By TAYLOR HARTZ
Out of 467 soon-to-be-graduates of Southington High School (SHS), 25 were honored for their high class ranking by the Southington chapter of UNICO National.
The 71st annual Top 25 dinner took place at the Aqua Turf Club on June 1, celebrating the success of students who earned a top spot in the SHS Class of 2016.
The Top 25 academically ranked students represent only the top 5 percent of seniors, based on their GPA scores. The annual event celebrates their success with a dinner for the students, their parents, and members of the SHS staff and faculty.
The top three students, Timothy Cocozza, Emily Maciejewski, and Natalia Gimenez will deliver speeches at the graduation ceremony on June 10. For the other 22 students, this dinner was a chance to celebrate what they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
“These kids have spent their high school careers working hard,” said SHS Principal Brian Stranieri. “This dinner is a tribute to the hard work they’ve put in.”
Adam Cormier, who ranks fourth in the class, said he “went into freshman year with the goal of being in the Top 20” and felt like his final ranking was a major accomplishment.
Cormier was involved with the French National Honor Society, Key Club, Yearbook Club, Cross Country team, and French Club during his time at SHS. He will attend the University of Connecticut (UConn) to major in actuarial science this fall.
For Jessica Howe, the UNICO event, itself, was a long-term goal. “I’ve always wanted to come to this dinner,” she said. “It’s something I’ve strived for.”
Howe started her freshman year with a rank of 26 and finished at No. 5. During her tenure at SHS, Howe earned varsity letters for soccer, indoor track, and outdoor track. This fall she will head to UConn to study mathematics.
UNICO member Joe Peccerillo, chair of the Top 25 dinner committee, said that these 25 students are not only at the top academically, but are also involved in their community and in many extracurricular activities.
“These are Southington’s up-and-coming young adults who will hopefully be carrying on our traditions” said Peccerillo. “They really represent what UNICO represents.”
UNICO’s motto is “service above self.” The organization focuses on community involvement and volunteer service for men and women of Italian heritage.
Superintendent of Schools Timothy Connellan said the Top 25 dinner has become a tradition that the students look forward to each year.
“One of the things that is really important is to celebrate the achievements of our students,” said Connellan. “The students who are here tonight are active in academics and pursue what interests them.”
The superintendent said the dinner, itself, is a tribute to how deeply the Southington community values education.
Southington’s top 25 are: TImothy Cocozza, Emily Maciejewski, Natalia Gimenez, Samantha Butlien, Anthony Cammuso, Victoria Castillo, Fizza Chaudhry, Jennifer Congdon, Adam Cormier, Jessica Gagnon, Anna Gerwig, Jessica Howe, Danielle Hughes, Jenny Johnson, Kayla Kavanagh, Laura Koba, Sarah Lamb, Sylwia Lewkowicz, Kristina Linehan, Niels Peschel, Alex Rasten, Brenna Sarantides, Steven Sokolowski, Alexander Statkevich, Joseph Zavorskas, and Angelina Zollo.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.