Drive to success receives top honors from 2 High Schoolers District – Reminder Publications | Team Cansler

AGAWAM – Each November, two high school seniors from Agawam High School are presented with a prestigious award that recognizes not only their academic achievements but also their leadership qualities and strong personality traits.

Sean Colfer and Hailey Newsome are the youngest students to be awarded a Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) Certificate of Academic Excellence. Principal Sheila Hoffman presented the awards to Colfer and Newsome at the November 15 school board meeting.

The superintendent said Agawam presents the award at the beginning of the school year for inclusion in college applications. Seniors selected for the award have demonstrated academic excellence throughout their high school careers to date.

“While there are many worthy candidates in the Class of 2023, Sean and Hailey were selected as this year’s honorees,” said high school principal Jim Blain. “Hailey truly deserves this award and is a model student and great representative of AHS.”

He described Newsome as a “high-ranking” student, stating that she never received a grade below an A-minus in the classroom while taking mostly honors and AP courses. This earned her a grade point average of 4.37.

“It’s a special honor. I worked hard throughout my career as a student and had high expectations of myself,” said Newsome, who admitted she was shocked to receive the letter from Hoffman informing her of the award.

“I think I’ve set an example, especially over the past four years, and this award recognizes that,” she added. “It means there’s something unique about me compared to other worthy students – I did something extraordinary to be selected for this award.”

A talented musician, Newsome represents Agawam High School as a member of the jazz band and honors the wind ensemble by playing flute and piccolo. She is a member of several clubs including the Model Congress, Diversity Club and Art Club and is about to join the school’s As Schools Match Wits team.

“My secret to balancing everything is having a place to take a break when I’m stressed — whether it’s with a person, a place, or an activity — and be organized. Staying organized keeps me on top of everything, including homework, extracurricular activities, work and other things,” Newsome explained.

The 18-year-old also works at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield from May to September. As a member of the club’s maintenance team, her responsibilities include mowing greens and maintaining sand traps. When she is at school, she only works about eight hours a week on the weekends, but mostly 20 hours a week in the summer.

As Newsome begins applying to colleges, she hopes the MASS award will show that she’s worked hard, is serious about her studies, and wants to succeed. “I hope it helps me stand out from other applicants and increases my chances of getting accepted into the colleges and universities I’m applying to,” she said.

Newsome has applied to the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Harvard, McGill University in Montreal, Mount Holyoke College and Trinity College. Though unsure of her long-term career goal, Newsome plans to study math or French.

Blain said calling Colfer a “well-rounded” student would be an understatement.

“Sean is a real role model for students at AHS,” Blain said. “He is an athlete and a member of the choir. In his junior year, Sean was not only selected to perform with the Massachusetts All-State Chorus, but he also won the school’s poetry contest.”

Colfer said he was very proud to have been selected for the award.

“It’s nice to get recognition for hard work,” he said. “I wasn’t very aware of the existence of the award, so I was pleasantly surprised when I received the Superintendent’s letter. It was nice to share this honor with my family.”

He added what makes the award such a special honor is that it’s not only based on stats like GPA, but also on the overall perception of who the student is as a person.

“This award demonstrates the commitment Hailey and I have put into being good students in a holistic way. It shows how much we contribute to the school as a whole, not just through our academic success, but through things like leadership and notoriety.”

The 17-year-old, who has a 4.42 GPA, endured a rigorous course load during his four years at AHS. His previous AP courses include US history, European history, biology, language and composition. Blain said Colfer scored four and five on all of his exams, the top marks.

This year, Colfer remains committed to academic excellence, taking AP courses in chemistry, psychology, statistics, and literature and composition.

While he doesn’t think this award will be a determining factor in getting into his target college, Colfer said, “It sure doesn’t hurt to have the award as it reflects my impact in my own community. ”

Colfer is considering attending a Midwestern college, possibly the University of Chicago, where he would major in biology, ecology, conservation and environmental protection. His professional goal is the protection of ecosystems.

With all of his AP classes and extracurricular activities, Colfer said school has been challenging at times, even leading to trouble sleeping. He said it takes a certain type of person to enjoy the fight and the balancing act required.

His biggest tip for other students trying to challenge themselves in a similar way: enjoy it.

“If you don’t like a challenge or enjoy taking tough classes and doing your extracurricular activities, it’s going to be impossible to just show up and then not move on,” he said. “Make sure the things you spend time on feel right to you.”

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