Greenwich Public Schools: Putting Community Service on a Pedestal

At Tuesday’s Community Service Awards Ceremony, Old Greenwich School Principal Patricia Raneri opened by event by acknowledging the 20′ banner across the stage quoting Mohandas Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

The history of the awards dates back to 1986 when 13-year Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools Ernie Fleishman was at the helm.

Superintendent McKersie credited Fleishman for elevating community service in our schools. “Ernie you have a legacy of us being a district known for caring,” McKersie said. “Community service is the embodiment of caring.”


Ernie Fleishman introduced GHS senior John Clarke, recipient of the award named in the former superintendent’s honor.

McKersie said this year’s Fleishman Award winner, John Clarke, will attend Duke University next year and mentioned that Clarke had put community service into perspective the previous day at a luncheon. “It’s not what we do. It’s who we are,” Clarke had told McKersie.


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Ernie Fleishman who served as Greenwich Public Schools Superintendent for 13 years. The Fleishman Community Service Award given to one GHS senior annually bears his name.

Former superintendent Fleishman recalled how back around 1985 or 1986, “We came to the conclusion that community service needed to be put up on a pedestal. Now, I’m active in sports. My three kids who went through Greenwich Public Schools are active in sports. But when I see signs that say Greenwich: Home of Sports Champions, I say to myself, when are we going to honor and put up on a pedestal another set of champions? That is the background for the establishment of these awards. What you put up on a pedestal and respect is what you get.”

Fleishman introduced GHS senior John Clarke, recipient of the award named in the former superintendent’s honor.

For the past four years, Clarke served on the Abilis Youth Board of Directors, collaborating with area high schools to implement programs for students with disabilities. He is also a six year volunteer of the Challenger Baseball team and head coach of the Special Olympics Unified Sports program at HGS. Also, as President of the GHS Hand-in-Hand Club he leads student volunteers and coordinates fund raising and school service projects with students with and without disabilities. Clarke is co-Founder of the Come Together Cub at GHS and a prominent leader in the GHS Names Day Steering Committee.

Headmaster Dr. Winters said that at GHS community service abounds, and is deeply embedded in the vision of the graduate. Winters said that at least 48 clubs identify themselves as performing service in the community.

Attending the ceremony was Greenwich Police Chief Heavey, Greenwich Schools principals and administrators, BOE members, several RTM members and representatives from local non-profits.  State Rep. Fred Camillo traveled straight from Hartford and joined BOE Chair O’Neill, McKersie and former Superintendent Fleishman on stage for the presentation.

Left to right, GHS seniors being honored for their outstanding community service: Raquel Ireifej from Bella House, John Dyment from Folsom House, Benjamin Albano from Sheldon House, Chandler LaSorsa from Clark House and Sabrina Manero from Cantor House. Standing behind each recipient are the five house administrators: Richard Alessi, Dana Fesko (Housemaster Dr. Winters), Brigid Barry, Jason Goldstein and David Walko..

The Greenwich High School Awards:
Raquel Ireifej from Bella House
Sabrina Manero from Cantor House
Chandler LaSorsa from Clark House
John Dyment from Folsom House
Benjamin Albano from Sheldon House

Middle School Awards:
Genevieve DeWinter from Central Middle School
James Chang from Eastern Middle School
Rene Jameson from Western Middle School

Elementary School Awards (Elementary School Students represent their Schools)
Quinn Patterson from Cos Cob School
Vanna DelVecchio from Glenville School
Gracen Barter from Hamilton Avenue School
Charlie Decker from The International School at Dundee
Yahaira Velecela Arroyo and Ralph Bologna from Julian Curtiss School
Ila van Shaik from New Lebanon School
Samuel Chard and Jonathan Doyle from North Mianus School
Caitlin O’Brien and Lillian Saleeby from North Street School
Caroline DesChamps and Sacha Norton from Old Greenwich School
Elizabeth Garten and Clay Robinson from Parkway School, and Elizabeth Cook and Madeline Cook from Riverside School.


From Julian Curtiss School, Yahaira Celecela Arroyo and Ralph Bologna are accompanied by their parents and principal Patricia McGuire, social worker Maryann Murray, ESOL Michele Sabin,  and Title I paraprofessional Virginia Miltner.


GHS Headmaster Dr. Chris Winters described community service and caring as key elements of the Vision of the Graduate.


David Walko of Clark House at GHS introduces Chandler LaSorsa who was one of five GHS seniors to receive a community service honor on Tuesday night. LaSorsa is president of the GHS Cancer Awareness Club, and student chair for the Greenwich Relay for Life. He led the St. Baldrick’s fundraising event at GHS. He is a Names Can Really Hurt Us team facilitator, a Stand by Me Tutor, Peer Mentor, member of the National Honor Society. He is captain of both the indoor and outdoor track teams, member of the all FCIAC second team. His coach said, “He is respectful, considerate, intelligent, and loved by both faculty and peers. He is a team player and natural leader.”






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