Governor Scott and First Lady Ann Scott Commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, Honor Student and Teacher Contest Winners

Tallahassee, Fla. – To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott will host a reception this evening celebrating the contributions of Hispanic community leaders, educators, and students. Governor Scott will announce the winners of the 2011 Hispanic Heritage Month contests, including the Excellence in Education Award, and recognize Miami artist Damien Cruz as the featured artist.

“During Hispanic Heritage Month, we take time to recognize how Florida’s growing Hispanic population enriches our state and strengthens Florida’s cultural and economic ties to Spain, Latin America and beyond,” Governor Scott said. “The diversity of Florida’s people and cultures truly makes our state one of the most vibrant in our country.”

“I congratulate all of Florida’s students who participated in the Hispanic Heritage Month contests for taking the time to learn more about some of the people who make Florida a great place to live,” Mrs. Scott said.

Featured artist Damien Cruz came to the United States in 1999 from Havana, Cuba, where he attended the prestigious San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. Paintings from his collection have been displayed at the Florida State Capitol Building throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.

Governor and Mrs. Scott will honor three outstanding Hispanic educators with the Excellence in Education Award. These individuals were nominated by students and peers, and each will receive $1,500 at the Governor’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

Excellence in Education award winners are:

• Emma Gonzalez – Mike Davis Elementary School in Naples, Second Grade.
• Sonia Botero – Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences in Sarasota, Spanish.
• Dr. Erick Hueck – Miami Senior High School in Miami, Chemistry.

Three student essay-contest winners – one elementary, one middle-school, and one high school student – will also be honored by the Governor and First Lady. Winners will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

Student essay contest winners are:

• Matthew DeRose – Bay Point Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Fifth Grade.
• Mackenzie Moreno – Clearwater Fundamental Middle School in Clearwater, Sixth Grade.
• Miguel Labrador – C. Leon King High School in Tampa, 12th Grade.

Two art-contest winners will also be recognized. Each winner will receive $250, which will be awarded at the Governor’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

Student art contest winners are:

• Vanessa Longsworth – Coconut Palm Elementary School in Miramar, First Grade.
• Nicole Lugo – Joella C. Good Elementary School in Hialeah, Third Grade.

The Hispanic Heritage Month reception is supported by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Additional sponsors include Walmart, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Publix Super Markets Inc, Wells Fargo, Mosaic, and Prudential.

The student contests focused on the theme “Celebrating Hispanic Leaders in Business – Past, Present and Future.” Information about Florida’s Hispanic heritage is available on Florida’s Hispanic Heritage Month website

About Hispanic Heritage Month

Several Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of independence during Hispanic Heritage Month. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate independence on September 15. Mexico achieved independence on September 16, and Chile, on September 18. Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1974 when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long celebration, from September 15 through October 15.

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