As the school year comes to an end and students are receiving awards and accolades, eight students across all districts were honored at the June 12 Board of Education meeting with the Superintendent’s Citizenship Award. The award, originally established in the 1976-77 school year, is given to students in grades five, eight, and twelve. Each student is chosen for their qualities of responsibility, concern for others, and dedicated efforts on behalf of their respective schools.
Superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner spoke briefly about the importance this award has to him and more importantly, what the students mean to represent. “Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with each of these students and what a joy it is. To be able to sit with these young students who in so many ways are so much older than their years and in so many ways can teach not only their peers, but the adults.”
The first recipient was Riley Keating, a fifth grader from Tokeneke. “She is the best example of someone who is happy, responsible, respectful, and inclusive. Her classmates chose wisely, “ said Principal Mary Michelson. Michelson also mentioned Riley’s role at always being a helping hand at Tokeneke, being one of the schools ambassadors welcoming new families to Tokeneke. Keating began working with the Bronze Award and helped raise $600 to make comfort bags for children at Yale Hospital. Michelson ended saying “She is kind, generous, a great friend. Riley wants to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Nicholas Johnston was the winner for Hindley School, and was introduced by Principal DJ Colella. Colella recalled Johnston’s description of himself saying “It’s fun to help people.” One of Nico’s friends described him as being that kid who is always there to help in any way that he can. Colella also recalled a line that stood out to him in Johnston’s speech to the Hindley faculty for winning the award, “I try to treat everyone the same, and to be friendly with everyone because everyone has something cool to add. Being different is awesome.”
Megan Hayes was the winner for Holmes School, and was introduced by Principal Paula Bleakley. Bleakley said Megan, “Truly epitomizes the characteristics for the Superintendent Citizenship Award.” She also mentioned that in Megan’s essay for her nomination, Megan was touched by a quote reading “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose being kind.”
And Bleakley said Megan has exemplified that. Also, in 3rd grade she decided to grow her own hair and then cut it for Locks of Love. Bleakley finished by saying that Megan’s motto is “Be safe, be responsible, be respectful, be kind and be positive. “
The Ox Ridge winner was William Barber, introduced by Principal Luke Forshaw.
Forshaw shared that Barber is a wonderful and outstanding part of the Ox Ridge community. He is a part of Kids Care club and chorus and consistently works to help other kids in the district to build the characteristics he embodies. Forshaw said William is a “helpful, sincere leader who ensures that others are cared for at Ox Ridge.” Barber also stands up to those on the bus and is a bus buddy for those who need help standing up for themselves. Forshaw finished by saying that William “Leads by example in how he respects others around him.”
Jackson Nee was the winner for Royle School, and was introduced by Principal Dean Ketchum. Ketchum began by saying this is “one of the best nights to come to a board meeting, it is so amazing to see this award.” He went on to talk about how Jackson is a delightful, kind, hard working young man who treats everyone the same. He offers a good job whether it is academically or socially, and Ketchum said this was displayed many times in the schools book club. In Nee’s nomination speech, he quotes Derek Jeter, saying “There may be more people who have more talent than you, there is no excuse for anyone who works harder than you do.” Ketchum then added that he believes Nee will continue to hold himself to the highest standard.
The Middlesex Middle School winner was Alexis Lyons, introduced by Principal Shelley Sommers. Sommers began by saying that Alexis “is a major contributor to the Dragon Newspaper and the first one to experiment with adding a video onto our online addition.” Lyons found her passion in the sciences and will be studying science at the high school. She also discovered the joy in reaching out to others in being a “compassionate citizen of MMS and being a friend who is not judgmental and who offers that word of support.” Outside of school, she is a soccer player and Girl Scout and her newest project is giving rides to those at the train station at night. Sommers said she will miss Lyon’s “smile and great attitude she brought sunshine even on the bleakest day.”
Kerry Blatney was one of the two winners for Darien High School, and was introduced by Principal Ellen Dunn. Dunn began by saying that Blatney is an “exceptional young woman who is destined to make an impact on our world.” Although Kerry is in one of the high schools most rigorous course studies, she challenges herself outside of content area. Her involvement in the China Exchange program “signifies her ability to expand her world ,” Dunn said. As the president of the honors society and many other groups, she shares her time and talent with others who need additional support. Kerry is looking forward to continuing her studies in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania.
William Morrill was the male winner for Darien High School, and was also introduced by Dunn. Dunn immediately began by saying that “Liam is a smart, funny and caring young man.” He was a member of Post 53 and was part of Save the Sound and participated in a water study as an extracurricular. Morrill was also a member of the Eco Citizens Club, and was elected to a leadership position in that club by his peers. About his involvement in extracurricular activities, Dunn said “His dedication raises the bar in terms of commitment and involvement.” And continued to say that “His work at Post 53 and broad experience in the science department have inspired scientific study at collegiate level.” He also painted a mural in stairwell B that is a “legacy to artistry and scientific curiosity.” Morrill will be going to the University of California San Diego in the fall.
Superintendent Dr. Brenner then ended the award ceremony by acknowledging the Fitch Academy for concluding its first year. He, along with Chairman Tara Ochman, thanked those who stepped up and embraced the program and its students beyond what was expected.