Palmetto High School senior Gabriella Montes is the Silver Knight nominee in Athletics. Montes plays golf and tennis for Palmetto, serving as captain of the tennis team and co-captain of the golf team.
This year the golf team did well, winning Districts and moving on to the Regional Tournament. Individually, Montes had an exceptional District Tournament, placing first. She also placed third in the Greater Miami Athletic Conference Tournament. Last year, she was first in the Regional Tournament and was named to the All-Dade team in golf.
While she has done quite well in golf, Montes hopes to play tennis in college. She has been recruited by several small schools and has seriously considered Lafayette in Eastern Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and Vassar in New York.
“I want to be in biomedical engineering,” she says.
One of the requirements for being a Silver Knight nominee is a strong commitment to community service. Montes has shown that commitment through her involvement with Girl Scouts.
“I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was in kindergarten, I’ve done my Bronze, Silver and Gold awards,” she says. “I did my Gold Award at Florida Baptist Children’s Home. I refurbished the volleyball court they have. I also organized a sports equipment drive. I had a sports day where I brought food and drinks, and played with the kids.”
The Sports Day she organized was in November of last year. “We played baseball and I had my tennis coach come out and she brought a couple of little tennis nets and we played tennis,” Montes says.
“We played games. I brought food and everything.
Montes says there were approximately 15 children there at the time.
“Kids are constantly going through the program,” she says. “They have new kids all the time. Some leave, some have been there a couple of years, some have been there a couple of weeks.”
The sports equipment drive was designed to stock the home with equipment for the kids to play with while they live there.
“It took me about a month to get everything together,” Montes says. “It took me a couple of weeks to fix the volleyball court.”
Refurbishing the volleyball court required a lot of work. She had to weed the sandy area and then have new sand trucked in. She says that dealing with the new sand was the hardest part of the project.
“We had about half a ton delivered,” Montes says. “It took about two days to do.”
When she and the volunteers finished, they put up a new net for the volleyball court.
She paid for the project through donations from friends and family and out her own pocket. Even though the project was completed a year ago, she goes back to check on the condition of the court. She also plans to organize another sports day.
“That’s the part I really want to keep going,” Montes says. “It surprised me to see that they are still playing with it.”
Montes says she learned from organizing the project that one person really can make a difference.
“When I first saw the volleyball court, it was in horrible condition,” she says. “When I finished, it was much better and it was fun just to see that I can make a difference in other people’s lives.
At Palmetto, Montes is a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the National Honor Society.
“I actually involved NHS in the gold project,” she says.
Montes has also worked on community service projects through Students Offering Support and participated in Palmetto’s Plant the Pride days to help beautify the school.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld