Be it Princeton, Harvard, Villanova or the United States Naval Academy, the best and brightest of Bucks County’s scholar-athletes are headed to bigger and better things.
That was clearly evident at Wednesday night’s 22nd annual Kiwanis-Herald Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet at Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland.
Some 34 of the area’s top performers from the classroom and playing fields of 18 area high schools gathered to be honored by the Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club and the Bucks County Herald, co-sponsors of the Dick Dougherty Honorarium Award.
After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the gala event returned in style.
The main ballroom hosted an amalgamation of college-bound seniors empowered with intellectual and academic skills.
New Hope-Solebury High School’s Amy Tao, headed for Princeton University this fall, summed up what it meant to be feted in front of so many top-notch contemporaries.
“It was such an honor to be recognized among some of the best and brightest and most talented athletes,’’ said Tao, a high-caliber volleyball player with a 4.0 grade-point average and membership in the National Honor Society. “I think we all had a great time. Just a huge thank you to the Kiwanis Club and the Bucks County Herald for putting this together.’’
Even in the best of times, the accomplishments of these young adults would be extraordinary.
But to achieve them during the demanding health conditions of the pandemic made them even more impressive.
“It was hard for us, we had classes on Zoom,’’ Tao explained. “Games without any spectators. I think we all pushed through and we were really lucky that things have gotten back to normal – fans have returned to the stands and we’re getting kind of a more normal senior year. Tonight was just the highlight of it.’’
Guest speaker Brian Propp, the former Flyers Hall of Fame player, alluded to the aforementioned fortitude of the scholar-athletes during his address to the audience, which included many parents and school officials.
“They’re all top athletes,’’ Propp said. “They will do well with their colleges. It’s so good, so encouraging to see them for the future of our lives. It’s so nice to have families supporting each other.’’
Joe Wingert, owner and publisher of the Herald, acknowledged the greatness in the room.
“It’s incredibly uplifting,’’ he said. “To see and understand what they’ve accomplished – all the positive attitude in what they’re doing. It’s really remarkable. Especially when you consider the fact that they’ve had in effect confinement because of the virus. And here they are, they’ve managed to work through that and they’ve accomplished so much.’’
The 34 scholar-athlete recipients:
>Archbishop Wood: Tess Fleming, Dominic Petruzzelli.
>Bensalem: Delaney Bell, Tom Khmil.
>Bristol: Jaidnyn Morales-Devine, Elijah Alexandre.
>Central Bucks East: Emily Curran, Maximus Gordon.
>Central Bucks South: Sarah Cooper, Logan Campbell.
>Central Bucks West: Emily Spratt, Donte Mancini.
>Conwell-Egan Catholic: Sydney Snyder, Kevin McMenamin.
>Council Rock North: Ashleigh Adams, David Wenger.
>Council Rock South: Kerry Kaufman, Matthew Colajezzi.
>George School: Irion Thompson, Bill Becker.
>Harry S Truman: Lizzie Escalante, Makai Jackson.
>Holy Ghost Prep: Tyler McCord.
>Morrisville: Ahzarria Coleman, Andrew Leidy.
>Neshaminy: Colette Schardt, Ryan Tarapchak.
>New Hope-Solebury: Amy Tao, Kyle Campbell.
>Pennsbury: Darrien Furiness, Callan Fang
>Villa Joseph Marie: Emma Hagan.
>William Tennent: Kirsten Scott, Peter Jorgenson.
Sponsors for last Sunday’s 22nd annual Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic, which funded Wednesday night’s banquet, included Sesame Place, Kiwanis International, Bucks County Herald, Lin-Mark Sports, Parx Casino, Oxford Valley Mall, McHales Kitchen and Bath, Transpro, PSEA Bucks County Retired, Pool Design, Inc. Kades-Margolis sponsored the Scholar-Athlete Banquet.