MIAMI — High school students from Everglades Preparatory Academy in Pahokee recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an audience with royalty.
Four Glades teens - Dayanara Fonseca, Jocelyn Sanchez, Crystal Reyes and Paulina Tello - along with Everglades Preparatory Academy Principal Linda Johnson-Earsley and Assistant Principal Julie Stewart - had the honor of meeting and spending time with Queen Sofia of Spain in Miami.
The students’ participation in the May 20 event in Miami was made possible through the school’s founder and Chairwoman Emilia Fanjul.
“Mrs. Fanjul extended the invitation for us to attend the event, and I thought it was a fantastic idea and a truly unique experience for our students,” Principal Johnson-Earsley said.
“They were very excited,” Principal Johnson-Earsley said. “I kind of kept it under wraps that they would meet Queen Sofia, but I told them the day before. This was something unlike anything they had experienced before in their lives.”
The group also met Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at the event, which took place aboard the Spanish Naval training ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano. The tall ship docked in Miami as part of its voyage to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s 1522 circumnavigation of the globe. The vessel is named for the man who served as Magellan’s captain on the voyage.
The school group’s meeting took place following a reception onboard the ship for Secretary of the U.S. Navy Carlos Del Toro. Before the trip, the students learned about the ship and its history.
“Meeting the queen was far beyond my expectations,” said student Paulina Tello. “It was breathtaking and a great honor. The Queen was kind, patient and compassionate with everyone. I stood in the presence of royalty. This has forever changed my outlook on history and I am forever grateful.”
When it was time to meet the queen, the students and administrators were grateful for and surprised by the amount of time her majesty offered them.
“They had quite a bit of her time,” Principal Johnson-Earsley said. “There were people in line waiting to speak with the queen, and she was not rushing at all.”
Everglades Prep is one of two charter schools the Fanjul family founded in the Glades region, along with Glades Academy in Pahokee.
“I was so pleased to be able to facilitate the field trip to Miami to meet Queen Sofia and tour the Spanish naval ship,” said Emilia Fanjul. “I was delighted by the reaction of the students; they had a wonderful time.”
The students were amazed both by their meeting with the Queen and their chance to see the Juan Sebastián de Elcano up close, Principal Johnson-Earsley said.
“This was an opportunity to open their eyes to historical events that they may not have been introduced to in the past,” she said. “What else may we not know about history? This is a question they want to answer.”
About Everglades Preparatory Academy
Everglades Preparatory Academy is the first charter high school in the Glades communities of western Palm Beach County. Everglades Preparatory Academy, located in Pahokee, serves students from Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay and Canal Point. Everglades Preparatory Academy’s personalized approach to educating students engages creativity, motivates critical thinking, and inspires collaboration. Everglades Preparatory Academy was founded by Emilia Fanjul and opened in the fall of 2002. Learn more at www.evergladesprep.com