“06880” has never covered Staples High School’s annual awards ceremony before. I’ve figured: The folks who care, go. The others don’t.
But there was no live ceremony this year — one more casualty of COVID, along with internships, prom and graduation. So it’s time to give the honorees of the Class of 2020 their due.
AJ Konstanty won the Staples Key — the school’s highest award. recognizing superior academic achievement, loyalty to Staples and contributions to the Staples community. Candidates are chosen by the faculty; seniors select the winner.
AJ — a multi-sport athlete, singer, and fundraising chair of Best Buddies — enriched the school in many ways. As a sophomore he met a student from Ghana, who arrived in the middle of the school year from another country, and struggled with multiple disabilities. They forged a friendship that went beyond the school day.
AJ is described as “a happy, kind, personable (and) modern Renaissance man. He can do it all, and make it seem effortless.”
Two years ago, Staples Key finalist Audrey Bernstein was shaken by the Parkland shootings. Inspired after meeting survivors, she helped organize Staples’ student walkout.
She co-founded Students Stand Up (an anti-gun violence group), and was the Westport lead for Students Demand Action.
Besides her activism, she served as co-editor of the school newspaper Inklings.
As a sophomore, Staples Key finalist Natasha Johnson created a club to promote greater diversity in books offered as part of the English curriculum.
Then — realizing they could do even more — Natasha and her club changed the charter, to create a safe space for anyone interested in diversity to discuss, learn and teach.
She also mentors a group of middle school girls from Bridgeport.
The James Bacharach Service to Community Award — for leadership and service to Westport — went to Kayla Dockray.
The Young American Award, presented to a senior who demonstrates academic excellence, love of country and strong leadership qualities, went to Colin Corneck. He leaves soon for the US Naval Academy.
The Peter Weisman Memorial Awards, for hard work and academic achievement, was presented to Michael Guanalouisa.
The Fairfield County Community Foundation awarded 3 scholarships. The Excellence in Scholarship Award went to Max Pace, “a self-starter with an incredibly ambitious nature and creative mind.”
The Charles A. Dana Cultural Scholarship Award was given to Victoria Caiati, described as “naturally creative and talented,” with a passion for fashion design.
The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation Scholarship went to Katherine Meszaros, who demonstrated a “positive attitude, tenacity, diligence and a strong work ethic.”
Guiding Principles Awards go to students who enrich and bring joy to classrooms, demonstrating the key ideals of the district. The 2 senior recipients were Kalina Kinyon and Bennet Staffa.
Principal’s Awards are presented to seniors who have demonstrated a superior ability to act as responsible members of the Staples community. This year they went to Tamikah Boyer, Cordelia Chen, Michael Farnen, Kathryn Enquist, Annamaria Fernandez, Grace Kennedy, Maximus Pace, Benjamin Schussheim, Jake Thaw and Caroline Vandis.
Congratulations to all awardees. Now go out and change the world!
To see all the senior awards — for academic and other achievements — click here. Principal Stafford Thomas does the honors.