SMA Middle School Awards of Distinction Announced

Englewood, CO -- St. Mary's Academy Middle School announced awards of distinction for the 2020-21 school year at an awards assembly on Thursday, June 3, 2021.

The Sarah Castle Award went to Valeria Lopez, Grade 8. The award is given annually to an eighth-grade girl who embodies determination and grit in the face of adversity. It is named in honor of alumna Sarah Castle '02, Judge for the 16th Circuit Court in Missouri and a US Paralympian who received medals both in women's basketball and swimming. In presenting the award, Middle School Principal Tiffany Drees described Valeria as "infinitely gracious and simultaneously generous" in lifting others, observing she is a "young woman who faces obstacles head on, and who lifts others up with her along the way."

This year's recipients of the Parker Whitehead Award were given to Andrew Johnson and Nick Turner. The award is given annually to an eighth-grade boy or boys who live life boldly and passionately, in the memory of SMA alumnus Parker Whitehead MS '98 who lived his life with courage in the face of cancer. Ms. Drees recognized Andrew and Nick for the "humility, courage and character they both exemplify." She further described Andrew's "inspiring outlook on life" and Nick's "leadership, authenticity, and genuine concern for others."

Two sports awards were given by the Athletics department for character, academics, dependability, skill, and positive contributions to the team.

Tiffany Hernandez, Grade 8, was the recipient of an Outstanding Female Athlete award. In the award presentation, Assistant Athletic Director Sara Knetemann said, "From day one of sixth grade sports, I know that I can speak for all of Tiffany’s coaches when I say we knew we were seeing something special. Her competitive spirit, tireless optimism, and fierce energy were unmatched. Over her three years as a Wildcat, Tiffany has shown up to each practice willing to complete drills at game speed and has been a leader in all of her matches by confidently going to the ball, whether it’s been on the court or turf."

Miles Hanzel was the recipient of the Outstanding Male Student Athlete award. In presenting his award, his coach, SMA teacher Chris Leavens, said, "I once asked Miles what he hoped to bring to the team. He replied, 'Smiles and home runs!' That much is true. Throughout the season, Miles has kept us in fear of hitting the community center during practice. Thankfully, the building is still standing. We thank you Miles, for your contribution to our season and best of luck as you take your growth-mindset and positive attitude and with you into the future."





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