Palm Beach County School Board Celebrates Heroic School Custodian Who Saved Choking Student

A school custodian’s heroic act of saving a choking student’s life was the focus of the recent Palm Beach County School Board meeting. The custodian, Ruben Arias from Elbridge Gale Elementary School, performed the Heimlich maneuver on a student named Liam, successfully clearing the obstruction and preventing a potential tragedy. Liam’s mother praised Mr. Arias during the meeting. The board acknowledged the importance of such skills.

In addition to recognizing individual heroism, the meeting celebrated community contributions and educational achievements. Neighborhood Farms U.S.A. was recognized for their $10,900 donation, which will fund the installation and revitalization of a food forest at Rolling Green Elementary School. The district’s Adult and Community Education Department was also commended for receiving the 2024 Program Succeed When Learners Lead Incentive Grant, aimed at bolstering English language skills within the community.

The meeting also highlighted the accomplishments of two Lake Worth Community High School science teachers, who received the 2024 Making a Difference Science Mentor of the Year Award. Recognition was further extended to finalists and winners for Beginning Teacher of the Year and Mentor Teacher of the Year at both the elementary and secondary levels.

The Education Foundation’s report marked another notable moment, spotlighting the success of a cybersecurity program sponsored by the Frederick De Luca Foundation. The foundation’s substantial $750,000 donation helped initiate the program, which has been successful enough to hire two students as interns to tackle security issues.

Amidst these recognitions, the Student Government report provided updates on their initiatives, including the Palm Beach Against Hunger project and various upcoming events like the County Banquet and Senior Field Day. The Education Foundation President, James Gavrilos, shared progress on the construction of a new building, upcoming events, and the Teacher of the Year ceremony hosted by the Sunrise Boca Raton Rotary Club.

The Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast was represented by Claudia Kirk Barto, who discussed the impact of programs such as High School Heroes and College Champions. These programs have contributed substantial community service hours and engaged students from various schools.

Addressing concerns of a more systemic nature, Gordon Longhofer, CTA President, spoke about the importance of upcoming salary contract negotiations for teachers. He emphasized the need to prioritize teacher compensation in the budget to retain qualified staff.

Environmental sustainability was another focus, as members of the Student Climate Coalition, including Ethan Dagostino and Nikolai Dutkewych, presented their concerns about the excessive use of single-use plastics in school cafeterias. They proposed a “Plastic Free Lunch Day” initiative at their school to align with Earth Day, hoping to reduce plastic waste and educate students about environmental stewardship.

The public comments segment of the meeting provided a platform for community members to voice their thoughts on various topics. Brother Carl Muhammad stressed the significance of the Superintendent’s Task Force for African-American Children and the need for community involvement in supporting the well-being of African-American male students. He also suggested partnerships with churches to integrate spirituality into the school district.

Dwight Walton Sr., representing Apple Biometrics, offered his company’s services for Level 2 background screening, which would comply with Florida Department of Education’s new requirements. He underscored his company’s previous service for the district and his desire to continue providing such services.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Michael J. Burke
School Board Officials:
Barbara McQuinn, Alexandria Ayala, Karen Brill, Erica Whitfield, Frank A. Barbieri, Jr., Esq. (Board Attorney), Marcia Andrews, Edwin Ferguson, Esq. (Board Attorney)

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