Rising Stars in South Philly 2017

By Bill Gelman and Lindsey Nolen

Mentoring Monarchs

Remember when the Taney Dragons played in the 2014 Little League World Series? Jared-Sprague Lott was the one playing shortstop. He is also the one who hit a three-run homer in the first inning of the first game in Williamsport. It was the same game in which Mo’ne Davis pitched a historic shutout.

What has he been doing these days, you ask? The soon-to-be sophomore, 15, plays baseball and basketball for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and has been described as an excellent student. Jared made the honor roll all four quarters of his freshman year. The two-sport student-athlete also received the Alexander Dowbenko Award for consistent effort, dedication and improvement in Varsity Boys Basketball at SCH.

He saw varsity time in both sports during the recently completed school year.

His strong baseball and basketball IQ comes from the time he spent playing sports at Palumbo Recreation Center, 700 S. Ninth St., right down the street from where he was born and raised. Besides being a power pitcher — throwing in the low-to-mid 80s — and an outstanding shortstop on the baseball field, he is considered a strong rebounder and defender on the basketball court.

Closer to home, Jared is a member of the Anderson Monarchs baseball and basketball teams based out of Marian Anderson Recreation Center, 740 S. 17th St. Nominator Steve Bandura, who is a rec leader and coach at the facility, said the Rising Star has Division-I potential in both sports. He’s making his mark as a strong leader, too.

“Jared is a very high character person,” Bandura said. “He is a great role model for our young Monarchs.”

Passion for reading

Sasha Flynn took the field at Citizens Bank Park this season, but it had nothing to do with athletics. The Philadelphia Phillies recognized the St. Anthony of Padua first grader as a 2017 Most Improved Reader during the annual Comcast Phanatic About Reading Night. Teacher Melissa Moscatelli knows Sasha well, having taught her in both kindergarten and first grade.

“I have seen a great improvement in Sasha’s reading. Sasha is a very outgoing student and loves to read,” Moscatelli said. “She was always asking to go get a book when she finished her work, and always wanted to read it to the other students.” Author Mo Willems was a popular choice among students. The teacher noted one of Sasha’s favorites is the “Elephant and Piggie” series by Willems. She also received second honor at the end of this school year. Besides reading, Moscatelli described Sasha as “a very good and detailed writer” and “amazing artist.”

“Sasha is a student that any teacher would love to have in their class,” she said.

Tapping his potential

Whitman resident Matthew Gorman put in years of hard work at William Penn Charter School, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. The recent grad was one of two students to receive the

Jonathan Holman Smullens Award (named in memory of the 1979 grad), which is presented to a senior or seniors who have worked hard to make significant progress inside and outside of the classroom during his/her final year of high school.

“He found Penn Charter academics much, much harder than he expected, and he was out of his comfort zone daily as he negotiated socioeconomic, cultural and political differences here,” Erin Hughes, an English teacher and dean at the school, said. “As a senior, this man is a confident and accomplished student, a leader on the baseball diamond and an honorable community member. … He has worked hard here, given 100 percent and grown and tapped his potential.”

Matthew, who was a baseball standout at Penn Charter, will continue his academic and athletic career at the Maryland-based Harford Community College.

Student with many hats

Looking back at his high school career at Girard Academic Music Program, Zymir Brunson was extremely busy, and this is on top of being a member of the National Honor Society. In student government, he was addressed as the president. The mock trial and concert choir were also part of his regular to-do list. Besides serving people through clubs and internships — including Temple University’s power program, he uses his gifts and talents to serve others, whether it be performing or cooking.

“Zymir enjoys raising money and grappling with any issues that affect the world he lives in, from school to his own neighborhood,” GAMP counselor Lauren Essery said.

In terms of his future plans, Zymir is looking to pursue a career in law. The South Philadelphia Lions Club recently presented him with a $500 Aid for Education scholarship to put toward his studies.

Just like high school, he will be ready to perform multiple roles like continuing to sing in the church choir.

Performing studious services

On the dance floor and off, Philadelphia Performing Arts: A String Theory Charter School rising senior Alyssa Daniels keeps herself busy between her studies and school involvement.

In the classroom, as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math student, she has consistently remained an honor student since her freshman year, was inducted into the National Honor Society and placed in the top 5 percent of her class.

Aside from academic prowess, Alyssa also sets the bar high in terms of service. In addition to volunteering as a school math tutor, she has participated in City Year’s Martin Luther King Jr. School Day by painting her neighborhood’s Andrew Jackson School and has student taught at the All That Jazz Dance Studio where she has studied ballet, jazz, and tap since the age of 6.

“Without a doubt, Alyssa is as much a shining star, as she is a rising star from South Philadelphia,” Susan Thomas, a counselor at the school, said.

Hoping to continue helping to service others headed into her future, Alyssa wishes to pursue a career in nursing.

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 Abigail Brown, Patrick Cavalieri, Santino Nave, Gianna Wilson, Jahliem Brown and Grace DiMeo click here.