The Pasco County School Board recently celebrated two student standouts.
Leah Ifill, a senior at Wiregrass Ranch High School, is the district’s U.S. Presidential Scholar nominee, and Miguel Rosario, a senior at Cypress Creek High School, is the district’s U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education.
The scholar program, established in 1964, recognizes and honors superior high school seniors.
Diamela Vergne, assistant principal at Wiregrass Ranch High, wrote the submission on behalf of Ifill.
In part, this is what she said: “Leah is well-rounded, hardworking, kind and an extremely driven student. She successfully and with great ease balances her multiple responsibilities, inside and outside of school, all while ensuring she tends to physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being.
“Leah was out of school for two months during her freshman year. During that time, she had to re-learn how to do many things.
“Leah has been dancing since she was 2, learning how to dance before she could fully speak.
“Having to re-learn things, she was forced to stop dancing for an entire year. She was stripped of her only passion.
“It was during this time that she was introduced to musical theater, which became her new passion.
“She was forever changed, but it allowed her to become someone she thought she could never be.
“Eventually, she was able to land main roles in shows, through perseverance and hard work.
“The journey from dance to musical theater has been transformative. This could have been a setback, but it became a catalyst for her success. It taught her resilience, determination and the importance of pursuing her life’s passions.
“Leah currently has 111 approved community service hours. These hours have been completed in a variety of environments.
“She has volunteered at Toys for Tots, distributing toys during the holidays. She also volunteers at the nursery from her church. She volunteers at the community theater, and at Wiregrass Ranch freshman orientation. She also sings the National Anthem at various events at her high school campus.
“She is an active member of the student council, as well.”
The assistant principal also noted that Ifill is enrolled in several Advanced Placement (AP) courses, as well as courses in the arts. She also is a member of concert chorus, social manager for the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Thespian president of Troupe 7142.
Rosario is the district’s Presidential Scholars nominee in Career and Technical Education.
Nathan Baker, the Career and Technical Education teacher at the Coyote Engineering Academy, wrote this about Miguel: “Miguel is the best student I’ve had within the last five years within the engineering academy at Cypress Creek High School.
“His intelligence and natural abilities are just phenomenal. He is currently taking AP calculus BC and AP computer science.
“Miguel has also spread his wings in other directions besides academia. He is very active in the student government association, a member of the Spirit Club, captain of the varsity soccer team and has a part-time job.
“I’ve watched Miguel demonstrate an atmosphere of mutual respect, hard work, good sportsmanship, prioritization and time management.
“Miguel is selfless and always willing to lend a hand. Miguel will make an amazing computer engineer one day. He has all of the characteristics necessary for success, including high intelligence, a strong work ethic, amazing problem-solving skills and the desire to succeed.
“He has excelled at every challenge given to him within the engineering program, including thermal dynamics, electricity, fluid dynamics, robotics, programming and team leadership.
“He has a gift for envisioning a solution to a problem and optimizing that solution. Whether it is a complicated mathematical problem, or a robotics program that needs to be written, I’ve never known Miguel not to succeed.
“Miguel was chosen as the outstanding student of engineering his freshman year and likely would have won it multiple times, except Cypress Creek High School limits ninth through 11th graders to winning it only once to spread the award around.
“He has earned numerous Student of the Week awards, College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program, and recognized as being a member of multiple honor societies.
“Miguel has continued to add new tools to his technical toolbox. He spent a year in the Pasco Youth Leadership Program to learn about leadership, inspiring others and the projects taking place throughout the county.”
Baker noted that Rosario continues to add new programming languages to his arsenal.
“He is hands-on and can always be found tinkering with something in the lab.
“By spending time in the Pasco Youth Leadership Program and tutoring, it is evident that Miguel inspires others to be the best and instills in them a sense of duty to achieve more than they believe they can achieve.
“Miguel Rosario is the total package. He is highly intelligent, demonstrates common sense and possesses an amazing level of mechanical, hands-on ability and has limitless determination.
“He is truly the real deal.
“I could never ask for a better student,” Baker wrote.
Published November 08, 2023