boys went back to the front of the house and waited for EMS to arrive. Once emergency personnel arrived they broke a window to gain access to the victim and immediately administered oxygen to the victim, who was unconscious by that time.

Mrs. Rodriquez’s friend was hospitalized for two weeks but made a full recovery, thanks to the quick actions of these two young heroes. Had they not been there and so quick to react the outcome likely would have been different. Mrs. Rodriguez says that Tracy and Justin saved her friends life. Recently, the victim had the opportunity to meet Justin and Tracy and thank them in person for “Doing the Right Thing”.

Kevin Ellis is a 6th grader at Ellis Family Academy and was nominated by his parents.

Kevin is 12 years old and has Tourette syndrome. His parents explain that Tourette Syndrome isn’t just tics, but a myriad of overlapping neurological disorders such as Aspergers, OCD, ADD, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and learning disabilities. Any one of these accompanying disorders/disabilities is a challenge but, added together can be overwhelming. Kevin not only functions well, he reaches out and helps others through various community service opportunities in bringing awareness of Tourette Syndrome and educating the community about it. He recently led the organizing efforts for a Tourette Benefit held in Lakeland called Paint the Town Teal for Tourette. He brought an American Idol contestant, Dave Pittman into town for the weekend and secured hotel accommodations, gift cards to restaurants, and a rental car for Dave and his manager. He also hosted 100 participants from all over the state and some from Illinois. 

Months before the benefit Kevin met with Zach Burek who is the GM for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He convinced Mr. Burek to donate 200 tickets to the Flying Tigers games so Kevin could use them as a way to raise funds for the benefit.

Kevin’s mission minded attitude of helping others led to a successful benefit where over $11,000 was raised. Kevin is leading by example for all others in the community and showing them that no matter what your age is, nor what your challenges are, you can make a difference in bringing Awareness and Education of a cause to others.

Kharman Ghia Gutierrez (not pictured) is a 5th grader at Dixieland Elementary school and was nominated by her teacher, Jonna Luce.

Kharman is a genuine person and an excellent role model who goes above and beyond expectations. She is a safety patrol, and her post is in the cafeteria. Kharmann is always punctual and always focused on doing her job. She is observant and handles problematic situations proactively. She also displays a very caring and patient personality. There is a kindergartener who needs extra attention so he will not wander off, get food which he is allergic to, and make it to class on time. While doing her required duties as a patrol, she keeps an eye on him, patiently redirecting him back to his seat, away from inappropriate foods, and cheerfully escorts him to his classroom every morning. Kharmann was not asked to take on this task, she initiated it herself. She does this consistently, not giving into the peer pressure or temptations of talking with classmates, goofing off, or waiting for someone else to instruct her.

Teachers and other staff members notice this amazing girl who goes above and beyond expectations. She does not do this for recognition, but because it is who she is, a genuine person who believes in “Doing the Right Thing”.

Christian Huntley is a 9th grader at Lakeland High School and was nominated by LHS Assistant Principal, Mr. Jones.

Christian was nominated for his act of bravery. He reported witnessing individuals placing an unknown item into a tree. Christian suspected it was illegal contraband and the tree was in close proximity to the school. Christian spoke with Mr. Jones who notified School Resource Officer Walter Dennis. He then took them to where the bag was. A golf cart was used to climb up and retrieve the bag. Once the bag was opened there appeared to be a substantial amount of marijuana in it, which Officer Dennis confirmed. Christian didn’t withdraw from “Doing the Right Thing” even though he could have been placing himself in danger. If he had been seen by the perpetrators with school staff or the SRO it would have been easy for them to conclude that he was the one who’d reported the illegal drugs.

His actions are helping keep Lakeland High School safe and taking a significant amount of illegal drugs off the street that won’t go into the hands of other students.

Nakyah Jordan is a 7th grader at Lakeland Highlands Middle School and was nominated by School Resource Officer Oscar Wesley.

On October 17, 2013 the school was placed into lockdown for a bomb threat. Nakyah’s teacher was a new teacher and was unfamiliar with lockdown protocol. Nakyah took the initiative to place the classroom into the lockdown position and ran through a mental checklist of what needed to be done to secure the students and the classroom. Without her knowledge of the procedures and her willingness to take the lead the new teacher would have been at a loss for what to do. Without her help students could have been endangered. The report was that there were explosives on campus so when an evacuation was ordered she again took control and led her classmates to safety.

Nakyah’s efforts were brought to the attention of the principal and the SRO, who were very thankful for her willingness to go above and beyond and “Do the Right Thing”.


Nicole Roque is an 8th grader at Sleepy Hill Middle School and was nominated by School Resource Officer Doris Diaz.

On October 8, 2013 after lunch the 8th graders were walking back to class when Officer Diaz observed a group of students starting to form. As she continued watching, she saw a student walking towards another student and could hear they were exchanging words and it sounded as if they were arguing. As the crowd continued to grow, some students were encouraging the two boys to fight. Officer Diaz then observed a short figure come out of the crowd and pull one of the boys away, who was still advancing towards the other one. It was Nicole. She pushed and held the boy back and prevented him from fighting. Had the fight ensued the crowd of students could have gotten out of control, which would have made it difficult for staff to get the students back to class.

It is very hard to stand up to others but it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your friends and that is exactly what Nicole did. She did not care if it was the popular thing to do or what the other students thought. She took the initiative to not only prevent a friend from fighting and getting into trouble but she showed her peers what it really means to “Do the Right Thing”. Nicole was the smallest person in that group of students yet her actions proved to be more courageous than the biggest one of them.

Marc Whittaker is a 7th grader at Lakeland Highlands Middle School and was nominated by his teacher, Mrs. Rhonda Youngblood.

Mrs. Youngblood states, “If a student’s picture could show up next to the word ‘integrity’ in the dictionary, Marc’s name would be there.” Mark consistently earns exemplary grades in school, is always listening to not only his teacher, but other students as they share thoughts. He desires to learn, to get as much education as he can, in order to be a productive member of society. He is considerate of other’s feelings, and often asks if he can help. One time, early in the school year, Marc won a prize when he met the criteria necessary to be entered into a drawing in the classroom. When he won, he split the prize with every single member of the class. Honesty is another quality that Marc possesses. When he finds things in or around the class he immediately turns it in to staff so that the property can be returned to its rightful owner. Marc also talks about patriotism and honoring those who have fought, or are fighting for the freedoms of this country. In addition, he cares about the environment and the future of this planet. He is a shining example of a student always striving to “Do the Right Thing”, even when no one else is watching.

Donnecia Williams is an 8th grade student at Sleepy Hills Middle School and was nominated by her teacher, Mr. Jason Bowman.

Mr. Bowman says that Donnecia is one of the most honest and trustworthy students he’s ever had the pleasure to teach. Whenever someone needs help, she is always volunteering to help them. He has witnessed Donnecia go out of her way to tutor other students and help to steer them in the right direction. One example of her willingness to help is evidenced by her help of a special needs student with whom she shares two classes. The student was tardy to her US History class almost every day, so Donnecia started walking with her to ensure she made it to class on time.

Donnecia is a leader and very well-liked by her peers. She has been a member of the student council for two years, helping make decisions that will have a positive impact on the school. She is an example of what is right with Sleepy Hill Middle and she is showing us all what it is to “Do the Right Thing”.