By JEN CARDINES
On Wednesday, June 7, Southington High School’s top 25 scholars arrived at the Aqua Turf for a longstanding traditional event. They were stopped at the door by members of the Southington UNICO chapter to be pinned with a corsage before entering the 72nd annual Top 25 Dinner.
Hosted each year by UNICO, the dinner celebrates those with the top 25 highest grade point averages at SHS. Principal Brian Stranieri said that this year’s class is an amazing group of young people.
“And as great as they are academically, they are better people,” he said. “It is always an honor to be at this event.”
Unlike the standard 4.0 grading system, SHS calculates on a 100-point system. An A+ in a class earns the student 100 points, but because advanced placement and honors classes are weighted higher than regular academic courses, the highest GPA one can receive is 120 points.
“This year’s top 25 stretches from 108 to 114 points,” Stranieri said. “So their average is over 100.”
With 490 students in the Class of 2017, the top 25 students only make up about 5 percent of the class, meaning they rose above 95 percent of their peers.
“They represent us well beyond SHS,” Stranieri said, adding that college plans for the top 25 include a number of prestigious universities, including Yale University, Columbia University, and the University of Connecticut.
“The top 99 kids have over a 100 point GPA,” said Stranieri.
The top three students, Nickolina Doran, Nathan Simard, and Laura Furtak will deliver speeches at the graduation ceremony on June 20. For the other 22 students in the top 25, this dinner was a chance to celebrate what they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
The Southington scholars shined at more than just classroom assignments. They all took part in various extra-curricular activities and honor societies.
This year’s top 25 students included more than one Apple Harvest Hostess, including the 2016 AHF queen, Carson Stifel and AHF hostess Katerina Belales.
Samantha Steeves was one of three student representatives to serve for the Southington Board of Education.
Victoria Duszak was the Southington High School marching band drum major.
The list reads like a “Who’s Who” in the Southington community. The list is peppered with student representatives, civic leaders, high profile athletes, community volunteers, and more.
It only makes sense that after years of being in the same classes and serving the community, that the group has formed some great friendships. After posing for a group picture, many students stayed outside for additional pictures with their friends, laughing in between silly poses. They hugged and joked with each other as proud parents watched in the wings.
Finally, all 25 students were invited—as UNICO’s guests—to a formal dinner at the Aqua Turf where they were honored by community officials and of course, their families. Superintendent Timothy Connellan, along with BOE chair Brian Goralski and Stranieri, heaped praise and appreciation upon the soon-to-be graduates during the special occasion.
UNICO of Southington member and top 25 committee chair Joseph Peccerillo said it was UNICO’s signature event.
“We’ve held this since our inception as an organization,” he said. “It’s not only to honor their academic achievements, but also their extra-curricular endeavors.”
UNICO is a national organization that serves its local communities through its respective chapters. For the past 71 years, Southington’s chapter of UNICO has recognized outstanding academic achievement through the top 25 dinner.
This year’s top 25 students are: Nickolina Doran, Nathan Simard, Laura Furtak, Katerina Belales, Laura Calandra, Victoria Duszak, Kata Erdei, Erik Kryzanski, Rebecca Lo Presti, Michael Loose, Morgan Maccione, Marissa Matarazzo, Kristen Mathew, Mark Murdy, Catherine Myers, Samantha Purushotham, Jesse Rasten, Benjamin Russman, Matthew Sciota, Kaitlin Semmel, Kimberly Stafko, Samantha Steeves, Carson Stifel, Brendan Taylor, and Megan Walsh.
To contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.