Agawam High School seniors, from left, Destiny Bullock, Colin Smith and Shane Typrowicz proudly show off their Academic A letters at the March 26 School Committee meeting.

Reminder Publishing photo by Mike Lydick

AGAWAM — For the 25th year, Agawam High School last month honored seniors with a unique award that recognizes their academic excellence.

At the March 26 School Committee meeting, 143 members of the class of 2024 – about 60% of the 237 seniors — received the “Academic A” award. It is presented to seniors who have maintained at least a 3.0 (B) cumulative grade-point average during grades 9-11 and the first semester of grade 12.

“The award is important to me because school is something I’ve always loved. I love learning,” said Destiny Bullock. “It’s a reflection of me — and it’s nice to be recognized for something I really enjoy.”

Bullock, who is also a member of the 2024 Agawam St. Patrick’s colleen’s court, said she was surprised to not only learn the award existed but also to be one in the group of seniors selected to receive it.

“They don’t tell you in the beginning of the year as a senior, or even as a junior, so I had no clue,” she added.

Undecided about which college she will attend, Bullock does want to go to a four-year university, graduate school and then medical school with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. She said with graduation just a few months away, it’s now becoming a bittersweet time for her.

“It makes me feel very sad that my time here is coming to an end and that I’m growing up. But it also makes me excited for what the future has to hold, such as college and just to see where life in general takes me,” she said.

Bullock and her classmates received a certificate and a large white “A” trimmed in orange with a yellow lamp of knowledge in the center. Designed to look similar to sports letters high school athletes receive for their athletic achievements, the presentation kicked off the award season for seniors that will last until graduation on June 9.

Colin Smith loves playing basketball at AHS, but he’s still been a “pretty dedicated” student, spending as much time on his schoolwork as he does on the basketball court.

“I want to make sure my academic work is the best quality,” he said.

“It’s pretty cool,” Smith said of his award. “I know that myself and many other students go above and beyond, so it’s cool to be recognized for that. I wish we knew about the award sooner — if we did, I think it would motivate a lot of students to put in more effort.”

Smith said the award is valuable to students because it’s another way to recognize them for their hard work.

“There are athletic awards all the time, so I feel like there definitely should be awards for academics, too.”

His plan after graduation is to attend Avon Old Farms School — a private boys prep school in Connecticut — so he can play another year of high school basketball and have another year to prepare for college. His goal is to become a teacher and basketball coach.

Smith said he was shocked when he realized that he will soon graduate from AHS.

“It’s kind of weird to think I might not see some of my classmates after few more months, but I’m looking forward to my future,” he said.

Unlike some of his classmates, Shane Typrowicz was aware of the Academic A award because his sister had received it three years ago. 

“I didn’t really know for sure that I would get it — I had an idea that I might, but I wasn’t 100% sure. This award shows I’m not one of those lazy students sitting in class and doing just the bare minimum,” he said.

Typrowicz will attend Western New England University in the fall, majoring in biomedical engineering. He’s had a history of getting injured and dealing with braces, so his career goal is to design prosthetics and braces.

“I know how uncomfortable they can be so I want to work on making them more comfortable, more efficient and more durable,” he said.

AHS Principal Jim Blain said seniors honored with the award bring something “amazing and special” to their school. “They never disappoint. They make coming to school very easy for us,” he said. Blain also thanked families of the students in the audience for “raising such wonderful children.”

According to School Superintendent Sheila Hoffman, the award was suggested by former School Committee member Susan Pettazzoni. A committee member from 1992 to 2006, her idea was to create an award that recognizes academic accomplishments in a way comparable to how students are recognized for sports achievements.

Hoffman said the number of students receiving the award has grown over the years. She attributes the increase not only to the hard work of students, but also to teachers, administrators and parents who stress the importance of academic excellence.

After receiving their award, seniors walked through a receiving line and were congratulated by the mayor and other School Committee members. Joining them were other dignitaries, including Pettazzoni and City Councilors George Bitzas, Ed Borgatti, Thomas Hendrickson, Dino Mercadante, Anthony Russo, Rosemary Sandlin, Gerald Smith, Peter Smus, Anthony Suffriti and Maria Valego.

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