Multi-Talented Palmetto Senior Recognized by the CDC

It's the last week of school, so the band room at Palmetto Senior High in Pinecrest is a chaotic mix of students and teachers cleaning things up, locking away their instruments, saying goodbye until August.

For the seniors who just graduated, it's goodbye forever. For Kelly Culhane, it means the curtain's coming down on her jazz singing career.

"It was a super cool experience, I got to learn a whole new way of singing," Kelly said.

She spent three years as a vocalist with the jazz band, graduated near the top of her class, and Kelly is one of those kids who's always giving back. For example, she was president of the Special Olympics club.

"The just enjoy being part of the school and that was just a very rewarding thing to be part of this year," Kelly said.

Kelly didn't just stand out at Palmetto academically and musically, she also did a health-related project which received national recognition.

It was all about raising awareness of noise-induced hearing loss and how to prevent it.

"I had no idea that young people could have hearing damage at all and it was a little bit concerning since I had been in music my entire life," Kelly said.

Kelly researched the topic and designed a poster and a brochure which were distributed throughout Florida. She became one of only ten national Girl Scout Gold Award winners, and the Centers of Disease Control invited her to Atlanta to talk about her efforts.

Now Kelly is an evangelist for the cause, so listen up.

"The thing about hearing loss is it's painless, progressive, and permanent, but it's preventable, and that's what we want people to know about," Kelly explained.

Her friends and the faculty at Palmetto say Kelly's a role model for activist students.

"They see all the recognition she's received and that inspires them to say, oh wow, if she can do it, maybe I can as well," said fellow senior Livia Hochman.

"She always inspired me to keep working harder towards what I love doing," said Alia Hutton, another classmate.

"I wish I could duplicate her because her work ethic is fantastic," added Monica Serrano, who teaches jazz at the school.

Kelly is moving on to the University of Florida, where she wants to study neurology.

"I'm really interested in how neuroscience and music relate to each other, how we as humans understand music," Kelly said.

They'll be singing her praises at her high school for a long time.

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