Leaving a Legacy of Leadership: Charter’s Senior Leaders

Daniel Morrison, Copy Editor

   In the words of Leadership Advisor, Mr. Jablonka, “the best leaders are the ones who never wanted a leadership role in the first place.” 

   His words capture the quintessential Senior Leader—passionate, involved, steadfast, diligent; a humble leader. However, any of the teachers who took to the podium last Thursday night could have had their words quoted, italicized, and framed like his, which was made possible through their inspiring tales of triumph, connection, reward, and leadership.   

   In the small room of Senior Square, an enormous wave of emotion flooded the faces, minds, and souls of everyone within. Five seniors—Trinity Tang, Jorge Munoz, Rebecca Lim, Kymora Stewart, and Luz Fontana Mansilla—were met with the honor of Senior Leader, a prestigious award granted to those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership throughout their years of high school. 

   Various seniors were nominated for the award by teachers across campus, but only these five earned the title. And so the seniors, accompanied by their families and respective teachers, arrived formally dressed and were welcomed with sandwiches, cake, and refreshments before taking their seats and soaking in the glory.


Significant Snippets 

   Each teacher—Ms. Taylor, Ms. Alongi, Ms. Sarah Phelps, Mr. Jablonka, and Ms. Schwab—prepared a speech for their young leaders, highlighting some of the special qualities that cemented their titles.


Mr. Jablonka: “Kymora is a shining star and is a definitive example of an outstanding senior leader. Truly one of the GOATs of the class of 2023.”


Ms. Alongi: “My job this evening is to illustrate what makes Jorge Munoz outstanding in his leadership. There are countless ways I could do this. I could list all of the adjectives that immediately come to mind when I’m thinking about Jorge—charismatic, charming, funny, brilliant, magnetic, empathetic, hardworking, humble, goofy, observant, curious—but that doesn’t tell you why he’s any of those things or how he embodies the traits.”


Ms. Taylor: “Leadership as a high schooler, or at any age, is about dreaming. Someone who dreams and believes in the beauty of them. Trinity is a dreamer, and I don’t mean it in a head-in-the-clouds kind of way, but in the way that her dreams are not confined to the walls that have held her these past four years.”


Ms. Phelps: “I noticed a clear trend. She was often the first one to respond to questions with energetic statements like, ‘I’ll check right now!’, ‘No problem!’, ‘I’d love to help with that!’, always with an exclamation mark at the end.”


Ms. Schwab: “…and then supports others with this grace that can only be described as spectacular and rare. It’s funny, we were mentioning a ballerina earlier and I feel like that’s how she is. This simple, beautiful, magnificent thing that you just want to watch.”


Humble Conclusions 

Trinity Tang & Ms. Ariel Taylor

  • “What made last night special to you?”

   “I always try to do a lot for our school and community, whether it be Student Council or Key Club. This night was very special to me because it recognized the work I do and was planned for my own enjoyment, instead of the other way around. I was able to celebrate a big achievement with my family and school staff. My middle school teacher was even there, so it really felt like I had come a full circle in high school. My teacher made a very thoughtful speech about me, and it was so wonderful to celebrate myself and my peers in a small and heartfelt night. [It] will always be special from the laughter shared and the tears of joy shed.” -Trinity 

  • “After working so closely with [senior], how does it feel seeing [him/her] get the recognition they deserve?”

   “It’s well deserved. That girl is a leader. She just is. She’s a textbook leader. She commands the room, she directs people, she’s very aggressive with her goals, and so it just makes sense; it’s no wonder that she got the reward. When it comes to everybody, what’s really cool about that particular group is you have very different examples of leaders. You have Luz who’s super soft-spoken and one of the sweetest people. You have Rebecca Lim who’s so goal-oriented but so humble. And you have Jorge who is very social and charismatic but will get things done.” -Ms. Taylor


Jorge Munoz and Ms. Janelle Alongi

  • “What made last night special to you?”

“It was so meaningful to have some of our greatest mentors speak so highly of us. As senior leaders, I feel most of us always put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves to be great leaders. Rarely do we stop to appreciate our hard work or think about the great things we have done. This recognition felt like a time where we could finally appreciate ourselves for a second. It was beautiful to see all of us being formally recognized and appreciated. For me specifically, the most meaningful part was hearing what my mentor had to say about me. It was such a high honor to be spoken of in that light – Jorge 

  • “After working so closely with [senior], how does it feel seeing [him/her] get the recognition they deserve?”

   “I’m not surprised at all. From the time that Jorge became my student, I knew that he was going to win big awards and do big things and you can just tell he’s a natural leader, especially with Latin Dance. But it was really nice to hear from some of the other teachers that were there [that] night that they all agree and have seen the same things. And he’s pretty humble so it’s nice for him to have to be forced to sit there and listen to some of the good things about himself. That’s not something he’s good at, receiving so many compliments and he didn’t have any other option than to sit there and take it in. So I hope he really enjoyed it and saw the impact that he’s had.” -Alongi


Rebecca Lim and Ms. Sarah Phelps 

  • “What made last night special to you?”

   “I think being surrounded by so many outstanding students really humbled me and made me proud of my graduating class. I was also so grateful to Ms. Phelps for introducing me. Ms. Taylor and Ms. Alongi were also my teachers last year, so I was also very lucky to share that night with them. Ms. Phelps is an amazing writer. She wrote an amazing, beautiful speech that had me fighting back tears. I was just so grateful to have her speak for me and for her very kind words.” -Rebecca

  • “After working so closely with [senior], how does it feel seeing [him/her] get the recognition they deserve?”

   “I feel so happy for her, she definitely deserves it. Rebecca is a strong, but humble leader who’s put all of her efforts into supporting NEHS (National English Honor Society). She is a proactive leader who comes forward to help out in any way she can. This year, as president [of NEHS], she’s demonstrated how she can pull people together and create a cooperative and uplifting environment.” -Ms. Phelps


Kymora Stewart and Mr. John Jablonka

  • “What made last night special to you?”

“It was nice to be recognized for what I do in SGA. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I do a lot, so it’s great to have this reassurance. It felt good having Jablonka say all those nice things about me.” -Kymora 

  • “After working so closely with [senior], how does it feel seeing [him/her] get the recognition they deserve?”

   “It feels so amazing. Kymora has been someone who has worked so hard throughout this year and [has helped me] step by step, walking me through all the SGA policies, guidelines, and little tips and tricks. Kymora has been the person that is there right away to help me with anything I need. She’s never wanted the attention, she hasn’t asked for the recognition; she shows up everyday, gets the job done, helps out where she can, and is always looking to improve the school in any shape or form. The best leaders are the ones who never wanted a leadership role in the first place. And I think that really, really encapsulates Kymora. She is someone that didn’t ask for all this responsibility, but who takes it in stride and exceeds expectations. So her finally getting this recognition is something that was very heartfelt for me. I would not be here today in this position without her. -Mr. Jablonka


Luz Fontana Mansilla and Ms. Kelly Schwab 

  • “What made last night special to you?”

   “Hearing the amazing, thoughtful speech that my teacher prepared for me, while being alongside my parents in a setting that felt more personalized for the recipients, made that night really special”. -Luz

  • “After working so closely with [senior], how does it feel seeing [him/her] get the recognition they deserve?”

   “She’s like my Messi. And I have a lot of Ronaldos. I have a lot of talented, loud, and proud [students]. But Luz is my nose to the grindstone. She doesn’t care if people know she’s great. She’s doing it because she’s just great and is willing to help people. I don’t think she has anybody that would say a bad thing about her. She’s just so nice, someone who never asks for credit, but deserves it. Leaders don’t set out to be leaders, they set out to make a difference, and then people want to follow them. And that’s Luz.” -Schwab


   “Leaders don’t set out to be leaders, they set out to make a difference.” Ms. Schwab’s words mirror Mr. Jablonka’s, well-defining the aims and principles of the handpicked seniors. The difference-makers ended their night with trophies that read “Outstanding Senior Leader” and a final speech by Principal Bayer. But even as they got up from their round tables, exited the purple-lit room, and went their separate ways, the title didn’t just engrave the silver souvenirs they held, but their minds too, a title that will stick with them well beyond their impactful years in Pembroke Pines Charter High School.