Bulldog Pride Alumni Association’s Award

The president of the ORR Bulldog Pride Alumni Association, Thomas Xenopoulos Peccini ‘88 announced the winner of Bulldog Pride Award at Senior Awards Night on Thursday, May 30, 2024. In attendance were fellow alumni and officers, including the Hon. First Justice of the Hingham District Court and Class of ‘88 valedictorian, Heather (Smith) Bradley.

            Through this award, the ORR BPAA wishes to recognize a graduating senior of the Class of 2024 by virtue of the pride for ORR, who may go unnoticed because of the unsung values that are often missed by scholastic or athletic merit-based awards. Unique to the Bulldog Pride Award, the profile of the successful candidate features active participation in and leadership of the ORR community, championing fellow students, the class and ORR. Through recognition of students who passionately support their peers in school activities, the BPAA promotes kindness and good will towards others, as the pathway to acceptance and inclusion. This is the spirit of the Bulldog Pride Award.

            The executive committee founded the Bulldog Pride Award at its Quarterly Executive Committee Meeting on January 28, 2024. It also approved the funding of this award based on the fundraising efforts of the BPAA during this school year’s Homecoming 2023 where the association’s events over alumni weekend raised in excess of $8,000 with pledges totaling nearly $35,000. The alumni association voted unanimously to fund the award for the next five graduating classes. The precursor to this award was the ‘88 Bulldog Pride Award. Founded in 2019 by the alumni and friends of the Class of ‘88, the award was given to a graduating senior of the classes of 2019 through 2023 in the amount of $300. This year, the recipient received $1,000, marking a significant increase to the funding of the award.

            Mattapoisett resident Murray Callahan was recognized with an Honorable Mention. This outstanding student deserves recognition as an inspiring team captain and for her extensive volunteer work, some of which are related to physical disabilities, both in the school and in the community. A committee member wrote in the assessment of Ms. Callahan’s application that this student “has demonstrated strong leadership skills by standing up for others, regardless of the personal cost.  Capable of doing the right thing even when it is extremely difficult, the student sees the big picture to achieve success as a collective unit. Selfless acts have allowed the team and teammates to excel. Another committee member wrote that Murray “is a young advocate for the ORR community, showing through her actions and words the spirit and dedication to helping other students to become their best selves while challenging herself to become even better.” Director Michelle (Gayoski) Tackitt ‘87 presented the certificate to Ms. Callahan.

            This year’s recipient is Alia Cusolito from Rochester, a student who most reflects the profile of the Bulldog Pride Award. From this student’s advocacy for fellow students, awareness training of faculty, and serving as an ambassador of the school in state and national events, Ms. Cusolito takes the extra step in promoting the values of ORR, leading from behind in non-traditional roles.

            The committee members wrote in their assessments that this “remarkable” student, “has demonstrated […] a passion to lead and to promote change in areas that need improvement” and “demonstrated leadership, an advocate for so many. This is the essence of Bulldog Pride.” The BPAA president shared with the assembled parents and relatives an excerpt from this student’s application, “I am aware that I don’t fit the image you may have expected when opening applications for this scholarship. I believe that being a student advocate is undeniably a manifestation of my school spirit and love for the students and the school itself. I commit to the values we hold as a community and genuinely hope to see our school flourish. My activism within our school, I believe, reflects my love for the Bulldogs as well as my active participation in shaping ORR’s future. Mr. Peccini commented that he noticed Alia cheering on each award winner throughout the ceremony, noting that this Rochester resident is an asset to the ORR school community. A certificate was presented to the winner by Secretary Lara Schofield, ‘88, and a commemorative plaque that will hang in the school was presented by Executive Committee member, Racquel Rezendes ‘88, conferred on behalf of the Scholarship & Grants Committee, chaired by Vice President Dana Palmer-Donnelly, ‘88.

            Heading off to Smith College in the fall, Alia will receive $1,000 for this distinction, made possible by the generous gifts of alumni of this school. Mr. Peccini thanked the alumni and friends for their generous contributions to the nascent alumni association, the guidance department for their assistance and to Principal Devoll and Superintendent Nelson for their continued collaboration.

            In lieu of the absence of alumni records going back to the class of 1963, all interested alumni of ORR and ORRJHS are invited to register in the database as members of the BPAA. Please click on the following link: forms/gle/LymUwv86nLJBr6MU9.

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