In the crush of end-of-sch00l-year news, a big announcement like the winner of the Staples Key often gets overlooked.
The Key is the high school’s highest honor. Presented annually for decades — courtesy of the Westport Kiwanis Club — it goes to a senior who combines academic excellence and community service with the respect of teachers and peers.
“The Key winner is our vision of what a Staples graduate should be,” says principal James D’Amico.
“And because the 3 nominees are selected by the staff, and voted on by students, it’s especially meaningful.”
This year’s winner — announced last night, at the school’s annual awards ceremony — is Jackson Delgado.
He’s president of both Student Assembly and the debate team. He tutors for Caroline House in Bridgeport, and Top Hat Tutors in Westport. He’s also a drummer in a percussion ensemble.
“I’m not sure there’s a common link. But I enjoy everything I do,” Jackson says.
In debate, he notes, “there are never right or wrong answers. It’s cool to construct an argument, use it against your opponent, and then have to see the other side.”
Student Assembly — the school government — allows Jackson to help plan schoolwide events, while tutoring is personally fulfilling. Caroline House serves youngsters in Bridgeport, while Top Hat is for Westporters. In both roles, Jackson enjoys talking about concepts he finds interesting, while helping others understand them too.
He has a host of favorite Staples classes. Advanced Placement Chemistry, Calculus BC and Multivariable Calculus appeal to his problem-solving mind. It’s intriguing, he says, to realize that different paths can lead to the same solution.
English Language and Rhetoric helped him dissect arguments — a valuable tool in debate — while Economics connected him to “the real world.”
Jackson’s educational influences stretch back to Saugatuck Elementary School (Peter von Euler) and Bedford Middle School (Anitha Bolar and Kathryn Sicbaldi). At Staples, he cites Heather Wirkus (Biology), Will Jones (Chemistry), Noreen McGoldrick (English Language), Drew Coyne (Economics), Robert Papp (Multivariable Calculus) and Robin Sacilotto Hurlbut (Calculus).
But, he adds, “every teacher I’ve had has been important in different ways. I could name 50 of them.”
Though Jackson has earned a host of honors — National Hispanic Scholar, National AP Scholar, National Merit Commended Student, Connecticut Governor’s Scholar Semifinalist, and awards from Harvard, Brown, Fairfield University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — he says he never chose classes with grades in mind. He took those that interested him.
Asked to give advice to younger students, he says, “It’s important to focus on academics. But it’s just as important to surround yourself with good people, and be happy. Staples is a great place to find out what you enjoy. And it’s true: Four years go by fast.”
In previous summers, Jackson has interned at a Yale lab, attended the Haw Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit, and studied engineering at the University of Michigan. He’s doing his senior internship closer to home: at Bedford, with his former math and science teacher Ms. Sicbaldi. It’s a nice way to complete his Westport educational career.
Oh, yes: There’s another big honor for the Harvard University-bound senior. He’s already been named valedictorian.
Which means you can hear him in action, giving a graduation address on June 22.
(“06880” would love to hear the stories of previous Staples Key winners. If you’re a past recipient — or know someone who was — please let us know. And add a few details of post-Staples life!)