CABE 2024 Student Leadership Awards

The CABE Student Leadership Awards Program is designed to honor Connecticut high school and middle school students who exhibit exemplary leadership skills.  Two students from each school, in a CABE member district, are eligible to receive the CABE Student Leadership Award. Madison's award recipients were recognized at the Board of Education meeting on May 7. Students were invited to attend the meeting along with their families to receive the award, have a photo taken, and listen to remarks about their accomplishments from their building principal. 

Daniel Hand High School 


Cooper Dunsmore

Cooper Dunsmore is an impressive young man who is thoughtful, compassionate, dedicated, and independent. He has balanced an incredibly challenging schedule with ease and has excelled in academics while being deeply involved in clubs and volunteering. Some would refer to Cooper as a “Lego Kid”, and to this day he still loves to build, especially things that move like cars, boats, planes, and trains. He loves learning in all academic areas and beyond high school, is planning to apply his skills to engineering, possibly aerospace.

Cooper is a mature and engaged learner who finds ways to participate and connect to the class and curriculum. He participates to his full capability, including helping others. He works collaboratively to share his knowledge and is willing to lead groups and discussions. Academically, Cooper performs at a very high-level finishing in the top 10 of his class. He has committed to challenging himself by taking more demanding courses each year. He received the seal of bi-literacy in Spanish last year and has been on the high honor roll his entire high school career. In 2023, he received DHHS departments awards for academic excellence in math, world language, and science. He is an active member or our music department playing percussion in our Symphonic Band and leading the Marching Band as a percussion section leader. Cooper also plays in our Jazz Band and Show Band. Last year, Cooper was awarded for his excellence in academics, mathematics, and the naturally sciences from Clarkson University and from the Society of Women Engineers. In the spring of 2023, Cooper received one of the highest honors at DHHS through his induction into the National Honor Society. Cooper has grown and developed through these academic experiences, learning how to manage his time and achieve a balance in both his school and personal life.

In addition to his dedication to academics, Cooper has made a positive impact through his extracurricular activity involvement and his connections to the community. He is a dedicated member of the Indoor and Outdoor track team where he competed at the New England and National levels. Outside of DHHS, Cooper continues to spread his musical abilities in the community. He plays house band for our local School of Rock, plays for our elementary schools with the Jazz Band, and participates yearly with our Marching Band during the Memorial Day Parade. He also has extensive volunteer hours, over 300, with Share the Wind Sailing Camp where he teaches younger children how to sail small sailboats at the Surf Club. In his “free time”, he works as a Marine Attendant at Yacht Management Systems to clean and wax boats during the summer months.

Cooper’s success demonstrates his natural leadership and ability to connect with younger students, peers, and all members of our community. He is exceptionally driven young many who is no doubt already on the path to success. His body of work over the past four years has been incredible. Cooper is truly a special young adult who is very well-deserving of this recognition.


Seth Klaskin, TJ Salutari, Cooper Dunsmore, Craig Cooke

Sarah Hagan

Sarah Hagan is a tenacious, compassionate, dedicated, and independent young adult. Her warm and welcoming personality make her a light in any room she enters. Sarah jumped into the high school experience with two feet making an impressive impact on her teachers and the entire DHHS community. Sarah has succeeded in balancing a challenging schedule with ease. She has excelled academically while being deeply involved in athletics at DHHS and volunteering in the community. Sarah loves learning in the areas of science and hopes to apply her passion to the study of Chemistry in the future. She is a talented student who has grown exponentially by taken on new challenges and responsibilities. 

Sarah enjoys making connections with teachers and students and has pushed herself beyond her comfort zone to join clubs and activities. She is an organized, active participant in her classes, always willing to volunteer and lead groups. Academically, Sarah performs at a high-level landing her in the top 10 of her class. She has committed to challenging herself each year by taking our highest-level courses. She has been on the high honor roll her entire high school career and has received the seal of bi-literacy in Latin in 2023. She has won many awards for her commitment to academic success including the Tulane University Book Award (awarded to a student for community service and leadership). She has earned multiple DHHS departmental and PTO recognition for excellence in art, English, social studies, science and orchestra. These recognitions demonstrate the intelligence and dedication Sarah has across various curricular areas. Last school year, the faculty nominated Sarah for the APA Laurel Girls State where she attended a week-long training/immersion in a ‘mock’ government. In 2023, Sarah received one of the highest honors at DHHS through her induction into the National Honor Society. Sarah has grown and developed through these academic experiences, learning how to manage her time and achieve a balance in both her school and personal life. Her drive to succeed continues as her challenging coursework during her senior year certainly confirms.

In addition to her commitment to academics, she is also dedicated to her community and extracurricular involvement. She has engaged in an extensive number of clubs where she has been involved for three years and currently holds leadership positions. These include; co-vice president of the Giving Bach Club, president of the Debate Team, secretary of UNICEF, and captain on our Fencing team. She also plays violin in our Chamber Orchestra and has joined the Shoreline Youth Symphony Orchestra where she made the Regional competition in 2022. Although time does not seem like something Sarah has much of, she volunteers extensively at the Guilford Arts Center and the Guilford Library. She has been a tutor at DHHS supporting students with Chemistry, Algebra 1, and SAT prep. All of these commitments outside the classroom are examples of Sarah’s caring nature and dedication. Sarah is successful and humble. She is a true leader and a driven young woman. There is no doubt she will continue on a path of success as a motivated, bright, dynamic, and truly special young woman who is very well-deserving of this recognition.

Seth Klaskin, TJ Salutari, Sarah Hagan, Craig Cooke

Walter C. Polson Middle School 


Elle Vradenburgh

Elle Vradenburgh embodies the essence of academic excellence, leadership, and community, making her a worthy recipient of the prestigious CABE award.  She excels academically, consistently showing a strong commitment to her studies, but the respect she holds from students and staff goes well beyond good grades.  It starts with her ready smile; Elle absolutely radiates positivity and enthusiasm. Whether she is entering a classroom, heading into the office, or walking down the hall, she smiles.  Whether she knows you personally, or not, she smiles, making everyone feel like they are truly seen -- like they matter.  It’s easy to see why she inspires anyone around her.  Elle is a born leader, and she leads with grace, humility, and a quiet competence.  For example, she is heavily involved in Excel Club and Student Council where she is equally at home taking charge of a program or supporting the initiatives of others.  Need help with a project like hanging kindness posters around the school? Ask Elle.  Need an honest perspective about an idea or program?  Ask Elle.  She is empathetic and possesses a genuine concern for the well-being of others, collaborating with all and advocating for those who need support.  It’s clear that her contributions in school are not about personal growth -- they’re about enriching the entire school community.  There is no doubt that, in anything she undertakes, Elle will continue to make meaningful contributions, with a boundless optimism that will inspire others and leave a lasting impression on Madison Public Schools and the world around her.

Seth Klaskin, Kathryn hart, Elle Vradenburgh, Craig Cooke

Matthew Ackerman

Matt Ackerman is a student of exceptional character, dedication to service, and academic excellence, which has earned him the esteemed CABE award.  In the classroom, Matt performs at high levels across the board, and teachers are impressed with his strong work ethic.  His dedication transcends academics, however, as seen in his leadership roles in the building.  With a genuine commitment to service and a natural ability to inspire others, he leaves an indelible mark on Polson in all he does.  For example, as part of Student Council, he participated in Our World Day, a joint effort between Polson and a neighboring middle school where students collaborated to develop and present information on countries across the globe.  As part of Peer Helpers, Matt demonstrates an inclusive approach and ability to bring people together, which has made him a role model for peers and younger students in the school community.  It’s no surprise, then, that he is currently spearheading a new bulletin board project centered on inclusivity and unity.  Whether he is meeting with administration, creating plans, or adjusting strategies when faced with challenges,  Matt’s strong communication skills and his commitment to leaving Polson a better place are evident.  Thank you, Matt, for inspiring us and making a difference in the lives of others around you.  We’ll know you will continue to do so for years to come.


Seth Klaskin, Kathryn Hart, Matt Ackerman, Craig Cooke