Polson Middle School’s 2020 CABE Student Leadership Awards

Walter C. Polson Middle School students Maryclaire Pantano and Trip Rizzo were named the 2020 CABE Student Leadership Award winners at the middle school level for the district. The awards program, presented annually by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) is a program designed to honor students who exhibit exemplary leadership skills. Both students were recognized at the Board of Education meeting on May 19. Remarks made about each student by Polson Middle School Principal Kathryn Hart can be read in full below.

Maryclaire Pantano

Maryclaire Pantano


It is not easy to balance life as a middle schooler these days, but Maryclaire Pantano does it all with confidence and a positive attitude.  Whether she is working as a student, a performer or a volunteer, Maryclaire demonstrates commitment and character in everything she does.

Academically, Maryclaire is a hardworking and engaged student; she never gives less than 100% and gladly helps others whenever she can.  It is no wonder that teachers view her as genuine, compassionate, and hardworking, qualities transcending those of the average eighth grader.

In addition to her commitment to her academics, Maryclaire is involved in theater and musical theater where her teacher describes her as “fearless in her performances and also treats each rehearsal and the work of others with the utmost respect.”

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Maryclaire is what she gives back to others. On a daily basis, Maryclaire shows empathy and concern for other students and staff.  She is also active in the Excel Club, raising money for different causes.  Maryclaire has been a Girl Scout for eight years where she has been involved in many community service projects.

Polson Middle School is fortunate to have Maryclaire Pantano as a member of our community where her uniqueness and kindness is appreciated by all.

Trip Rizzo

Trip Rizzo


“Motivated,”  “conscientious,” and “kind.”  These are a few of the words mentioned by members of the Polson community when asked to describe Trip Rizzo, a young man well respected, not only by other students, but by faculty and staff.  As a student and an athlete, Trip has emerged as a quiet leader in our school.

Trip is a hardworking student who sets the standard for conscientious work.  Whether something comes easily to him or presents a challenge, he approaches each task with the same level of focus and determination.  Teachers appreciate his attitude toward learning the skill and content of the curriculum, but Trip’s contributions to class go beyond that to include positive peer relations.  Trip is kind to others and considers their feelings and perspectives more than most people.  He is involved in community service projects through Madison Youth and Family Services.  This, coupled with his honesty and integrity, make him well liked by everyone. 

Outside of school Trip is involved in hockey and is currently captain of his hockey team.  This attests to Trip’s leadership skills in and out of school.

Middle school can be a tumultuous time, but Trip’s integrity, concern for others, and commitment set him apart as a role model for all.  We are lucky to have him as a member of our Polson community.