Top students, teachers honored


PERTH -- Students showing academic achievement, leadership and volunteerism through the community were recognized Thursday by the Amsterdam Family YMCA.

At a breakfast at Nicolino's Restaurant, the non-profit honored 18 students from Amsterdam, Fonda-Fultonville, Broadalbin-Perth and Galway school districts who have gone above and beyond as high school students.

In addition, four educators from the districts were recognized for their achievements inside and outside of the classroom.

"It's about honoring high school students and teachers for achievements in academics, leadership, school involvement, community involvement and volunteerism," YMCA executive director CEO Nancy Carr said.

The award ceremony included keynote speaker Debra Slezak of Cioffi Slezak Wildgrube, the law firm that sponsored the event. She spoke about the importance of having strong character and values, two traits upon which the YMCA was built 157 years ago.

"By being chosen for this award, each student and teacher is a reflection of the character and values that the YMCA was built on," Slezak said. "Each student has demonstrated core-wide values through their community service and volunteerism. Each educator has demonstrated that value through going above and beyond their job description to be an outstanding teacher and educator."

Slezak stressed the importance of community service, one of the major components for the award.

"If we all chose to contribute, our community would be a better place," she said.

Of the students nominated by the schools' principals, Fonda-Fultonville High School senior Shelby Wadsworth was named the outstanding senior student of the year.

"Some students focus on volunteering, some on sports. Others focus on chorus and drama," Carr said. "We try to choose a student with a blend of all those things. It's a tough process."

So tough, in fact, that Carr said she has considered doing away with the outstanding student of the year award.

"How do you choose one student from the other? They are all great," she said, but added that the principals have asked for it to remain.

Wadsworth said she was honored.

"Throughout my high school career I have worked hard to be involved in all that I could and still be involved in developing relationships with the community, family and school districts," she said. "I think one of my biggest achievements is being able to balance everything that I do from music programs to community service such as Key Club and being able to balance everything. As a senior it's more of a work load because I have more to do like scholarships and college applications."

Wadsworth said she has yet to determine what collage she will attend in the fall but plans to major in pre-law with a minor in business communications.

Amsterdam High School teacher Karen Agresta was selected as the YMCA's outstanding educator of the year.

Principal David Ziskin said he chose Agresta because not only does she support her students in the classroom, but outside of the classroom as well.

"She is the go-to person for students," Ziskin said. "Students say that Agresta is the teacher every student needs."

The nominees included:

* Amsterdam High School: Jonardy Anil, Rebekah Izzo, Gabrielle Mitchell, Maxine Petrosino, Leilei Secor. Teacher Karen Agresta was nominated as educator of the year.

* Broadalbin-Perth High School: Amanda Bogardus, Luigi Joseph Magliocca, Marissa Tambasco, Mackenzie Young. Teacher Jim McGarvey was nominated as educator of the year.

* Fonda-Fultonville High School: Robert O'Kosky, Heather Trasky, Samantha Phelps, Shelby Wadsworth, Victoria Subik. Teacher Robert Headwell was nominated as educator of the year.

* Galway High School: Shelbi Merrifield, Jonathan Muller, Jeanine Messak, Adrianna Watrobski. William Brooks was nominated as educator of the year.