More than $1.6 Million in Scholarships Offered for Florida High School Students in Annual Hospitality Competitions

ORLANDO – From March 4-7 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, 340 Florida high school students from 46 schools competed in the statewide annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (FRLAEF) Hospitality & Tourism Management Program (HTMP) and ProStart Culinary Competition Events. This year marked the 22nd year for the ProStart competition and the 19th year for the HTMP event; Florida is the only state to host a statewide competition for the HTMP program. Executive and Board Leadership from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association attended the competition, as well as Secretary Melanie Griffin from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

Throughout the weekend, ProStart students competed in categories including Culinary, Management, Edible Centerpiece, and Waiter’s Relay. At the Salute to Excellence Award ceremony, students were awarded for their respective competition categories. They also received scholarships from the FRLAEF and event sponsors, including Universal Orlando, Disney Culinary, National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, Keiser University Center for Culinary Arts, University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, American Culinary Federation, Ecolab, Florida Atlantic University, and At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy. Winners will advance to the national ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C., which is hosted by the National Restaurant Association in May. HTMP students competed in categories including Hotel Operations, Hospitality Project, and the Knowledge Bowl and were also awarded scholarships from the FRLA Educational Foundation.

“This year’s ProStart and HTMP competition event featured the hard work and talent of our top hospitality students,” said Laura Rumer, Director of the FRLA Educational Foundation. “It was wonderful to see the lively competition, strong teamwork, and awesome school spirit of these kids and their instructors. We are grateful to all who participated from across the professional hospitality industry, including our judges and volunteers. We are hopeful for the bright futures of these students and the hospitality industry.”

“As a top destination for tourism and hospitality, it is fitting that Florida continues to lead the way in high school hospitality courses,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “We boast the largest ProStart program in the U.S. and are the only state to produce a statewide HTMP contest. These competitions are important as we invest in our students who are the future of this great industry, and it is truly a thrill to see them in action. Congratulations to these outstanding young men and women and to their instructors who devote so much time to their training.”



1st  Place         Martin County High School (Stuart): Instructor Shaun Southwick
2nd Place         Wekiva High School (Apopka): Instructor Christopher Bates
3rd Place          Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Instructor Paul Bonanno

4th Place          Coral Springs High School (Coral Springs): Instructor Aruna Lien

5th  Tie              Dixie Hollins High School (St. Petersburg): Instructors Christy Rabich/Tara Bishop

5th  Tie              Bethlehem High School (Bonifay): Instructor Chelsea Herndon


1st Place          Martin County High School (Stuart): Lily Tax, Paige Williams, Sophia Poirier, Georgia Poirier, Dominic Padovano, Instructor Shaun Southwick

2nd Place          Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Sydnie Gutierrez, Julian Alvarado, Emma Langston, Mayte Hernandez-Diaz, Instructor Paul Bonanno

3rd Place          Winter Park High School (Winter Park): Maria Santana, Madison Bryant, Murry Critcher, Audrey Alamina, Instructor Chris Whitlow

4th Place          Wekiva High School (Apopka): Greta Torres, Erick Hendrickson, Nicholas Eberle, Josephina Russo, Travis Grider, Instructor Christopher Bates

5th Place          Lake Minneola High School (Minneola): Anthony Miller, Kyndall Meacham, Elliot Lewis, Calvin Skolnik, Instructors Nick Sandora and Lance Bowles


1st Place            Wekiva High School (Apopka): Danny Ha, Ishia Vilus, Judah Myers, Keyshia Acevedo-Ares, Josean Vargas, Instructor Christopher Bates

2nd Place           Coral Springs High School (Coral Springs): Mariah Almodovar, Avinash Seepersad, Rylie Feller, Lanaya Nesmith, Instructor Aruna Lien

3rd Place           John A. Ferguson High School (Miami): Kayla Quintero, Teresa Kinnaird, Rebecca Wylie, Instructors Janett Toledo, Jorge Garcia, & Jebel Cordoba

4th Place           Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Lauren Trotto, Connor Butler, Katya King, Instructor Paul Bonanno

5th Place           Winter Springs High School (Winter Springs): Aaron Lambert, Shia Lorenzano, Ellyanna Rivera, Instructor Adam Efland


1st Place          Kadence Phillips, Bethlehem High School, Bonifay (Instructor Chelsea Herndon)

2nd Place         Mikayla Dailey, Bayside High School, Palm Bay (Instructor Stuart Gray)

3rd Place          Payton Miller, Steinbrenner High School, Lutz (Instructor Cheryl White)

4th Place          Kamiel Miller, St. Lucie West Centennial High School, Port St. Lucie (Instructor Christina Gedke-Balaschak)

5th  Tie              Melissa Rivera, Martin County High School, Stuart (Instructor Shaun Southwick)

5th  Tie              Lucia Bedoya, Coral Springs High School, Coral Springs (Instructor Aruna Lien)


1st Place            Dixie Hollins High School (St. Petersburg): Ty Cranston, Philip Smith, Justice Calle, Instructors Christy Rabich & Tara Bishop)

2nd Place           JP Taravella High School (Coral Springs): Myah Joseph, Pharrell Williams, Natalie Pisani, Instructor Scott Goodman

3rd Place           Martin County High School (Stuart): Gage Meskauskas, Jake Chase, Alex Garces-Kaline, Instructor Shaun Southwick

4th Place           Chipley High School (Chipley): Gretchen Green, Kaitlin Thompson, Carolynn Vanderbrink, Instructor Sandra Solger

5th Place          Steinbrenner High School (Lutz): Sophie Lopez, Amaya Pollack, Julissa Teran, Instructor Cheryl White

ProStart is a nationwide high school career program educating nearly150,000 students in culinary arts and restaurant management skills. Florida’s ProStart program is the largest in the nation with approximately 30,000 students enrolled annually. ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and sets a high standard of excellence for the industry’s next generation of leaders. Yearly, students compete on state and nation-wide levels to showcase skills learnt in their classroom kitchens.



1st  Place         Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Miami Sunset High School (Miami): Instructor Milagros Perez

3rd  Place         Olympia High School (Orlando): Instructor Kristina Bryant


1st Place          Windermere High School (Windermere): Keegan McBride, Charles Johnson, Alexandra Conley, Madeleine Empric; Instructor Heather Kelly

2nd Place         Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Morgan Fink, Alexis Presno, Madison Schapiro; Instructor Mitchell Albert

3rd Place          Miami Sunset High School (Miami): Raquel Guerrero, Jekcy Guerrero, Irianny Petit Soto, Jade Pagoda; Instructor Milagros Perez


1st Place          Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Morgan Fink, Alexis Presno, Madison Schapiro, Blake Blackman; Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Miami Sunset High School (Miami): Raquel Guerrero, Jekcy Guerrero, Irianny Petit Soto, Jade Pagoda; Instructor Milagros Perez

3rd Place          Olympia High School (Orlando): Annalise Blomberg, Molly Bryan, Aylin Sandboyva; Instructor Kristina Bryant


1st Place          Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Morgan Fink, Alexis Presno, Madison Schapiro, Blake Blackman; Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Horizon High School (Winter Garden): Renata Chaves, Adrianna Mason, Gracelynn Dull; Instructor Kate Restifo

3rd Place          Robert Morgan Education Center (Miami): Destinee Rodgers, Peyton McQueen, Julie Felipe-Careaga, Allanie Sahatoo; Instructor Alina Hughes

The Hospitality & Tourism Management Program (HTMP) is a high school curriculum that introduces 2,000 Florida students to the hospitality and tourism industry each year. HTMP presents the industry on a global scale with a large focus on diversity. Most importantly, this curriculum is industry driven as evidenced by the fact that more than 60 industry leaders served as subject matter experts, ensuring that today’s program matches the needs of hospitality employers across the world. Each year, Florida’s HTMP students compete at the state level to showcase their skills they have learned in the classroom.

For more information about ProStart, HTMP, or FRLA’s Educational Foundation, visit our webpage or contact Director Laura Rumer at