Champion Students Honored at Breakfast

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At the high school’s biannual Breakfast for Champions, 18 remarkable students were highlighted by teachers and administrators for their hard work and unique achievements. Twice per school year, each of the 15 high school departments selects an honored student as champion, along with three additional champions chosen by principals and a teacher. Joined by their proud parents, the young men and women were recognized at a Nov. 14 ceremony in the school’s library.

“Congratulations to the students and their families,” said Principal James Cummings, noting the challenges faced by the current generation. “This is a tough time to be growing up, but these kids embody the core values that are still imperative and valuable to success.”

Honorees receiving plaques at the Fall 2014 edition of the Breakfast for Champions included Regina Ambrosio (art), Madison Sluter (athletics), James Niemiera (business), Alexis Maldonado (English language arts), Lidia Martinez (ESL), Melissa Fisk (family and consumer science), Hanife Ozbay (guidance), Joseph Vaccaro (health), Samantha Guglielmi (math), Samantha Tucci (performing arts), Justin Ruggia (physical education), Dominick Cito (science), Jayda Brown (social studies), Brandon Ruiz (technology) and Micaela Morello (world languages). The Principal’s Award was presented to Ahmadi Aydelott, the Associate Principal’s Award to Marcus Rivera and the Teacher’s Choice Award to Rachel Bauer.

Each nominating teacher or administrator presented a plaque to his or her chosen student and spoke about their achievements and special qualities.

“Ahmadi is the kind of student who inspired teachers to teach better,” said Cummings of his choice, while art teacher Joseph Mucci said of D’Ambrosio, “She’s like having a second teacher in the classroom.” For his department’s choice of Ruggia, physical education teacher Kevin Marner cited the student’s positive attitude and respect for his peers. “He is a PE teacher’s dream student,” he said.

Social studies teacher Vanessa Whitney said of Brown, “Her smile and positive attitude light up the hallways here at Deer Park High School,” while teacher Beth Kabaservice described Sluter as “an unusually compassionate and kind individual at an age where most other students are just finding out who they are.” ELA teacher Christine Harrison said of Maldonado, “She has a love and passion for reading and literature that is inspiring.” Scott Abrams, from the performing arts department, lauded his senior guitar student Tucci, saying, “Every day she sets an example for others.”

Technology teacher Bruce Sander displayed a to-scale drawing of the high school from the ground up, created by Ruiz over a two-year period, and noted that the student’s architectural design skills were so advanced that he will be creating plans of other district buildings for homeland security purposes.

ESL teacher Liz Gleason explained how Martinez, who has only resided in the U.S. for two years, has made such strides that she helps other newcomers and serves as Gleason’s “personal translator.” Morello’s skill in speaking and studying three languages impressed teacher Kari Schiano, who said, “She truly embodies the spirit of multiculturalism and diversity.”

Guidance counselor Noel Skelton detailed how Ozbay overcame leukemia, chemotherapy and a hospital stay while working hard with tutors to maintain her academic studies before her cancer went into remission. “She is truly an inspiration and definitely one of my heroes,” he said.

Musicians from the high school’s laudable string ensemble played a selection of classical pieces as a pleasant accompaniment to the breakfast.