Rising Stars in South Philly 2017

By Bill Gelman and Lindsey Nolen

Strong leader

Abigail Brown visited the ShopRite of Whitman Plaza last week, but the visit had nothing to do with picking up groceries. This visit was more about Abby, 13, the honor student who recently completed eighth grade at Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School. Abby was recognized as part of the Strong Girls, Strong Leaders campaign celebrating young female athletes who are leaders in the community.

The standout softball player volunteers at the neighborhood youth softball league and helps with the Friends of Beast, which raises money for youth Athletics in South Philly. ShopRite and Procter & Gamble presented Abby with a $1,000 gift certificate for her school, $1,000 for her favorite charity and four tickets to the ESPY Awards, taking place July 12 in Los Angeles.

To be eligible for Strong Girls, Strong Leaders, individuals were nominated via the shoprite.com website.

Modeling Morale

Standing out amongst his peers, Patrick Cavalieri of Roman Catholic High School has gone above and beyond merely excelling in his academics. Rather, he has harnessed his high school’s spotlight for his exceptional character.

Despite having taken AP courses, carrying a 4.0 GPA throughout high school and being ranked in the top 10 percent of his class, the recent grad is known to selflessly volunteer his time to tutor his peers across numerous academic disciplines, assist with annual blood drives and has been selected to the Ambassadors Program and Big Brothers Program through which he serves as a representative of the school.

“From our first meeting, Patrick stood out as a very respectful, motivated, and hard-working young man,” Vince Tarducci, a guidance counselor and teacher at Roman Catholic, said. “Within minutes of meeting Patrick it is easy to identify his authentic nature and scholarly abilities. He is a true gentleman and I am confident that he is destined for success.”

In addition to his passion for service, Patrick has also been an active member of the school newspaper since his arrival to the school, and he has contributed to nearly every edition since. Further demonstrating his diligence, he has been holding a summer job at Billy’s Beach Service for the past three years, as well as working since 2008 with members of his family to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia through its Sean’s Snack Stand initiative after losing a younger sibling.

He truly is an exceptional young man,” Tarducci said.

Shining around all bases

From academics to volunteerism to athletics, Santino Nave’ of Roman Catholic High School has proven there’s very little he cannot, or will not do to help benefit himself, his teammates and his community.

In the classroom, Santino is ranked 26th out of a 238 member senior class, ranking himself in the top 15 percentile. Additionally, he has consistently maintained a 4.0 GPA despite taking challenging courses throughout his high school career, and was inducted into the National Honor Society during his junior year.

“Santino has expressed a strong passion for learning and strives to perform at the highest caliber. He is highly motivated to succeed both academically and athletically,” Vince Tarducci, a guidance counselor and teacher at Roman Catholic, said. “Santino is also a great asset to the community; he is polite and very personable.”

In terms of volunteerism, Santino has served as a school ambassador since his sophomore year, which has enabled him to polish his leadership skills and develop his public communication skills. He has also provided service to his community through various organizations, such as volunteering for Philabundance, an organization that focuses on feeding the less fortunate, as well as providing services at various events held by his parish, Stella Maris.

Often using the skill he’s acquired through these efforts on the diamond, he has been a member of the school’s baseball team for all four years of high school and is a dedicated and competitive athlete. Also a valuable member of the Delaware Valley Youth Athletic Association. Besides competing as a member of the team, he also assists in maintaining the field.

Exceeding expectations

For most sixth-grade students, future plans often simply entail possible career paths. Yet, in the case of Gianna Wilson of D. Newlin Fell School, she already knows she wants to attend Roman Catholic High School, Yale University and then go to medical school to become a doctor and research cures for various diseases.

“She wants to open up a hospital. She wants a master’s degree in college,” Ocean Strong, a faculty member at the school, said. “I know that Gianna will achieve these goals.”

Leading to her confidence in Gianna achieving these goals, Strong said the young student has already harnessed great academic achievements. From always participating in class to going above and beyond for in-class and at-home projects, she noted Gianna is always determined to get high marks in school.

“She always turns in her homework on time, and she does fantastic on her tests. She always gets advanced on both PSSA’s,” Strong said. “Her hard work pays off when she gets A’s and B’s on her report cards.”

Additionally, Strong explained that what adds to Gianna being a Rising Star is her great character, as she is always prepared to help out a fellow student who is struggling in any subject. Furthermore, through her studies and club participation, such as in choir and AAA safety patrol, she is known to treat both her peers and the school’s staff with respect and kindness, while being thoughtful and wishing to help ensure her classmates both understand and enjoy what they are learning.

Hard work pays off

A senior at Universal Audeneried Charter High School, Jahliem Brown has established a reputation as being a fantastic student with a wonderful attitude and a strong work ethic. Graduating from the school’s Health-Related Technology Academy while participating and competing with other students in health-related skills and activities through Health Occupations Students of America, he has worked to maintain a 3.5 GPA and remains in the top 10 percent of his class.

“In addition to his course work, Jahliem is also a tremendous young man — polite, humble, respectful and helpful,” Tom Roman, school counselor of the College and Career Center at Universal Audenried Charter High School, said. “He will not only seek help when he needs it and take advantage of opportunities, he will also be the first to offer his help to others.”

In adding to his list of accomplishments, Jahliem turned a 2016 summer job at Hahnemann Hospital into a part-time job that he is still with today. He has also been involved in Universal Audeneried’s Leukemia Walk and Blood Drives since ninth grade and has been a member of its track team for the last two years.

This fall, he will be attending East Stroudsburg University to study pre-physical therapy.

“He is a responsible, hard-working student and a favorite not only of his teachers, but of his classmates as well,” Roman added.

Always giving back

As a rising senior at Philadelphia Performing Arts: A String Theory Charter School, Grace DiMeo has demonstrated through her studies that through her creative nature she is destined for scholastic success.

Yet, despite being recognized by the National Society of High School Scholars as a member of the National Honor Society and prior recipient of a Knights of Columbus Award, she always finds time to give back to her South Philadelphia community. In doing so, when she is not in the aisles of Fumo Family Branch Library being a resource to young readers, she is working at Epiphany Catholic Church and Princess of Nails Salon.

“This multi-faceted young adult actively participates in Photography Club, Poetry Slam, and the musical productions at school,” Susan Thomas, a counselor at the school, said. “Most recently, she played not one, but three characters in this year’s production of ‘Annie’ and was a star-seller for our advertisement program.”

In addition to her involvement in school clubs and organizations, Grace has served as a representative for PPACS: String Theory Charter School at the Harvard University a cappella concert hosted at her school’s Vine Street campus, and was active in a mural painting community service program through Mural Arts Philadelphia. Continuing to strive for meaningful community involvement, through a special collaboration with Philadelphia Opera, Grace also co-authored a book intended for young audiences.

“Rising senior, Grace DiMeo, is Philadelphia Performing Arts: A String Theory Charter School’s own ‘Miracle on South 13th Street,’” Thomas said. “Artistically unabashed, Grace dabbles in videography, creative writing, vocal studies and classical ballet.”

Although she has many differing and creative talents, Grace hopes to someday continue servicing and helping others by becoming a veterinarian.

To see profiles of An Nguyen, Ava Cima, Lucinda Mileto, Jamin Chen, Camrin Neiss and Alexandra Arrigale click here.

To see profiles of Isaac Newman, Jenny Loo, Moira Gilbert and Hannah Silverberg click here.

To see profiles of Jared-Sprague Lott, Sasha Flynn, Matthew Gorman, Zymir Brunson and Alyssa Daniels click here.