Della Gaylor, a seventh-grader from Greenacres, and Brandon Schloss, a seventh-grader from Wellington, have been selected by the Palm Beach County Steering Committee of the National Campaign to Stop Violence as the first place “Ambassadors” for their efforts to stop youth violence in the Do the Write Thing Challenge (DTWT). Both students attend Okeeheelee Middle School.
Gaynor and Schloss will be recognized with the other finalists on Monday, May 13 at a luncheon at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. Gaylor and Schloss will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in July, where they and other ambassadors from around the country will be honored in a national ceremony.
Ranked second among young women was Desiree Merritt, a seventh-grader from Loxahatchee who attends Western Pines Middle School, and third was Joy Sohn, a seventh-grader from Wellington who attends the Bak Middle School of the Arts.
From more than 24,000 Palm Beach County middle school students who participated in the Do the Write Thing Challenge, 282 were selected as finalists, who, with their parents, teachers and principals will attend the May 13 luncheon.
At the luncheon, a video will present the experiences of the top six recipients and ways they are stopping bullying and teen violence. State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and Superintendent of Schools E. Wayne Gent will address the audience. Players from the iconic Harlem Globetrotters will perform and relay the message of their recently designed community outreach program in coordination with the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV) called “The ABCs of Bullying Prevention.”
For the sixth consecutive year, the luncheon has been underwritten by Florida Crystals Corporation. More than 850 guests are expected at the Kravis event.
The William H. Pitt Foundation will provide $500 grants to the school principals who had the highest participation in the program. The law firm of Larmoyeux & Bone P.L. is providing administrative support for organizing and directing the efforts of the steering committee.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has underwritten the entire cost of publishing all of the writings of the 282 students from the 28 traditional schools that fully participated in the program and two alternative schools who selected one of their best submissions.
The program gives Palm Beach County sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students an opportunity to examine the impact of violence on their lives through written essays or poems reflecting on what they can do as individuals to reduce youth violence.
“The goal of the program is to reduce youth violence in schools, at home and in neighborhoods,” explained West Palm Beach trial lawyer Bill Bone, chairman of the local steering committee of the Do the Write Thing Challenge. “Many young teens have been bullied or stigmatized by the way they look or talk or act, and that can be very traumatic sometimes resulting in enormous pain and even suicide.”
All of the entries were read by multiple panels of volunteer judges representing a cross-section of Palm Beach County educators, law enforcement and judicial leaders. Submissions were evaluated solely for their content, not for grammar, spelling or structure.
The Palm Beach County Steering Committee for the 2013 Do the Write Thing Challenge includes Attorney Bill Bone, campaign chairman; Circuit Court Judge Ronald Alvarez ; State Attorney Dave Aronberg; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw; County Commissioner Paulette Burdick; Don Carson, a retired executive vice president with Florida Crystals Corp.; former Criminal Justice Commission Chair Barbara Cheives; Congressman Ted Deutch; Florida Crystals Executive Vice President Pepe Fanjul Jr.; Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent E. Wayne Gent; Palm Beach County Public Defender Carey Haughwout; Palm Springs Middle School Principal Sandra Jinks; PBSO Capt. Jeffery Lindskoog; West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio; Palm Beach County Schools Director of Curriculum Liz Perlman; State Attorney’s Office Juvenile Division Chief Lynn Powell; Department of Safe Schools Student Intervention Services Assistant Director Kim Williams; and assistant to campaign chair and program coordinator for Larmoyeux & Bone, Nicole Howard-Rice.
For more information about the Do the Write Thing Challenge or the Kravis Center event, call Bill Bone at (561) 832-0623. The recognition luncheon is by invitation only.
ABOVE: Brandon Schloss