Land O' Lakes Kids Rocked 2012
I'm looking for more great kids to feature in 2013. Know one? Email me!
As I looked back on the stories of 2012, it was tough to pick just one for each month to highlight for our "Best Of" series. The truth is, I enjoy every story I write about the Land O' Lakes community (with the exception of the crime stories, I'd rather never write those).
But there is one type of story I really love to tell: those of children and teens doing great things, whether in academics, music, sports, the arts or volunteer work. Whatever makes them tick, I find their efforts and passion inspirational. Maybe it's the mom in me, or maybe it's the children's literature aficionado in me, or maybe a little of both. Kids are just awesome.
So, here's a look at some of the great kids in we featured in 2012. And if you know a kid doing cool things, please email me. I'd love to tell their story, too.
Teen Prodigy Works Toward 'Music Miracle':
He’s been called a prodigy, a musical genius blessed with a “rare talent.”
But 14-year-old Parker Wilkson of Land O' Lakes is just like any other teen when it comes to summer vacation:
“Went to a few parties and hung out with friends. Had a couple of girls stomp on my heart too. You ever notice the ones you like never like you; and the ones that like you ... well you can't seem to figure that out either," Parker wrote in an email.
Well, not exactly like any other teen. When he wasn’t getting his heart broken, Parker spent most of his time immersed in several modern rock projects and training at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, he said.
Land O' Lakes High Senior Sets His Sights on the White House:
Spend five minutes with Cash Howard, and you’ll know he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Among other accolades, the Land O’ Lakes High senior —graduating Summa Cum Laude—recently was named a National Merit Scholar, a title bestowed on a select few nationwide.
Because his school doesn’t have a speech and debate team, Howard was allowed to join Wharton High’s.
As its president.
Speech and debate is “where my talents lie,” he said.
Math, Bones Keep 4th-Grader Enthused About Learning
Clayton Topdemir, 9, is a math fan.
That’s his favorite subject at Denham Oaks Elementary, where he recently began fourth grade.
“It will help me with the economy and to learn what’s happening in the world,” he said.
What’s he most looking forward to learning this year?
“Advanced algebra,” Clayton said.
When he’s not studying for upcoming assignments, Clayton enjoys playing with his friends after school. He also enjoys reading.
"Mockingjay," the third book in The Hunger Games series, is his favorite book, because “it has suspense and action,” Clayton said.
One Cool Kid—and a Cheetah
Gabriella Fontanez of Land O' Lakes was cold, but that didn’t keep her from helping out at the Heritage Park Foundation’s Al and Ida Silver Memorial Car show recently.
Gabriella was there, along with her mother, Lilly, promoting the upcoming Land O’ Lakes Relay for Life.
The 8-year-old Connerton Elementary third-grader also had a friend with her.
“This is Nicole,” Gabriella said, as she snuggled with her stuffed cheetah. Nicole was up for an interview, so she shared a bit about her life.
Pine View 3rd-Grader Named Davidson Young Scholar
He likes tie-dyed Italian ice, BMX and reading chapter books. But there’s something about 7-year-old Sammy Hankins that makes him stand out.
“I’m one in a million,” Sammy said.
The Pine View Elementary third-grader recently was named a Davidson Institute Young Scholar, a designation bestowed on youngsters who “demonstrate evidence of extreme intellectual precocity with scores at or above the 99.9th percentile on specific intelligence and achievement tests,” according to the institute.
Math "really gets me thinking. It just gets my mind working,” Sammy said. "I do math first, it gets me ready for the other stuff."
Know a student we should profile? Email editor Keli Sipperley. You also can share your student's accomplishments—and congratulate them!— by posting an announcement on the site.