Superintendents honor top picks among students
Carrie Crosby of Mahar. Recorder/Paul Franz
Eleni Diakolambrianos of GHS Recorder/Paul Franz
May Gryzbowski of PVRS Recorder/Paul Franz
Sophie Letcher of Frontier Recorder/Paul Franz
Alexander Page of Athol-Roylaston Recorder/Paul Franz
Maxwell Pellerin of FCTS Recorder/Paul Franz
Joshua Rode of Mohawk Recorder/Paul Franz
Annali Yurkevicz Recorder/Paul Franz
TURNERS FALLS — Administrators from the area’s eight school districts presented their best and brightest students Wednesday evening, expounding on the academic, athletic and charitable accomplishments that earned each their place at the Franklin County Area Superintendents Association’s awards banquet.
Every year, the superintendent of each district selects one student from the graduating class for a certificate of academic excellence, better known as the superintendent’s award.
This year’s recipients, applauded by family and teachers at the banquet hosted again this year by the Franklin County Technical School’s apprentice restaurant:
Eleni Diakolambrianos, Greenfield High School
Superintendent Susan Hollins described Eleni Diakolambrianos, of Greenfield, as an outstanding and conscientious scholar whose hard work has placed her at the top of her class with a 4.17 GPA.
Diakolambrianos is extremely talented in math and science, Hollins said, natural talent she combines with hard work and high expectations.
“She is consistently setting goals for herself and exceeding herself and others’ expectations,” Hollins said.
Diakolambrianos’ academic recognitions include the George Eastman Young Leaders Award and the Wellesley College Book Award.
She has participated in student council since ninth grade, this year as secretary. She is also secretary of the National Honor Society and treasurer of the French Club, with which she traveled to France in her sophomore year.
Diakolambrianos plans to attend Waltham University and pursue a career in international business.
“Not only is she a fabulous student, she is a fabulous person and well-deserving,” said Associate Principal Karin Patenaude.
Maxwell Pellerin, Franklin County Technical School
Superintendent James Laverty said those who have known Maxwell Pellerin of Montague over the past four years have been impressed by his sincerity, sense of responsibility, and maturity, quoting a shop instructor who described Pellerin as an extremely bright and highly self-motivated student with a passion for his chosen field.
With among the highest GPAs in the senior class, Pellerin is in the running for class valedictorian and has excelled in the Machine Technology program and in his academic courses, Laverty said.
Pellerin is studying as a dual-enrollment student at Greenfield Community College while working at Valley Steel Stamp through the tech’s co-op program, while remaining active on the cross country and track and field teams. Outside of school and work, Pellerin has found time to earn his student pilot’s license.
“The consensus is that whatever career path Max chooses after high school, we know he will be successful,” Laverty said.
Pellerin said he intends to continue working at Valley Steel Stamp after he graduates, likely while furthering his education at GCC.
Annali Yurkevicz, Frontier Regional School
Superintendent Martha Barrett said Annali Yurkevicz of Sunderland is at the top of her class academically, earning maximum honors every semester while taking all of the honors courses that Frontier has to offer, four more online, and pursuing interests in philanthropy and genetics.
In her junior year alone, Yurkevicz was the recipient of the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award, took a summer course in genetic DNA at Brown University, joined the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition at Deerfield Academy and participated in the International Math Modeling Competition.
Barrett said Yurkevicz is committed to various community service projects, the one closest to her heart being the Half the Sky Foundation, benefitting orphans in China, from which she was herself adopted. Yurkevicz has raised funds for the organization for eight years and traveled to China, where she visited her orphanage and foster families, an experience that according to her mother has enhanced her interest in genetics, Barrett said.
Annali is a varsity volleyball player, a member of National Honor Society, Rachel’s Challenge Club and the French Club. She has participated in the Reading with the Redhawks and works in her family’s greenhouse business, and her college prospects include Amherst, Yale, Harvard and Olin College of Engineering.
Alexander Page, Athol High School
Principal Steve Meyer described Alexander Page of Athol as a high-achiever on the academic and athletic fields.
With a GPA of 4.02, Page is the top ranked student in his class, excelling academically with a rigorous schedule of honors and advanced placement courses while competing every season as a member of the basketball, baseball and soccer teams, this fall leading the varsity soccer team as captain.
Meyer said soccer coach and athletic director David King describes Page as a model of continuous growth as a student athlete whose efforts over the past four years have made him a role model and leader in the high school community.
Page is treasurer of the Athol chapter of the National Honor Society and participates in Student Council, You Lead, The 84 Youth Group and the Catalyst Group, each of which Meyer said helps to positively influence the culture of Athol High School.
“We are confident that his hard work will continue to pay off for Alex through the rest of his senior year and his future endeavors,” Meyer said.
Page plans to attend Bentley University in the fall and pursue a major in business.
Sophie Letcher, Turners Falls High School
Superintendent Michael Sullivan said it was a difficult choice, but in the end Sophie Letcher of Montague stood out head and shoulders in many ways.
Principal Thomas Osborn described Letcher as a goal-oriented individual who gives her all in every aspect of her life.
Osborn said Letcher ranks first in an exceptionally competitive class of 58 with a GPA of 114.24 on a 100-point scale.
Letcher is the vice president of the National Honor Society, has earned a place on the Honor Roll every quarter and last year received the Smith College Junior Book Award, as well as numerous subject-specific academic awards throughout her career.
She spent this summer as a research intern at the University of Massachusetts Conservation Genetics Lab.
As an athlete, Letcher captains the Western division champion field hockey team and competes for the track and field team.
She has performed in numerous school musicals and Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts productions, including a trip to Orlando to dance at Walt Disney World. She hopes to attend Bowdoin College in the fall.
“She represents all of the qualities that we value here at Turners Falls High School and we are absolutely sure that her future is bright,” Osborn said.
Carrie Crosby, Ralph C. Mahar Regional School
Principal Ishmael Tabales described Carrie Crosby of Orange as a highly intelligent, organized and motivated student, holding the top rank in her class while serving the community as a dedicated volunteer.
Beginning with honors Algebra I as a freshman, Tabales said Crosby has consistently selected the most challenging courses offered and excelled, earning a 4.13 cumulative average GPA.
Crosby has won the Bausch and Lomb Award for excellence in science, as well as the student athlete award for her combination of outstanding academic and varsity volleyball performance, Tabales said.
Crosby is a member of the National Honor Society and very active in the school and district Key Clubs, currently as president of the school club and lt. governor of the New England District Key Club Division 22.
With Key Club, she has collected food for the local food pantry, delivered Thanksgiving baskets and raised funds for these projects. She has also started her own cleaning business, “Cleaning Like a Boss,” and plans to pursue a career as a nurse midwife through Endicott College or Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“As may already be apparent, Carrie is a go-getter,” Tabales said.
Joshua Rode, Mohawk Trail Regional High School
Principal Lynn Dole said Joshua Rode, of Heath, has demonstrated exceptional leadership ability as a member of the student body, as a class officer, a member of National Honor Society, a Delegate to Western Massachusetts Association of Student Councils and Key Club treasurer, among other functions.
“Those of us who work with Josh consider him the vice president of everything,” Dole said. “He’s really our go-to guy.”
Rode is ranked second in his class, runs and plays varsity football and soccer. Rode has earned a spot on The Republican’s cross country second team and all-league status in indoor track. He has participated in As Schools Match Wits, has worked on a blueberry farm and for the YMCA Summer Track Series, and recently finished a seasonal photography job.
He works with children at the YMCA and his church, serves food for the poor and participated in a Hurricane Sandy relief trip.
Rode has also interned in film set construction, helping build the set for local filming of “The Judge,” and an independent study he initiated led to the creation of a film class.
He has applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Vermont, Providence College, Ithaca College and Salve Regina University.
May Grzybowski, Pioneer Valley Regional School
Superintendent Dayle Doiron described May Grzybowski of Erving as an accomplished student and leader who has very effectively balanced academic excellence, respect and responsibility.
Grzybowski maintains a 4.0 GPA while participating in extracurricular activities including NHS, French Honor Society, Envirothon Team, Rowing Club, French Club, and Celtic Heels Dance Company. She is leader of the band’s flute section and a three-year participant in the all-school play. As vice president of the French Club, she has taught French in the Bernardston and Northfield elementary schools.
Doiron said Grzybowski consistently goes the extra mile.
“It is May’s drive to be of service that those who know her best remark upon first, recognizing her special ability to see where help is needed and with little fanfare take on whatever it is that needs doing,” Doiron said.
Grzybowski volunteers with the Montague Public Libraries, has catalogued the Pioneer music library, and has volunteered for the Franklin County Fair and Source-to-Sea Cleanup since middle school.
Grzybowski plans to pursue a degree in global or international studies at Middlebury, Bard or Colby colleges or the University of Vermont.