To celebrate Black History Month, Governor Rick Scott, First Lady Ann Scott and Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll will host a reception this evening celebrating the contributions of African-American community leaders, educators, and students. Governor Scott will announce the student and teacher winners of the 2012 Black History Month contests and recognize featured artist, Kelvin Hair of Fort Pierce. Students competed with essay and art submissions focused on "African-American Pioneers Who Advanced Science and Technology."
"Whether you're talking about George Washington Carver and his innovations with crop rotation and peanuts or Dr. Mark Dean and the contributions he made to the modern personal computer, our society is stronger today because of the achievements of so many African-American pioneers," Governor Scott said. "Together, Lt. Governor Carroll and I are committed to making sure every student has the opportunity for a superior education so we can watch our children continue the innovations that make us competitive and help create jobs."
"As chair of Space Florida, I was excited to have this year's theme dedicated to the S.T.E.M initiatives and how African-Americans have played a vital part in technology advancements. Our essay winners are remarkable in their research and knowledge in showcasing African-American science pioneers whose inventions saved and improved many lives. I hope these students will continue their curiosity in science and become our future astronauts, scientist, technicians or engineers to help Florida lead the world in commercial, international, manned and un-manned space programs," Lt. Governor Carroll said. "Governor Scott and I are working to make Florida a place where the American dream of economic prosperity is possible for everyone."
Featured artist Kelvin Hair teaches art for the Children's Home Society (Fort Pierce) and Better Day at Macedonia church in Gifford, Florida. Hair is a member of "The Florida Highwaymen," a group of African-American artists who painted Florida landscape portraits in the 1950s and became successful by selling their artwork from the trunks of cars alongside the highway. Hair's father, Alfred Hair, was one of the first two Florida Highwaymen artists.
Governor Scott, Mrs. Scott and Lt. Governor Carroll will honor three outstanding African-American educators with the Excellence in Education Award. These individuals were nominated by students and peers, and each will receive a $1,500 cash award.
Excellence in Education educator award winners are:
* Crystal Lang -- Frontier Elementary School in Loxahatchee, Palm Beach County, Grade 5 mathematics.
* Haronique Durham -- Mandarin Lakes School in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Grade 8 U.S. History.
* Sylvia Gibson -- Palm Beach Gardens High School in Palm Beach County, Grades 11 and 12 English.
Three student essay-contest winners, who all focused on African-American pioneers in the fields of Science and Technology will also be honored. Winners will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.
Student essay contest winners are:
* Diamond Brown -- W.E. Cherry Elementary in Jacksonville, Duval County, Grade 4.
* Nya Jones -- Polo Park Middle School in Wellington, Palm Beach County, Grade 8.
* Alexander Touchton -- Mandarin High School in Jacksonville, Duval County, Grade 11.
Two art-contest winners will also be recognized. Each winner will receive a $250 cash award.
Student art contest winners are:
* Gabriela La Rosa -- Gateway Environmental K-8 Learning Center in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Kindergarten.
* Cody Lee Shirokey -- Charles Drew Elementary in Pompano Beach, Broward County, Grade 3.
The Black History Month reception is supported by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, AT&T, Prudential, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Mosaic, Wells Fargo, Publix Super Markets Inc. and Scholastic Inc. Other partners include Florida's Foundation, the Florida Department of State, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Governor's Mansion Foundation.
Information about the contests and Florida's Black History Month is available on Florida's Black History Month website, www.FloridaBlackHistory.com.