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Chester County Intermediate Unit Celebrates Academic Excellence and Student Achievements

Phoenixville, PA – On Thursday, May 12, 2022, students gathered for the champions banquet at Franklin Commons in Phoenixville, PA, to celebrate an array of amazing accomplishments from the 2021-22 school year. The banquet began with opening remarks from special events coordinators Jay Della Ragione and Kathy Gurnee.

CCIU Executive Director, Dr. George F. Fiore, was also on hand to honor the students’ accomplishments. He told the talented students to “Be proud of what you have already accomplished, and strive to keep growing into yourselves, your talents and your skill sets. Think about what has gotten you this far and who has helped you get this far,” said Dr. Fiore. He continued by saying, “When it comes down to it, the awards you win are a true highlight of your educational career, but the friends you have made and the relationships you have built will mean more than a trophy or certificate ever could. Be sure to learn from one another. Ask questions, help each other and appreciate the journey.”

The ceremony recognized students who participated in the STEM Design Challenge and the PA Media & Design Competition, which were coordinated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s (CCIU) Innovative Educational Services division. Also honored were the winners of the Chester County Spelling Bee, Chester County High School Art Festival and Congressional District Art Show, Chester County Science Research Competition and the Chester County Academic Competition.

Students and their families were treated to a three-course meal, and enjoyed the keynote speaker of the evening, Jen Croneberger, a TEDx speaker and compassionate leadership and culture change consultant.

This year’s celebration included a special video produced by Special Events Coordinator Ms. Della Ragione in memory of a beloved friend and member of the special events team, Howard Reinard, who passed away in October 2021. To further honor Reinard, the special events team dedicated the final award of the evening to him.

As such, the 2022 Howard M. Reinard Competitor of the Year award was presented to Christian Ochola from Avon Grove Charter School. “It is such a surreal feeling; I wasn’t expecting it at all,” exclaimed Ochola. When asked what advice he could offer to his team and fellow competitors, he said “to trust and love the people on your team because those are the people who you will be with, not just in high school, but for the rest of your life.”

In addition to the Howard M. Reinard Competitor of the Year award, Amy Chessock of West Chester Rustin High School was recognized as the Chester County 2022 Coach of the Year for leading by example and fostering a commitment to excellence and fair play - the core values of the award. When asked how she felt about winning the award, Chessock stated, “I am very honored and humbled. You’re only as good as the students who you are so lucky to work with and you build these relationships over many years. I couldn’t be prouder to represent such a great program and a great community of people.”