Breakfast of Champions 2018

BRIDGEPORT—“This is what we are all about—creating students focused on excellence,” said Dr. Steven Cheeseman, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Speaking on what he called “one of my favorite days of the year,” he welcomed students and parents to the annual Breakfast of Champions.

Joined by their administrators and pastors, the students were being honored not just for their academic achievement but, as Bishop Frank J. Caggiano wrote in his welcoming letter for “their exceptional leadership and character and Christ-like virtue… They are each a great example to their peers and to all of us who join together today.”

In his opening remarks, Dr. Cheeseman emphasized that “Champion” is not just a noun. “Champion is a verb,” explained the superintendent. “It’s what you do, who you stand for and support. More than just academics, we are recognizing the character you demonstrate—the values you champion. Always be a champion and an advocate; always stand up for the virtue and the values you’re recognized for today.”

More than 200 pastors, administrators and parents joined at the breakfast to honor the 41 awardees. Elementary and high school students chosen for the St. Thomas Aquinas award demonstrated academic excellence and lived faith through service to others. High school recipients selected for the St. Sebastian Award have shown leadership in sports as captain of an athletic team and have achieved success in that particular sport.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

“I’m a good student, and I always try my best,” said Ola Kozak, the St. Thomas Aquinas awardee from St. James School in Stratford. She enjoys science, particularly biology, and English. Also good in math, Ola, who will attend Shelton High the fall, thinks it might be interesting to check out a career in architecture.

“We chose Ola because he’s kind, she’s caring, she’s always looking out for other children,” says Principal Jack Lynch. “She’s everything you could look for in a young woman.”

Her parents, Agata and Janusz Kozak, feel especially blessed this day. “We grew up in Poland, and the faith was always important to us. We loved St. James Parish, and thought Ola would do well in the school. We never expected to be a part of something like this. I feel so honored, so proud.”

“We are so blessed!” said Agata. “We knew Ola would get a good foundation at St. James, and that she would be well cared for. I think she’s on a good path to the future.”

In his closing prayer, Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, took special time to thank parents for their appreciation and effort. He told the students, “Your parents are your greatest supporters.”

St. Thomas Aquinas Award
12th Grade Recipients
Jack Guiry, Immaculate High School, Danbury
Ryan Haack, St. Joseph High School, Trumbull
Katherine Janik, Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford
Natalie Massaro, Saint Catherine Academy, Fairfield
Ceanna Scinto, Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport
Emma Sweeney, Notre Dame High School, Fairfield

8th Grade Recipients
Natalie Becue, Greenwich High School, Greenwich
Shauna Contreras, Assumption High School, Fairfield
Katerina Crowe, St. Rose of Lima School, Newtown
Ryan Donovan, St. Mary School, Ridgefield
Arshei Flores, St. Gregory the Great School, Danbury
Danielle Garcia, St. Peter School, Danbury
John (Jack) Gibowicz, St. Joseph School, Danbury
Aleksandra Kozak, St. James School, Stratford
Michael Lamonica IV, St. Mark School, Stratford
Mark MacDaniel, Holy Trinity Catholic Academy, Shelton
Sinead McGuirk, Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Ann)
Emmaline Moore, st. Joseph School, Brookfield
Maivi Nguyen, Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Augustine)
Caroline Richmond, St. Theresa School, Trumbull
Anabelle Rivera, Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Andrew)
Tyler Salta, All Saints Catholic School, Norwalk
Riley Stenger, St. Aloysius School, New Canaan
Jessica Tara, St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull
Caroline Tucker, St. Mary School, Bethel
Morgan Vossler, The Catholic Academy of Stamford, Stamford
Avery Woodworth, St. Thomas Aquinas School, Fairfield
Anna Zahrah, Our Lady of Fatima, Wilton

St. Sebastian Award
12th Grade Recipients
Jude Andrzejewski, St. Joseph High School, Football
Tory Bike, St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Katherine Cassetta, Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Noreaga Davis, Notre Dame High School, Basketball
Michael Dilorio, St. Joseph High School, Football
Ronan Doherty, Immaculate High School, Basketball
Kyle Federici, Kolbe Cathedral High School, Basketball
Hannah Hutchison, St. Joseph High School, Volleyball
Jared Mallozzi, St. Joseph High School, Football
Connor Murphy, St. Joseph High School, Football
Isaiah Payton, Immaculate High School, Basketball
Joshua Reaves, Notre Dame High School, Basketball
Jesse Veilleux, St. Joseph High School, Football