Niagara Gazette —
The 48th Annual Thomas E. Hewitt Awards Dinner will be held this evening at Niagara County Community College, honoring 18 local scholar-athletes representing nine area schools.
This year's dinner, which is named in memory of the late Niagara Gazette city editor, will include the presentation of $2,000 scholarships to the top male and female candidates as determined by a panel of judges. In addition, each student will receive a $100 award for their nomination.
Here are this year's honorees and finalists.
Jessica Brownschidle of Grand Island High School has a 5.706 non-weighted grade point average. She is actively involved with SABAH and SABAH hockey, the Donate Life Club and the Interact Club. She is a volunteer with the City Mission Soup Kitchen and is a power skating and youth soccer coach. Jessica has earned a New York State scholarship for Academic Excellence, three Scholar-Athlete Awards while participating in varsity sports, and an AP Scholar Award for academic excellence. Very involved in Grand Island athletics, she was a member of the varsity volleyball team as well as the varsity track and field team. She was voted “Athlete of the Year” by the Grand Island High School Coaches as a junior and was voted “Most Athletic” by her Senior Class. Outside of school she is captain of the Under-19 Buffalo Bisons Tier-1 Girl’s Travel hockey team. She currently participates in snowboarding and wakeboarding and has also participated in karate, baseball and basketball. The daughter of Donna Finney and Lee Brownschidle, Jessica will attend and play women's hockey at Middlebury College beginning this fall.
Margaret Dorian of Lewiston-Porter High School has a 99.58 weighted average. She is the president of the National Honor Society, a historian of the National Science Honor Society, a Member of the Business and Marketing Honor Society of New York State and has been the class president for four years, including her current senior class. Through academic excellence, Margaret has earned high honors all four years of high school, an AP Scholar Award and a George Eastman Young Leaders Award. In the community Margaret is involved in a number of activities including Leadership for Youth of Niagara, a volunteer with Niagara Pioneer Soccer, and Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara. She is also a member of the Varsity Club, Key Club and Lancer Council and was the Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Queen this past year. She is the captain of the varsity soccer team and varsity basketball team. She also participates in orchestra where she plays the violin. Margaret has applied to Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green and SUNY Binghamton in pursuit of becoming a certified public accountant. She is the daughter of Marcia and Robert Dorian.
Lauren Wager of Lockport High School has a 103.13 weighted average. Through academic excellence, she has been awarded a Rensselaer Medal, she was a Business First 2013 All- Western New York Academic Team Member, a University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Scholarship Candidate, a University of Buffalo Presidential Scholarship Winner, a National Merit Finalist, is president of National Merit Honor Society and a New York State Section VI Student Athlete Scholar. Lauren is actively involved in her school and community through the participation in the Latin Club and the Scholastic Bowl Team. She is also the secretary of the Physics Club, President of the New York State Math Honor Society, is a volunteer tutor in several subjects and chaired three “Birthday Blood Drives” for UNYTS. In addition to these activities, Lauren participated in the Olympic Soccer Development Program and was a member of the Varsity Track and Field team where she was the League Pentathlon Champion and the Captain of the Varsity Soccer Team, where she was a three-time 1st team All-League selection. While Lauren’s school is still undecided, her goal is to become a practicing physician in Western New York. She is the daughter of Margaret and Kevin Wager.
Francesca Costanzo of Niagara Catholic High School, also known as "Frankie," has earned a 92.5 non-weighted average. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has achieved High Honor Roll, a Scholar-Athlete Award and a Presidential Award. As an active member of her school, Frankie is the Vice President of the Student Council, a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, Vice President of the Spanish Club and a member of Key Club and Concert Band. In her community, she is a Leadership Youth of Niagara County Graduate and a volunteer for Opportunities Unlimited, Niagara Hospice and helps at a local kindergarten class. She also has performed an internship at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Sports Rehabilitation. Frankie is also involved in athletics at Niagara Catholic and was the co-captain of the Varsity Volleyball Team as well as the Varsity Softball Team where she was 1st Team All State and First Team All-Catholic. Frankie plans to attend Mercyhurst University on an athletic and academic scholarship. Her goal is to major in Physical and Occupational Therapy. She is the daughter of Kathy and Robert Costanzo.
Erin Sliwowski of Niagara Falls High School has a 119.0 weighted average and will soon be a Valedictory Graduate. She is an active member of many clubs and organizations including the Ski Club, Key Club, Business Club and National Honor Society. She is also the co-president of her Senior Class. Erin is very involved in athletics and is the captain of the varsity swimming team where she is a school record-holder and a New York State Qualifier. She is also a member of the White Water Swim Club. In the community, Erin is a volunteer at the Catholic Academy and is involved with Carly’s Crossing. Because of her excellence in academics Erin has earned High Honors for four years. She has also earned a Clarkson School Scholar Award and an Academic Award in Math, English and Science. Erin plans on attending college and has applied to several schools. She hopes to study in the area of math and science with a career goal involving therapy for young people. Erin is the daughter of Allison and Bryan Sliwowski.
Rachel Pawlak of Niagara-Wheatfield High School has a 96.77 weighted average. Rachel is ranked 15th in her class of 284 students and will earn an Advanced Regents with Honors diploma. She is very involved in her school and her community, and through academic and athletic excellence, she has been honored with several awards. These awards and achievements include a Falcon Pride Award, Niagara-Wheatfield Scholar Athlete, and High Honors for 4 years. She is a member of the National Honor Society. At Niagara-Wheatfield Rachel was the Co-Captain and Co-MVP of the Varsity Basketball Team and named a Niagara Frontier League All Star and to the All Niagara Gazette Team for 3 years. She was a member of the AAU New York Revolution Basketball team and the Varsity Volleyball Team. Rachel volunteers her time at St Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, Grand Island Fire Hall and with the Jewish Guild for the Blind. Rachel plans on attending either SUNY Geneseo or Babson College. Her goal is to major in Business or Marketing in order to pursue a career in coaching.
Emily Slominski of North Tonawanda High School has a 101.15 weighted average and has earned high honor roll for six years. Through academic excellence, Emily was named a Quality Student of the Tonawandas and is a member of the National Honor Society. Emily’s involvement in athletics earned her a Scholar Athlete Award for Soccer, and she was named a Section VI All Western New York Scholar Athlete. She was the Co-Captain and Team MVP of the Varsity Soccer team and was also a First Team All-NFL and an Honorable mention All-Western New York player. Emily is the Co-Captain of the Buffalo Soccer Academy Team and is also the president of the Foreign Language Club, a Youth Award Recipient from the Exchange Club, the secretary of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and Secretary of the Jazz Band. She has participated in the Science Olympiad and volunteers for Donate Life. Emily plans on attending college, and has applied to several schools. Her goal is to major in Biology and attend medical school in hopes of becoming a Pediatrician. Emily is the daughter of Patti and Rob Slominski.
Elizabeth Wilson of Starpoint High School has a 95.43 weighted average. She is an officer of the National Honor Society, the President of the Math Honor Society, a Member of the Science Honor Society and the recipient of the Starpoint Superintendent Scholar Award three times. Through athletics, Elizabeth has earned a New York Scholar Athlete Team Award 10 times, was named an All Western New York Scholar Athlete and an All-ECIC Academic Team. Elizabeth participates on the varsity track team and co-captains both the Varsity Soccer and Basketball Teams. Elizabeth was the treasurer of the Donate Life Club, and the Anchor for Morning Announcements, a member of the Link Crew, a Volunteer Coach in Youth Basketball and Soccer, and a volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Elizabeth plans on attending either St. John Fisher College or SUNY Brockport where she plans on studying nursing. Her goal is to become a Registered Nurse or a Nurse Practitioner. She is the daughter of Jane and Clayton Wilson.
Mallorie Gagnon of Wilson High School has a 97.74 Weighted Average. She is a member of the National Honor Society, was named an All-WNY Scholar Athlete, earned High Honor Roll recognition, and was named a Scholar Athlete of the Month by WIVB-TV. In athletics, she was Captain of the Varsity Soccer Team, Captain of the Varsity Basketball Team, and Member of the Varsity Track Team. Mallorie is President of the Senior Class, Vice President of the Business Club, Member of SADD, Odyssey of the Mind, and the Girl Scouts, and is a Volunteer with the Buffalo Humane Society She plans to attend either Stony Brook University or Boston University. Her goal is to study Zoology/Biology and become a Research Biologist. Mallorie is the daughter of Nina and Richard Gagnon.
Nicholas Soos of Grand Island High School has earned a 5.5 weighted grade point average and has earned a Presidential and Congressional Appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point. He is a member of the National Honor Society, earning high honors awards during all four years of high school. He has also earned a New York State Regents Academic Excellence Award. Nicholas is actively involved in his school and his community through both volunteer work and athletics. He is the president of his senior class, vice president of the DECA Club, editor of the yearbook, and a member of the student athletic advisory committee. In the community he is an Eagle Scout and earned a New York State Boy’s State Award where he placed third out of 1,000 delegates. He is a volunteer youth coach in soccer and a baseball umpire. He is also a member of the corporate bowl team, was a youth volunteer at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and has participated in a medical mission in the Dominican Republic. Athletically, Nicholas is the captain of the varsity basketball team, the co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and Captain of the varsity baseball team. He was named a Section VI Scholar-Athlete and to the All-WNY Boys Basketball Team. He earned the Grand Island male athlete of the year award and was named a New York State Scholar Athlete all 4 years of high school. Nicholas plans to attend the U.S. Military Academy with a goal of attending medical school. He is the son of Lori and LTC (Ret) Patrick Soos.
Collin Kemeny of Lewiston-Porter High School has a 99.5 weighted average. Throughout high school Collin has been involved in a number of activities both through school and his community. He is a member of the National Honor Society, President of the National Science Honor Society, President of the School Band and a member of the Jazz Band and Pit Orchestra. Through his musical involvement he has earned a Persis Vehar Music Award in Music Composition, and has been recognized as Conference All-State First Saxophone and All-Eastern for Saxophone. In addition to these musical awards, Collin has earned High Honors for six consecutive years, a Certificate of Academic Excellence Award, an AP Scholar with Distinction Award, and an RIT Engineering Award. He is also the captain of the varsity swimming team and a member of the varsity track team and has been named a Lewiston-Porter scholar athlete. Collin’s future plans are to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, and he has applied to several schools in order to achieve this goal. Collin is the son of Maureen and Frank Kemeny.
Khari Demos of Lockport High School has earned a 93.0 weighted average. He is the President of the Lockport High School Principal’s Advisory Cabinet, a member of the Senior Class Council, President of the Interact Club, A member of Teachers of Tomorrow and a member of the National Honor Society. Khari is also very involved in music and athletics. He is a member of the Concert Choir, Voice Ensemble and All-County Chorus. Athletically he was the captain of the varsity football team and a member of the varsity basketball team. Through academic and athletic excellence, Khari has been honored with several awards. He has earned a Presidential Award for Academic Achievement, an Academic “L” Award, and New York State Comptroller’s Award, the Student of the Month Award, and has been named to the Western New York High School Football All-Academic Team. Upon graduation, Khari’s goal is to attend college and to study communications. His goal is to have a career in sports broadcasting. He is the son of the late Cori Demos, and Nicole Davis and Jermaine “Duke” Davis.
Timothy McCarthy of Niagara Catholic High School has earned a 90.39 non-weighted Average. He has earned several awards including Academic Achievement Awards in History and English and First Honors. He is also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and has earned 24 credit hours in the Niagara University Prep Program. Timothy is actively involved at Niagara Catholic, and throughout the community. He is the Treasurer of the Student Council, and a member of the Key Club and Social Media Club. He is also a Star Scout of the Boy Scouts and a member of the Transplant Awareness Group. Timothy also volunteers his time at the Heart and Soul Soup Kitchen and at Saint Raphael’s Parish. Timothy has also pursued athletics and was the captain of the Varsity Wrestling Team and the Captain of the Varsity Football Team for 2 years. He also enjoys bowling. The son of Georgina and Edward McCarthy, Timothy plans to attend St. John’s University, where he will pursue a career in Special Education.
Spencer Ventresca of Niagara Falls High School has a 108.0 weighted average. At school he is a member of the National Honor Society and a student in six Accelerated Placement courses. Spencer is very involved in athletics and was the captain of the Varsity Tennis Team, the Varsity Swim Team and the Varsity Golf Team. He is also a Karate Chun-kuk-Do Second Degree Black Belt. Spencer volunteers his time as a youth soccer and golf coach. He is a member of SETA Club, a participant in youth court and a chairman of the “Every 15 Minutes” program. Spencer plans on attending either SUNY Oswego or Ithaca College. He will study Media Productions and plans on pursuing a career in film or broadcasting. He is the son of Lynn and Tony Ventresca.
Josh Miller of Niagara Wheatfield High School holds a 99.997 weighted average. He is ranked fourth in his class of 284 and will earn an Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors upon graduation. He has earned High Honors throughout High School and achieved the Highest Average Regents Tests Scores in his class and scored 100% on four different Regents’ exams. Josh is also involved in several school clubs and activities. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Business Honor Society, Student Government, Outdoor Club and a participant in the 12 Days of Giving. Outside of school he is a member of the Titans Swim Club and Falcons Aquatics. As a captain of the Varsity Swimming Team, Josh was voted MVP three times and has been ranked #1 in Section VI. His swimming accomplishments also include a New York State Meet Participant and he currently holds the record for the 100 fly at Niagara-Wheatfield. Josh was an 8-time, 1st Team All NFL honoree and a 5-time New York State Scholar Athlete. Josh, the son of Justa and David Miller, plans to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he will major in Aeronautical Science.
Jacob Clare of North Tonawanda High School holds a 97.0 weighted average. He was also named a Quality Student of the Tonawandas, and has earned Honor Roll Recognition. Jacob is the recipient of the George Vetter Hall of Fame Scholarship and also earned a Section VI Scholar Athlete Award for Football. Throughout his time at North Tonawanda, Jacob has been involved in several activities. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and All-County Band where he played the tuba, and a participant in the University of Buffalo Art Show and the Academy of Architecture and Engineering. Jacob has achieved excellence in athletics and was named the “Iron Lumberjack” MVP. He was the captain of the Varsity Football team for two years, and a member of the Varsity Baseball Team and the Varsity Lacrosse Team. In addition to his involvement in athletics, Jacob volunteers his time as a youth coach in the community and is serving an internship with a local architect. Jacob has been accepted to attend several schools including Ohio State, SUNY Buffalo and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The son of Barbara and Thomas Clare, Jacob plans on majoring in Architecture.
Matthew Prohaska of Starpoint High School carries a 99.96 weighted average. Matthew earned a 96.76 Non-Weighted Average. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society, was named an All-WNY Scholar Athlete, and named a National Merit Scholar - Commended Student. He was a Business First All-Western New York Academic Team member and earned an AP Scholar Award with honors. In athletics, he was Captain of the Varsity Cross Country Team, was named the Niagara Gazette Player of the Year, and a two-time participant in the state championships. He was also Co-Captain of the Varsity Track and Field Team and former member of the Varsity Soccer Team. Matthew is Secretary of the Senior Class, participated in the US National Chemistry Olympiad, a member of the New York State Music Association Area All State Band, the Starpoint Musical Pit Band for trumpet and piano, member of the All County Concert and Jazz Band, and a volunteer at St. John’s Outreach Center. He plans to attend college and has applied to attend several schools. His goal is to earn a degree and pursue a career in Engineering. He is the son of Dawn and Gary Prohaska.
Tayler Thilk of Wilson High School has a 97.55 weighted average. He is a member of the National Honor Society, earned High Honor Roll recognition, earned Scholar Athlete Awards and a Rochester Institute of Technology Award. He was Captain of the Varsity Football Team where he was named All WNY and Captain of the Varsity Baseball Team Taylor is a Member of the Varsity Club, Member of SADD, Member of the All-County Band and a Volunteer with South Wilson Fire Co. Taylor plans to attend Alfred State College. His goal is to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and work in the family business. Tayler is the son of Coleen and John Thilk.