By TAYLOR HARTZ
Southington’s UNICO honored the Top 25 students in Southington High School’s senior class, recognizing just five percent of the soon-to-be graduates. The annual UNICO Top 25 dinner is a 70 year tradition at Southington High School.
With more than 500 students set to cross the stage next week and become the high school’ newest alumni, being one of the top 25 academically ranked students is no easy feat.
“Southington High School is a demanding school, and the expectations in this community are high,” said superintendent Tim Connellan, and so is the praise for students. Connellan said that of all the school districts he has served, no community encourages and recognizes their top students quite like Southington.
“Its great to see the smiling faces and proud parents,” said Connellan, “they have a lot to be proud of.”
During the annual dinner held at the Aqua Turf Club last week, students and their families were invited to celebrate the achievement that motivated many of them to work a little harder on each assignment.
SHS principal Brian Stranieri said that he has seen the award work as a positive incentive for students.
“They’re competitive at all times, and they compete against themselves,” said Stranieri, looking on at the 25 students seated in front of him, smiling for a photo. The new principal said he was thrilled to have this dinner be one of the big events he was able to experience with the first graduating class in his administration.
Senior Matt Duszak agreed that the achievement required some “friendly competition.”
Duszak, who swam and played violin at the high school, said the best part of the recognition was being able to celebrate with all of his friends—the 25 students he spent most of his high school career with.
“Its all the same people in all those top-notch classes,” said Duszak, who will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy, “We definitely relied on each other.”
Seniors Jessica Goralski and Kathleen Spagnoletti, both members of the National Honor Society and math team, agreed that the idea of the Top 25 was a goal to strive toward.
“It takes a lot of effort because everyone works so hard,” Goralski said about the competition amongst classmates.
Both students thought the dinner was a positive representation of the hard work they had put into their academics.
The evening honored the students with individual awards, and an overall sense of a group achievement.
UNICO Vice President Tony Cusano told students how “honored and proud” UNICO was to recognize the group, while event co-chairperson Dr. Joseph Peccerillo told students that the academic successes, extracurricular involvement, and friendships they formed in high school all added layers to who they are as people, and would lead to their success in whatever they pursued next.
As the students and their families heard remarks from their principal and superintendent, they were reminded of the pride that the SHS faculty has for their success.
“We celebrate their success, because that’s our success too” said Connellan.