2022-2023 Innovation and Leadership Grants Reception
October 27, 2022 | 8:00 am - 9:30 am
Foundations in Education recognized 107 Catholic grammar school students at its annual Leaders of Tomorrow breakfast – the largest pool of honorees since the foundation’s inception. The honorees, their families, education sponsors and other supporters of Catholic education gathered at Vazzano’s Four Seasons Banquet Hall on October 27 to honor these very special children.
“You, as leaders, are selected by your principal as children of good character, academic promise, and leadership potential,” said Holly Doherty-Lemoine, Foundations in Education’s Executive Director. “In my mind, that’s a pretty big deal, and I hope you are proud of yourselves, because we sure are, too.”
Each year, one Leader of Tomorrow is selected to deliver remarks at the breakfast. This year’s speaker was Gabner Cineas Jr., a seventh grade student at St. James School in Stratford. He was able to share how Catholic education has touched him, his family and his life.
“My Catholic education has impacted my life in many ways,” he said. “It has strengthened my relationship with God. I have grown in my faith because he has been a part of my school day for as long as I can remember. From morning prayer with Principal Robertson to my community service time on Friday afternoons, I am reminded that God is with me always, and that I have been called to give back and to serve others as Jesus did.”
Foundations in Education’s board chair Thomas McInerney also delivered remarks at the event, noting the breakfast honored three types of heroes: parents, teachers and the students themselves.
“The students … are in many ways our heroes because they’re starting out on a path that’s going to change a lot of people’s lives over the next several decades,” he said. “We’re excited about that for them.”
Following McInerney’s remarks, Foundations in Education presented each student with a certificate, and had them pose for a photograph with their school principal, their scholarship sponsors and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.
Notably, two kindergarten students represented the youngest demographic of honorees: Khaliyah-Jay Erskine from Catholic Academy of Bridgeport-St. Andrew and Felicity French from Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Shelton.
Bishop Caggiano connected with the young people in the room at the end of the event. In recognition of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, he asked the students in the room what they were thankful for.
Answers varied among the students, ranging from their parents, friends, school and scholarship sponsors. But the bishop noted the adults in the room might have a different answer: the students themselves. And he noted on Thanksgiving Day, not only would he be thankful for them, but he would pray for them specifically at Mass that day.
“God has given you many gifts and talents, and you will always – with God’s grace – develop them,” Bishop Caggiano said. “One day, every single one of you in this room can become a leader of our country, our community and our Church.”