Students awarded for ‘exemplary’ leadership skills

Middlebrook eigth graders Alix Wadehra and Johnny Wu and Wilton High School seniors Carter Vail and Julia Davatzes received Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Student Leadership Awards this year.

According to the CABE website, the awards program honors high school and middle school students in Connecticut, who exhibit “exemplary” leadership skills.

Out of all Middlebrook eighth graders, Alix and Johnny were nominated by their teachers to represent their school, Principal Maria Coleman said during the Board of Education’s April 23 meeting.

Alix Wadehra

“Alix in a most unassuming way and in every circumstance never fails to exert the most important influence,” said Coleman.

“Through her gifts as a student and her personal strength of character and personality, Alix is a master facilitator who is able to navigate any group through any academic challenge.”

Coleman said Alix’s “steady demeanor,” “eager spirit” and “overwhelming nature” allow her to “lead herself and her classmates to greater success with all endeavors than could ever have been expected without Alix’s encouragement and direction.”

Johnny Wu

Johnny not only has “a terrific combination of talented athleticism and a superior academic record,” said Coleman, but he also has an “inquiring mind and takes the content and conversation to a higher level of curiosity and wonder.”

Coleman said Johnny has “a natural leadership ability,” “delegates responsibilities in a thoughtful manner,” and is “always polite and humble.”

“Overall, Johnny is a true leader and scholar in all he does,” said Coleman.

“Johnny is the president of the Middlebrook Student Council, a member of the Middlebrook Orchestra and plays three competitive sports.”

Carter Vail

In a letter to the CABE, Wilton High School Principal Robert O’Donnell wrote that Carter is “a young man of outstanding character, who possess a huge heart for music, sports and most importantly, people."

“Although Carter has held leadership positions and is extremely talented in music and athletics,” O’Donnell wrote, “his biggest accomplishment to date is that he lives his life in service to others each and every day."

Carter has served as an officer, vice president and the current president of the high school’s Best Buddies Club, which matches special needs students with mentor students in Wilton High School. He also serves as director of the Wilton chapter of Best Buddies.

“Beyond his membership in the Best Buddies Club, Carter is well known by his peers and faculty alike for reaching out to special needs students on a daily basis,” wrote O’Donnell.

As captain of the high school’s varsity football team for the past two years, O’Donnell wrote, Carter “leads by example through encouragement as a true mentor and is held in high esteem by players and coaches alike.”

“You will not meet a more humble, genuine, dedicated and beloved young man than Carter Vail,” wrote O’Donnell.

“His impact on our student body through his leadership, both in and out of the classroom, and his commitment to disabled peers is simply remarkable.”

Julia Davatzes

Julia Davatzes is not only a leader but also a friend, teammate and go-getter, who “cares deeply about her education and those around her,” wrote O’Donnell.

Julia, who is a member of the National Honor Society and Wilton High School’s tennis team, was named a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Julia is an “engaged student,” according to O’Donnell, and has taken four years of orchestra and choir at the high school. She has been a leader within the orchestra as section leader and first chair, he added.

Julia was selected to be the Wilton High School representative at the Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) Leadership Conference her sophomore year, and has since taken on leadership roles both in school and out, according to O’Donnell.

Julia was presented with the Presidential Service Award through the HOBY organization and has also been working with the administration to bring Rachel’s Challenge to Wilton and create the Friends of Rachel Club at the high school.

Outside of school, Julia volunteers at Ambler Farm and was selected to be a mentor in its apprenticeship program. Julia created a buddy program at Ambler that supports students with disabilities and provides them with opportunities to volunteer on the farm by caring for the animals, growing vegetables and making friends.

“Julia is a young woman who is always respectful, polite and humble,” wrote O’Donnell. “She is committed to making a difference in the world and helping others.”
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