Palmetto’s 2022-2023 Silver Knight Nominees: Rafael Linhares for Art

Samantha Elkins and Brooke Wilensky

Amongst the hustle and bustle of high school, it can be difficult for students to maintain their homework, sports, job and familial duties, while still making time for finding ways to significantly aid their community. However, some students juggle it all and give back to their community in remarkable ways. In South Florida, a select few have had the opportunity to win the prestigious Silver Knight Award for doing so.     

In 1959, the Miami Herald founded the Silver Knight Awards program to recognize students who continuously use their talent to help others. Students can be nominated from one of 15 categories: Art, Athletics, Business, Digital & Interactive Media, Drama, English & Literature, General Scholarship, Journalism, Mathematics, Music & Dance, Science, Social Science, Speech, Vocational Technical and World Languages.

Only students in Miami-Dade and Broward County with a minimum 3.2 unweighted GPA can qualify and be considered as a nominee. To become a nominee, students must submit a lengthy application to Miami Palmetto Senior High’s Silver Knight coordinator, Andrea Spivak. The board then decides together who should be nominated for their category. Nominees are judged based on service, achievements, leadership skills, character and interview skills. These students must showcase their passion for their category both in and out of the classroom. 

Nominees have the potential to join a long list of outstanding and successful individuals who have preceded them. Some notable people include MPSH graduate and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Bill Conti the Oscar-winning composer whose music appeared in “Rocky” and the “Karate Kid” movies, along with many more. 

Each category consists of one winner and three honorable mentions. The Silver Knight wins $2,000, a statue and a medallion presented by American Airlines while the honorable mentions win $500 each. Each nominee will embark on a long process of interviews, concluding on May 23, 2023, at the Silver Knight ceremony.

To better understand MPSH’s Silver Knight nominees, The Panther will feature each nominee’s acts of service and accomplishments. We congratulate all nominees and wish them the best of luck. 


ART: Rafael Linhares

Silver Knight Art nominee Rafael “Rafa” Linhares, grew up surrounded by art. From having an artistic father, playing piano and jazz music, making short films, writing and making art himself, craft, technique and creativity run through his blood. At this point, Linhares wonders if writing his name atop his papers at school remains necessary since his intricate doodles line all his schoolwork. 

Linhares took his artwork more seriously during the COVID-19 pandemic after he started sketching in his free time. This led Linhares to create a project focused on art therapy for his community’s hospital patients and senior citizens. 

“I have always been into art and it is something that I have enjoyed for a very long time. And once I started doing it enough to have a body of work that I felt could help other people, I wanted to use it to my full advantage. Someone told me that [the art] that I made would make good coloring books or coloring material, so I published a coloring book and started giving it out to people who needed it,” Linhares said. 

Linhares’ coloring books are officially published and range from up to 30 pages of original black and white artwork to color in. He distributes the coloring books to three different nursing homes that give them out during art sessions. Linhares also distributes the coloring books to a local hospital. 

“With hospital patients, I volunteer at Baptist every Tuesday and I go around handing out materials and supplies. We are making a mural in Baptist…so I hand out the coloring sheets and then they color it and give it back and then they have a mural being built,” Linhares said. 

At the hospital, Linhares connected with patients by distributing supplies and coloring books. The coloring pages created a safe space for patients to immerse themselves in a world beyond diagnosis and medications. Linhares found himself conversing with some patients for hours. 

“It is nice because I came in with the intention that coloring is relaxing and peaceful, while in the hospital it is really boring and there is nothing to do for hours, and I feel like being in that type of environment gives someone a lot of anxiety. So I think coloring gives them peace of mind and it is something they can distract themselves with. And also with me being there, I am also a presence that is not a doctor or nurse, so I do not remind them of whatever is going on in their lives, I am just there to help them,” Linhares said. 

Linhares takes his inspiration from artists such as Jean-Michael Basquiat, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol’s pop art and Japanese art. African tikis like Easter Island statues, African mask carvings or Hawaiian carvings also gave him inspiration. Aside from his coloring book service project, Linhares founded Flyentology, a digital exhibit that highlights his separate colored artwork through a website and Instagram account.   

Apart from art, Linhares is the Social Media Manager of the Creative Writing Club. He is also classically trained in piano and enjoys reading and writing short stories. Over the summer, Linhares attended a film camp for three weeks and wrote, directed and produced three short films. To view Linhares’ artwork, click here. 

For college, Linhares hopes to win the Posse scholarship, as the winner receives free college tuition to a certain college. Apart from Posse, Linhares considers the University of Florida, among other schools. Although Linhares is unsure about majoring in art for college, he plans on continuing to pursue it and expand his brand.

“I had a lot of work and I felt like I wanted to have it go towards something that could help people because I did not want it just sitting around. Once people mentioned that it would be good for coloring, I saw an opportunity to help people who needed coloring or art in their lives,” Linhares said. 

Linhares took his passion for art and turned it into a way to help others, eventually culminating in his Silver Knight nomination.