Walt Disney World has announced its 2016 Shining Stars recipients from among about 400 Central Florida students who were named Disney Dreamers and Doers last month.
The students originally were chosen by their schools for actions they took this past school year to inspire other students. Each of the 400 winners at schools across Central Florida was recognized with a medal, a certificate and four one-day theme-park tickets to use during the next year.
In addition, each Disney Dreamer and Doer was entered in the competition for Disney’s Shining Stars. These awards are given to 15 students — one each at the elementary-, middle- and high-school level in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties. Shining Stars receive Disney World annual passes for their immediate families for one year, Mousecar statues (Disney’s version of the “Oscar” featuring Mickey Mouse), and certificates noting their accomplishments. Plus, the students and their families are invited to attend an IllumiNations Dessert Party at Epcot on June 4. Disney officials, not school principals, choose the Shining Stars.
Among this year’s Shining Stars are students who have made community contributions by assisting elderly family members, fostering acceptance among schoolmates, and helping others learn from their health challenges.
The 2016 Disney Dreamers and Doers Shining Stars are:
Ryan Boyd, Groveland Elementary School, 4th grade
Tyler LaBelle, Windy Hill Middle School, 7th grade
Reaghan Wooster, Tavares High School, 12th grade
Bryce Drayton, Apopka Elementary School, 5th grade
Cortez Fisher, Central Florida Leadership Charter Academy, 8th grade
Tomas Castorani Correa, Magnolia School, 10th grade
Ayden Nadler, Harmony Community School, 5th grade
Haley Steidley, Trinity Lutheran School, 8th grade
Carla Rivera, New Dimensions High School, 11th grade
Markayla Wesley, Caldwell Elementary School, 5th grade
Joshua Bowen, Lakeland Highlands Middle School, 8th grade
Chanel Jackson, Kathleen High School, 11th grade
Kristen Spennemann, Lake Mary Preparatory Elementary School, 3rd grade
Kaitlyn Boyle, Greenwood Lakes Middle School, 7th grade
Emma McDonald, Lake Howell High School, 12th grade
So, how do you apply to become a Disney Dreamer and Doer?
It’s never too soon for students to take positive actions in their communities, but the application process historically takes place in the spring. This year had the earliest deadlines in recent years — in February — so watch for information at your school or online.
The process begins when students are asked to nominate themselves by writing a 300-word paragraph describing their achievements. The official rules give these examples of student contributions: “strengthening their families; conservation/environmental projects; helping others; safety; school achievement in spite of barriers; improving their schools; serving as a role model for siblings/friends; or any other positive action.” An addition to the rules for 2016 notes: “High academic achievement and volunteer involvement can be considered but should not be the only determining factors to select a school’s Disney Dreamer and Doer.”
Then, the student asks a teacher to champion his or her application by writing a 75-word endorsement. The two essays are turned in to the school’s principal by the school’s announced deadline, and a school winner is chosen based on the strength of the essay. (Grammatical accuracy is not a factor.)
“Students may be comfortable in the spotlight, or shy away from it. Some take positive action that is visible; some actions may not be visible to many,” the Disney press release states. “We believe all students do good things and have the potential to be a Disney Dreamer and Doer. We look forward to hearing about students in each of these categories.”