The James L. Knight Center inside the Hyatt Regency Miami filled with students, family, and school faculty as the 57th annual Miami Herald Silver Knights Award Ceremony took place this past Wednesday.
Though the doors to the center opened at 6 p.m. many of the nominees, students, from Broward and Miami-Dade county, arrived an hour early to take pictures and interact with each other. Posters on the wall denoted where each category’s nominees were supposed to gather. There are 15 different categories with one Silver Knight and three honorable mention awards for each category per county. Coordinators lined the nominees in alphabetical order under their respective posters and led them into the center around 6:30 p.m.
Upon arriving at their seats, the nominees found a personalized certificate of nomination and a flash-drive donated by Baptist Memorial Hospital, one of the Silver Knights’ sponsors.
Nominees conversed with each other from their seats, familiar with each other already from going through the Silver Knight’s interview process together. North Broward Preparatory High School’s Jazz band provided background music.
At 7 p.m. the awards ceremony began. A star-studded introduction video played highlighted past Silver Knight winners, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and former Pepsi CEO Steven Reinemund, remarking on what winning a Silver Knight meant to them. Various members from the Miami Herald and corporate sponsors, such as Florida Blue and American Airlines, also spoke to the audience, commending nominee’s service to the community.
Honorable mentions would be awarded for each category first, leaving the Silver Knights in each category awarded at the very end of the program. Heritage alumni Leah Ramsaran, Alyssa Fantel, and Jude Alawa won honorable mentions in the categories of “Art,” “Drama,” and “General Scholarship,” respectively. Each winner received a personalized plaque and a check for 500 dollars.
“The ceremony was a fantastic opportunity to meet and share an exciting moment with like minded, passionate and brilliant individuals. I’m honored to have been nominated and delighted to have won an honorable mention.” said Alawa.
After the honorable mentions were presented, the ceremony moved on to the presentation of the Silver Knights awards. The first Heritage alumnus to win a Silver Knight was Lauren Goboff in the category of “English & Literature” for her work with the “Spread the Word to End the Word’’ campaign and Best Buddies. The second alumnus was Mayuri Viswanathan in the category of “Vocational Technical” for her work with the Shiva Vishnu Temple of South Florida as well as the Vidya Mandir learning center. The final alumnus was Ian Olsson in the category of “World Languages” for his initiative, “Letters for Better.”
“It was a complete shock, but I’m incredibly happy and honored to be named a Silver Knight. I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who helped me get here: my family, my teachers, my counselors, and the adults in my temple and community who inspired me to dedicate myself to service and education,” said Viswanathan.
Students and family were not the only ones in attendance. Driving together, Ms. Adams, Mrs. Shienvold, Ms. Milam, and Ms. Vanderhoof came out to support all the nominees as well. Ms. Barteletti met the group there.
“I love all 13 of our nominees! I’m proud of them and all that they’ve done, and the six winners deserve special congratulations.” said Mrs. Shienvold, Heritage’s Silver Knight Coordinator.
The night concluded with all the nominees meeting outside in the lobby to take pictures, smiles all around.