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Gail Smith Awards Once Again Honor Service To Youth And Town



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Gail Smith Awards Once Again Honor Service To Youth And Town

By Tanjua Damon

The 13th annual Gail Smith Awards were presented May 19 to a deserving student, adult, and business in Newtown for their service, caring, and support of the youth and town as a whole in honor of the woman, Gail Smith, who started Youth Services in the late 1970s.

Newtown High School teacher Kathleen Swift nominated fellow teacher Jan Brookes for the adult award for her strong commitment in educating students about diversity and showing acceptance to diverse situations. Ms Swift said that Ms Brookes “always focuses on the individuals” and “creates opportunities to broaden students horizons.”

Ms Brookes started two clubs at Newtown High School to help students learn and understand the importance of diversity — The Diversity Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance. Ms Brookes also has planned Diversity Day at the high school for several years dealing with issues of race, religion, and sexual orientation to have students think about their actions and how they can affect other people.

“I do feel very honored,” Ms Brookes said. “I did know Gail Smith. I feel so honored to receive an award that was named after her.”

Erin Hayes nominated the Gray School of Irish Dance for the business award. She spoke of owners Iris and Maura Gray and their 25 years of service to more than 400 students, “teaching, motivating, and supporting the students of Newtown.”

“They can put the twinkle in any dancer’s eye,” Erin said. “And the point in their toe.”

“This truly means so much to us,” Iris Gray said after receiving the award.

Newtown High School senior Kristen McGrath received the student honor after being nominated by Jack Quinlan and Elaine Schwartz. Kristen was praised for her determination and willingness to complete projects. She diligently worked on homecoming events, semiformal dances, senior citizens dinner during the annual spring musical, and the high school blood drive.

“She is a young lady who touches everyone around her,” Mr Quinlan read. “Kristen volunteers and gives to others in so many ways. Kristen, like Gail Smith, believes in this community and will touch people in many ways that only few are able to do.”

“Thank you very much,” Kristen said. “This means so much to me.”

The Gail Smith Award presented annually recognizes the recipient’s outstanding community contribution and leadership for the betterment of services, facilities, and recognition of Newtown’s youth.

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