Thursday, February 4, 2021
Linda Reeves - The Florida Catholic Palm Beach
FORT LAUDERDALE | St. Jerome School in Fort Lauderdale announced their 2020-21 “Students of the Year” just in time for the celebration of Catholic Schools Week this month, when schools showcase their very best.
Savanah Riveron, an eighth grader, and Ana Chavez, in first grade, are recipients of the awards that are part of a program sponsored by Step Up for Students.
The girls will be acknowledged during a livestream event called “Rising Stars Awards Ceremony” Feb. 25, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. On top of that, certificates and medals are being mailed to the school for the students to take home as keepsakes.
The girls were nominated by faculty and staff for the honors.
“This is the third year we have participated in the program,” said Stephanie Murphy, school principal. “Every single Catholic school has the opportunity to participate.”
Step Up for Students is a nonprofit that helps children of low-income households attend Catholic schools and other private educational facilities through scholarships. The Rising Stars program sponsored by the organization encourages schools with Step Up scholarship students to nominate their outstanding achievers for a chance to be selected for recognitions.
St. Jerome School serves 165 students in pre-K3 through eighth grade. A total of 82 students are assisted by Step Up scholarships.
When asked to use one word to best describe Savanah’s her spirit, the principal was not at a loss for words.
“Savanah was chosen for her character,” said Murphy. “She is trustworthy. She is dependable. She responds when someone ask her to do something. She helps everyone.”
Savanah is a former cheerleader. She is energetic, funny and popular with the student body and apparently the faculty and staff.
Samantha, her twin sister, also attends St. Jerome. Both girls are hardworking in class and make good grades.
Jose Riveron, a single father, is raising his girls. He is a facility manager at St. Jerome.
The family attends St. Jerome Church, where Savanah volunteers as an altar server. She also undertakes service projects to help the school during free time and summer breaks.
“Savanah is the student who always has the most service hours of anyone,” said Murphy, noting how the eighth grader sets an example for others.
Savanah’s dad said he was thrilled about his daughter’s award. “I am greatly honored,” he said. “I am very proud of her accomplishments.”
Ana Chavez’s mom, Laura Narvaez, a native of Mexico, said she was surprised when she heard that her daughter had garnered the title of student of the year.
“I am so happy,” said Narvaez, who explained that Ana, born in the United States, was four and didn’t speak a word of English when she entered pre-school at St. Jerome.
“I didn’t know how she was going to learn,” said Narvaez, who has watched her daughter master English in a short time and transform into a typical all-American girl, who enjoys her electronic gadgets that are part of her day as well as music, dancing and gymnastics.
Ana is also positive and hardworking and has no fears or doubts about accomplishing anything, according to her mother.
“She is the baby of the family,” said Narvaez. “We spoil her.”
Ana has an older sister and older brother. They also attend St. Jerome and make good grades.
Murphy said Ana is an exceptional student. “Little Ana is one of the school’s highest achieving students,” she said. “She is quiet and respectful and also very determined.”
Coach Rafael Villalobos Socorro, athletic director and dean of the school, said he is impressed with Ana’s determination and sportsmanship on the soccer field. He described her as spunky and fearless, but also a team member who gets along with the players and everyone.
Ana and her family attend Mass at St. Jerome and she is always up for helping when the school holds community service projects.
Her mother said she is an avid reader.
“She likes to read a lot,” said Narvaez. “We have a kid version of the Bible that she reads all the time,” she added, referring to the family’s children’s Bible with illustrations tailored for young readers.
Murphy said she is looking forward to the February virtual awards event and encouraging everyone in the school community to join online. In the eyes of Murphy, all her students are rising stars and cause for celebration.
“This is a time during COVID when we can come together and celebrate. We want to take time to recognize our students,” said the educator.
- Rising Stars Awards Ceremony, Feb. 25, 2021, 6:30 p.m., celebrating outstanding Step Up for Students scholarship recipients. Join virtually here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/step-up-for-students-rising-stars-awards-registration-133125147901.