As Jennifer Canals navigates her way through her senior year at Palmetto Senior High School, she is grateful for the many opportunities the school has provided. She has relished the experience and found her passions here — art, art history, photography and environmental science. She says she has Palmetto’s wonderful teachers to thank for that.
“Teachers such as Ms. Falagan in Art History and Ms. Nelson in Biology are so passionate about their subjects and that is contagious,” Canals said. “Their enthusiasm sparked my interest in these subjects, too. There are so many great classes to take and clubs to join at Palmetto. The many options allow you to explore and discover your interests.”
The talented artist was accepted to the Academy of Arts and Minds Performing Arts charter high school in Coconut Grove, but chose Palmetto. She’s glad she did. This year, Canals serves as vice president of the Biology Club, secretary of the Photography Club and is a member of the English Honor Society. She was very busy recently, lending her artistic talents to help these clubs decorate for Homecoming week, her last one at Palmetto.
“I helped create seven murals in the school’s hallways,” she said. “It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun.”
Although many students graduate from elementary school and never look back, Canals goes back to her childhood alma mater on a regular basis. She is an active volunteer at Coral Reef Elementary, where her mother is a teacher. Canals leads student reading groups and helps at school events such as the annual Fun Fair and Hoe Down. She takes photographs for teachers’ projects and class web pages and is hoping to start a Photography Club this year.
“I’ve been a regular at that school since I was 5 years old,” Canals said. “The teachers there are my second family.” When one of the school’s beloved teachers lost her battle with breast cancer several years ago, Canals felt compelled to act. “I had an overwhelming need to help in any way I could,” she said. And she did. She cut 12 inches off of her long, beautiful hair and donated it to Locks of Love.
That’s not the only way that Canals has helped in the fight against breast cancer. Each summer since she was in the ninth grade she has volunteered at the Miller & Phillips OB/GYN office assisting with office duties, greeting patients and promoting breast cancer awareness.
Although Canals remains undecided about her college major, she plans to continue taking classes in the subjects she loves and is confident she’ll find her “calling.” Her top Florida schools are Florida State and the University of Florida. She has visited the campuses, has friends at both schools and sees herself fitting right in at either one. She describes FSU as a “beautiful campus” and UF as “buzzing with life.”
The out-of-state schools Canals is considering include Southern Cal, the University of Washington and the University of Colorado.
“Not only do these schools have great programs; they are located in areas of the country that I have visited with my family and know I would enjoy living in for the next four years, or even longer,” Canals said. “It’s important to be in a place you like because you never know what opportunities will come your way, like an internship or a great job.”