Palmetto’s Silver Knight Nominees: Ella Sleeman for Science and Savannah Cain for Music and Dance

Sofia Vinueza and Camilla Bondy

SCIENCE- Ella Sleeman

Ella Sleeman, Silver Knight nominee for science at Miami Palmetto Senior High, has always had a passion for the environment. However, it was not until taking Dr. Yuria Sharp’s AP Chemistry class and Ms. Pamela Schlatman’s AP Environmental Science class that she took action and came up with a way to make a difference. 

Her project, Thrift for Change, is a thrift store she created at Palmetto where students can donate their clothes in an effort to reduce clothing waste. This prevents the clothing from ending up in landfills to just sit and pollute the earth. 

“During my 6th period solar class, my classmates and I were brainstorming ideas to come up with a way to help our school decrease their carbon footprint and we came up with Thrift for Change,” said Ella. “We started it around February of last year and have been doing it ever since.” 

Due to the issues with the pandemic, Thrift for Change continues to try and find ways to remain accessible through online platforms. With the use of their Instagram account, they post pictures of the donated clothing they receive, where the first to comment receives the piece of clothing.

“This gives people the opportunity to look at what we have to offer while being socially distant,” said Ella.

Outside of school, Sleeman participates in Tutoring for Tomorrow, where she tutors students over Zoom who need help in math or chemistry. She also enjoys going for walks and biking when not working on her academics. 

“In my free time I like to spend time outdoors,” Sleeman said. “I like to bike and I walk everyday.” 

Sleeman remains unsure as to where she plans to continue learning about the environment, but she applied to several schools that can help her on her journey.

“Depending on the school I end up at, my major is either going to be chemistry or biochemistry, I’m studying to become a doctor,” Sleeman said. “I look forward to researching at the schools I’m applying to find innovative solutions and contribute to our rapidly reshaping medical world.”

Regardless of which school she chooses, Sleeman wants to take her interests in science and take action to help the struggling world for the better.

“Ms. Schlatman inspired me on another level. After taking AP Enviro, I learned more about the environment and felt a strong urge to do something to take care of it,” Sleeman said. “I didn’t view it as a class, more like learning about the environment and how to protect it.”  

Over the years Sleeman has found happiness in helping the environment and aims to do whatever she can to make the world a better place.

 “We are trying to do everything we can to protect the environment, no matter the circumstances.” Sleeman said. 


MUSIC AND DANCE: Savannah Cain

After dancing for 15 years and attending a couple Achieve Miami Saturdays, Savannah Cain, Silver Knight nominee for Dance and Music, decided she wanted to make an impact.

“Before COVID happened, I went to Achieve Miami [on] Saturdays and I worked with them two times, but the kids had such a big impact on me that I wanted to make more of an impact on the students themselves,” Cain said. 

In 2017, she worked diligently to come up with an idea and ended up creating Achieving Dance. Cain works alongside the Achieve Miami organization to help children learn how to dance, something she has always loved doing. 

“I’m working with Achieve Miami, which is a non-profit organization where they help with the children’s literacy and you play with them. The kids are in grades two through five, and I’m working with them on Zoom and I’m teaching them dance,” Cain said.

Teaching kids how to dance is not the only thing that makes her project so special. She also collects dance costumes from students at her dance studio, Dance Empire of Miami. 

“I probably have like 200 dollars worth of costume,” Cain said. 

After she graduates from high school, not only does she plan to continue working on her project, but her dance studio has agreed to keep her legacy going. 

“I talked with my dance studio and the manager said that probably the upperclassmen, (people in high school) will continue this project and teach them dances, probably in-person by that time, and they will collect dance costumes,” Cain said.

Cain remains unsure as to where she would like to continue her education. She enjoys math and science and would like to continue her passion for dance throughout her college path.