By SHERIDAN CYR
Southington High School’s top 25 graduating students, and six National Italian Honor Society inductees, were recognized and celebrated amongst school administration and staff, friends, family members and town officials during the Southington chapter of UNICO National’s 73rd annual Top 25 dinner at the Aqua Turf on June 6.
SHS principal Brian Stranieri said that it’s no small accomplishment to be top of the class in the eighth largest school in Connecticut with 514 graduating students.
“What you folks have done, I’m not sure I can put into words,” said Stranieri. “Being in the top 25 of your class is a pretty amazing feat, but being in the top 25 at SHS is even more amazing.”
The students include valedictorian Lydia Yu, salutatorian Chloe Becquey, essayist Evan Bender, Kevin Chudy, Ariana Gazaferi, Adam Gwara, Ashley Kane, Rea Kelolli, Claire Macioce, Teresa Maffiolini, Joseph Martin, Julia McPherson, Kayleigh Moses, Kathleen O’Reilly, Erin Palinkos, Amisha Paul, Amy Paul, Katarina Rothstein, Christina Sack, Ashley Shafran, Saipriya Sharma, Faith Sporbert, Benjamin Wakefield, Madina Welcome and Sean Young.
“This is one of my favorite celebrations of the year to come to,” said Superintendent Tim Connellan. “You really, really make all of us proud. You don’t realize, but your teachers from other grade levels love to see your names in the paper and to see all of the things you’re doing now.”
Connellan thanked the students’ family members for continuous support.
World Language teacher and department head Tina Riccio introduced the six students to be inducted into the National Italian Honor Society: Kylie Benton, John Rossi, Valente Castillo, Aliya Sarris, Kate Olsen and Anna Shugrue. Riccio recited the pledge to enter the society in English, and students repeated it back in Italian.
“This is one of my favorite events, because I get to thank UNICO for all they do for the SHS Italian program,” she said. “Because of their financial support, we’ve been able to give $500 scholarships to students for over 10 years. UNICO provides students the opportunity to serve others and serve their community.”
UNICO of Southington has continued the tradition of celebration for 73 years. Committee chairperson Dr. Joseph Peccerillo shared some history of UNICO and its place in Southington. UNICO was formed with a goal of uniting Italian Americans in the country.
“UNICO promotes goodwill through civic and charitable endeavors, and supports higher education and performance of patriotic deeds,” said Peccerillo.
UNICO National includes over 6,000 members. “UNICO stimulates the desire of each member to be of service to the fellow man and community, fosters and promotes Italian heritage and culture, and supports charitable and educational projects.”
Board of Education chair Brian Goralski challenged students to continue to strive toward the values that UNICO promotes: tradition, service to the community, education and family.
“Tonight we celebrate you and your academics, but it’s those values you have that make us the most proud,” said Goralski.
SHS seniors will graduate on July 21.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.