“Any time that we celebrate the goodness and intelligence of our young people is a day of blessing and hope,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the “Breakfast of Champions,” which honors Catholic school students who excel in academics, athletic achievement and above all strive to live a lifestyle that exemplifies Gospel values.
During his opening remarks, Bishop Caggiano warmly thanked the honorees, their principals, pastors and parents. “Your young people have come to love the Lord through the love you show to them, the love that brought you here today,” he said, speaking to parents.
Two awards are given at the breakfast: a St. Thomas Aquinas Award to students in their last year of elementary or high school who have demonstrated academic accomplishment and the St. Sebastian Award for high school seniors who have not only academic distinction but have been captain of an athletic team that won at the State level during this academic year.
The two often overlap. Gianna Basso, the St. Thomas Aquinas honoree from St. Catherine of Siena School in Trumbull, is not only a top scholar in her class, she is Student Council co-president and was on St. Catherine’s basketball and track teams.
“It’s grades, but more importantly her character and overall character that helped us choose Gianna,” said St. Catherine’s principal, Peter Rodgers.
Gianna, who enjoys all subjects from English to math, will be attending St. Joseph High School in Trumbull this fall, where she plans to try out for the track team. Her long-term goal? “I want to be a teacher for grades seven through high school,” she said.
Taylor Guth from Immaculate High School in Danbury, Immaculate’s St. Thomas honoree, is headed for the University of Notre Dame this year, where she plans to concentrate in neuroscience and pre-med. Active in campus ministry throughout her high school years, serving breakfast to the homeless at Dorothy Day House, she hopes that she can combine her future career with service, possibly through an organization like Doctors Without Borders.
These students, and all the honorees, take to heart the words of Bishop Caggiano. “As you are honored today, remember that there is more work to be done,” he told them. “You are the eyes, heart, hands and feet of the Lord in the world.”
2016 Breakfast of Champions Honorees
St. Thomas Aquinas Award
The recipients of the St. Thomas Aquinas Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown excellence in academics at their respective schools. The awardees also exemplify the Gospel Values we are called to in our Catholic faith through service to others and Christ-like behavior. The award has been named in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. He was extremely focused in the area of academics as well as in the practice of virtue. St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the thirteenth century, was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567. In 1880, Pope Leo XIII designated him as the patron saint of all Catholic universities, academies, colleges and schools throughout the world.
5th Grade Recipients
William Anderson – Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Stamford
Isabel Aquino – Holy Spirit School, Stamford
Eden Cheung – St. Cecilia School, Stamford
8th Grade Recipients
Gianna Basso – St. Catherine of Siena School, Trumbull
Julianna Bosco – Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford
Anne Clark – Greenwich Catholic School, Greenwich
Jose Dataram – Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Augustine)
Keelan Doherty – St. Joseph School, Danbury
Carolyn Donovan – St. Mary School, Ridgefield
Maeve Foley – St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Fairfield
Carla Guirguis – St. Rose of Lima, Newtown
Bridget Hewitt – St. James School, Stratford
Thompson Hyland – St. Gregory the Great School, Danbury
Keara Klein – Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Ann)
Elisa Lifrieri – St. Mary School, Bethel
Emily McGovern – St. Jude School, Monroe
Ethan Novicio – St. Joseph School, Shelton
Salvatore Orosz – Assumption Catholic School, Fairfield
Mackenzie O’Rourke – St. Joseph School, Brookfield
Maria Raiti – Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Andrew)
Ross Relator – St. Peter School, Danbury
Elizabeth Richmond – St. Theresa School, Trumbull
Matthew Rohr – All Saints Catholic School, Norwalk
Brian Rooney – Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, Wilton
Natalie Sciallo – St. Mark School, Stratford
Isaac Seyer – St. Lawrence School, Shelton
Sophie Stachurski – St. Aloysius School, New Canaan
12th Grade Recipients
Christina Bellacicco – Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford
Alexandra D’Aurio – Notre Dame High School, Fairfield
Taylor Guth – Immaculate High School, Danbury
Joshua Kotos – Saint Catherine Academy, Fairfield
William Mercier – St. Joseph High School, Trumbull
Alyssa Mesaros – Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport
St. Sebastian Award
The recipients selected for the St. Sebastian Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown leadership in their respective high schools as the captain of an athletic team. Additionally, the awardees have shown athletic success in that particular sport. The award has been named in honor of St. Sebastian who was known for his physical endurance and his energetic way of spreading and defending the Catholic faith. He was a Roman Martyr who died for the faith in about the year 283. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes.
12th Grade Recipients
Darius Hunter – Immaculate High School, Basketball
Darius Smith – Immaculate High School, Basketball
Shannon Ducey – Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Jenna Gasparrini – Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Julia Rist – Immaculate High School, Cross Country
Raina Ceryak – Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Sierra Chavez – Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Bryanna D’Arcangelo – Notre Dame High School, Soccer
Cassie Aungst – St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Meghen Foss – St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Tierney Hall – St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
Allie McKenna – St. Joseph High School, Cheerleading
James Mas – St. Joseph High School, Cross Country
Cillian Donahue – St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Chris Klabonski – St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Mike Sudora – St. Joseph High School, Lacrosse
Jenna Bike – St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Marissa Grasso – St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Samantha Lello – St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Leah Lewis – St. Joseph High School, Soccer
Jada Harris – St. Joseph High School, Track and Field