Editor's note: The following profile of an award-winning student was prepared by the Westport public schools administration, and submitted to the Westport News for publication.
Everett Sussman's resume sparkles. The Staples High School junior is a math team star, a key debater with Junior State of America, a multi-faceted member of Staples Players, a pianist with Wreckers In Tune and an officer in the Hiking Club.
Now, he's also a Governor's Scholar. There are only 30 in the state, chosen from more than 150 applicants. Each high school selects only one student to apply for the honor. The process includes a timed essay. Each applicant must rank in the top 5 percent of the junior class, and submit standardized test scores.
Sussman will be honored May 22 at a luncheon in Southington. Gov. Daniel P. Malloy is expected to attend.
The 11th-grader personifies what a Governor's Scholar should be. An eight-year resident of Westport who attended Coleytown Elementary and Middle schools before Staples, Sussman plunges into a variety of classes and activities with energy and joy.
His favorite classes include Advanced Placement Physics C, Multivariable Calculus and Advanced Placement English Language.
Physics teacher Joanne Klouda encourages questions about actions and results, Sussman said. Calculus instructor Bill Wilkes "shows us one thing, then asks us to look at it in so many different ways." In Julia McNamee's English class, meanwhile, "we converse and share ideas, in a community way."
Klouda said, "Everett's brain doesn't have a pause button. He constantly looks to make connections to his prior knowledge, to knowledge he's gained in other classes, to things he has read or heard about, to something he pulls up on the internet during class, to a thought or question posed by another student, to an original application he's dreamed up. His brain is constantly working and it's amazing to witness. He gets so excited during the process!"
McNamee added, "Everett is always interested in everything. He questions, digs, engages, and most of all, clearly relishes new and deeper thinking. He's awesome. Best of all, he's kind to everyone along the way."
Similarly, each extracurricular activity offers a different reason for engagement. On the "A" math team, Sussman said, "I can be competitive, but also help teammates see puzzles in new ways."
In JSA, he researches and argues a variety of political positions. "I love to debate," Sussman laughed.
While he has appeared onstage and played in the pit orchestra for several Players productions, Sussman also appreciates the opportunity to work backstage. "That's where it all comes together," the Governor's Scholar noted.
Wreckers In Tune is a self-directed musical group that plays at fundraisers and other local events. Sussman said, "It's a great way to make people happy." Hiking, meanwhile, is an excellent physical activity.
"One day I can argue in JSA about medical marijuana. Then I go to Players, and after that I hike outside. I see different people everywhere. It's nice to have all that variety."
Staples High School "encourages everyone to pursue their own interests," he explained. "It's a very open place, where you can really pursue what you love."
For the Governor's Scholar application, Sussman wrote a timed essay on the assigned issue of online rights and responsibilities. He described the pros and cons of having genetic material available for all to see.
He looks forward to the luncheon, and the chance to meet other honorees from around the state.
As for next year, Sussman said, "I'll keep doing what I do. I only have one more year left at Staples, and I want to enjoy it."