FCIAC Exemplary Scholar-Athletes, Fall, 2022

Olivia Cognetti, Westhill

Olivia has a weighted GPA of 4.9 while taking many AP and honors classes.

This member of the National Honor Society and World Language Honor Society has served as the class president for the past four years.

Olivia is captain of the girls soccer team, and has participated in basketball and track and field. She received the Mickey Lione Jr. Scholarship for youth excellence when she was a sophomore.

Olivia is a member of the Computer Science Academy of Westhill and is the founder and president of the Westhill Girls in STEM club.

As a junior, she was the recipient of the Brown University Book Award.

Olivia has been a volunteer with the organization LiveGirl, mentoring young women to become confident leaders and has been a member of the Westhill Best Buddies club.

Mary Ryan, Fairfield Warde

Mary has achieved a 4.75 cumulative GPA while taking honors and AP classes. She is a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Music, Science, Spanish and Math Honors Societies.

She is a four-year member of the girls swimming and diving team, and the girls indoor/outdoor track and field teams. As a junior, Mary was named captain of the girls outdoor track team and this fall was captain of the girls swimming and diving team. Mary was selected All-FCIAC Girls Swimming Second Team during her freshman and junior years as well as the FCIAC All-East Region First Team as a sophomore.

The multi-talented senior has diverse interests and frequently volunteers her time for her community. Mary is the president of Warde’s Young Democrats club and Humanity Now club. While in the music department, Mary plays the oboe. She volunteers on local campaigns and teaching reduced-cost lessons as part of First Splash – her program which works to make swim lessons more accessible for Fairfield families.

Last year she was awarded the Harvard Book Award.

Mateo Gigliani-Alcantarilla, Greenwich

Mateo, who has made the High Honor Roll every semester while achieving a 5.1 GPA going into his senior year, is a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Math, English, and Spanish national honor societies.

He has been a member of the cross country and track and field teams for three years, recently acting as a team captain of the cross country team. He previously rowed for Greenwich Crew as a novice.

Mateo volunteers every week at Building One Community as a Youth Leader, managing over 140 volunteers in ESL classes for underserved immigrants.

He is also co-president of the Tech Startup Club, co-vice president of the Big Brother Club, and co-vice president of the Senior Interview Club.

Joaquina Mendive, Greenwich

Joaquina is a member of theNational Honor Society along with the English and Social Studies honor societies. She is a president of the National Spanish Honor Society for her school. She has achieved a 5.01 cumulative GPA entering her senior year, and is a High Honor Roll student while taking AP and Honors classes. She made the JV team girls soccer team her freshman year and the Varsity team as a junior. Joaquina is a National Merit Scholar Award semi-finalist and recipient of school-wide academic awards in Spanish, Social Studies, and Math. She is a Class Homeroom Representative and is the President of the Association of Hispanics Club and Cultural Cuisine Club at her high school. She volunteers for Neighbor to Neighbor, Bruce Museum Seaside Center, Food Rescue US, and Filling in the Blanks.

Matthew Francoeur, Norwalk

Matthew has a 3.9 unweighted GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

He has been a three-season distance runner for Norwalk’s boys cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field teams since his freshman year who has continued his high school running career as a senior.

Matthew does volunteer work with the Boy Scouts and has recently been named as a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship.

Anna Nelson, Brien McMahon

Anna has been a High Honor Roll student throughout high school and has achieved a GPA of 4.56 while taking mostly AP, IB, and honors classes.

She is a four-year member of the girls volleyball team, a starting varsity player, and one of the team captains for her senior year.

Anna is vice president of her National Honor Society and captain of the math team. She was the recipient of the Cornell Book Award as a junior, is a National Merit Semifinalist, and has volunteered for Person-to-Person and the Maritime Aquarium.

Jhonnyel Ramiriz, Danbury

Jhonnyel is a senior at Danbury High School with a GPA of 4.267. He has achieved High Honor Roll every year, taking all honors classes along with multiple AP courses throughout high school.

Jhonnyel was captain of Danbury’s varsity football and lacrosse teams last school season as a junior, and he became a three-sport captain for his current senior year – leading the football, wrestling, and lacrosse teams.

He received an All-FCIAC Honorable Mention in wrestling last winter while helping the Hatters win FCIAC and state Class LL tournament championships.

This young man also volunteers by coaching youth football for the HCYS Danbury Hatters.

Sebi Schmitz, Brien McMahon

Sebi is a senior with a 4.3 weighted GPA while taking Honors and AP courses throughout high school.

He has played all four years on the boys soccer team and is currently a captain of the varsity team. Sebi plans on competing again on the boys indoor track and field team as a captain during the winter season and on the boys tennis team in the spring season.

Sebi is the elected treasurer of the National Honor Society and the founder of the Marine Conservation Club at Brien McMahon High School.

Sebi started his own baking business called Golden Bites and has volunteered at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium and the Grassroots Tennis Association.

Mali Nepeman, Danbury

Mali is a Distinguished Honor Roll student with a 4.7 GPA while taking AP and honors courses. She is also enrolled in the Danbury Early College Opportunity, taking college courses at NVCC.

Mali is the Student Leader for her school’s Class Act chapter, a Fundraising Chair for Key Club, a Peer Leader, and a member of the National Honor Society. She volunteers as a coach for the Danbury Youth Soccer and volunteers many hours to her school and local community.

Aaron Field, Fairfield Ludlowe

Aaron has been accepted into the National Honor Society, as well as the math, history, and Spanish honor societies at Fairfield Ludlowe, for which he often tutors.

He is the co-president of the Our Turn to Serve club, which raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project, and an active member in the Type 1 Diabetes community, where he looks to inspire newly diagnosed children.

Aaron has been named a captain of both the football and lacrosse teams. Last year as a junior he was selected to the 2021-22 All-FCIAC Football Second Team.

Tatum Holderied, Fairfield Ludlowe

Tatum, a three-year player and now a senior captain of Ludlowe’s girls volleyball team, has achieved a cumulative weighted GPA of 4.54 while taking mostly AP and honors courses.

She earned All-FCIAC Honorable Mention last season as a junior and was the number one blocker in the state.

Tatum is a member of the National Honor Society, as well as the Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society, and Art Honor Society. She was also a recipient of the Brown Book Award, is a co-leader of the BuildOn club, and is a member of the American Field Services Club.

Next year, Tatum will continue her athletic and academic career playing volleyball at Fordham University, where she plans to study environmental science.

Heather Plowright, Wilton

Heather has an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and has been on High Honor Roll throughout high school while taking all AP and honors classes.

She is a 4-year starter for the varsity girls soccer team and now a senior captain who was a key player who contributed to the Warriors winning the state Class LL co-championship after they were runner-up at the FCIAC Tournament. She earned an All-FCIAC award in her junior year.

Heather has also run indoor track and qualified for FCIAC and state championship meets.

She is the recipient of the Yale Book Award, a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Peervention, Buon Amico, a Link Crew leader, and a member of Safe Rides Wilton. She is also the student director of the Wilton TOPSoccer branch.

Heather plans to continue her academic and athletic careers playing Division I soccer at Lafayette College next year.

Ben Yudolevich, Stamford

Ben is a National Merit Commended Scholar and has achieved a 4.88 GPA taking mostly AP classes.

He has been a team captain for the boys varsity tennis team for two years and has received All-FCIAC Honorable Mention as a sophomore and junior. Ben also plays on the varsity soccer team in the fall.

Ben is a member of the debate club, Captain of the Math team, and was a finalist for the Mickey Lione Jr. Scholarship for student athletes. He has also volunteered at Darien Book Aid and several senior homes.

Jackson Carbonier, Wilton

Jackson is a senior with an unweighted GPA of 3.98 in mostly honors and AP classes.

He is a High Honor Roll Student and National Honor Society member. He also received the St. Michaels Junior College Book Award for academic achievement with a social conscience.

Jackson is captain of the varsity tennis team and a four-year varsity player, as well as a member of the varsity golf team. He earned All-FCIAC Honorable Mention for tennis his junior year.

Jackson co-founded a service organization called Wilton Service League of Boys, which provides opportunities for parents and sons to volunteer and support their local communities. Over the course of two years, the organization has provided over 650 service hours and grown to over 100 members.

Sophia Papadopoulos, Norwalk

Sophia holds a 4.2 GPA and the senior has been her class treasurer throughout her high school career.

She has played varsity soccer for four years as well as three years of basketball and two years of softball.

Andrew Flynn, St. Joseph

Andrew is a President’s Honor Roll student who has a 99.34 GPA while taking nine AP classes.

He has been accepted to the National Honor Society, along with Math and Spanish honor societies and Peer Ministry.

Andrew is the captain of the boys golf team, and has won the state championship in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He was also selected All-State in those two seasons, and All-FCIAC as a junior.

He plans on attending Bowdoin College to play golf.

Dhruv Khanna, Westhill

Dhruv is a member of the National Honor Society and the World Languages Honor Society and has achieved a 4.61 weighted GPA. He has been a member of the boys soccer and wrestling teams throughout high school and served as captain of the wrestling team as a sophomore.

Dhruv earned All-FCIAC Honorable Mention in wrestling in his junior year and took the Silver Medal at the 2022 Nutmeg State Games in wrestling.

Dhruv has volunteered to support the efforts of a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the healthcare system in India and has volunteered for Stamford Junior Wrestling.

He has also been entrepreneurial, customizing and selling sneakers, and co-founding an online site aimed at improving sports performance.

Calla Brown, Fairfield Warde

Calla has achieved a cumulative GPA of 4.62 in an honors and AP curriculum.

She was accepted into the National Honor Society, is vice president of the Science Honor Society, and is a member of English, Math, and Spanish honor societies.

Calla has been a member of Warde’s girls volleyball program all four years. She has been a key contributor as an outside hitter.

Outside of school, Calla is a co-president of the Voices for Equity club, where she volunteers for local organizations and initiatives. She plays piano in private study and received the Cornell Book Award. She was recently commended for the National Merit Scholarship.

Gabriela de Brito, Staples

Gabriela has been on Honor Roll throughout high school, and she has a 4.14 unweighted GPA and a 4.44 weighted GPA.

She has played on the varsity girls soccer and girls lacrosse teams for three years. With the soccer team, she and her Wreckers have won two FCIAC championships and a state title.

Gabriela is also part of the Math Honor Society, math team, and co-president of the Women in Stern club.

She volunteers for the Caroline House and for local organizations through the Westport chapter of National Charity League.

Leilani Gillespie, Darien

Leilani, who has been accepted to the National Honor Society as a junior and senior, has achieved a 3.8 GPA with a rigorous schedule of multiple honors and AP courses throughout high school.

She made the varsity girls volleyball as a freshman and has started all four years. She’s been co-captain during her junior and senior years, and last year as a junior she was selected to the All-FCIAC Girls Volleyball First Team and All-State Second Team.

Leilani is a member of DECA, Health and Humanitarians, and She’s the First. She is vice president of Book Worms, where her club educates elementary students on the joy of reading.

Leilani is looking forward to pursuing her college studies in business management and marketing.

Thomas Skelton, Darien

This Honor Roll student has a cumulative GPA of 4.22 in almost strictly honors and AP courses, and he has membership in the honors societies.

He is a member of the varsity cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track programs during his junior and senior seasons at Darien High School after having transferred from Forsyth Central High School in Georgia. Thomas was a senior captain who placed 22nd at the 2022 FCIAC Cross Country Championships to earn his selection to the All-FCIAC Second Team for the second consecutive year.

Thomas is the president of the Fellowship Club, a member of the Technology Student Association, and has an internship at Norton Presbyterian Church.

He plans to study Aerospace Engineering in college.

Liam Edson, Ridgefield

This member of the Ridgefield chapter of the National Honor Society with the cumulative weighted GPA of 4.84 has been a member of Ridgefield’s varsity cross country and track teams since his freshman year.

Liam placed fifth at the 2022 FCIAC Cross Country Championships to earn his selection to the All-FCIAC Boys Cross Country First Team and he has been a key cog toward helping lead previous Ridgefield teams to one state championship, one FCIAC title, and a third place at the New England Championships. Last year he made the All-FCIAC Second Team as a junior.

Liam was awarded the Cornell Club Book Award and the AP Scholar with Distinction award. He also volunteers to tutor peers.

Kathleen Dineen, St. Joseph

Katie has been a cross country captain for two years and a varsity runner for the program.

As a member of the National Honor Society and a Peer Minister, she serves her community with service and academics as well as athletically.

Katie also plays tennis, and she has volunteered for the Blessed Sacrament food pantry for many years.

Charlotte Kemp, Ridgefield

Charolotte has been the starting center-back for four years on the varsity girls soccer team, and she is the sole captain for her senior season.

During her career, Charlotte has helped lead Ridgefield’s defense to record 39 shutouts.

She has earned Rookie of the Year, the Coaches Award, and been named to All-FCIAC and All-State first teams.

Off the field, Charlotte is involved in National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, and is the student body treasurer.

She maintains high grades and has achieved a 4.5 weighted GPA.

Mikayla Gentile, Stamford

Mikayla maintained High Honors throughout high school while taking mostly honors and AP classes and she ranks 20th in her senior class with her 4.6 weighted GPA and 3.9 unweighted GPA.

She was a class representative for Stamford High School’s Student Government from her sophomore to senior years. She was also the senior editor for the yearbook.

Mikayla played field hockey all four years of high school and has been playing lacrosse since fourth grade. She was a junior and senior captain for both the field hockey and lacrosse teams. She was selected to the 2021-22 All-FCIAC Field Hockey First Team. She was also named MVP.

Michael Nealon, Staples

Michael has maintained a 3.97 weighted GPA while taking rigorous AP and honors level courses.

He is a two-way varsity starter for the football team who has been honored with the Walter Camp Football FCIAC Defensive Player of the Week award multiple times.

Michael is also a captain for the boys lacrosse team where he helped the program win its first state championship in school history. He was awarded All-State and All-FCIAC accolades his junior year.

He is a member of the Staples Science Honor Society, the Rho Kappa Honor Society, and he actively volunteers with the Westport PAL Lacrosse program.

Gabriella Pavlov, Trumbull

Gabriella has achieved a 5.17 GPA, taking mostly AP and UConn ECE courses.

She is vice president of the Spanish National Honor Society, and a member of the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa, English, Science, Math, Thespians, and Tri-M Music Honor Societies.

Gabriella is captain of the cross country team and a varsity indoor and outdoor track runner. She is a featured performer in her school’s musical and an active participant in the Chamber Singers choir.

Gabriella received the Lasell Book Award this spring. She is also the First Selectman’s Student Representative for Trumbull Parents Against Underage Drinking, an AYSO VIP Soccer special needs coach, and a current intern at Yale Medical School.

Ryan Klaiber, Trumbull

This senior with a 4.38 GPA has been a member of the cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field teams for all four years.

Ryan was appointed team captain by his coach this year. He was a valuable runner who helped lead the Eagles to a 15-2 dual-meet record and he placed 24th at the 2022 FCIAC Cross Country Championships to earn his spot on the All-FCIAC Boys Cross Country Second Team.

Ryan volunteered as a camp counselor for the Track and Field Camp for youngsters in grades 1-8.

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