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School Board Celebration Of Excellence Honors Coach And Two Students



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During the Celebration of Excellence portion of its meeting on September 19, the Board of Education honored three individuals.

"We have several individuals this evening that we are quite proud of and we would like to recognize," said Interim Superintendent of Schools Lorrie Rodrigue.

Dr Rodrigue first asked Newtown High School senior Allen Xue to come before the board.

Allen was announced at NHS as being named a semifinalist in the 63rd Annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. It was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program, according to the corporation. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Finalists will be named in February, and scholarship winners will be announced between April and July.

"It is a pleasure to recognize him for his accomplishment in the National Merit Scholarship this year," said Dr Rodrigue, who later shared some of Allen's efforts outside of school, including volunteering with the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and serving as a teacher's assistant at a local Chinese school.

Interim NHS Principal David Roach also shared his congratulations with Allen at the meeting.

Next, Dr Rodrigue called NHS senior Sarah Houle before the school board, describing her as student athlete of the year in golf.

Newtown Public Schools Athletic Director Matt Memoli also spoke about Sarah and her accomplishments.

"She is the best golfer in the state of Connecticut," said Mr Memoli. "She won the golfer's state championship for girls' golf last year."

Recalling seeing Sarah just after she won last year, Mr Memoli said she stepped off a bus and he asked her how everything went. Sarah, he said, responded with, "It was okay."

"There are not many kids if you tell them they are the best in the state of Connecticut [that] they would stay as level-headed as she is. It is pretty spectacular," Mr Memoli said.

Finally, Dr Rodrigue called Tom Czaplinski before the school board.

"Tom has spent the last 19 years coaching girls' volleyball," said Dr Rodrigue, adding that he has won one state championship, three conference championships, and was the SWC runner-up five times.

Mr Memoli said being a high school coach for a few years is challenging, but for someone to do it for 19 years is impressive.

Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander congratulated each person celebrated at the meeting and presented them with certificates to note the occasion.

Newtown High School senior Sarah Houle, center, was one of three people honored at the school board's meeting on September 19. Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander, right, presented her with a certificate as Newtown Public Schools Athletic Director Matt Memoli looks on. (Bee Photo, Hallabeck)
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