With superintendents’ awards, 7 seniors honored for inspiring ‘great hope for our future’



  • Richard Martin, superintendent of Franklin County Technical School, talks with those gathered to honor those chosen for the Franklin County Area Superintendents’ Association’s annual awards dinner at Franklin Tech’s Apprentice Restaurant. Staff Photo/Paul Franz



  • KING

  • McCORD


Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2022 12:53:41 AM
Modified: 12/5/2022 12:53:17 AM

TURNERS FALLS — Some of the highest-achieving pupils at Franklin County’s six public high schools and the vocational school gathered to receive recognition from the superintendents of their respective districts on Thursday as part of the annual Franklin County Area Superintendents’ Association awards dinner.

This year’s ceremony celebrated seven seniors: Brayden McCord of Turners Falls High School; Caroline White of Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in Orange; Cooper Bullock of Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield; Emery King of Mohawk Trail Regional School in Buckland; Brielle Widelo of Greenfield High School; Kitana Rodriguez of Franklin County Technical School; and Sydney Scanlon of Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield.

“We should all hold great hope for our future, knowing that there are such brilliant, kind and skilled students moving on to contribute, to develop their exceptional skills and dedicate themselves to make our world a better place,” Gill-Montague Regional School District Superintendent Brian Beck told the crowd.

Franklin County Technical School

Franklin County Technical School celebrated Kitana Rodriguez for her academic awards, sports involvement and her kind, caring and compassionate personality.

Along with achieving a 4.0 grade point average in all her honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Rodriguez excels in her vocational shop in the Health Technology and Medical Assistant Program. She has earned awards for first place in medical terminology in the district and second place in technical skills presentation at the Leadership Conference for her specific shop programs.

Rodriguez plans to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst next year to study pre-med as an undergraduate and then pursue her doctorate.

Franklin Tech Superintendent Richard Martin said Rodriguez’s English teacher Robert Thompson described her as “an amazing person and student, hardworking and super attentive to details.”

Greenfield High School

Brielle Widelo was honored for her well-roundedness. The Greenfield School Department’s Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Karin Patenaude explained Widelo is a “conscientious student, a dedicated athlete and a natural-born leader.”

Widelo, who ranks first academically in her class of 71 students, was the sole recipient of the University of Rochester’s George Eastman Young Leaders Award.

Not only is she a member of her school’s field hockey team, she is also Student Council president, National Honor Society vice president, Key Club editor, Class of 2023 vice president and has participated in the Moose Club Youth Awareness Program.

“What more can we ask from our students than to embrace all of the opportunities provided with determination and ambition, and selflessly give back to the school and community of which you are a part,” Patenaude said about Widelo.

Turners Falls High School

The winner of the award at Turners Falls High School has a 104 weighted grade point average, is the recipient of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for his stellar performance on the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) exams and is taking classes at Greenfield Community College.

Brayden McCord certainly did a lot to get the award presented to him by Beck.

Aside from his commitment to academics, McCord plays soccer and track and field. He also volunteers at the Erving Senior & Community Center and Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield.

When McCord was in eighth grade, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Since the diagnosis, he has worked tirelessly to make her proud. His mother ultimately died last spring, and he aims to excel in her honor.

Beck said McCord hopes to fight cancer with his “devoted, kind and brilliant mind” by becoming a radiologist after continuing his education.

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School

Scott Hemlin, principal of Ralph C. Mahar Regional School, presented his district’s award to Caraline White. She recently won the College of the Atlantic Book Award and maintains a 4.26 GPA.

White was given a Peacemaker Award from the Interfaith Council of Franklin County and the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, and received commendations from her senator and state representative for her social justice work. As the point secretary for her school’s Key Club, she has led food drives, served spaghetti suppers and hosted local youth holiday parties.

“White has a strong intellect, she is hardworking and passionate, and she is a kind and considerate peer,” Hemlin said at the ceremony.

She hopes to pursue a career in civil engineering.

Frontier Regional School

Sydney Scanlon is a National Latin Exam Silver Medalist and a member of her school’s Model United Nations Team, Math Team, Feminist Club and Latin Club. All of this and more made her the pick for the Superintendents’ Award presented by Superintendent Darius Modestow.

Additionally, in her extracurriculars, she serves as captain on the school’s volleyball team, where she has led them to winning two state championships.

When she is not studying to maintain her 4.62 GPA, she volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County and works as an office assistant at an accounting firm.

“I don’t think Frontier is ready for her to leave,” Modestow said. But Union College is certainly ready for her next year, where she will study pre-med and play on the volleyball team.

Mohawk Trail Regional School

“Emery King represents everything Mohawk Trail stands for and strives to be,” Superintendent Sheryl Stanton said as she presented the award for her district.

Not only does King excel in his classes at Mohawk Trail Regional School, but he also takes classes at UMass Amherst.

For extracurriculars, King sings in chorus, serves as captain of his volleyball team, is president of the Mohawk Trail Equity Alliance, is a member of the Key Club and participates in the Valley Playwright Mentoring program.

His friends and teachers describe King as genuine, caring and generous. Stanton also said he is kind and known for his welcoming smile.

Pioneer Valley Regional School

Cooper Bullock won the award from Pioneer Valley Regional School District Superintendent Patricia Kinsella after he organized a volunteer day mulching the school grounds through a new club he created called the Pioneer Land Stewardship Club.

Along with his club, he is part of Students Demand Action, Combat Litter Now, Arise for Social Justice and the U.S. State Department’s Youth Ambassador Program.

Kinsella explained Bullock “achieves academically at the highest levels” and is “unfailingly gracious, modest and a kind person.”

Along with all that he has achieved, Bullock is also a baseball and track star.

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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