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June 4, 2008: City Commissioners honor locals’ accomplishments

On Tuesday, June 3, 2008, the Coral Springs City Commission made the following recognitions and proclamations:

· Recognized four Broward County students for recently winning the 2008 Silver Knight Award. Lianne Epstein, from Pine Crest High School, won the award in the Athletic category. Epstein created a tennis tournament and raised more than $13,000 toward camp scholarships for children with chronic or terminal diseases. Hilary Barr, from North Broward Preparatory High School, was recognized for her scientific knowledge. Among her many accomplishments, Barr founded the “Inspiration Mentoring” program in which she taught sports and fine arts to children, who in turn performed at nursing homes. She was co-founder of Helping Others Promote Empathy, which collected more than 12,000 books for a school destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Shayna Gershman, from Coral Springs High School, was awarded for her involvement in speech. Shayna served as a 3-year board member of the school's debate team and as an intern for State Representative Ari Abraham Porth, for whom she co-coordinated and moderated last year's "Democracy in Action" leadership forum. She also won the Coral Springs Chamber of Commerce Bridge to Leadership Award. Finally, Robert Levy, from Deerfield Beach, was acknowledged for his expertise in foreign language. He started competing in the County’s foreign language competition in middle school and has won seven times consecutively. He also volunteers in the playroom at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and has written a bilingual children’s cookbook. “You are all a star in your own light,” Commissioner Claudette Bruck said. “You are certainly an inspiration, a role model, and we are all so proud of you.”

· Recognized Coral Springs High School teacher Brenda Durkacs for the implementation of an innovative project that taught students to appreciate the use and abuse of technology. Two of her freshman students, Alexis Fox and Kayla Wells, were also recognized for participating in the project. “I was concerned that my students were disconnecting with human beings,” Durkacs said. So she developed a weekly program that refrained her students from using cell phones, computers and any other electronics that would interfere with human interaction.

· Recognized Marjory Stoneman Douglas and J.P Taravella High Schools for being two of eight Broward County Public Schools to be recognized among Newsweek magazine's top high schools in the nation. Marjory Stoneman Douglas was ranked 25th in Florida and 136th in the nation, while Taravella was ranked 80th in the state and 656th in the country. “We’re very fortunate to have such a supportive community and parents who actually enable us to have the kind of programs, rigor and relevance that ranks Marjory Stoneman Douglas as one of the top in the nation,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas Principal Ann Andersen-Kowalski said. “I want to thank the City Commission for having us and recognizing our schools because we truly feel your support throughout the year,” J.P. Taravella Principal Shawn Cerra said. For more information, please visit

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