Wilton students awarded for leadership

Four Wilton public school students have been named the recipients of 2017 Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Student Leadership Awards, which honor high school and middle school students in Connecticut for their exemplary leadership skills.

During the Board of Education’s April 20 meeting, Middlebrook Principal Lauren Feltz presented awards to eighth graders Mickey Wilcox and Victoria DiRocco, and Wilton High School Associate Principal Donald Schels presented awards to seniors Emma Braten and Sam Muirhead.

Mickey Wilcox

“Mickey Wilcox professes discipline and determination through struggle and challenges in the learning process, and he works that much harder when he encounters them,” said Feltz.

“He has a good sense of humor and is very gregarious. He is always ready to offer a positive push-up, with a philosophy of ‘that’s OK because everyone makes mistakes.’”

Feltz noted that Mickey entered the 2017 Constitution Day competition, as well as the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing competition, in which he was awarded a silver key for his poem. He also placed third in the literature category of the 2016 PTA Reflections Program.

“Mickey is an accomplished black belt martial artist, and a thespian who entered a lead role in the Wilton Children’s Theater musical this past fall,” said Feltz.

“In spite of his many accomplishments, Mickey is very humble, and we’re honored to honor him.”

Victoria DiRocco

Victoria, known to her friends as Tori, is “engaged in all of her classes,” said Feltz, and “works well with others — she offers opinions, but invites others to speak.”

“She has a strong sense of herself and encourages personal responsibility in her peers,” said Feltz, and “offers female teammates and friends positive affirmations, especially regarding body image.”

Not only does Victoria “maturely” and “eloquently” converse with adults, said Feltz, but she also “consistently offers greetings and gratitude, and frequently helps her teachers.”

Feltz said Victoria is also a “leading force” on Middlebrook’s Team Change, for which she attends weekly before-school meetings and “works diligently to improve Middlebrook’s climate.”

In addition to all this, Feltz said, Victoria is “an accomplished dancer” and a member of a dance team that performs at local schools.

Emma Braten

Emma is “a strong student who’s earned high honors throughout her high school career, while challenging herself with rigorous courses,” said Schels.

She is a member of the high school’s French Honor Society and received the Wilton Conservation Land Trust Book Award during last year’s Wilton High School Academic Awards Ceremony.

Emma is passionate about science. She plans to pursue a career in medicine, and to pursue an interest in engineering.

“At a young age, she spent time watching her mother work as a physical therapist and realized her desire to help those who cannot help themselves,” Schels said.

“Her interest in engineering stems from articles she has read about college students who created robots to help doctors and patients, so she hopes to be able to couple these fields to be able to have the most impact possible.”

Schels said Emma’s drive to help those around her “extends beyond her future career path.”

Last spring, she participated in a six-week fund-raising competition for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of her mother, who is a leukemia survivor. Emma raised more than $18,000 and won the competition and was named the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 2016 Student of the Year.

In addition to her volunteer endeavors, Emma has been a member of the high school student government since her junior year — serving as class treasurer last year and senior class president this year.

Emma considers student government to be “one of her most significant commitments,” said Schels, “as it has taught her leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.”

She is also part of a youth enrichment program at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, is a classroom aide at a local Hebrew school, and is training for her private pilot’s license.

Sam Muirhead

Sam is a “dedicated,” “responsible” and “respectful” leader, who sets a good example for his peers at Wilton High School, said Schels. He is praised by teachers for his focus and perseverance, and “always seeks to gain deeper understanding of content and information as he engages in our academic program.”

Sam joined Wilton High School’s Peervention program his sophomore year and participated in 10 weeks of training focused on communication, problem-solving, and other tools.

After earning the respect and trust of his peers, said Schels, Sam was selected to serve on the Peervention Executive Council for both his junior and senior years.

“Sam is also leading Bon Ami, a group that helps students new to Wilton High School with their transition to a new community,” said Schels.

“Sam not only has a one-to-one buddy, but helps coordinate the pairing of students each year to ensure that new students assimilate well within the school.”

After having his head shaved during the school’s St. Baldrick’s fund-raiser his freshman year, Sam volunteered to be on the school’s planning committee the following year. He served as a student leader for the 2016 and 2017 St. Baldrick’s events, and helped raise more than $28,000 in 2016 and $26,000 this year — with funds still coming in — to help find a cure for pediatric cancer.

Sam is also president of Wilton High School’s SafeRides program, which provides rides home to students in an effort to prevent drunk driving.

Beyond his academic and extracurricular activities, Sam is an active member of his church’s youth program and is a member of the First Bridgeport Diocese Youth Choir.

Schels said Emma and Sam are both “truly qualified” for the CABE Student Leadership Award and are “outstanding representatives of our school community.”