BRADENTON -- A project that combines reading and rules about safety brought top honors to two Horizons Academy students.
A Literacy-Civic School Service projects contest tied to the Florida Department of Education's "Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!" challenges students to create a project that positively affects the students' school neighborhood and community.
Maria Martinez and Rubi Millan, students in the LIFE credit-recovery program at Horizons, Manatee County's alternative high school, asked intensive reading teacher Brenda Zofrea, if they could begin a reading program for at-risk youth in the community. From personal experience and coming from families in which English is not their first language, they wanted to help younger students, according to officials. Their project includes reading the book "LET'S B SAFE" to students enrolled in the Tillman Elementary School after-school program.
The project earned students a trip to the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee on Thursday, where First Lady Ann Scott announced the students as the first-place winners in the high school category.
"Their project was not initiated with the intent of entering a contest," Brenda Zofrea said. "I was blown away."
Zofrea said that the students are now inspired to keep their efforts going with Tillman because of the award. Prior to working with Tillman, the students had not been able to give back.
"It was their first experience being able to do community service," she said.
While in Tallahassee, Martinez, Millan and Zofrea, met and spoke with Scott and took a tour of the Governor's Mansion. They were also invited to spend time in the office of Florida's Secretary of State, Ken Detzner. The teens' project will be featured on the Just Read, Florida! website and the Department of Education's social media pages.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.