SMA Prep Partners with Apparel Co. MANG to Give 7,000 Mangroves New Life

SMA Prep welcomed back Kyle Rossin, co-founder of the West Palm, high-performance apparel company, MANG. Prep’s young environmentalists work with MANG to give dying mangroves a second chance at life which in turn positively impacts Florida’s fragile ecosystem. As an environmentally responsible company, MANG’s “Buy One. Plant One.” initiative pledges to plant one mangrove propagule for every product that is purchased.  SMA Prep cadets provide the resuscitated mangroves they cultivate on campus to support MANG’s one plant at a time initiative.

Every August for the last five years, SMA- MAJ Deb Walker and her 6th-grade cadets have walked the local beaches and estuaries for stranded Red Mangrove seed pods (propagules). These “props” are doomed to decomposition unless placed vertically so that they can produce their famous red roots that are so valuable to the environment. This year, the cadets brought in over 7000 propagules and cultivated them until their first set of true leaves have appeared.

Several years ago, SMA-MAJ Walker received an email from a member of Captains for Clean Water, an ecological group in Ft. Myers. She was asked about her mangrove cultivation project and they offered to spread the word in South Florida. The result was an email from Kyle Rossin, co-founder of MANG.

Kyle takes the time to work with the cadets and give a lesson on the importance of mangroves in the local ecosystems. The cadets loaded up his truck with about 7000 mangrove propagules that they had been cultivating for months. Volunteers in West Palm then plant the props in local estuaries.

SMA Prep cadets benefit from the network of environmental goodwill SMA-MAJ Walker continues to build. “What a great experience for our cadets: to know that their months of effort are rewarded by their mangroves finding a new home and helping to restore the estuaries that have been so threatened by Red Tide.”

Click below to learn more about SMA-MAJ Deb Walker and her 6th-grade cadets’ past and ongoing green initiatives at SMA Prep:

About Sarasota Military Academy

Founded in 2002, Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) is a public charter, (6th-12th) located on 2 campuses in Sarasota, FL. As an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, SMA provides students with a 21st-century learning experience immersed in daily military principles of honor, respect, and leadership. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor, and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multicultural and globalized world. More information is available at

About MANG

MANG is a high-performance apparel and gear company dedicated to preserving the natural ecology of coastlines and mangrove ecosystems. Their team of avid fisherman and naturalists recognize that mangrove habitats are the life-support system and nursery for many juvenile marine species. “Our vision is by 2020 MANG will be a locally recognized and environmentally responsible company that is changing the world by planting one mangrove at a time.” More information is available at

Learning in Action: Prehistory Inquiries

Stonehenge — why was it built?  Who built it and how?  Catal Huyuk — how did its inhabitants live?  Why didn’t they have doors?

SMA Prep cadets are learning to think like archaeologists as they grapple with these prehistory questions in SMA-CPT Meissner’s IB World History course.


Exploring topics such as Stonehenge, Catal Huyuk, early humans, migrations, and Sumerian achievements, 6th grade students immersed themselves in research and inquiry about these ancient periods and events occurring before written records.


In addition to developing presentations that included detailed research about their selected topic, several students took their projects to the next level by creating models that supported their discoveries.  “I was really impressed with the creativity and details that my students displayed in their projects,” SMA-CPT Meissner proudly explained.

One of their discussions focused more deeply on Stonehenge as SMA-CPT Meissner shared the research about Dr. Andrew Young’s theory regarding stone/wood balls/rails method. As students learned more about the possible methods for moving the enormous stones to include the trench and log roller methods, questions began to form about the theories.  Bringing their ideas together, SMA-CPT Meissner sent an email to Dr. Bruce Bradley, Emeritus Professor from the University of Exeter, to find out more about possible excavations of stone or wooden balls near Stonehenge.  To everyone’s delight, Dr. Bradley responded!

Dear Eric,

The answer is no and yes.  There have been no stone or wood spheres found in the vicinity of Stonehenge that would work with the roller theory.  Some stone ones have been found in northern England.  However, there have been a few recovered at Stonehenge made of chalk.  While they are too soft to work they could have been models to be copied in wood.  There are no organic artifacts from Stonehenge. What can be said is that there is no direct archaeological evidence for how the stones were moved.  The log-roller method would need a hardened surface which should have left significant traces as would the trench method.  Neither has been found.  The stone/wood ball method would leave no traces.

I hope this has answered your questions. 


Bruce Bradley
Emeritus Professor
University of Exeter
Department of Archaeology

The students and SMA-CPT Meissner were thrilled to receive the response but realized this created even more questions about the theory.  Eager to have their inquiries answered by an expert in the field, the students again submitted their questions for SMA-CPT Meissner to send to Dr. Bradley.


Dr. Bradley,

Thanks so much for your reply, I really appreciate it. I told my students about it, and we were excited to hear more about the roller method theory. I explained to my students what you said in your email, and they asked that if the logger method leaves traces, why wouldn’t tracks used for the roller method?

Again, many thanks for your reply.


SMA-CPT Eric Meissner
6th Grade World History Teacher
Sarasota Military Academy Prep


Once again, Dr. Bradley responded to their questions!  Here are two of the pictures that the students studied as they pondered this mystery.


What do YOU think his response may have been?


Character Guides Action


Friends and Family,

The national political and societal environment has thrust some difficult topics into the forefront of our academic, health, and emotional discourse, especially in relation to harassment, abuse, and gender role behaviors of our youth and youth of the past. Many adults are having a great deal of difficulty addressing this topic with each other, so you can only imagine the difficulties our students are having with this discussion. I would like to share with you some disturbing statistics:

A recent national survey by Making Caring Common, a frightening 87 percent of 18- to 25-year-old women report having endured at some point in their past at least one of the following: being catcalled (55 percent); touched without permission by a stranger (41 percent); insulted with sexualized words (like “sl^&” or “b$%^&”) by a man (47 percent); insulted with sexualized words by a woman (42 percent); having a stranger say something sexual to them (52 percent); and having a stranger say they were “hot” (61 percent). Half of the men in this survey reported that they’d harassed a woman in at least one of these ways in the past. (Educational Leadership, Oct. 2018, v76, #2, pg. 52-57)

At Sarasota Military Academy, all of our students are “cadets”, a gender-neutral term. In addition, the concepts of “honor“, “respect“, and “integrity” are explicitly taught through our JROTC curriculum and are consistently discussing concepts of leadership. We ask that our instructors, and parents, speak to our cadets and children, both in the academic setting and at home, regarding the impact of an honorable leader (our cadets) on their society, simply by being an active “upstander” (stands up for the oppressed). Talk to your cadets about how this topic has become so divisive in our national setting, and encourage them to be that leader, that “upstander“, that changes his/her immediate societal environment. I truly believe that our cadets can make a very positive impact on their society and lead the way for our national leaders.

SMA-LTC Fred Fout
Head of School
SMA High School Campus

“Fearless Girl” Sculptor, Kristen Visbal, Inspires Cadets to Notice the Movement Around Them

visbalThe “Fearless Girl” sculpture placed as the opposing force against the Charging Bull on Wall St. was created by artist Kristen Visbal and became an iconic landmark almost overnight. SMA Prep cadets asked questions to learn about her journey as an artist and her passion to promote the value of gender and cultural equality worldwide.

Planning, completing projects and speaking engagements are abundant since “Fearless Girl” occurring in Norway, Germany, and Africa. Cadets were fortunate to share some precious time with Ms. Visbal. Jumping right in with questions, cadets were curious about what inspired “Fearless Girl”. Ms. Visbal explained that she responds to realism, was meticulous about measurements, and that her friend’s daughter Ellie inspired the figure.  She likes to work from real life as much as possible and the real young girl also had the right attitude.

Originally commissioned as part of an ad campaign to promote gender diversity in business, the statue was installed on March 17, 2017, the day before International Women’s Day. Ms. Visbal went on to explain that the young girl sculpture was to represent the future of what women in business could become and was requested in bronze to be an imposing figure in response the Wall St. bull.


Cadets are always curious to ask those that have pursued their passions if they ever failed at what they do. Ms. Visbal responded, “Every time I make a sculpture, I look at it and say I should have done this or that. After 20 some years, I learned to accept it and release it and move on. You get smarter as you go.” About another trying experience she recalls, “I lost an installation and I cried but telling the story helped to cope and then I started to exercise and eat right and I move on.”

She admitted to not liking school overall but did like history because her teacher was a good storyteller. She also loved art so much and enjoyed time to herself . She once got approval with a note from her mom to work on her art at home. What inspires her as an artist is marine-life and movement. As an artist, she notices movement in her surroundings and tries to capture moments in time. This explains the movement of wind in the skirt of “Fearless Girl”.


Ms. Visbal explained her larger goals as an artist and the impact she hopes to have in the world in response to being asked if she ever thought “Fearless Girl” would become such a big deal.  She explained the initial commission and installation was only supposed to be 4 days but turned into a permanent fixture in NYC and a favorite tourist selfie spot that also sends a powerful, global message of gender equality.

Ms. Visbal’s is currently focused on what is going to have the biggest impact on gender and cultural equality.  Promoting the value of leadership for women and equal pay and education in the workplace for all.

Ms. Visbal set a goal for cadets to, “go out today and look for the motion around you, capture an instant in time, and one day choose a career you are passionate about.  One that allows you to have a positive impact in the world.”

Trisha Yearwood Kicks Off Inspire Project Speaker Series

Platinum-selling, Grammy-winning artist and best-selling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood challenged SMA cadets to exceed expectations as she kicked off The Inspire Project Speaker Series for 2018-19. Ms. Yearwood is known for her moving vocals, her love of storytelling and her delicious southern recipes. SMA cadets responded to the down-home and down to earth charm that has become a trademark in her professional life. The focus of this year’s campus-wide initiative is Project Equality and Trisha Yearwood was gracious enough to spend some time taking questions from SMA Prep cadets.

When asked why she picked music to pursue over other interests, Mr. Yearwood responded, “music picked me, I just knew I wanted to be a singer, but if I hadn’t become a singer I might probably have become an accountant”. Ms. Yearwood was simply always passionate about music.

What drives Ms. Yearwood to keep up with all her success? She admits to being very competitive even if she isn’t good at something. She credits her mom and dad for being a  risk-taker, and her sense of adventure in trying new things. Her dad is the reason she fell in love with music, played guitar and sang. Her mom was the driving force that let me know as a woman she could do what she wanted and be happy. Ms. Yearwood stated that her parents are her “heroes”.

As far as being a woman in business, Ms. Yearwood pointed out that there are some challenges but you need to work hard no matter what and don’t let any excuse get in your way. As she was entering the music business, she is thankful that she had Reba McEntire as her mentor to help navigate as Trisha Yearwood began her early music career.

Cadets also received some words of wisdom on time management. She admitted to not really have time for everything she has going on in her life. “There are baseballs in the air and some fall on the ground. I try to choose what I can do well and learn how to say no. You can’t be a people pleaser because then you won’t do anything well.”

Responding to the question of liking school or not, Ms. Yearwood gave an honest answer. “I hated it and I liked it. My mom was a teacher and she was my teacher in the 3rd grade in a very small school. I was a self-proclaimed nerd and an “A” student who got involved in everything.” She clarified that it was music that was what she had always loved to do.

A large part of what The Inspire Project is about is to offer young people 1st hand accounts of what it is like to pursue your dreams. Cadets are always curious if people who become successful ever had to deal with failure. Ms. Yearwood mentioned that she is competitive and doesn’t enjoy failure. However, a person begins to appreciate failures as the successes become sweeter. “Learning what doesn’t work is just as important what does work. It is what you do after that that matters.”

Perseverance is a character trait that many cadets work to build every day. Mr. Yearwood shared that she never thinks about quitting, but that the true answer is there are moments when you just want to give up. You get past those moments and deep down even with a bad experience you have to know you don’t give up.

Sharing her strong sense of humor made this a relatable and fun experience for cadets. Ms. Yearwood stated that if she were not able to sing, she might be in prison. Even though her cookbooks have turned into a completely different career she says that she would always pick music. “If I weren’t successful in other things, I’d still find a way to sing in my local honky tonk.”