Jackson Delgado Wins Staples Key

In the crush of end-of-sch00l-year news, a big announcement like the winner of the Staples Key often gets overlooked.

It shouldn’t.

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.

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!)

8 responses to “Jackson Delgado Wins Staples Key

  1. Lynn Goldberg

    You asked about previous Key recipients. Both Cary Goldberg (Staples 2001) and Justin Paul (Staples 2003) were previous Staples Key award recipients.

    After illustrating a book for Dan Woog while at Staples, Cary (Carolyn) went to Brown undergrad, Yale med school , Brigham Hospital in Boston for residency and is finishing a fellowship in pediatric anesthesia at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She has a one year old daughter and married a guy from her med school class.

    Justin you know all about!

    Cary and Justin were in Ms. Lipson’s very small music theory class together at Staples. Gwen Fuertes was the other student. Gwen went on the major in music at Brown. Not sure what she’s doing now. Lynn Goldberg >

  2. Fred Cantor

    What an impressive background. Jackson is obviously not only exceptionally talented, he must be incredibly efficient to do all those activities.

    Was the Staples Key given in the 1960s, early ‘70s? If so, was “community service” a key component? I just don’t recall my friends being involved in community service the way kids seem to be today (which is a change for the better from back in the day).

    • The Staples Key has been given since (I think) the 1940s. I’m not sure if and/or how the criteria have changed.

      • Peter Gambaccini

        There was no talk of “community service” in connection with the Key in the ,late 1960s. Service to the school was what counted. I don’t even recall college applications giving any real weight to community service back then. It was more or less assumed that your school was your community.

        • Peter, good point. And I recall that a number of us got involved in college in what is regarded as “community service” today. But, before that, yes, it was service to the school.

  3. Morgan Patrick

    Congrats Jackson!

    Dan, per your request for comments from previous key recipients: I carry my key with my every day, and think back on my 4 years at Staples with fondness and nostalgia!

    Regarding post-Staples life, I’m finishing up a 2 year stint working in clinical psych at a Brown-affiliated psychiatric hospital — behavioral coaching for ocd, panic and anxiety; helping coordinate a neurosurgery program for severe OCD — and starting a PhD in the fall in Music Theory and Cognition at Northwestern. I have all of our town’s excellent music teachers to thank for the help along the way (Adele, Alice Lipson, Carrie Mascaro, Michelle Anderson, Erica Messina, Ellen Hardy, and so many others).

    And thanks to you, Dan, for this blog!

    Morgan Patrick
    SHS ’10

  4. Roberta Tager

    Congratulations ‼️ 😊⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Sent from my iPhone Bobbi


    • Jacqueline Stewart

      Great Congratulations!!🎈🍾
      All the best of wishes as you move on.
      All the best in life and thank you for your wonderful
      Work in the community!