When New Canaan High School senior Katherine "Kit" Mallozzi was a freshman, she learned about the Student Advocates, a program that aims to positively influence school culture through mediation, counseling and tutoring. Mallozzi was excited to be part of the group until she found out "she was too young to join," Superintendent of Schools Mary Kolek said.
But Mallozzi, one of the two winners of the 2014 Connecticut Association of Boards of Education's student leadership award in New Canaan, did not take no for an answer.
"In a great display of optimism and initiative, Kit completed the necessary entry forms and interviewed," Kolek told the Board of Education June 2. "The leaders were so impressed by her maturity and warmth that they allowed her to participate. It was a wise decision and a lucky day for New Canaan High School."
Since then, Mallozzi, who is First Selectman Robert Mallozzi's daughter, has helped create a positive school culture by working on issues affecting the high school, such as drug and alcohol abuse, dating and stress, Kolek said.
The other recipient of the CABE student leadership award was high school senior John "Jack" Robey, who also was recognized at the board's meeting June 2. Kolek described Robey as a social leader, "a leading citizen who understands the importance of living a thoughtful, balanced and meaningful life," and "a bright young man."
"Jack is just the kind of leader all communities need and deserve," the superintendent said. "He's intellectually curious, caring, clear-headed."
The CABE Student Leadership Awards Program is designed to honor the state's high school and middle school students "who exhibit exemplary leadership skills," according to CABE's website. Every year, one male and one female student from each high school and middle school in a CABE member district are eligible to receive the award.
Though she "was really surprised," Mallozzi said she was happy to be recognized as a high school leader.
"Honestly, this award is a huge honor," she said. "And I didn't expect to get it."
Mallozzi likes being a leader because she gets to help and interact with people of all ages. "I really like it because I find that it helps you get to know people you would never meet otherwise," she said.
Kolek praised Mallozzi for her optimism and commitment to service.
"When I asked her about how she envisioned her future, she paused, looked to the heavens and said, `I can't wait to see where I go,' " Kolek told the board.
Besides being a member of the Student Advocates and other school clubs, Mallozzi is also a student ambassador and works at Meals on Wheels of New Canaan on weekends.
In the fall, she'll start her college career at Syracuse University. Robey, who's also a member of the Student Advocates, will move to the other side of the country to attend college -- Santa Clara University in California.
Last year, Robey spent four weeks in France learning photography and practicing French. Kolek said he completed all French courses offered at the high school with grades in the 90s. She said he's "someone who does not seek the spotlight, but who serves as a beacon because of the light he leaves."
firstname.lastname@example.org, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson