The First Mayor's Youth Showcase of Achievement Recognizes Outstanding Community Teens
The Mayor's Youth Showcase of Achievement recognized 400 middle and high school nominees in 11 achievement categories. Michael McClellan, of Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, and Maria Mousa, of Largo Middle School, received awards among 66 other students.
For a city that has had its share of recent heartbreak, the Inaugural Mayor’s Youth Showcase of Achievement proved to be a night to remember.
The City of St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster wanted the community to recognize the positive achievements of our youth.
“I wear two black bands on my wrist [to remember St. Petersburg’s fallen police officers]. One, from February when a fallen officer was killed by a 16-year-old. But, we only hear the negative in the media, and not the positive accomplishments of our teens. Tonight, we celebrate the positive, and the goodness in our community,” said Foster.
The event recognized the outstanding accomplishments of 400 middle and high school students in 11 categories: Academic Achievement, Citizenship or Leadership, Fine Arts, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Overcoming Adversity, Performing Arts, Center Achievement, Scholar Athlete, Science Technology and Vocational or Business Enterprise.
Hosted by the St. Petersburg TASCO Teen Program, the two-and-a-half hour event proved to be a heartfelt, show stopping night of awards, entertainment and positive energy.
Michael McClellan, of Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, won in the Fine Arts category and Maria Mousa, of Largo Middle School, won in Science and Technology.
Twelve-year-old Malcolm Williams ambled his way through the crowd and across Mahaffey’s stage to accept his award for Overcoming Adversity. A slight kick to his gait and his obvious pride touched the heart of a crowd, who only saw a peek of the child’s three-month near-fatal ordeal that started with a stroke and culminated with his walk of fame.
In February 2011, the younger Williams suffered a paralyzing stroke. He survived with the help of a breathing machine, and in the last few months, he’s had numerous operations, and undergone months of therapies to walk, talk and eat again.
His father Officer Mark Williams, Sr. nominated Malcolm for the award.
“I wanted to do everything I could do to recognize Malcolm’s efforts. After every surgery, when the doctors said they weren’t sure if he’d survive, I told him never to give up. And he hasn’t. He continually works hard,” said Williams, Sr.
Meadowlawn Middle School student William Martinez won for Center Achievement, an award given to outstanding students at city recreation centers.
“I was nervous but happy I succeeded,” said Martinez.
Roberts Recreation Teen Supervisor, Alvin Shirley nominated the teen for his constant, positive influence.
“Since sixth grade, he’s constantly improved. He volunteers at the center, tutors peers, does everything I ever ask him. He’s the guy to count on,” said Shirley.
All the nominationees received achievement certificates.
“I’ve never got anything like this,” said Tyrone Middle School student Amber Frank. “It’s cool.”
Frank was nominated in two categories, Scholar Athlete and Center Achievements. The Marine biologist hopeful made Principal’s List and played year round sports for her school and recreation center.
Frank’s mother Viola beamed at her daughter’s accomplishments.
“I’m proud of her,” said Frank.
“She puts her heart and soul into it,” said family friend, Carmen Tirado, of Frank’s dedication.
Geoffrey Boyajian had a similar reaction to his nomination in Media Arts.
“I was quite shocked, really,” said Boyajian.
He submitted his only film, which had been screened at Vermont’s 14th Annual Green Mountain Film Festival in March. Boyajian garnered a runner up win.
Mahaffey Theater’s entire bottom level and the partial balconies buzzed with excitement and joy of over 1300 people. The audience included students, parents, teachers, mentors and community leaders.
St. Petersburg Leisure and Community Services Administrator Clarence Scott, III, reminded the audience that negative situations are few and far between in Pinellas County.
“We always ask, ‘What’s wrong with them?’ We need to ask, ‘What’s right about our youth?’ Tonight, we recognize what’s right about our youth,” said Scott.
The show, worthy of a professionally televised awards show, energized the audience with local student talents, such as the smooth “Ballad” played by saxophonist Jarred Armstrong, from Boca Ciega High School.
Oak Grove Middle School student and ballerina Ella Titus amazed the crowd with her ballet variation from “Coppelia”.
TASCO Co-host and Assistant Artistic Director Shawn Drouin kept the audience guessing with jokes, passion about TASCO Teens and his quick suit changes in black, red, gold and purple.
The event’s primary sponsor Florida Central Credit Union awarded $500 savings bonds to winners and $100 savings bonds to runner ups.
Brain Robinson, Chief Marketing Director, said the award ceremony provided the perfect venue to recognize youth who are doing something positive.
“Our motto is ‘People helping people’, which we take to heart,” said Robinson.
“When the city called, we were excited. Take a night to celebrate the good things that happen in our community. These kids are doing amazing things … they are our future leaders,” said Robinson.
At the event’s close, Mayor Foster thought the night was a success.
“It’s amazing. We have amazing kids. The level of talent here was incredible, and the musical performances were worthy of Broadway."
- Amy Weaver, Seminole High School
Achievement Award Winners
Science and Technology
- Middle school winner: Maria Mousa, Largo Middle
Vocational or Business High School
- High school runner up: Kelsey Carter, Osceola Fundamental High School
- High school runner up: Caitlin Knight, Osceola Fundamental High School
- Middle school winner: Malcolm Williams, Home School/ Soaring Eagle Academy
- Middle school runner up: Kendall Younkman, Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf
- High school runner up: Rahmatou Tall, Osceola Fundamental High School
- High school winner: Trevonda Walton, Pinellas Park High School
- High school runner up: Darrin Jackson, Pinellas Park High School
- Middle school winner: Michael McClellan, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School
Citizenship or Leadership
- High school runner up: Jake Yancey, Pinellas Park High School
- Middle school winner: Noah Sain, Home School
- High school winner: Brandon Frank, Osceola Fundamental High School
- High school runner up: Geoffrey Boyajian, Osceola Fundamental High School
- Middle school runner up: Gabrielle Dannunzio, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School
- Middle school runner up: Soosha Meaders, Home School
- High school runner up: Amy Weaver, Seminole High School