ORR Quintet Named SCC Academic All-Stars

Old Rochester Regional Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson and ORRHS Principal Mike Devoll recognized five ORR High School seniors, Theo Jacobsen, Brenna O’Donnell, Alia Cusolito, Jacob Hadley and Ava McLeod, who were honored as South Coast Conference Academic All-Stars during the SCC’s luncheon held on April 25 at Independence Harbor in Assonet. Faculty advisors Kathleen Brunelle and Randy Allain also attended.

            “I am incredibly proud of our students, who I know will achieve great things after graduation,” Nelson said. “Their distinctions were highly deserved, and it is a privilege to have such outstanding individuals represent Old Rochester Regional High School and watch them receive this recognition.”

            ORR 2022 graduate and keynote speaker Edward Gonet IV spoke to students about his experiences since graduating. The former Academic All-Star quoted Mahatma Gandhi, telling those in attendance, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

            SCC schools annually recognize the top five students of the graduating class with the Academic All-Star Award. The chosen students reflect each of the National Honor Society’s four pillars – Service, Character, Scholarship and Citizenship – and have positively impacted their schools and community.

            “This is a wonderful annual event that kicks off the celebration of the accomplishments of the Class of 2025,” said Devoll, who also served as SCC Principal’s Group President and event emcee. “I have been privileged to attend 16 banquets over the years, and each one captures the unique accomplishments of our top five ranked seniors.”

            SCC member schools include Apponequet Regional (Freetown and Lakeville), Bourne, Joseph Case (Swansea), Dighton-Rehoboth, Fairhaven, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical, ORR, Seekonk, Somerset Berkley and West Bridgewater.

            Alia Cusolito – Alia is a member of the ORRHS Drama Club, National Honor Society, Knit and Crochet Club and Acapella, serving in leadership positions in the ORR Music Appreciation Club and as the GSA Club President. Alia is a tireless champion for advocacy. As co-president of the nonprofit Queer Youth Assemble, Alia led the National March for Queer and Trans Youth Autonomy in Washington D.C. Alia collaborated on research with Harvard graduate students about Massachusetts high schoolers’ perceptions of gender-neutral bathrooms. Alia is the recipient of the 2022 Advancing Equity and Justice Award from the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ+ Youth, an independent state agency. Alia will be attending Smith College in the fall to study public policy.

            Jacob Hadley – Jacob has served as co-captain of the debate team his junior and senior years, captain of the varsity boys tennis team, four-year student council treasurer, vice president of the National Honor Society and as the ORR Boy’s State representative. Jacob also founded and served as president of the ORR Science Olympiad and organized six trips to competitions, including two state championships. Jacob led a research project with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on the effect of COVID-19 on antibiotic resistance in Massachusetts hospitals and published the study in a scientific journal. Jacob also worked as a biochemistry lab researcher at UMass Dartmouth on developing new treatments for HIV using biotech. Jacob has earned his AP Capstone certificate and is an AP Scholar with Distinction. Jacob will attend Brown University and pursue a concentration in Biomedical Engineering.

            Ava McLeod – Ava is president of ORRHS’s Environmental Club. Under Ava’s leadership, students have been working with the Mattapoisett Land Trust to begin removing an invasive plant species from campus. Ava has served as a member of ORR’s Student Council for the past four years, as president of the class and as a class senator. As a member of our Community Service Learning Club, Ava has also worked with Damien’s Pantry and the Mattapoisett Town Library. Ava plans to attend Bristol Community College in the fall and study Biology.

            Brenna O’Donnell – Brenna is a member of Drama Club, Tea Club, DnD Club and Latin Club. Brenna is also the co-founder of Climbing Club. During her junior year, Brenna represented ORR at Girl’s State. Brenna earned two silver medals and one gold medal on the National Latin Exam. Brenna plans to attend Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in the fall to study General Engineering with a concentration in Robotics.

            Theo Jacobsen – Theo is an AP Scholar with distinction and is a four-year participant in both DECA and Debate club, having qualified for the state-level competition all four years. In this past debate season, Theo’s team achieved second place in the league, tying the first-place team in speaker points. Theo has taken on many leadership roles, including V.P. of Finance for DECA, Debate Team Captain, and Treasurer of the Old Rochester National Honors Society chapter. Theo will attend Tufts University and study Biochemistry.

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