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They're Champions of Character

In one of the most inspiring events of the school year, 14 Oyster Bay High School students were recognized by faculty and staff members for exemplary character — making them outstanding role models for their peers — during the seventh annual Breakfast of Champions Character Recognition Program, May 26.  

Held in the high school cafeteria for students and staff, and livestreamed to families and friends, the event celebrated students whose genuine, good-natured qualities helped enhance the positive culture in the school.

“Johnathan is one of the most caring and proactively positive and lead-by-example young men I know,” said Mr. Matthew Brown, Oyster Bay High school social worker of Johnathan Cox. “If you are seeking a student to help address a difficult task or situation that requires a sensitive touch and a very responsible follow-through, well, Johnathan Cox is your huckleberry.”  

“She’s the definition of a leader,” said Social Studies Supervisor Dr. Joseph Pesqueira, when describing Fatima Zavala Chicas. “She’s an incredibly hard worker but more impressive is the way she supports her peers. She’s a very, very strong and gifted academic student, but she doesn’t just keep that for herself. She helps other students understand with a little bit of English and a little bit of Spanish and she helps build community in the classroom, and I am grateful for that.”  

One by one, students were described as possessing a high moral compass, as putting others before themselves, and as respectful, humble, compassionate and kind — qualities that have uplifted the school and will surely lead to their success in life.

To honor them as champions of character, they were presented with a photo of a “Wheaties” cereal box with their picture on it as well as a certificate recognizing them as outstanding models of character. Typically, breakfast is served, but in this COVID climate, gift cards to IT Bagel & Pizza were given out instead.

“‘Wheaties’ cereal has always honored champions by putting Olympians, Most Valuable Players and other prominent individuals on their boxes, so it seemed fitting to bestow this honor on our character champions,” said Mr. Kevin Trentowski, Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Health, who brought the program to Oyster Bay High School to elevate the importance of good character not only in school but in life.

In his opening remarks, he stated, “These are the students who help make up the moral fabric of our school community. They are individuals who are driven by an innate set of values, and so they strive to be the best – not simply in their school work – but in life as human beings.”

He noted that while the students all possess many talents academically, athletically and artistically, they all have one trait in common — character.

This year’s Breakfast of Champions honorees and the faculty and staff members who nominated them include: Brayan Bonilla Perdomo, nominated by Ms. Fanny Diaz; Michael Panella, nominated by Mr. Charlie Rizzuto; Jessica Hazan, nominated by Ms. Ting Pang; Kelsey Oliveros, nominated by Ms. Jessica Paprocki; Emma Kelly, nominated by Ms. Erin Murcott; Johnathan Cox, nominated by Mr. Matthew Brown; Khadeejah Memon, nominated by Mr. Matthew Brown; Bayron Mejia, nominated by Mr. Matthew Brown; Fatima Zavala Chicas, nominated by Dr. Joseph Pesqueira; Emily Apac, nominated by Ms. Andrea Breun; Joshua Gomez, nominated by Ms. Suprabha Malhar-Jain and presented by Dr. Janna Ostroff; Erick Velasquez, nominated by Mr. Douglas Axman; Robert Zavala, nominated by Ms. Jenny Alvarado; and Taylor Hall, nominated by Ms. Deanna Cali.

Addressing the families who connected virtually, Mr. Trentowski said, “These young men and women are a testament to the upbringing, love, encouragement, and support that they have received at home.”

He added, “It has been said that ‘Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual.’  Based on that definition, all of these students are headed for very successful and rewarding lives because of the conscious choice they have made to be of good character.”