Ridgefield students honored with CABE, CAPSS awards

Volunteers and science geeks, baby-hat knitters and coders — those were some of the accolades acknowledged for the 12 students honored by school board members at one of their end of year meetings.

Board Chairwoman Fran Walton presented the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Student Leadership Award to Scotts Ridge Middle School students John Christopher Karle and Evia Rodriguez, East Ridge Middle School students Katie Gilland and Max Aronson, and high school students Omika Suryawanshi and Tanner Daubenspeck — who wasn’t there for the award ceremony.

Acting Superintendent Dr. Robert Miller then presented the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents/Western Connecticut Superintendents Association (CAPSS/WCSA) award to Scotts Ridge students Brooke Manganiello and Quinton Miller, East Ridge students Hersha Chauhan and Eric Pereira, and high school students Zoe Butchen and Kunal Chauhan.


Their accomplishments vary widely, but all of the awarded students share a common theme of community service.

John Christopher Karle knit 34 baby caps to donate to the Family and Children’s Aid Child First program, said Salem. “Overall, Chris is a hard worker in school and a tireless contributor to the student community,” Salem said.

Rodriguez, a Girl Scout, developed an app to help scouts recycle as part of the coding project Random “Hacks of Kindness Jr.”

Gilland volunteers at the Dorothy Day Hospitality House, and has donated to Locks of Love four times since the age of six.

Aaronson “comes to school every day knowing he should give his best effort,” said East Ridge Principal Patricia Raneri.

Suryawanshi started a program called Leap into Technology that gave middle school girls an introduction to coding. She also volunteers in the Indian community, where she leads the youth division, RHS principal Stacey Gross said.

Daubenspeck helped with the cleanup efforts following Hurricane Sandy, and organized with other students to collect canned goods for victims of the storm in Staten Island, N.Y.

Hersha Chauhan has been on the student council for three years “and the driving force in all that the group accomplishes,” said RHS Principal Stacey Gross.

Pereira and his friends started a book club, and was an award recipient from Lion’s Heart for having the top number of service hours, at more than 100, given back to the community.

Manganiello helped to organize a charity 5K race to support a sister’s friend who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. The race raised over $100,000 for the Sloan Kettering Foundation, said Scotts Ridge Principal Tim Salem.

Quinton Miller made food for Dorothy Day House through his church’s youth group, served pancakes after Mass, and for the past three years, painted town storefronts for Halloween and Christmas.

Butchen served as the student liaison Principal Gross’s “What’s Up Doc?” monthly program, and was awarded the Michael J. Fox Foundation MVP award for top fund-raiser.

Kunal Chauhan served as student body president, captain of the varsity debate team, and was awarded the Gold Presidential Community Service Award in 2015, 2016, and 2017. “Kunal’s dedication to school and community are evident each day, and he is an extraordinary example for his peers,” said Gross.