During the last several weeks, about 400 students in Central Florida were named Disney Dreamers and Doers. These students were chosen by their schools for actions they have taken to inspire other students this past school year. What does it take to be named a Disney Dreamer and Doer (and why would your child be interested in applying)?
Although I've written about these awards for years, I was especially interested this year because my son, who just graduated from fifth grade, had his heart set on applying for the honor. He is a well-rounded child who gets excellent grades; is involved in his community through sports, Scouts and the arts; and has a leadership position at his school. But would that be enough to compete with all the other equally outstanding classmates at his elementary school?
The official 2014 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."
My son's accomplishments were enough to make him stand out -- due in large part to his ability to describe those experiences in a cohesive essay and have his teacher endorse that essay to the principal. At my son's school, the student essays are judged without names to try to eliminate any bias. And then the month's wait for the announcement of the winner began.
When the big day came and my son's name was called at the awards announcement, it was such a sweet moment -- not only because of the immense pride I felt for all that he had accomplished but because I knew how much this particular award meant to my son, who dreams of one day working as a Disney Imagineer. He will always cherish this honor and the special medal and certificate he earned.
Aside from the honor of the recognition, each of the 400 winners at schools across Central Florida also was given four 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. Disney officials, not school principals, choose the Shining Stars.
Among this year's Shining Stars are a student who learned to give back after living in a homeless shelter; a student who organized book drives for needy kids; a student who raised money through crafts for a local children's hospital; a student who excelled in science education with a goal of creating clean, unlimited power sources; several that overcame personal obstacles to succeed in school; and others who advocated for other causes.
Today's students are doing amazing things to make the world a better place, and Walt Disney World is doing its best to inspire them based on the sage advice of the company’s founder: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
The previous post in this blog was Muppets' Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog to perform at televised Fourth of July concert.
The next post in this blog is June is the time to plan your Christmas trip to Walt Disney World.