Hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed.

This was demonstrated recently by faculty at Darien Public Schools, when both exemplary students and retiring staff members were recognized.

At the June 9 Board of Education special meeting, which was held virtually, Superintendent’s Citizenship Award recipients were given out to students in many different age groups.

Additionally, staff members who are retiring were also recognized.

Student awards

Middlesex Middle School: George Childs — “A natural leader who is admired by both his peers and his teachers”

Darien High School: Sophia Talwaker - “A true renaissance woman, an exceptional student with an inquisitive mind”

Kai Zhou - “Driven, motivated and possesses an incredible intellect, wisdom and willingness to listen intently to others”

According to Alan Addley, Darien Superintendent of Schools, award recipients will receive certificates and will be recognized at the school. The certificates will be memorialized in a prominent location.

The Superintendent’s Citizenship Award in Darien has been in existence since the mid-1970s.

“The criteria for the award is the students should show concern for and respect the right of others, demonstrate service through the school community through participation in clubs, school activities, and/or school community activities, demonstrate responsible behavior, demonstrate courteous behavior in his or her interactions with peers and adults, [and] demonstrate unselfish behavior in their interactions with peers and adults,” Addley said.

Recipients are nominated by their class members. Staff also participate in the voting process.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, this year, the Superintendent’s Citizenship Award is dedicated to the entire fifth grade class across the district, “who have stepped up to this absolute unique time period in their lives,” Addley said.

Fifth grade students in Darien attend Ox Ridge, Royle, Holmes, Tokeneke and Hindley Elementary Schools.

Mary Michelson, principal of Toekeneke Elementary School, spoke on behalf of all the principals on behalf of all the fifth grade students across the district.

“We believe the students are deserving of this recognition because of the resiliency, flexibility, kindness and collegiality that they have demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Michelson said.

Michelson continued: “Each elementary school lives by the simple but powerful set of values of our school code. This outstanding class has embodied our school code by showing kindness and acceptance of their peers and their teachers throughout the year, with a particularly admirable degree of respect to all during these last few challenging months.”

According to Michelson, the fifth grade class of 2020 has been responsible about staying engaged in eLearning and respectful about demonstrating appropriate online behavior.

“Throughout this trying time, our fifth graders remain positive, creative, and helpful to their families, friends and community,” she said. “We are so very proud of all these wonderful students and believe that their collective resolve in the face of such unique circumstances should be recognized by this important annual tradition.”

Darien Public Schools retirees

The following are the Darien Public Schools retirees for the year 2020:

 Connie Holyfield-Boyd, secretary to the English and social studies departments, Darien High School

 Beth Shapiro, psychologist, Darien High School

 Rob Trifone, biology teacher, football coach

 Gretchen Perrett, band teacher, Middlesex Middle School

 Susan Morrison, IDEA teacher, Middlesex Middle School

 Caryn-Anne Marshall, paraprofessional, Royle Elementary school

 Denise Merkling, fourth grade, Tokeneke Elementary School

 Judi Muro, principal’s secretary, Tokeneke Elementary School

 Carlton (Crow) Schneider, head custodian, Tokeneke Elementary School

 Maureen Kenefick, school nurse, Darien Public Schools

 Tommy Moccia, carpenter, Darien Public Schools

 Keith Sci, custodian, Darien High Schools

 Artemio Uy, groundskeeper, Darien public schools

 Linda Piro, executive assistant to the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, Darien Public Schools

 Janet Rivers, executive assistant to the special education department, Darien Public Schools

 Judy Tucker, accounts payable secretary, Darien Public Schools

 Debbie Bossie, director of food services, Darien Public Schools

 Richard Sadlon, director of music, Darien Public Schools

Darien High School has a tradition of presenting honorary diplomas to all of their retirees each year.

Addley thanked this year’s retirees for everything they have done through the years.

“You’ve seen generations of kids and classes come and go,” he said. “You have contributed in a number of ways to clubs, sports, activities and other opportunities to make kids lives special in many special ways.”

He referenced “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, which he said is his favorite book.

“It tells the story of a tree who gives everything to a student,” he said.

Addley gave all the retirees a copy of the book in recognition of their “unconditional love and support you have shown and dedication to young people,” he said.

Watch the Board of Education Special Meeting on Darien TV/79.

sfox@darientimes.com