Articles

Manatee’s Got Talent
Aiming for the Big Top!

Aiming for the Big Top!

WORDS: Sheri Roca
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Come one, come all and see The Amazing Emilie Bergbom flying high! Emilie is a nine-year-old Aerial Acrobat with her sights set on the Circus. And, where else but the home of the Ringling legacy, the land of big tops and big cats, would you see elementary school children dangling from great heights?  

For over three years, Emilie has been training at South Florida

The Dream Team…

The Dream Team…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Nick Leduc and a dozen boys met for the first time in May 2018 at tryouts for the 11 and under team that Leduc would be coaching for the Braden River Soccer Club. They couldn’t know then that in two-and-a-half years, they would rank number one in Florida.

Still, from the beginning, Leduc had a feeling this team would be special.

“I knew we …

Serving It Up…

Serving It Up…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

You know you have something good when former players come back to coach for you. In Nancy Cothron’s case, that something good is Manatee Area Volleyball, of which she is the director and head coach.

At 30 years old, the club is the longest-running independently owned volleyball club in Manatee County. It offers indoor and beach volleyball to boys and girls ages eight through …

With Flying Colors…

With Flying Colors…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

On Saturday mornings, a group of teens meets in a hangar at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport to build an airplane. An actual, two-seat, 20-foot-long airplane with a 26-foot wingspan.

This “light-sport aircraft” is small, lightweight, and simple to fly. It comes unassembled in a “kit” – a 1,000-pound crate – containing multiple aluminum sheets, plus everything else needed to assemble the plane, including …

Keeping It Reel…

Keeping It Reel…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

On a recent Wednesday evening, in the Sunday School room at Trinity United Methodist Church in Bradenton, eight little girls danced. Matched by height and ability in groups of two, the girls kicked, tapped, and spun, sometimes holding hands, always smiling.

This was a typical Irish dancing class at the O’Reilly School of Dance. These younger girls ages four to 10 practice from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. …

Phoenix the Phenom!

Phoenix the Phenom!

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

When asked what she likes about Golf, Phoenix Scanlan said: “I love the winning part.”

This simple statement demonstrates two important things about Phoenix. For one, she has a great deal of confidence – something that’s absolutely necessary to succeed in golf. Also, she wins—a lot.

“It’s basically like a mystery,” Phoenix said, explaining that no two rounds of golf are ever the same. …

Going To Bat!

Going To Bat!

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

In Major League Baseball today, African Americans represent just 7.5 percent of players. This is the lowest percentage ever recorded in the 29-year history of the Racial and Gender Report Card for the MLB, which The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport release every year.

But two Palmetto natives, one a former Major Leaguer, want to reverse this trend, by helping to expose …

A Star in the Making!

A Star in the Making!

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

In the span of one hour, I watched Allie McLaughlin, 10, laugh, cry, speak with a convincing British accent and belt out two — pretty difficult — songs. She wasn’t on stage. She was in my living room.

I was interviewing Allie, who’d performed in two big local shows in the past year. Allie played Marta, second youngest of the von Trapp children, in …

The Girls of the Ryherd Cattle Company…

The Girls of the Ryherd Cattle Company…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

In September, Caitlyn Ryherd, 14, watched one of her cows give birth to a calf, a boy, whom she named El Chupacabra. “It was so cool,” she said. The cow had walked from her stall several yards into the pasture, stopping under an oak tree Ryherd’s family calls “the birthing tree” because it’s been such a popular spot for mothers in labor.

Caitlyn grabbed …

Ashley the Artist

Ashley the Artist

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

When Ashley Santana-Morales was only eight, her art teacher knew she had a gift.

“She was very artistic,” said Alex Miranda, who then taught at Palmetto Elementary School. “She had her own style already.”

Having your own style at age eight is rare, Miranda said, adding she usually only recognizes personal style in a handful of students in an entire K-5 elementary school. 

“Some …

A Competitive Edge

A Competitive Edge

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

When Sophie Potillo dances, she is graceful, precise, and expressive. All things that make her a winner. Sophie, 10 and in fifth grade at Braden River Elementary School, has been succeeding in dance competitions since she was six years old. Of all the dance styles she’s performed — tap, contemporary, hip-hop, and lyrical — jazz is her favorite. “Because it’s sassy,” Sophie said.

At …

Lord of the Strings

Lord of the Strings

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

In summer, the Pops Orchestra in Bradenton runs “Camping with the Pops,” an intensive program that gives kids a chance to learn from, rehearse with, and perform alongside professional musicians for three hours every night for a week. While the camp brochure says it’s open to students ages 12-18, this past summer, the youngest cellist was only 10. Wrigley Rinsema, a fifth grader at …

RACING TO THE WORLD STAGE

RACING TO THE WORLD STAGE

WORDS & PICTURES: Jessica Schubick

Nine local students are heading to the prestigious World Finals of the F1 in Schools competition, after bringing home the first-place trophy at the USA National Championships in February. The winning P1NNACLE team from Manatee County is comprised of students from three area schools – including six competitive and three support team members. Based out of Palmetto High School, the team additionally includes members from …

The Power of Creation

The Power of Creation

WORDS: Bre Jones Mulock

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Bold hues of orange, blue, red, and yellow sweep through McKenzie Ware’s coveted sketchbook, filling hundreds of worn pages with original and creative characters like Oliver who happens to be part crocodile and part cow.

To be exact, McKenzie, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Palmetto Elementary School, has designed 217 Anime-inspired characters that pop off the pages and compete to share their wildly funny …

The Writing Warrior…

The Writing Warrior…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers

PICTURES: Whitney Patton

E’yannie Gomez loves to write – she always has. In fourth grade at Samoset Elementary School in Bradenton, language arts is a favorite subject because it allows time for E’yannie, 11, to focus on her passion.

Last year, in third grade, when her class had free time and most other students headed straight to the computers to play games, E’yannie – who was enrolled …