WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

AGAWAM — Hope Clark’s reign as Agawam’s 2023 colleen will end next month when she crowns one of the four young women competing to succeed her.

Clark was crowned last February by Emma Thompson, who had reigned as Agawam’s colleen for three years because of the coronavirus pandemic. In early January, the Agawam St. Patrick’s Committee nominated Destiny Bullock, Sabrina McBride, Rachel Sills and Gianna Smith for the 2024 honor.

One of them will be chosen as colleen at a gala coronation ceremony. The three runners-up will become the colleen’s court.

They will represent Agawam in the 71st Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade, which this year is on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. A panel of three judges will select the colleen based on interviews with them at the coronation ceremony. Judges, who are all independent from the town and live and work in surrounding towns, will be revealed at the start of the event.

The four colleen hopefuls — the only applicants in this year’s competition — will be asked about their academics, athletics, extracurriculars and volunteer activities, as well as interest in their Irish heritage.

They also will be required to write an essay about a person of Irish descent, living or deceased, who has made a significant difference in their lifetime. The winning essay will be read during the coronation ceremony after being selected by the family of the late William Pfau, a founding member of the committee.

Agawam’s 22nd colleen coronation will take place Feb. 3 at Oak Ridge Country Club in Feeding Hills. There will be a cocktail hour at 5 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 6 p.m. Tickets for the Saturday event can be purchased for $45 each by emailing agawamstpatricks317@gmail.com.

The grand coronation also marks the beginning of “Irish Season,” a six-week period filled with Irish events and celebrations, that ends in March with the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade.

“It’s a fun and exciting experience, as well as a great honor, to be selected as colleen or a member of her court,” said Abaigeal “Abbie” Malouin, president of the committee. “The colleen will attend numerous events and functions throughout the year, including the Agawam Memorial Day Parade.”

For the 2024 parade, the colleen and her court again will ride in style in a white carriage with green seats. This will be the second year Agawam’s colleen and her court will use a horse-drawn carriage instead of a committee-built float.

Last year, the committee lost access to the building where it constructed floats for many years. A new location that could accommodate a large float still hasn’t been found.

The Agawam St. Patrick’s Committee was established 24 years ago by a group of people of Irish descent in town. Although Agawam is better known for its Italian-American community, Irish-Americans make up a significant share of the population.

The committee meets regularly to ensure there’s a celebration of Irish culture throughout the town while also promoting Agawam economically, culturally and socially. Taking a page from surrounding towns that celebrate their Irish heritage, the committee also created a colleen program.

In addition to Malouin, other members of the committee include Douglas Reed, past president; Catherine Benson, vice president; Frank Benson, treasurer; Nikolas Fiore, clerk; Tim McGrew and Todd Arsalanian, directors.

Destiny Bullock

A senior at Agawam High School, Bullock currently takes classes to become an EMT. Her other courses include honors genetics, AP courses in biology, literature and language. She studied dance for 12 years and martial arts for 10 years, has earned a second-degree black belt and is working toward her third. Her strong love for the medical field led her to become certified in CPR, first aid and Stop the Bleed.

Bullock works as a personal care assistant and plans to attend a four-year university to become an anesthesiologist. She wants to be the Agawam colleen to represent her Irish heritage.

Sabrina McBride

Currently a junior at Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, McBride is majoring in secondary education and history. At Elms, she’s captain of the dance team, an orientation leader with the Office of Student Engagement and a first encounter head leader at the college’s Campus Ministry.

Music and dance have been a big piece of McBride’s life and she has been a student teacher for dance as well as taken Irish step, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical and contemporary dance classes. After completing her bachelor’s degree in education, Sabrina plans to teach in a classroom and work toward a master’s degree in education. McBridge wants to be the Agawam colleen to highlight her Irish heritage.

Rachel Sills

A student at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, Sills is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in mathematics. Captain of the cheerleading team and a member of the education club at the university, she works as a licensed substitute teacher and a camp counselor. In June 2020, Sills received the Girl Scout Gold Award for her volunteer work.

Following her graduation, she would like to return to her hometown to teach in Agawam. Sills wants to be the Agawam colleen to represent her hometown and share this experience with others who celebrate their Irish heritage.

Gianna Smith

Currently a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Smith is working toward a bachelor of science degree in speech, language and hearing sciences. As a volunteer with the Special Olympics, she served as president of the Unified Club, which is part of the executive board for the Special Olympics.

Currently a classroom access assistant who provides academic support for students at UMass. Certified in developmental disabilities and human services, Smith wants to be the Agawam colleen to support her Irish heritage within her community.

mlydick@thereminder.com | + posts