West Hartford Students and Staff Honored at Board of Education Awards

Semi-annual awards ceremony includes honors for academics, athletics, leadership, arts, and outstanding communications.

The West Hartford Board of Education held its semi-annual awards ceremony Tuesday night at King Philip Middle School, recognizing students and educators for academic and athletic achievements as well as excellence in leadership and distinction in the arts.

"This is the culmination of all that we do together, as educators and students," said Board of Education Chair Bruce Putterman as he opened the ceremony. To the students being honored, Putterman said it was "one step on your journey toward lifetime accomplishment and learning."

Putterman and Board of Education members Terry Schmitt, Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, Mark Zydanowicz, and Jay Sarzen presented the awards. Board members Elin Katz and Naogan Ma were absent due to illness.

The awards were presented:


National AP Scholar: Congratulations to Hall student Leo Tinone for being named a National AP Scholar, granted to students in the United States who receive an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on 8 or more of these exams.

Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship:  The College Board recognizes students whose High Selection Index places them among the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million students who took the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in the fall of 2011. The following are Conard and Hall High Schools' National Merit Commended students: Julia Appicelli, Rachel Aronow, Molly Behan, Andrew Bertini, Molly Borden, Amalia Cote, David Dobrynin, Michael Farrell, John Holland, Stephanie Hua, Joy Kachko, David Katz, Julie Kelman, Colleen Litchfield, Theodore Monyak, Sacha Moore, Isabel Nip, Ethan Prihar, Margaret Rowe, Shelby Saunders, Gabriela Smith-Rosario, YouYou Tian, Owen Wilcox, Alexander Wittstein, Erica Witte, and Ming-Cee Yee.

National Merit Semifinalist: About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQY), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The Nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.  The following are Hall High Schools National Merit Semifinalists: Hannah Finn-McMahon, Clare Hern, Ashwini Joshi, Isabel Kornman, Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Ayushi Mishra, Kendall Teare, Leo Tinone, and Jane Yu.

AP Scholar Award: This award is given to those students who have completed 3 or more AP exams with grades 3 or higher. The following Conard and Hall High School students that have qualified for the AP Scholar Award: Suyash Adhikari, Emily Apter, Ashley Arthur, Kaitlin Beach, Molly Behan, Ellis Boettger, Shannon Booth, Siena Clymer, Amalia Cote, Caroline Crafts, Margaret Czepiel, Isaac Dashefsky, Whitney Davis, Owen Dawson, Mariam Dembele, Aimee DiPietro, Jacob Dufault, Shira Feldman, Elle Fontanazza, Courtney Fuller, David Girard, Jared Gravely, Tessa Green, Jessilyn Hartman, Nam Hoang, Rebekah Hoisl, Tatsuya Jepson, Jake Karp, Julie Kelman, Adam Khan, Isabel Kornman, Shushrusha Lamsal, Xuan Liu, Chris Mathew, Morgan Milhomens, Marisa Mitrano, Kathryn Newton, Isabel Nip, Ruth Onyirimba, Jamie Oriol, Michael Patterson, Jessica Phu, Maria Pleshkevich, Zachary Powers, Joseph Presing, Ethan Prihar, Brendon Rossmeisl, Justin Salm, Shelby Saunders, Tyree Seymour, Brendan Smith, Gabriela Smith-Rosario, Nikaya Smith, Gifford Spada, Alexandra Torchigina, Erika Terencio, Caroline Tibbitts, Paige Townsend, Benjamin Wein, Owen Wilcox, Ming-Cee Yee, and Chengchen Zhan.

AP Scholar with Honor: This award is given to students who earn an average of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken and grades 3 or higher on 4 or more AP Exams. The following Conard and Hall High School students have qualified: Julia Appicelli, Adam Baral, Zoe Barlow, Andrew Bertini, Brian Bertini, Molly Borden, Mark Bouchard, Caroline Buyak, Micheal Carducci, Justin Chen, Gavriel Cohn, Anne Coursey, Daniel Gibson, Christopher Jastrzebski, Caroline Kuzoian, Emily Kuzoian, Nguyen Le, Chukyan Li, Angelica Lindsey-Velez, Juan Lopez, Mohammed Malik, Leah McGovern, Miranda Nowell, Anurag Ojha, Lily Peng, Caitlin Piker, Sara Schulwolf, Rhyza Fleur Velasco, Emily Weinstein, Kathryn Wieber, and Tess Woods.

AP Scholar with Distinction: This award is granted to students who receive an average grade of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and grades of 3 or higher on 5 or more exams. The following Conard and Hall High School students have qualified for this award: Sarah Allen, Grace Bugos, Celeste Cyriac, David Dobrynin, Michael Farrell, Evan Ferguson-Hull, Cassandra Festa, Primativa Gradante, Clare Hern, John Holland, Stephanie Hua, Ashwini Joshi, Joy Kachko, David Katz, Mohammad Khan, Christian Kuntz, Colleen Lynch, Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Sara Meotti, Theodore Monyak, Margaret Rowe, Anna Sklenar, Kendall Teare, YouYou Tian, Leo Tinone, and Jane Yu.

Mathematical Association of America:  The American Mathematics Competition Grade 8 (AMC 8) is a 25- question, 40-minute exam. The content of the exam focuses on middle school mathematics, and it is designed to assess the development and enhancement of problem-solving skills. Many problems are intended to challenge students by offering problem-solving experiences beyond those provided in most middle school mathematics classes. By virtue of their scores, Sedgwick Middle School student Trevor Ratchford, King Philip student Benjamin Foxman, and Bristow students Emily Hardy and Elizabeth Rousseau, have all earned Gold Medal status from the Mathematical Association of America.

First Lego League: FIRST LEGO League is a robotics program for 9 to 16 year olds which is designed to get children excited about science and technology and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Teams are composed of up to ten children with at least one adult coach. In FLL, the children do the work and the work is programming an autonomous robot (using the LEGO MINDSTORMS robot set) to score points on a thematic playing surface, creating an innovative solution to a problem as part of their project, all while being guided by the FLL Core Values. These three elements, the Robot Game, Project, and FLL Core Values make up what we call our Yearly Challenge. Participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork. Congratulations to the following students for taking First Place for Robot Performance at the Regional Tournament and Second Place for ResearchAmina Shakeel, Sean Dombrofski, Isabella Galm, Jamis Fite, Luke Hache, Abigail Sunde, Aditya Awasthi, Prithvi Guddera, and Dexter McCann.

These students are part of the Smith Quest program (under the direction of teacher Kathy Hardesty) and include Smith alumni now attending King Philip Middle School.

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: Starting with a virtual cash account of $100,000 students strive to create the best performing portfolio using a live trading simulation for 10 weeks. Math Quest students research and evaluate stocks and make decisions based on what they have learned. They need to understand how the economy works and to calculate their returns they need to do the math. Congratulations to Luke Hache for taking First Place in the Stock Market Game. Luke gained his greatest return on a stock having to do with the precious metal, silver. He will attend an awards ceremony in the spring.


Connecticut Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association: Congratulations to John McClure, Hall High School swim coach, for being named the Swim Coach of the Year. This is John’s 30th year of coaching. He coaches both the boys and girls swim teams. His girls team won the conference title for the third consecutive year. The Hall girls swim team is 28-0 for the past three years.  John is an alum of Hall High School and was one of the top swimmers for Hall High School.

Connecticut High School Association: Congratulations to Robert Cersosimo for being named a Hall of Fame Inductee by the CT High School Coaches Association for his years of service in his sport and for his many accomplishments. Rob has been the head football coach at Conard High School for the past 28 years, from 1984 to the present. His record is 180-104-3. His teams have earned four football conference titles and earned five CIAC playoff berths – two undefeated football teams and one State runner-up.

All-State: All-State student athletes have distinguished themselves as elite athletes in their sports in the state of CT. The criteria for All-State recognition varies from sport to sport. Criteria in individual sports are dependent upon overall placement in state championship meets while team sport individuals are nominated and selected by the state coaches of that sport. The following Conard and Hall students have been recognized by the CT High School Coaches’ Association for outstanding ability in their sports:

All State Swimming (girls): Clara Capone, Eliza Maciag, Kelley Mantz, Sarah Mantz, Hayley McClure

All State Soccer (boys): David Abunaw and Matheus Souza (Matheus was also named All New England)

All State Senior Bowl Selection for Soccer: David Abunaw, Daniel Gomez, Benjamin Villaparedes, and Colin Wilkinson (David was also nominated for MVP Senior Bowl)

All State Soccer (girls): Allyson Swaby (also All New England)

All State Cross Country (boys): Zachary Magin

All State Cross Country for (girls): Elizabeth Lagoy and Shea Williams

All State Field Hockey: Kara Hearn, Keilani Lai-Hipp, and Jamie Oriol. Keilani was nominated for Senior Bowl Selection.

All Academic Field Hockey: Julia Appicelli and Keilani Lai- Hipp

All State Football: Matt Houpert

National Soccer Coaches Association of America: Congratulations to the Conard girls’ soccer team for having earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award. This award is based on the average GPA of the entire team. The average GPA for the team this year was 3.76. This is the 9th consecutive year the team has won this award. Accepting this award on behalf of the team are captains Melanie Haeflich and Julia Galanto along with head coach, Nick Moffo.


West Hartford Teacher of the Year: Congratulations to Shery Bober, French World Language teacher at Norfeldt Elementary School, for being named the 2012-13 West Hartford Teacher of the Year. The Teacher of the Year process is rigorous, beginning with nominations from other teachers.  Nominees then submit a resume, essay and recommendations. Finalists have a lesson videotaped, and the Teacher of the Year Committee formally interviews the final three candidates. Shery has organized and taught a before school French Club for first and second graders. She has been instrumental in creating French Fairy Tales Theater. Shery’s many honors include the Jane Graveen Award, the CT Council of Language Teachers statewide annual award for excellence in foreign language instruction in elementary schools; she has been a presenter at CT COLT and a guest speaker at the UConn Language Teachers Mentoring Program and at the CT Department of Education French Praxis II Review Board.

CT Association of Schools: Congratulations to Julio Duarte for being named the 2013 CT High School Assistant Principal of the Year by the CT Association of Schools.  He will be honored at a reception in October, 2013 and will travel to Washington, D.C., in April, where he will be recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity select one assistant principal to represent their state. From the state winners, three finalists are named as contenders for the title of National Assistant Principal of the Year. Mr. Duarte has worked at Conard High School for the past ten years, the first six as a school counselor and the last four as assistant principal.

The CT Association of Public School Superintendents: Congratulations to Hall student Jordan Gelber and Conard student Olivia Proietti for being selected to receive the CAPSS Student Recognition Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual who demonstrates leadership service to his or her school, academic prowess, and service to others in their community. Jordan is a member of the Student Faculty Committee, is a Student Senator, is active in Mock Trial and Co-President of “Be the Media” video club and serves as a West Hartford Police Explorer. Olivia is an Advanced Placement and Honors student, and has co-founded the Kids Helping Kids Club which supports the Lose the Training Wheels Program. The LTTW program helps students with physical or mental challenges learn to ride a two-wheeler. Students from across the Eastern seaboard participate in this program.

Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout is the highest-ranking award given to only a select few for their demonstration of leadership and service.  Only about 4% of Scouts have earned the rank since 1911. To earn the Eagle Scout rank, a boy scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills. A number of specific skills are required to advance through the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. Congratulations to Conard student Tyler Terranova for being awarded the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America.


NAfME (National Association for Music Education) ALL-EASTERN: This bi-annual festival draws students from many states (CT, DC, DE, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI, PA, VT). The selection process for NAfME All-Eastern Honor Ensembles is rigorous. A student must first be accepted into a CMEA (CT Music Educators Association) All-State ensemble, competing with over 4,000 students from all over CT. Select All-State students are then recommended for NAfME All-Eastern. Only a small percentage of the ensemble participants are selected from Connecticut. The following students have been chosen to participate in a NAfME All-Eastern Honor Ensemble:

Band: Emily Isko (Clarinet), Alex Belser (Tuba)

Choir:  Jared Graveley, Taylor Hadra, Dean Marino, Rebecca Schwartz

Orchestra:  Edward Huang (String Bass), Leah McGovern (Viola)

OAKE (Organization of American Kodaly Educators) NATIONAL HONOR CHOIRS: The following Norfeldt students were chosen from submitted recordings to be a part of the OAKE National Children’s Choir: Jessica Mason and Liam Stone. They will perform at the OAKE National Conference in Hartford in March, 2013.

CT Music Educators Association Elementary Honors Choir: The participants in this honors ensemble are students in grades 4-6 and represent exemplary vocal musicianship. The choir will rehearse and perform at the annual CMEA In-Service Conference in Hartford in April. The following King Philip students have been selected to participate in the CT Music Educators Association Elementary Honors Choir: Luke Aubin, Leela Cullity-Younger, Sarah Lewis, and Matthew Thomas.


The Connecticut Boards of Education has honored school districts with the Award of Excellence in Education Communications since 1975. Their goal is to identify and honor employees in school districts and communities for outstanding communication.

The following projects have been chosen as Award Winners:

In the category of Parent/Student Handbook: William H. Hall Student Handbook. Submitted by:  Shelley Solomon and Amy LaRose

In the category of Course Selection Guide: LifeLearn Adult/Kids Summer 2012 Catalog. Submitted by: Dave Downes, Ruth Kozlowski, Gail Turner and Amy LaRose.

In the category of Special Project: Pops N Jazz Poster 2012. Submitted by:  Haig Shahverdian and Amy LaRose.

In the category of Computer Generated Project: “The Hoot” Whiting Lane Elementary School online newspaper. Submitted by: Kim Hannan and Johanna Cleary.

In the category of Website: West Hartford Public Schools Website. Submitted by:  Karen List, Denise Jaffe and Amy LaRose.

The following projects have been chosen as Honorable Mention:

In the category of District Budget: West Hartford Public Schools Budget. Submitted by: Chip Ward, Jane Roy, Lisa Newton and Amy LaRose.

In the category of Parent/Student Handbook: Bugbee Handbook and Directory. Submitted by: Noam Sturm, Lauren Fine, Jen Kabakoff, Jenny Ort and Amy LaRose.

In the category of Course Selection Guide: William H. Hall Program of Studies. Submitted by: Shelley Solomon and Amy LaRose.

In the category of Special Project: ArtBeat 2012 Poster Invites. Submitted by: Pam Muphy, Sue Gudat, Rachael Martinelli and Amy LaRose. Celebrity Chef Poster and Flyer for the Website. Submitted by: Trish Molloy and Amy LaRose.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients!


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