Palmetto’s Silver Knight Nominees: Breanna Suarez for Drama and Samantha Berlan for English Literature

Valentina Arias, Multimedia Photo Editor

Drama: Breanna Suarez 

Silver Knight Nominee and Posse Scholar Breanna Suarez began acting in elementary school. She has since grown into an experienced actress and student. She also shows dedication to her community service project, “Bree’s Bee’s.”

At the age of five, Suarez started taking acting classes. Her first onstage performance took place during her fourth grade year, where she played Jafar in the musical “Aladdin.” During her years of acting in comp, the most advanced drama class at Palmetto, she views Mrs. Barson as an amazing mentor and supportive teacher. Suarez said that her favorite part which she has played would be “Merrily We Roll Along’s” Gussie Carnegie in her junior year.

“I had the act two opening, and I came down the stairs and then all the boys dancing around me,” Suarez said. “It was picture perfect.”

Suarez began her community service project, “Bree’s Bee’s,” her sophomore year. The inspiration came from when she went on a trip to North Carolina. On this trip she visited a kids museum that had an exhibit about bees with hands-on activities which sparked the idea for her project. 

“It was so simple for kids to understand and I was like ‘I have to bring this to something in Miami,’” Suarez said. 

After this trip she began her project, where she educates children on why bee pollinators matter. During her in-person or Zoom workshops she does hands-on activities like making bee pencil tops and butterfly wings (all made with reusable materials). 

She has received plenty of recognition for her work: a Gold Award from Girl Scouts and a feature in Latino Conservation Week, Beekeeper Confidential Podcast and Positive People in Pinecrest.

Suarez loves that her platform has raised awareness about the importance of pollinators. Spreading the knowledge to younger children became her goal, which she has done and continues to do.

This year, Suarez and Benjamin Joseph started their own production company, The Nightingale Productions. They are working on a virtual production of “Carrie the Musical.” Suarez portrays the role of Carrie in the musical. The musical streams in February.

Suarez has also won many awards because of her musical theatre performances. Suarez received top honors from Districts for her solo, ”I’m Not Afraid of Anything,” from Songs for a New Word Musical. During her junior year, Suarez received a nomination for a JIMMY award from the National High School Musical Theatre Awards for outstanding lead actress in a musical. When the RAP scouts came to watch “Merrily We Roll Along,” it just so happened that Suarez performed that night. She had an amazing opportunity competing for a JIMMY award, but unfortunately they canceled it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suarez has committed to Davidson college under the Posse Scholarship. Her and three other students from Palmetto received this scholarship this year.

Since Davidson college has no musical theatre programs in the school, she plans on joining a Regional theatre nearby the college. She wants musical theatre to stay in her life even after she leaves for college.

“[It] definitely has to stay in my life because I just love it too much,” Suarez said.


English Literature: Samantha Berlan

English Literature has always had a part in Samantha Berlan’s life. From a young age, she was surrounded by it through her mother and sister. Berlan loves being able to write as she pleases without having any limits. Berlan has also used her community service project, “Savings for Students,” to teach students the financial reality of becoming an adult.

For over ten years, Berlan’s mother taught English at Miami Palmetto Senior High School. Her sister, like herself, earned the English Literature Silver Knight Nomination. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to express yourself when you’re talking to people, so I think being able to communicate through pen and paper or typing is just a different form of writing that is beautiful,” Berlan said.

Berlan’s four year community service project aims to teach graduating seniors what they need to know financially once they finish highschool.

“My goal is to teach these kids in high school before they graduate, even the kids who are going to college, skills that they need in order to be able to be a financially stable adult,” Samantha Berlan said.

She does this by having speakers come in and talk to students during English and Economic classes. They talk about many topics which they need knowledge on for adulthood including: credit scores, buying a car, payment plans and more. Her inspiration to start this project came from her parents, because they both work in finance.

Berlan and her project suffered a major setback when the pandemic commenced. She hoped to have guest speakers come to speak to students in class but, since the school closed, she had to begin using Zoom. 

During the Zoom meeting, students did show up but it did not end up as the usual turn out they had. She believes that not many students showed up because not many students wanted to wake up early to join the meeting.

“When you tell kids to join a Zoom at 9 a.m. to listen about financial literacy, some of them are going to be like no,” Berlan said.

Apart from her community service project, Berlan has also involved herself in English Literature. Shakespeare has to be her favorite author. She finds that studying his work fascinates her since he has made such a big impact in the world of English Literature. Her favorite quote he has written came from the story ”Romeo and Juliet.” The quote states, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” 

“Basically what it’s saying is that names don’t matter, they have nothing at face value and I love that because it’s a very personal quote to me, especially because I plan on changing my name when I’m older,” Berlan said.

Last year, Berlan wrote a research paper that ended up becoming one of her favorite pieces she has ever written. The paper spoke about areca oil captivity. She became very invested in the paper because of all the documentaries and other papers written about the topic.

When she attends Duke University, she hopes to study something that involves the environment, and she aspires to work in a field that focuses on Meteorology or Climatology. 

“You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to have to proofread things and go back and fix them and sometimes delete whole essays but in the end, it’s always going to work out,” Berlan said.