Middlebrook eighth graders Vignesh Subramanian and Isabel “Izzy” Gouveia received Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Student Leadership Awards this year, Middlebrook Principal Maria Coleman announced at the Board of Education’s April 28 meeting.

According to the CABE website, the 20th annual awards program honors high school and middle school students in Connecticut, who exhibit the following leadership skills:


  • Willing to take on challenges.

  • Capability to make difficult decisions.

  • Concern for others.

  • Ability to work with others.

  • Willingness to commit to a project.

  • Diplomacy.

  • Ability to understand issues clearly.

  • Ability to honor a commitment.


Vignesh Subramanian


Coleman said Vignesh is “a driving force in all that he does — both in and out of the classroom.”

No matter the composition of a particular class or the nature and demand of a specific task, Coleman said, Vignesh has an “enthusiasm and confident determination that captures everyone involved.”

“He is a sophisticated leader and able to bring his own fine thinking to bear on any situation, while always finding effective ways to engage any and all of his classmates and the construction of a solution to whatever problem or challenge his teachers present,” she said.

“Interestingly, Vignesh is not a driving force because he is always charting the course. Instead, it is his ability to spur others to develop their own thinking to its fullest that more often than not, makes the biggest difference.”

Coleman said Vignesh’s skills are recognized by his peers, who elected him to serve as their moderator of a 55-person conversation during a month-long unit of study this year.

Vignesh is also an active member of the Middlebrook community, who is “heavily engaged in co-curricular and public services activities,” said Coleman, and “sets the example of what it means to be a compassionate and civic-minded member of society.”

These attributes, she said, are evident in Vignesh’s contributions to the Science Olympiad, Middlebrook Debate Club, and Middlebrook Science and Engineering Fair.

Vignesh’s Building Fire-Resistant Homes project won first place in the seventh and eighth grade physical science division of this year’s Middlebrook science fair. He went on to compete in the Connecticut State Science and Engineering Fair and won a special award from the Connecticut Valley chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Vignesh is also an “accomplished violinist” in the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, who “brings his devotion and spirit to the world of musicianship,” said Coleman.

“Always optimistic and sincerely courteous, Vignesh has, throughout the years, lifted and renewed the spirits of everyone,” said Coleman, “and we know that our years here would have been far less rich without his presence.”

For these reasons, Coleman said, “we are pleased to have Vignesh be this year's male CABE award-winner.”

Isabel ‘Izzy’ Gouveia


Izzy is a “special person whose radiance draws the attention of anyone in her presence,” said Coleman, and her “enthusiasm, positivity and intelligence have impressed her teachers throughout her time at Middlebrook.”

Colman said Izzy is “an exceptionally strong” student who loves all subject areas equally and uses her natural ability to work well with people of all ages.

“Izzy volunteers at a local child care center and demonstrates passion and the ability to build rapport with senior citizens who visit our building,” said Coleman.

“She served as a student ambassador at last year’s Veterans Day assembly and her ability to connect with our pristine guests capture the attention of numerous teachers and parents who attended the event.”

Izzy has sung in school-wide ceremonies and concerts, and is also active in theater and soccer.

Coleman said she also serves as a captain in her world language class, “explaining materials and assisting her peers with ease and generosity and spirit.”

“Her leadership in these arenas and her ability to stand by her principles when difficult issues arise allow her to navigate the complexities of social and academic challenges beautifully,” said Coleman.

“She is always helpful in the classrooms, never failing to say ‘hello’ when she enters the room and ‘thank you’ when she leaves. She brightens everyone’s day with her sincerity and zest for life.”

Izzy’s combined love of science and people has fostered in her a desire to become a pediatrics oncologist, said Coleman.

Coleman said Izzy is a “well-rounded young lady, whose intellectual successes, leadership skills and social consciousness,” making her an “excellent role model for her peers and a natural choice for the CABE award.”

To learn more about the CABE, visit cabe.org.