Students across district receive Superintendent’s Citizenship Award
As the school year draws to a close, students from every school in this district are receiving awards and accolades for their achievements in and out of the classroom. One such award is the Superintendent’s Citizenship Award, which is given to students in grades five, eight, and twelve, and was originally established in the 1976-77 school year. The awards were given out at the June 6 Board of Education meeting. “These children embody the qualities that make our students great,” said chairman Michael Harman.
Superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner spoke briefly about the award and what makes it special. “Students are chosen for their high qualities and responsibilities, respect for others, and dedicative efforts on behalf of their schools,” said Brenner, who also pointed out that the winners are chosen not only by the teachers, but fellow students as well. “I’ve had the opportunity to spend a few moments with each other winners, and it’s always a pleasure. I don’t get into the schools as much as I’d like, but when I do, it reminds me why I’m here,” Brenner added, before introducing the principal of each school who offered remarks of about each winner.
The first recipient was Katie Koslow, a fifth grader at Hindley. “Katie Koslow represents what it means to be a good citizen,” said Principal DJ Colella. Koslow’s teachers described her as a confident young lady with a polished demeanor. Colella said he was moved when he spoke to Koslow, as in her own words, she said, “being kind and responsible is a way of paying back the people who helped me along the way,” and added that even the smallest act of kindness is capable of changing the world. “I am so proud of Katie, she is a model for her peers,” closed Colella.
Liam Tomaszewski was the winner for Holmes school, and was introduced by Principal Paula Bleakley. “Liam is a student who truly epitomizes the phrase to lead by example. His actions speak louder than his words,” said Bleakley. She offered an anecdote about how Tomaszewski is helpful to classmates, even when it means impeded his own work. A student in Tomaszewski’s math class was struggling with a new concept, and Tomaszewski helped that student along, forgoing his own assignment, until they could both move forward on the work comfortably. Tomaszewski is also a member of the student council, the Kids Care Club, and was a volunteer at Holmes’ bingo night.
Lily Debano was the winner at Ox Ridge, and was introduced by Principal Luke Forshaw. “I am thrilled to recognize such a warm and wonderful student,” said Forshaw, before speaking about Debano’s achievements. Debano is a Kids Care Club member, and volunteered to help prepare for Ox Ridge holiday celebrations. “Lily serves as a role model to countless younger students,” said Forshaw. Her teachers described Debano as a student who is “always reliable, and a caring friend ever ready to help someone in need.”
The Royle School winner was Tyler Hughes, and was introduced by Principal Dean Ketchum. Hughes moved to Darien just a year ago in 4th grade, but Ketchum said, “in that short period of time he has made a huge impression.” Hughes turns in box tops for an event at school, and also volunteers at his local church. “If everyone could be like Tyler, our world would be a much better place,” said Ketchum.
The Tokeneke winner was Grayson Walsh and was introduced by Principal Mary Michelson. Michelson highlighted the voting process, and the fact that it includes teachers and students picking the award winner, and said, “her classmates chose wisely.” Walsh is a member of the school safety patrol, and also enjoys her work in the Tokeneke edible garden. Walsh is also a school ambassador who welcomes to new families and students to the Tokeneke School. Walsh is also active as a member of her field hockey and lacrosse teams. “The most important description is that she is a kind and generous young lady who always has a huge smile,” said Michelson, adding, “it is important to Grayson that everybody have somebody.”
Thomas Ostberg won the award for Middlesex. “Thomas brings a passion and excitement to learning that is contagious,” said Principal Shelley Somers. Ostberg ran a 10k with his father recently, “even though he really doesn’t like running,” said Somers. Ostberg is also a strong golfer. Somers spoke to Ostberg about why he thinks his classmates voted for him, and Somers said she was moved by his answer. “What resonates with me, is he thought he was voted for because he was kind. When people are having a bad day, he says to things to them to improve their outlook.”
“I’m honored to present you and thankful for all the things you bring to Middlesex,” closed Somers.
Darien High School has two winners, one male and one female, and they were presented by Principal Ellen Dunne. The first was Liz Borecki. “It’s difficult to think of a student more dedicated to making a difference than Liz. She is passionate about making an impact, and she does so with grace,” said Dunne. Borecki is a leader of the Community Council at DHS, and according to Dunne, “her course load alone would keep anyone busy, but she still finds time to help and lead others.” Borecki will be attending Wellesley College in the fall. “Her enthusiasm is contagious to all of us. Congratulations and thank you for all you’ve done for us,” said Dunne.
The male winner at DHS was Justin Plank. Plank is a member of the DHS state championship football team, and said his, “heart is at the center of this second family.” Plank’s teachers describe him as, “a humble young man who is a loyal friend and gentle giant.” Dunne called Plank, “Intuitive, sensitive, respectful, and engaging,” adding, “he is a dedicated student who has continued to challenge himself academically and contributes to the community by being part of a number of extracurricular activities.” Plank spent a great deal of time in the DHS tech ed department, taking everything from woodworking to engineering, and will continue to develop that passion at Vermont Technical College. “We are grateful for you generosity of spirit,” said Dunne, adding, “It has truly been my honor to thank you for the impact you’ve had on Darien High School.”
The Superintendent’s Citizenship Awards are a highlight of every school year. They are set apart in that it is not strictly a recognition of high academic achievement, or high extracurricular achievement, but a measurement of what it means to be an important member of a community. The winners being chosen by votes done among an entire school population of students and teachers speaks volumes of the character of the award winners.