The award is given by the superintendent to the high school's top student.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Superintendent Barbara Malkas got to do one of the "nicest" parts of her job on Wednesday night: Recognizing an outstanding student.
She awarded senior Cady Denning with the Certificate of Academic Excellence from the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.
Denning is the daughter of Mark Denning and of Donna Brule-Denning, both of North Adams. She attended Clarksburg School.
"One of the nicest things I get to do on my job is to thank a student who's doing everything we expect of them and more," Malkas said.
The certificate is given to the highest ranking high school senior within a district.
"Cady has a full course load including five Advanced Placement courses and a dual enrollment course through Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts," Malkas said. "She has been inducted into Nu Sigma and Pro Merito honor societies and has received several awards including the Sage [Colleges] Book Award and will graduate with grade average of 97.6."
Active in the community and school, she is a dancer with Studio North, taking six classes a week as well as working as a teaching assistant in three other classes. She has been a member of Drury's band front for four years and involved in school's musical productions.
Denning has also been a peer mentor with eighth-graders at Drury and volunteering at Clarksburg Elementary School, and as was chosen as a group leader to train elementary students as well as a group of her peers through the Drury student ambassador program. She also volunteers regularly at St. Elizbabeh of Hungary Parish and with the ROPES course.
"Cady plans to pursue a career in nursing and, at this time, she is undecided which college she will be attending but I'm going to put in for Sage," joked Malkas, a graduate of The Sage Colleges of Albany, N.Y.
The committee also welcomed its newest member Emily Stewart, representing the Student Council.
"She has been involved in everything from athletics to volunteering, all the while maintaining a grade average of 92 in several Advanced Placement courses," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, the committee's chairman. "She's a leader in and out of the classroom earning her role as a student ambassador, secretary of her senior class and the Drury High selection for the RYLA [Rotary Youth Leadership Award] leadership conference in the summer of 2019."
Stewart is also a member of the Pep and Yearbook clubs, and of the Nu Sigma and Pro Merito honor societies. She works part time at Desparados and plans to study radiology. Her friends Allison, Kelsey, Laura and Lauren attended her first meeting in support.
"Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to speak with students from all different grades and listened to their hopes and ideas for the bright future that lies ahead for Drury High School and I look forward to sharing those with you all," said Stewart.
Outgoing School Committee member John Hockridge was recognized for the Life Member Award he received at the recent MASC convention. Hockridge, a division chairman of MASC and chairman of the Berkshire County Education Task Force, also earned a Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
Also leaving is Business Manager Nancy Ziter, who retires effective Dec. 31. The board also gave Ziter a round of applause for what Alcombright described as her "almost miraculous" ability to get things done.
Ziter has managed the day-to-day finances of the school district for a decade, including a brief period when she also worked with the city's finances. Over the past several years, she's managed the complicated financial matters of the Colegrove Park Elementary School project and earned commendations and certificates attesting to her professional abilities.
"I worked with a lot of financial people and there are none better than Nancy Ziter," the mayor, a banker, said.
The committee briefly discussed whether the hiring of a new business manager could be an opening for shared services with another school district. However, with Ziter's departure less than two months away, it was decided to move forward with hiring and let the superintendent take the lead on potentials for collaboration.
"We have to make sure were taking care of our district first," said Vice Chairwoman Heather Boulger.
Malkas said there were six applicants for the job and she would set up an interview committee; finalists will be interviewed by the School Committee.
School Committee member Mark Moulton asked for clarification on the recent hiring of a community outreach coordinator, which a few people had alleged on social media had been a specially created position.
Malkas pointed out that community outreach had been identified as a major priority in the district improvement strategy.
The service learning coordinator post was left vacant after a retirement last spring as part of budget cuts. "When the dust settled," Malkas said, the budget was reviewed to see if there was money there for an outreach coordinator. There were a couple of other responsibilities that could be combined with it to have enough to hire someone.
"We wanted to shift it from just service learning as well as bring in some of the oversight to the family centers we were opening," she said. "We rewrote the job description and posted for 10 days."
There were several applications and the interview committee selected Emily Schiavone, wife of City Council President Benjamin Lamb. Schiavone is a graduate of Keene State College and holds a master's in education from Massachusetts Colelge of Liberal Arts. She started on Oct. 2.
The school district had a community outreach coordinator a couple years ago.
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