The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

The Panther

The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

The Panther

The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

The Panther

Finding Meaning Through Experience: Temple Beth Am’s Guatemala Service Trip
PHOTOGALLERY: Senior Yearbook Autograph Signing Party

PHOTOGALLERY: Senior Yearbook Autograph Signing Party

June 1, 2024

Don’t Sit On the Sidelines, VOTE!

Don’t Sit On the Sidelines, VOTE!

May 28, 2024

2024 NBA Playoff Semi Final Round Wraps Up

May 27, 2024

The Panther 2023-24 Issue #6: Panther-Preneur$
The Panther 2023-24 Issue #5: The Rise of Female Leadership

The Panther 2023-24 Issue #5: The Rise of Female Leadership

April 16, 2024

The Panther 2023-24 Issue #4: The Love Issue

The Panther 2023-24 Issue #4: The Love Issue

February 28, 2024

The Panther 2023-24 Issue #2: An Attitude of Gratitude

The Panther 2023-24 Issue #2: An Attitude of Gratitude

November 30, 2023

View All

Palmetto’s 2023-2024 Silver Knight Nominees: Ella Pelz for English Literature and Cameron Gussin for General Scholarship

Isabella Lagarto


At Miami Palmetto Senior High, one may see senior and Silver Knight English Literature nominee Ella Pelz running the Palm Echo’s social media as the Managing Editor, taking meeting notes as Student Council Secretary and giving Social Science Honor Society members a rundown on history bowl as the club’s president. Outside of school, Pelz runs her organization, Turn the Page, donating books to underserved areas of the community.

“My Silver Knight project is called Turn the Page where I collect class sets of English books from high school classes to then donate to underserved institutions like incarcerated centers, underserved high schools, nonprofit libraries and public libraries to ensure that students in [all]  high schools can access their own copy of the curriculum-based literature,” Pelz said.

As an avid reader, Pelz felt inspired by her passion to contribute to her community, giving students access to the same books that jump-started her admiration for reading. One of Pelz’s favorite books, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, tells his story as a lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, advocating for disadvantaged demographics in the criminal justice system. 

“I absolutely love to read; that’s my favorite activity. And, I know how impactful books have been to me, they provide me with a sense of community. [So], I wanted to be able to share not only my hobby and passion but [also] something that has shaped me into the person I am with other students,” Pelz said.

As per recent Florida legislation, a variety of the works Pelz had collected were added to the “banned book” list, shifting the focus of her project. Pelz continued to collect copies of these books and advocated for their readership. 

“My project took a turn to make sure that there was a heavy focus on collecting books that are now banned so that, regardless of curriculums, including access to those books, [people could read those books] that have been so meaningful to me,” Pelz said.

Despite some schools not taking the banned books she had collected, Pelz began to expand her project by donating to other organizations. 

“Because of books becoming banned, it was hard. Some schools wouldn’t take them because of them now not being included in the curriculum. So, I had all these copies of ‘Night’ or ‘The Kite Runner’ or ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in my garage, and it was so hard unnecessarily to put together schools to take them. So, I had to look to other places that would want them, which then led to me to connect with incarcerated centers and like the other places that aren’t schools,” Pelz said.

Pelz’s most memorable moment came while working with Teach for America.

“I partnered with Teach For America [with] a lot of my books as well.  I was once literally doing absolutely nothing in my room, and I remember having a rough day, and then all of a sudden, I got an email of a picture with a few students holding up copies of ‘The Hate U Give,’ and they were smiling. And to this day that picture still brings me so much joy because it’s something that we honestly take for granted and is something making the students’ days,” Pelz said.

Along with Turn the Page, Pelz participated in a research internship at the University of Miami looking at preconceived racial disparities, serves as the Health Information Project Vice President and works as the Chief Community Outreach officer of Tutoring for Tomorrow — all serving as a testament to her goal of helping others and advocating for important issues. In college, Pelz hopes to explore a major in public health. 

“I just wanted to create something that would have a palpable impact. I didn’t care if it reached one high school or five, I just wanted these books to be available to impact and touch the lives of other students, regardless of how big or how small; and then it became something bigger than I could have ever imagined,” Pelz said. “I’m so grateful that I was able to have that impact.”


Senior Cameron Gussin holds various significant positions at Miami Palmetto Senior High — Student Council Chief of Senate, National Honor Society Vice President of Service, The Palm Echo Copy Editor, Health Information Project Peer Educator and most recently, Silver Knight General Scholarship nominee. 

Gussin, advocating for her younger brother’s condition Glycogen Storage Disease — a rare condition where one’s body cannot properly store glucose — established her project called Pouches for Patches, hoping to raise awareness for families with medically fragile children.

“In Florida city, there’s this organization called Patches PPEC, and they’re staffed with a bunch of nurses and they take in kids who are medically fragile [from] low socioeconomic families. These families can’t take care of the kids 24/7 because they need to work, or they don’t have the financial means to support the health demands of their kids; so, at Patches, the nurses take care of the kids and they learn, they play, they hang out with other kids,” Gussin said.

Motivated by a cause that hits close to home, Gussin felt inspired to make an impact to help other families who may need additional assistance to care for extensive medical demands and provide resources to ensure Patches can assist any child.

“I saw that my family was fortunate enough to be able to take care of [my younger brother], but when we heard about Patches, we heard that not every family has this. We felt really moved by their mission and what they were doing and I wanted to help contribute to that [and] help them take care of the kids, because I can’t imagine what it’s like for those families— to be worrying about their own needs and demands for them, to have to take care of a kid who needs constant care,” Gussin said.

Partnering with the National Honor Society, Gussin set up donation boxes to collect pouches of baby food, later personally delivering them to Patches. Every year, Gussin was able to collect up to 700 pouches of baby food, greatly surpassing her initial goal.

“I set up donation bins in schools, talked to different classes and teachers and clubs. The main thing that Patches needed was baby food because most of the kids they take care of are young, and so they needed a lot of baby food. Because of COVID, there was actually a shortage of baby food, which people may not know unless they have babies in their family, but it was really affecting them,” Gussin said. “There wasn’t enough for them to get, and the baby food that was left on the market was super expensive, and they couldn’t just spend all their money on baby food because they also needed medical supplies.”

Organizations like Patches often do not have the means to finance supplies for the high demand of patients they receive, and donating was one way to overcome this obstacle. For Gussin, the most rewarding part of the project came from seeing how her efforts bring a positive change to her community and raising awareness for a cause many may not know about.

“Just seeing how happy the nurses were made me want to continue my project because just seeing the kind of look of relief on their faces and how happy they were to get a donation; they’re a little organization kind of far away so it’s not like you [can] drive by. But, being reminded that people are there to help [the kids] really makes me happy,” Gussin said.

While tackling her rigorous Advanced Placement course load, serving as the President of Friendship Circle outside of school and planning countless activities as the officer in multiple clubs, Gussin keeps her values close and makes it a priority to help children like her brother. In the future, Gussin hopes to major in a field related to pre-health.

“A piece of advice I’d give [my past self] is to obviously care about school and academics but it’s really not worth the amount of stress and pressure I put on myself sometimes because at the end of the day it’s gonna take me to what I’m supposed to do. And, it’s obviously easier to say that now than when I was in ninth grade. I still freak out about stuff like college and all that, but I think the important thing is just to be happy and not to put too much stress and be overwhelmed,” Gussin said. “I want to try and help Patches in any way, wherever life takes me.”

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Sofia Strohmeier
Sofia Strohmeier, Online Editor-in-Chief
Sofia Strohmeier is a senior and the Online Editor-in-Chief. This is her second year on staff, and she looks to encourage staffers to write a variety of stories and promote The Panther to the community. Aside from newspaper, Strohmeier enjoys taking workout classes at Lifetime, traveling and going on walks with her dog, Charlie.
Edie Carneiro
Edie Carneiro, Sports Editor
Edie Carneiro is a sophomore and Sports Editor. This is her second year on staff, and she looks forward to growing the sports section of the Panther and improving her editing skills. Aside from newspaper, Carneiro enjoys traveling, reading books and biking.
Isabella Lagarto
Isabella Lagarto, Senior Design Editor
Isabella Lagarto is a senior and Senior Design Editor. This is her second year on staff, and she looks forward to improving the design aspect of the publication. Aside from newspaper, Lagarto enjoys lifting weights, journaling and reading poetry.