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, Digital & Interactive Media, Drama, English & Literature, General Scholarship, Journalism, Mathematics, Music & Dance, Science, Social Science, Speech, Vocational Technical and World Languages. 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 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
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.
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 challenges. 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. 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.