The Miami Herald Silver Knight Awards is one of the nation’s most highly regarded student awards programs. The purpose of this Awards program is to recognize outstanding students who have not only maintained good grades but have also unselfishly applied their special knowledge and talents to contribute significant service to their schools and communities. The Silver Knight Awards program was instituted at The Miami Herald in 1959 by John S. Knight, past publisher of The Miami Herald, founder and editor emeritus of Knight-Ridder Newspapers and 1968 Pulitzer Prize winner.
The program is open to high school seniors with a minimum 3.2 GPA (unweighted) in public, private, and parochial schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Students may be nominated in 15 categories: Art, Athletics, Business, Drama, English & Literature, Foreign Language, General Scholarship, Journalism, Mathematics, Music, New Media, Science, Social Science, Speech, and Vocational-Technical. Each school may nominate one student per category.
Nominees from all schools appear on a designated day to be interviewed by a panel of independent judges. Each panel of judges selects one Silver Knight and three Honorable Mentions in that category. Names are not revealed until the Silver Knight Awards ceremony. Silver Knights receive $2,000, a Silver Knight statue and a medallion presented by American Airlines. The three Honorable Mentions are presented $500 and an engraved plaque. The cash awards are made possible in part by the generous support of the Blank Family Foundation.
Qualifications & Nomination Process
The Silver Knight Awards program is open to 12th-grade students in public, private and parochial schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with a minimum 3.2 unweighted GPA. Class rank and /or percentile are no longer required. Only students with this academic requirement in addition to strong records of service to their school and community should be nominated. Students in vocational and adult centers must be nominated by the public high school to which they would be assigned by residence. Schools may nominate one student per category. Nominating students is the responsibility of each high school.
The essential qualification for a Silver Knight nominee is service. A Silver Knight is one whose record of service to the school and community best exemplifies an unselfish and continuous use of one’s talents in helping others. Service does not have to be related to a nominee’s category, but some achievements both in and out of the classroom must be related to the category. Judges evaluate community service especially during the full high school career, 9th through 12th grades. Nominees are evaluated based on the following criteria: service, achievements, character, leadership and interview skills. Two major factors to be weighed are consistency and lasting impact of service. Other factors include independent thinking, creative problem solving, leadership in getting others involved, and perseverance in overcoming obstacles. Most nominees will have a wide range of service activities.
Achievement in the school and community is another vital part of the Silver Knight profile, especially in qualifying a nominee for a specific category. The principal’s signature on the Certification Form is considered sufficient documentation for school honors and awards. However, a nominee should use support documents to explain the significance of school awards. Major awards and achievements outside the school should be documented.
A student wishing to become a Silver Knight nominee must apply through the school’s Silver Knight Coordinator appointed by the principal. The school’s Silver Knight Coordinator is encouraged to proactively seek qualified nominees, working with teachers, guidance counselors and parents in this effort. The coordinator should also organize a committee to select nominees. A school may ask for assistance from The Miami Herald to determine an appropriate category for a nominee.
A student with a strong record of service may apply to become a nominee in more than one category, but the school may nominate that a student in only one category, if any. Some achievements both in and out of the classroom must be related to the category. However, service does not have to be related to the category. In General Scholarship, a student must submit a complete high school transcript, including class rank or percentile, test scores such as SAT and ACT, Advanced Placement exams and first semester grades for 12th grade.
Upon nominee selection Coordinators should enter list into website. Coordinators will be provided a user name to complete the nomination and application process on-line.
Award Category Descriptions
Art Excellence should be demonstrated through creative ability in drawing, painting, sculpture, fabrics, photography, graphic design or any other medium in the visual arts. Service may include the teaching, inspiration or encouragement of others through the use of visual arts. Art nominees are encouraged to bring a portfolio of their work to the interview.
Athletics Excellence should be demonstrated through physical education or leadership and participation in individual and team sports in the school and community. A nominee may be a participant in sports not included in a school’s athletic program (i.e., archery, sailing, equestrian events). Service and activities may include managing recreation programs, coaching or assisting in athletic activity that contributes to the welfare of others.
Business Excellence should be demonstrated through accounting, entrepreneurial initiatives, marketing and distributive education or consumer education. Service and activities may include the application of office technology and business organization for the benefit of the community. Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) may be a major outlet for service.
Drama Excellence should be demonstrated through acting, singing, film, video or radio, dance in theatrical productions, or staging and directing such productions. Service and activities may include designing sets, writing original scripts, directing, performing music or otherwise assisting in choreography or technical productions that may address community concerns. Vocalists who are not involved in theatrical productions are better suited for the Music category.
English & Literature Excellence should be demonstrated through leadership or initiation of activities related to a fuller understanding of the English language, especially an appreciation for literature. Service and activities may include tutoring in basic reading skills, fostering a love of reading, or encouraging individual expression through written communication.
Foreign Language Excellence should be demonstrated by advancing the study of foreign languages or using a foreign language, as a writer, translator, or interpreter for the benefit of others. A nominee is engaged in the study of any language other than English, even if it is the study of a nominee’s native tongue. Judges will consider the level of advanced study and the extent that the language is “foreign” to a nominee. Service and activities may include promoting better national relations and multicultural understanding, using the foreign language to help others.
General Scholarship Excellence should be demonstrated through accelerated studies, such as research in science or mathematics; by tutoring in any academic area; or by encouraging participation in advanced studies and competition. A nominee must have superior academic achievements and must submit a complete high-school transcript that includes class rank or percentile, test scores such as SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement exams, and first-semester grades for 12th grade.
Journalism Excellence should be demonstrated by using writing, editing or reporting skills to benefit others in school, church or civic organizations, or through newspapers, magazines or electronic media in the community. Photographers may be better suited for the Art category unless their photos are used in news publications. Producers and technicians for television programs should choose the Vocational-Technical category unless they are involved in news writing and editing. Nominees may bring a yearbook or several editions of a student newspaper to the interviews, but no more than one edition of the newspaper may accompany the Entry Form.
Mathematics Excellence should be demonstrated by contributing to mathematical knowledge through individual or group research; by fostering interest in advanced mathematics; by tutoring in mathematics, or by using computer science to benefit the community.
Music Excellence should be demonstrated by performing vocal or instrumental music for the benefit of others, or by fostering wider participation and appreciation for music through school, church or civic organizations. Service and activities may include leading groups that share musical talents with the community. A nominee does not have to participate in a high school’s music classes or ensembles but must document advanced study of an instrument (i.e. vocalist, piano, harp, pipe organ). Music nominees are encouraged to bring a sample of their work (including the vehicle to play their sample) or other method of demonstrating their ability in this category.
New Media Excellence should be demonstrated by using digital media skills to produce a product that is interactive and digitally distributed to benefit others in school, church or civic organizations; or by creating a new media product through text, pictures, animation, video, sound, or the Internet for the community. The areas of television, film, music composition, and photography may be better suited for the Drama, Art, Music, or Vocational-Technical categories unless their new media projects are a result of the student initiating, developing, and facilitating the creative process. Nominees may bring a portfolio demonstrating the creative process for the product to the interview (including the vehicle to play their creative sample), but no more than one new media product may accompany the Entry Form.
Science Excellence should be demonstrated through advanced study or application of the principles of chemistry, physics, biology, botany, earth and space sciences, physiology and other specific areas, or by encouraging study in these areas. Judges will evaluate the service rendered through hospital laboratory research against the academic credits given a nominee for such research. Other service or activities may include promoting the preservation of the environment or working to save an endangered species.
Social Science Excellence should be demonstrated through the use of knowledge of American and world history, current events, political science, economics, or sociology for the benefit of others. Service or activities may include activities related to Student Government as well as local, state and federal government (i.e. issue advocacy, voter registration and political campaigns); fundraising or volunteering for social service organizations such as United Way and various health and human service agencies; and history education and preservation.
Speech Excellence should be demonstrated through debate or public speaking. Service or other activities may include organizing public forums, serving as a moderator or spokesperson, performing speech therapy, or encouraging individual expression through oral communication. A public speaker involved in advocacy of current issues but not having classes in speech or debate may be better suited for Social Science.
Vocational-Technical Excellence should be demonstrated through the use skills in health occupations, home economics, childcare, trades, criminology, travel and tourism, drafting, and other industrial arts, television production, agribusiness and natural resources. Service and activities may include activities in clubs such as Youth Crime Watch, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), Technology Student Association (TSA), Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS), Cooperative Education Clubs of Florida (CECF) and Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA). Students of graphic design whose projects include web or multi-media components might be better suited for the New Media category.
All applications must be completed on-line. A nominee submits five packets of the Entry Form - a final printout of the application that has been submitted online plus four photocopies. Attach to each of the four Entry Forms a photocopied set of the Support Documents and headshot photo. Support Documents can include numerous one-paragraph summaries that inform judges about a debate tournament, a math competition, an art exhibit, a youth symphony, etc. These are limited to 12 pages printed on one side. Do not submit original award certificates; please keep your awards and make photocopies.
Support Documents must include a letter of recommendation with specific information about the nominee’s community service having the most impact, as described in the Major Project portion of the Entry form. Additional letters of recommendation are excellent Support Documents. Please note that the Faculty Recommendation that is required as part of the entry form is not included in the 12 pages of supporting documentation. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
How to apply ON-LINE
Coordinators will be provided a user name. In most cases it will be your first initial and last name. Example: Kathy Jones user name: kjones
2. Enter your username
3. Check that the information we have for you and your school is accurate. If there is an error, please email us immediately at
4. To submit your nominees click on 'Add New Nominee'
5. Fill out each field to complete the profile for each of your
nominees. ALL FIELDS MUST BE COMPLETE. NO BLANKS. Enter N/A if not applicable.
6. Once you have completed all fields, click on 'Submit'. You will
then be redirected to your main 'Coordinator' page and will be able to view your full nominee list. You can continue to update your nominees throughout the application process.
7. Once entered by Coordinators, Nominees can log in and begin to work on their applications. Log on to http://silverknightaward.herald.com/nomineemainmenu.asp.
8. Nominee should logon with the nominee passcode you created on-line. Then click on EDIT ENTRY FORM or ADD YOUR PHOTO to work on the application.
9. Remember to instruct your nominees to SAVE their applications. At the very bottom on the application click the tab CLICK HERE TO SAVE
10. Once the Nominee has completed the on-line application and all entries are complete, please note to save entry. All fields must be completed. No blanks. Enter N/A when fields are not applicable to assure you can submit the nominees application. Only the Coordinator can submit the application. Click SUBMIT FORM. Upon clicking yes to the two warning prompts, the application will be LOCKED and STAMPED FINAL VERSION with the date and time. Applications will not be accepted without being LOCKED and STAMPED FINAL VERSION.
Documenting Community Service
Every nominee's list of community service outside the school must include the months and the number of hours devoted to that service.
- Tutor - Miramar Elementary - Sep 07 – Dec 07 (21 hours)
- Volunteer – Memorial Hospital - Jun 07 – Aug 07 (18 hours)
Extracurricular activities in the school do not require a time frame or number of times involved because these are usually listed under Achievements rather than Service.
Examples include: newspaper or yearbook editor, student government or class officer, choral and instrumental music, cheerleading, drill team, debate, theater and athletics. However, if a band ensemble performed at a nursing home after school hours, that would be service outside the school. If a nominee performed in the school's spring concert, no accounting is necessary.
There are two exceptions where service in the school must show the months and number of hours served: - All tutoring service - Major in-school projects, such as a United Way drive, health fair, forums on teen issues.
The Nominee, Parent/Guardian, Coordinator and Principal must certify the statements by signing the Certification Form, which is part of the application.
The color photograph, submitted both electronically and original hard copy photo to be attached by a paper clip to the original Entry Form, must be a 2 x 3 inch, head-shoulders photo, no other formats will be accepted. All others will be rejected and student photo will not be placed in ceremony program book.
Photographs must be submitted in a jpeg format and with a required 300 dpi. It is required when submitting your photograph, to save file under CATEGORY CODE, LAST NAME, FIRST NAME
Example: ART Cook Katie.jpg USE THE FOLLOWING CODES:
ART - Art
ATH - Athletics
BUS - Business
DRA - Drama
ENG - English and Literature
FOR - Foreign Language
GEN - General Scholarship
JOU - Journalism
MAT - Mathematics
MUS - Music
NEW - New Media
SCI - Science
SOC - Social Science
SPE - Speech
VOC - Vocational-Technical
Original photos: (The nominee’s name, school and category must be printed on the back of the color photo. Before making photocopies of page 1 of the Entry Form, it is best to lay the color photo in the upper right corner.