Sixteen students noted as
“cream of the crop”
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – The future looks pretty bright judging by the distinguished group of students that was gathered in a foyer area outside Staples High School’s auditorium.
The sixteen seniors have held the highest academic positions for their four years at the school and were being recognized at an annual High Honors Dinner Wednesday evening.
“This is our future, the cream of the crop,” said Dee Hychiko, a sophomore level assistant. “They have achieved the highest grade averages in school.”
Jim Farnen, grade level administrator for the senior class and assistant principal, explained that the top high achievers represent a percentage of the total senior class. “It varies each year based on total class size,” he said. “This honor goes back decades. It’s a celebration and night for the high performers to come together and be acknowledged in front of teachers, parents and administrators. Each honoree chooses a special person from the school to speak about and introduce them.”
Staples Principal John Dodig said the event is the highlight of the year. “We have a high school with an inordinate number of high achieving kids,” he said. “Even in that reality, these kids have worked just a little harder and really achieved over the last four years. All are going to prestigious schools, where they will be surrounded by people just like them. But they always come back and tell us year after year that they feel more prepared because of their Staples experience.”
The honorees themselves echoed that sentiment. “I think one of the biggest things I take away from Staples is an improvement in my critical thinking,” said Adele Shenoy. “I’m looking into medicine so that will be key. I feel like the past four years went by really quickly and couldn’t have done it without my parents’ support and teachers’ guidance.”
Fellow honoree Nicole Seo’s takeaway was how to put things in perspective and take a step back. “Staples has prepared us so well,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s ending. I’m so excited for the future and am hoping to study comparative media at M.I.T.”
Chenchen Feng, who wants to be a doctor and is headed to Duke University, said, “Staples helped me determine my strengths and weaknesses.”
Beaming at their progeny, assembled parents like Joan Berlin gushed with pride. “This is a big deal,” she said. “It’s amazing to us how much our son Michael has achieved. We had heard good things about Westport schools and moved up from Manhattan when he was in 4th grade. Michael can hold his own and will have no problem transitioning to college.”
As proud as the parents were administrators, like calculus teacher Robin Sacilotto. “This group is extremely bright but also very fun,” she said. “It’s hard to have that combo. You want to hang out with them. They’re amazing kids. It’s a great moment but I’m sad to see them go.”
Summing up the mood best, Farnen, who assumed a podium to address the gathering, said, “We will leave Staples this evening with a strong sense that our collective futures and the futures of our children and grandchildren will no doubt be brighter this century due to the leadership, work ethic and brilliance of these very impressive young men and women sitting next to us.”
2011 High Honors Students include: Michael Berlin, Chenchen Feng, Jordan Glick, Tessa Green, Joshua Greenberg, Ellen Kaminski, Justin Kleiner, Eric Lubin (Valedictorian), Todd Lubin (Salutatorian), Cole Manley, Peter Menz, Rachel Myers, Nicole Seo, Adele Shenoy, Caroline Wu and Timothy Yang.