Elementary, middle- and high-school students in Central Florida have a shot at winning a day's admission -- or even annual passes -- to Walt Disney World. But they have to get moving because the first deadline is only days away. The prizes are given out next month when Disney bestows its Dreamers and Doers awards.
For more than three decades, this award program has recognized local students who have inspired others and made the world a better place. In return, The Walt Disney Co. hopes to inspire and reward the area's student leaders with the theme-park tickets and Disney-themed keepsakes.
Disney relies on each school in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties (plus the Florida Virtual School) to nominate one child for the honor of being named a Disney Dreamer and Doer. In total, there are about 400 students chosen to receive the one-day park-hopper tickets and certificates.
The process begins when students are asked to nominate themselves by writing a 300-word paragraph describing their achievements. These achievements don't necessarily have to be academic. 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 other positive actions."
Then, the student asks a teacher to champion his or her application by writing a 75-word endorsement. The two essays are turned into 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.)
Once a school's Disney Dreamer and Doer is chosen, he or she is entered in a larger competition, Disney's Shining Stars. April 25 is the deadline for schools to submit these applications. The awards are given to 18 students -- one elementary, middle and high school student in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties and from the Florida Virtual School. 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.
"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."
Among last year's winners are a student who started a pajama drive for those in need, a student who dedicates his life to his autistic brother and a student who focuses on volunteering.
Schools will be notified on May 12 if their students are among this year's Shining Stars.
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