Student ACES ‘Champions of Character’ see caravan of support

BELLE GLADE — Local students honored this year by the Student ACES nonprofit organization sponsored by Florida Power & Light Co. got enthusiastic encouragement from a caravan of local officials, parents and friends on Wednesday, May 13, in front of the Student ACES Center.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
BELLE GLADE — Krissie Webb (at left) is interviewed by a TV reporter before the caravan got going on Wednesday, May 13, at the Student ACES Center (SAC).

Several of them were present and they waved their banners as a couple of dozen vehicles, many festooned with balloons, drove by with drivers honking and occupants yelling and waving their own signs of encouragement back at them. An FPL bucket truck led the way.

Student ACES Center Executive Director Krissy Webb explained that the organization, based in Belle Glade but serving all of South Florida, usually has a big celebration for all their honorees. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible.

“Our Champions of Character dinner was canceled. So we have four recipients that we’re honoring here today, three from Pahokee High, two from Glades Central,” she said.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Standing ready for the caravan are, at far left in background, SAC Manager Tommy Allen; foreground, Kay Mccloud, SAC math tutor and GCHS teacher, with her son Quad; Delonus “Scooter” Kabir, a Champion of Character at PHS; Zo Harper, parent volunteer; Madelynn Moore, GCHS Champion of Character; and Venanza “Trey” Vereen, a GCHS Champion of Character.

The Glades region’s recipients are: Frankie Burgess, Ka’Naya Boldin and Delonus “Scooter” Kabir of Pahokee High School; and Madelynn Moore and Venanza “Trey” Vereen of Glades Central High School.

The Student ACES Center had its grand opening just six months ago, after renovation of a former bank building with drive-thru at 915 S. Main St. in a crowded commercial area. That made the caravan navigation just a little tricky. Though the parade was supposed to be a surprise, it took a little while for the parade participants to get together in a parking lot across the street.

According to an FPL news release, it sponsors the organization because it is a nonprofit with the goal of inspiring and developing high school student athletes to become men and women of character.

Each year through this program, in front of hundreds of community leaders, residents and the students’ families, Student ACES recognizes high school student athletes before they go off to college. These students are chosen as Champions of Character because they have shown they are role models both on and off the field and who have distinguished themselves as leaders and role models in their schools and communities. In lieu of the traditional awards ceremony, Student ACES hosted this caravan so the community could still show their support for these students.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Watching and waving as the caravan lines up are, from left in background, Chaniya Dowers, an ACES student (in white); Student ACES Center Manager Tommy Allen (blue shirt); Delonus “Scooter” Kabir, Champion of Character from Pahokee High School (PHS); Ramyia Johnson, an ACES student from Glades Central High School (GCHS); Zomarion “Ziggy” Harper, ACES student at GCHS; Madelynn Moore, a GCHS Champion of Character; and Venanza “Trey” Vereen, a GCHS Champion of Character.

With the pandemic making the Student ACES’ annual awards ceremony impossible, this was conceived as a substitute. In all this year, said Ms. Webb, ACES is honoring 13 students with caravans.

“We had one for our five in Jupiter yesterday, one from Newman and Lantana today, and then we have two at Berean Christian,” she said.

The FPL release said, “FPL has supported this organization for years as part of its commitment to helping create the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs in Florida through education.”

To learn more, go online to studentacesforleadership.com. Or see them in action by following them on social media, @studentaces, and on Facebook under Student ACES.

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