Halle Meltzer, a high school senior who attends the School for Advanced Studies at Miami-Dade College, has been honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor for those who inspire others to engage in volunteer service.
She earned the award for her work on Symphonettes, an all girls community service club that raises money for music organizations and provides ushers at local music events such as the opera. Members of Symphonettes also volunteer at Fairchild Tropical Garden.
Last year, Meltzer was the co-coordinator of the Symphonettes Fashion Show. Because of her efforts on that event, she received the Helen Marie Witty Award, named for a member of the Symphonettes and a Palmetto High School drama student who died in a car accident.
“The award recognizes members with exceptional dedication, leadership and thoughtfulness,” Meltzer says. “I was very proud to receive this honor.”
This year she is the Symphonettes’ treasurer.
“It’s something I enjoy,” she says.
Working on the fashion show took a lot of time. One of the hardest parts was finding the clothes for the models. Macy’s finally provided the merchandise.
Meltzer also had to attend the many rehearsals needed to make the program run smooth.
“A lot of it we tried to do on a low budget,” she says. “I helped create the program and the invitations.”
At night, she would go home and make the centerpieces.
“Around 200 people attended,” she says.
“It was the largest profit we made in two years. We were able to donate $30,000 to musical and arts groups, including the Miami children’s chorus, Florida Youth Symphony.”
Her volunteer work also includes the NOAA facility on Key Biscayne. Her interest in marine science led to volunteering at NOAA.
“I’ve been doing that since the summer of ninth grade,” she says. “This year I’m able to work during the year.
The first year I worked doing hurricane research. Then it was ocean chemistry related to the Florida Bay and this year, a continuation of the ocean chemistry.” The first two years she worked with NOAA, she was a student at Palmetto High. In her junior year, she switched to SAS.
“It seemed like the kind of place for me,” Meltzer says. “There’s a lot more freedom and a lot less competition. It’s also nice because you get more attention from the teachers.”
She loved her time at Palmetto, but liked the idea of taking college level courses and was intrigued by the variety of courses she had access to at SAS, including oceanography and meteorology.
One of the advantages Meltzer will have when she goes off to college next year is that she will have already earned her AA, as well as her high school diploma.
“My decision to leave Palmetto was actually very difficult, because I was involved in the television production class and that was a club I really enjoyed,” Meltzer says. “Overall, though, I decided working towards my AA would greatly benefit me for college.”
At her next college, she hopes to major in marine science, environmental studies or environmental protection. She is applying to the University of Miami’s Rosenthiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Boston University.
Along with her passion for Symphonettes and marine science, Meltzer loves photography and enjoys working with black and white film.
“My photos have been published in Palmetto’s literary magazine and one of them won the Officer Snook Environmental Photo Contest,” she says.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld