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Gulliver Prep Student Caterina Barrera ‘16 Designs Eco-Friendly Couture Line

Beginning as a junior-year class project for Mrs.  Maribel Toledo, Caterina Barrera ‘16 successfully sketched, planned and executed an eco-friendly couture line. “I wanted to combine my 3D and art skills, so I came up with this project,” she says. “I enjoyed it so much [that] I have continued for the past two years and now have a line that includes four total outfits: a strapless dress, a cape, a crop top with a formal skirt and another piece that is a pant-skirt hybrid that is really abstract and cool.” The project has received positive reviews from her colleagues, family and friends. Some of the items used were cardboard from a Smucker’s box and Whole Foods paper bags, with sporadic use of plastic bags.

Caterina has focused on art class, starting with drawing and painting, then progressing to 3D courses, such as stone carving and sculpting, and ceramics at higher levels, such as Advanced Placement. “I’ve been taking Saturday courses for fashion design since seventh grade. We have two themed shows (summer and winter), and I have gained a lot of experience; I enjoy it,” adds Caterina. “Mrs. T has been my art teacher since freshmen year, and she has been so great to me, but I love all the art teachers at Gulliver. They have helped me grow as an artist and are always willing to help any time, any day, no questions asked. Everyone wanting to help makes it less intimidating and really has helped me.” Caterina will attend a top art school, Art Institute of Chicago, with plans to pursue fashion design. She tirelessly worked on her portfolio to showcase her unique pieces and was recently notified of the exciting news.

Please join us in congratulating Caterina on all of her hard work and dedication to the arts! We are so proud of your ambition and success; we cannot wait to see what more you accomplish!

Gulliver Academy Students Earn Florida All-State

The Florida Music Educators’ Association (FMEA) sponsors the Florida All-State audition process to promote students’ dedication to their musical knowledge and skill and to encourage FMEA member directors to support their students in this development.

All-State is the highest honor a Florida music student can receive. Over 1,600 students are selected through a process that begins with more than 64,000 students from around the state vying for this honor to perform in one of 15 ensembles (bands, orchestras and choirs). This competitive process begins throughout the state in auditions hosted by 21 FMEA regions. Individual musicians perform selected music for a panel of judges who rank each instrument or voice part. From this ranking, a select group of musicians advances from their region to compete against musicians from other regions in seven FMEA area competitions. The highest-ranking musicians judged at the FMEA area competitions qualify to perform in a FMEA All-State music group. These All-State students participate in three days of rehearsals directed by nationally recognized conductors during the annual state FMEA clinic/convention. Their performances before thousands of attendees bring this extraordinary event to a close.

This year, seven Gulliver Academy students have been accepted for participation in three All-State music ensembles. These students will perform with the FMEA All-State Elementary Chorus, Middle School Treble Chorus or Honor Band in Tampa, Florida, in January 2016 at the Tampa Convention Center. 

Congratulations to...

Elementary Chorus:

Ray Allen ‘23

Cassandra Kraft ‘23

Isabela Rezk ‘23

Christian Rodriguez ‘23

Middle School Treble Chorus:

Cali McKenzie ‘20

Ashley Ubalijoro ‘20 

Middle School Honor Band:

Melanie Martucci ‘20

This is the second year in a row for singers Cassandra Kraft, Cali McKenzie and Isabela Rezk to be accepted into these prestigious ensembles.

On behalf of Gulliver, a hearty congratulations goes to these students for the recognition of their talent on a state-wide level.

Talia Pfeffer '17 Thrives in Journalism and Television Production

One of Gulliver’s longest-serving journalism students, Talia Pfeffer ‘17, thrives in journalism! Talia began taking journalism classes at the Academy - Marian C. Krutulis Campus during her seventh-grade year. She brought uniformity and consistency to the yearbook, and helped take the yearbook to national-recognition levels. During her eighth-grade year, she became editor in chief and helped create yearbook content that the Gulliver family would be proud of. “My seventh-grade yearbook advisor saw something special in me and inspired me to stick with journalism,” says Talia. She won the Academic Achievement Award for Journalism her first year. Talia enjoys writing and storytelling, and she is fascinated by the communicative aspect between the journalist and the audience.

As a freshman, Talia came to the Prep eager to jump in to the journalism department by taking an introductory course before taking Applied Methods of Journalism (a course where she would get more hands-on experience for the yearbook). Even with her course choice, due to her experience and enthusiasm, Ms. Monica Rodriguez, Prep Journalism faculty member, provided her with the opportunity to work on a spread; her original take knocked it out of the park. Talia is now the clubs editor for the yearbook and a staff writer/restaurant critic for the Raider Voice newspaper. “I strongly admire Talia’s passion and dedication in the field of journalism,” says Rodriguez.

In her junior year, school days start early in the TV studio, as she currently works on Raider Vision. Jobs vary weeks for all students, and Talia performs tasks as needed that vary from anchor to technical director to meteorologist to others. Talia learned to appreciate all that goes into making a news show.

Talia has also been an editor and contributor in Gulliver Prep’s annual literary publication, Reflections, and even designed and executed the cover for the spring 2015 Principles of Social Science, Gulliver’s Journal of History, Politics, Economics and Society.

Talia is a strong believer in being versatile and utilizing every opportunity given. “When I attended the Emerson Pre College Journalism Institute the summer before my junior year, my professors said the key to being a successful journalist in the 21st century by being a one-man band; meaning being able to do whatever is asked of you,” adds Talia.

Her personality and strength in communicating with a variety of audiences scored Talia multiple opportunities: freelancing for a music website, managing social media and blogs for a Broadway actress and stage managing the district-level, award-winning farce The Forced Marriage.

Please join us in congratulating Talia on her dedication to journalism!

Faraz Masroor ‘17 Takes Gold at Princeton University Physics Competition

Gulliver Prep student Faraz Masroor ‘17 took home second place at the second-annual Princeton University Physics Competition (PUPC), which took place in November 2015. He received a gold medal for placing top four in the competition. The international competition aims to provide high school students with a venue to exhibit their skills in solving non-ordinary physics problems, learn new concepts from present-day areas of physics undergoing groundbreaking research, while at the same time competing for awards. Faraz is no stranger to competitions; he has competed in many nationwide for mathematics, chemistry and now, his second physics competition.

Eighty-six students attended the competition, where eligibility strongly varied. For example, each participant of PUPC took one individual on-site test, which contained several problems in mechanics (kinematics and dynamics). Participants were expected to record their answers on an official PUPC answer sheet and were not allowed to collaborate on this part of the competition. The individual test had a time limit of two hours. Sample questions can be found here. “My family really helps organize me,” says Faraz. “We looked at videos and solved problems together. Dr. Vaida also has helped me immensely; I am not great at self-studying, but her teaching style really helps me learn and understand.” Faraz hopes to pursue the online version next year and is really excited that additional Gulliver students will be signing up next year, thanks to Dr. Vaida.

Please join us in congratulating Faraz, the Masroor family and Gulliver faculty for their dedication to academics. We cannot wait to hear more about Faraz’s success.  

Gulliver Chess Program Students Finish in Top Five at the United States Chess Federation’s 2015 National K-12 Championships

Gulliver is thrilled to announce that three of its chess teams finished in the top five at the United States Chess Federation’s 2015 National K-12 Championships. With more than 1,500 chess players from around the nation competing, Gulliver fielded teams in various divisions at the weekend-long event, held earlier this month in Orlando.

Gulliver’s chess program focuses on encouraging analytical and thinking skills. As students develop these skills, they learn to use them to drive their decision-making – in chess and in every other area of their lives. The program builds on research that shows how chess improves children's critical thinking and problem-solving skills, including research from America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) that shows chess players demonstrate higher math and reading test scores. Gulliver’s program seeks to help students develop skills that are key to success in the 21st century.

The following Gulliver chess teams finished in the top five in their divisions:

10th grade – 2nd place

Zachary Ashbel ‘18, Megan Garcia ‘18, Philip Gubbins ‘18 and Brandon Stoyanovich ‘18

7th grade – 4th place

Henry Bryan ‘21, Jake Charron ‘21, Franky Di Mise ‘21, Deven Kamlani ‘21, Seby Stephens ‘21 and Max Strongman ‘21

9th grade – 5th place

Nic Dunshee ‘19, Jorge Gonzalez ‘19, James Muniz-Aleman ‘19 and Sam Starke ‘19



Gulliver Prep Cross-Departmental Event Negotiates Treaties and More

For the third-consecutive year, Gulliver’s Social Sciences and World Language departments partnered to negotiate treaties between Gulliver students and exchange students from Kagoshima, Japan. This year was greatly expanded by incorporating nine subject areas, as well as up-to-the-moment technological and diplomatic development.

As has been done in the past, Mr. Griffin’s Honors Government class functioned as the state department and U.S. Senate in their advise and consent capacity, while Ms. Cotton’s AP Japanese students served as translators and facilitators for the visiting students. Ms. Vignola’s English students and Mr. Medina’s history students served as the traditional press, with STEM standout student Lauren Lugones ‘17 contributing live tweeting and Instagram in a simulation of new media. Java programming student James Britt ‘17 took up the challenge of refining the second iteration of custom software to calculate the treaty’s impact.

Mr. Griffin’s senators previewed their respective positions prior to the treaty with video press conferences. The Japanese-language students then took what they judged to be the strongest from Sen. Antonio Mauri (OH) and incorporated his video into a bilingual newscast that included the Japanese “Prime Minister” giving his perspective, along with a translator. These classes did this preparation without meeting in person by using Google Drive. The video viewing allowed all students — be they senators, ambassadors or the press — to understand the positions of the various parties before coming together for the negotiations themselves. The press also did some follow-up interviews, and the senators prepared campaign re-elections in light of how the media viewed their individual contributions on the day.

Mr. Mizutani, the real-life ice consul of Japan for the city of Miami, honored the participants with a keynote address and chose to join the Japanese students as part of their diplomatic team. Mr. Griffin and Ms. Cotton remain grateful for the contributions of their hardworking students and wonderfully connected and supportive faculty and administration. They look forward to continuing this tradition and expanding on it for many years to come.

Please join us in congratulating the students and cross-departmental efforts on such a successful event. Thank you for making it so special this year!





Gulliver Prep Yearbook Named CSPA Crown Finalist

The Gulliver Prep yearbook team was recognized as a Crown Award Finalist in the High School Yearbook Finalist category for their work in the 2014-2015 by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The Crown Awards honor top student publications chosen from CSPA’s members.  Crowns are selected for overall excellence in a head-to-head comparison by a panel of distinguished journalism professionals. Student publishing in news, magazine, yearbook or digital (online) formats are all eligible. During Crown consideration, publications are judged on their excellence as shown by their design, photography, concept, coverage and writing. A total of 1,190 publications were eligible for judging. Only 65 yearbooks across the country were chosen as finalists for the CSPA Crown Awards to be presented in March 2016 at ceremonies at Columbia University in New York City. Of these 65 publications, Gulliver Prep’s yearbook is only one of two high school books in the state of Florida to earn this recognition. 

“It’s very tough to earn a Crown, and few advisers can say they’ve earned one in their career. Our publications have continually earned national recognition, but this places us among the very best in the country. I’m humbled by the work ethic and commitment demonstrated by my staff.  It was truly a team effort,” said Ms. Monica Rodriguez, who will travel with her students to CSPA’s spring convention to receive the award. This is the first time in the school’s history that a print publication has received this honor. 

Please join us in congratulating members of the Gulliver Prep yearbook staff for their hard work and dedication. We cannot wait to see the 2015-2016 yearbook!


Theta Tau Visits Academy Engineering Students

While Gulliver Engineering students toured Florida International University (FIU) on a field trip to the FIU Expo last year, Yolanda Valencia, Gulliver's Middle School science and engineering department chair, connected with a member of the Theta Tau fraternity, a co-ed professional engineering organization. Through the partnership she created, Theta Tau has scheduled five major projects for our students during the 2015-2016 academic year.

On Tuesday December 15, members of the Theta Tau fraternity at FIU began the day by meeting with the eighth grade engineering students and Mrs. Taylor's Sr.K class. Then, members of the fraternity set up catapult launching stations for our students. It was a dynamic activity that students of all ages could join in on. Seventh and eighth grade students launched Ping-Pong catapults throughout the Lower School and in fifth and sixth grade lunches to involve students in the fun. 

The visit is a branch of the Theta Tau program Engineers on Wheels, which is a van that visits South Florida schools to provide students with hands-on activities and engineering experiments, as well as expose them to career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The program features grade-appropriate, interactive lessons and presentations led by FIU students and overseen by FIU faculty.

Theta Tau was started by four mining engineering students 111 years ago; it has become the oldest and largest fraternity for engineers, with chapters across the country and members around the world. Its mission is to develop engineering leaders for service, profession and brotherhood.

Gulliver Academy Drama Troupe Marks a New School Record

The Gulliver Academy Drama Troupe participated at the Florida Junior Thespians District 4 Festival on November 7. We are thrilled to announce that our students received a new school record of 22 Superior ratings, including three Critic’s Choice Awards!

All of the participating musical theatre pieces received Superior scores. Sixteen pieces received straight Superiors and four received Perfect scores.

The following students received top honors:

Superior Makeup Design - Clara Schiavo
Superior Pantomime - Daniela Bethencourt and Sabrina Sharma
Superior Pantomime - Alejandro Castro-Kruger, Alina Jimenez-Cala and Andrea Perez Ternent
Superior Monologue - Alina Hernandez
Superior Monologue - Daniela Orozco
Superior Monologue - Victoria Alvarado
Superior Duet Acting (Perfect Score) - Andrea Park and Juan Lazcano
Superior Duet Acting (Perfect Score) - Craig Costentino and Roberto Lugones
Superior Duet Acting (Perfect Score/ Critic's Choice) - Amelia Rich and Oliver Zel
Superior Ensemble Acting - Ricardo De La Blanca, Gabe Reiter and Mitch Hyder 
Superior Ensemble Acting (Perfect Score/Critic's Choice) - Isabella Bendek, Amelia Rich, Alejandro Castro-Kruger, Juan Lazcano, Olivia Peña and Kelly Zighelboim
Superior Solo Musical - Andres Alvarez
Superior Solo Musical - Mica Einhorn
Superior Solo Musical - Alessia Bianco
Superior Solo Musical - Sofia Cancio
Superior Solo Musical (Critic's Choice) - Brianna Romero
Superior Duet Musical - Gabi Hagenlocker and Tori Hagenlocker
Superior Duet Musical - Brianna Romero and Oliver Zel
Superior Duet Musical - Andres Alvarez and Roberto Lugones
Superior Small Group Musical - Alessia Bianco, Mica Einhorn, Brianna Romero, Elena Schiavo, Craig Costentino and Oliver Zel
Superior Small Group Musical - Sofia Cancio, Gabi Hagenlocker, Raegan Rafool, Victoria Alvarado, Katia Castellano, Alina Hernandez and Olivia Peña

Superior Large Group Musical - Isabela Bendek, Sofia Cancio, Daniela Bethencourt, Ricardo De La Blanca, Mica Einhorn, Alina Jimenez-Cala, Andrea Perez Ternent, Raegan Rafool, Gabe Reiter, Amelia Rich, Elena Schiavo, Katia Castellano, Juan Lazcano, Andrea Park, Olivia Peña and Kelly Zighelboim 

My thanks to our dynamic faculty members – Casey Craig, Karen Neal and Annabel Selem – for their co-direction and expertise. 

Join us in congratulating all of our students who participated in this event. This tremendous achievement is a tribute to their talent, tenacity and commitment to the drama program.


Gulliver Prep Biomedical Science Department Hosts Dr. Agarwal

Gulliver Prep’s Biomedical Science Department invited Dr. Ashutosh Agarwal, assistant professor at the University of Miami for the department of biomedical engineering and pathology, to speak to the Prep students. Dr. Agarwal specializes in developing organ on chip technologiesin vitro disease models and biomaterials. Students gathered at the Shah Family Library Media Center and listened to Dr. Agarwal speak on how he develops human organ testing platforms using synthetic materials combined with human tissues to mimic how real human organs work; he also tests medicines and other therapies to see if they would  have the same effects as they would in the body. This provides a more cost-effective way of testing than having to use animal models and human donors.

The primary focus of the work is to design, build and test organomimetic tissue of the cardiac, vascular, gut and airway bronchial smooth “muscle-on-chip” platforms. The research plan is built around the three major challenges that the field of cardiovascular medicine is facing today: high attrition rates of drug candidates due to unforeseen cardiotoxicity, extremely slow progress of cardiac stem cell therapies, and stagnation in cardiac drug candidate development due to a lack of in vitro disease models. 

Please join us in thanking Dr. Agarwal, Laura Keepax and the entire biomedical science department for their time in making this event so great!

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