Salute To Excellence

Each month the Board of Education shine the spotlight onto an area of excellence within our schools to highlight some of the extraordinary individuals, teams, students and programs that exist within Wilton Public Schools. This page showcases the talent and dedication of some of the most recent recipients of the award.

Salute to Excellence - Unified Team
Dr Smith, Lynn Shuster, Chris Finkelstein and members of the unified teams.

At Thursday's board of education meeting the Unified Team were recognized for all their hard work and dedication.

Melissa Barrett, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education introduced and thanked adult organizers Daniel Geraghty, Elias Zurita, Lynn Schuster and Emily Rippel. Unified student leader Peyton Matik was also recognized, as were a number of Middlebrook and High School students who have made the program the success it is today. 

WHS Alumnus Peter Orfino spoke to what Unified means to him 'I enjoy helping the other teams as well as my own and I enjoy seeing friends from other towns and my own town. There are a lot of people there who I can relate to very much'

Unified sports is a registered program of the Special Olympics that combines athletes with and without intellectual disability (or other developmental delays) on sports teams for training and competition. All Unified Sports teammates are of similar age and teams are placed in competitive divisions based on their skill abilities, and range from developmental to recreational to competitive. Wilton High School started with a soccer team four years ago and have now added basketball, track and theater to what is on offer all students.

In 2018 Wilton High School was recognized as a National Banner Unified Champion School. WHS was recognized as having demonstrated a commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. Wilton High School was one of only four schools recognized in this way in 2018.

Unified meets every Thursday afternoon at 2.45pm at the High School. Busing is available from Middlebrook for all students who wish to get involved. Any Middlebrook or High School student who would like learn more about the program and get involved for basketball season should reach out to Mrs. Schuster at Middlebrook, or Mrs. Barrett at the High School.

Salute To Excellence - Dr. Jeanine Freliech
Board Chair Chris Finkelstein with Dr Frelich and Superintendent Smith

At the first Board of Education meeting of the new school year. Superintendent Kevin Smith recognized Dr. Jeanine Freliech with the first Salute to Excellence award of the year.

Dr. Freliech has served in the voluntary role of medical advisor to Wilton Public Schools for the the last fourteen years. 'I wanted to take this Opportunity to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts  and to recognize the great service you have provided for us.' Said Dr. Smith.

Dr. Freliech has advised the district on a wide range of subjects, from the bird flu pandemic to the storage of epi pens.

Board Chair Chris Finkelstein remarked 'Dr. Freliech took on the role when she was working full time and raising three daughters, she handled her volunteer medical responsibilities with her usual grace, professionalism and kindness. When her youngest daughter graduated last June, Jeanine, you decided to graduate as well. We will miss you and please know how much we appreciate you'


Salute To Excellence - Athletics


4 images of certificates being awarded to students

 At the most recent Board of Education meeting, Athletic Director Chris McDougal presented an overview of the athletics program at Wilton High School before introducing representatives from the two athletic teams who were awarded this month’s salute to excellence.

Highlights from Mr. McDougal’s presentation included:

  • WHS fields 30 Varsity teams,15 Junior Varsity teams, 8 Freshmen teams. These are broken down as 13 Boys, 15 girls, 2 co-ed teams.
  • Unified Sports Special Olympics Committee recognized Wilton High School as a National Unified champion school this year.
  •  60% of High School students participate in at least one sport.
  • 28 graduating seniors will be participating in college athletics next year. Among the schools they will be going to are: Brown University, University of  Notre dame, Boston College,  Elon university, College of Holy Cross, Fairfield University, High Point University, Air Force Academy,  Merrimack College, University of Michigan, Lee High University,  Boston College,  UMASS Amherst.
  • Many athletes received post season accolades and honors everything from FCIAC honorable mention to all American.
  • Three coaches have received FCIAC honors of coach of excellence. They were - Joel Geriak - boys basketball; Todd Stevens - swimming and diving; Gary Chadwick - gymnastics.

The first team receiving the Salute to Excellence was the Boys ski team coached by Mike Collins.

‘I would like to thank you recognizing our boys for their two undefeated seasons. Success rests with the students, they are constantly on the radio giving course feedback to team makes, pouring over the footage, giving each other feedback and tips.  The Wilton team are the last ones at the top of the mountain. They always make sure every last skier is cheered on as they come down the mountain. I have been stopped so many times at Southington- where were do our races, coaches from other schools are always telling me how impressed by their spirit and the love the boys have for the sport. It’s been a privilege and an honor to coach this team.  Thank you for supporting our team. Most of all I want to thank our students an especially captain August Theoharides for leading our team.

The second team to be recognized was girls gymnastics, coached by Gary Chadwick

‘We had quite a run for 11 years, being named all American team, however during that time frame, our last state title was in 2009. I’m here with three of my seniors who have been co-captains either this year or last year.  Thank you for the seniors for setting the tone for the underclassman, thank you to Joan Ketley for the last 17 years for having someone to bounce ideas off, who knows, I might not be here if not for her. She stayed long after her daughter graduated and I’m very grateful for that’. Three members of the team were there to receive the award -Taylor White, Sam Huffman and Brooke Taffler

Salute To Excellence - Miller-Driscoll TV
Getting set up for the BOE meeting

The Professional library was a little busier than usual at the start of Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. As well as the familiar set up, there was one extra camera being operated by the youngest cameraman the board had ever seen – Henry, a Miller-Driscoll student.  Henry, along with 11 other members of the Miller-Driscoll Morning Show Crew were at the meeting to receive the “Salute to Excellence” award from the Board of Education and to shoot a special opening for an upcoming show.

The Board of Education recognized Miller-Driscoll TV (MD-TV) as the recipient of their third "Salute to Excellence" award this year. The award recognizes the exemplary and ground-breaking work that the team has created in the last three years.

The team shot a cold open featuring member of the Board of Education. Managing to work without the teleprompter, the crew got their cold opening in the can in only two takes. The final cut can be seen here

The Miller-Driscoll students were excited and nervous to be recognized at the meeting.

“It was a little nerve-racking to have so many grown up’s watching, but it was still fun and I can’t wait to do it again’ said crew member Jasmine.  Those sentiments were echoed by Kelly ‘It was fun, and I liked that the parents got to see what we do’

Skip Ploss reported that the show had viewers in at least thirteen countries, and that there were over 65,000 hits to the website that hosts the episodes.

The archive of episodes can be found here.

Salute to Excellence - Wilton High School Music Department

The Board of Education recognized the Wilton High School music department as the recipient of their "Salute to Excellence" award during the February 21st Board of Education meeting. The award recognizes the exemplary work undertaken by the department. "They are a shining example of high level artistic performance" Superintendent Kevin Smith remarked.

Members of the High School A Capella group attended the meeting to receive the award on behalf of all students and staff of the music department. The group sang two numbers accompanied by one student beat boxing. A Capella students are drawn from all WHS ensembles and represent all 4 grade levels at the High School. The Salute to Excellence celebrates some of the many successes that happen in Wilton schools every day.

Mr Cotellese, Choral director, reported that currently over 300 students or over 25% of all WHS students are in a performing music ensemble. 

So far this school year students have already accomplished an incredible amount of learning and performing. Some of the highlights include:

  •  A series of holiday concerts featuring the jazz band, orchestra and choirs performing together.
  • The eighth-grade students in orchestra, band and choir have performed with the High Schoolers to give them a taste of what’s in store for them at the High School.
  • The A Capella group, together with select members of the orchestra and band performed for the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Holiday Open House in Norwalk.
  • The choirs were one of the 3 winners of CT News 12’s Sounds of the Season competition.
  • Wilton students actively share their talents in the community working with the Wilton Children’s Theater, Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra, Norwalk Youth Symphony, and the newly formed regional Jazz ensemble, Nordic Sounds: Elite Jazz Youth Orchestra.
  • Students have auditioned successfully for regional, state, and national ensembles.
  • The Wind Ensemble, along with approximately 30 schools, commissioned a new work that will be performed this spring.  The WHS Wind Ensemble will premiere the piece this Spring. The High School Madrigals, Men’s and Women’s choirs have been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in May and will perform masterworks by Bach and Haydn along with choirs from California Polytech University and the Vancouver Bach Choir.
  • The annual John Rhodes Jazz Symposium

The students present to receive the award were - From left to right:

Hannah Mikita, Anna Iorfino, Brycen Addison, Rachel Slater, Matthew Huang, Jayna Gumins, Anna Clark, Evan Timnev, Brielle Flavin, Adarsh Varghese, Edwin Gregory, and Davis Langhoff.