Recently, our school had the opportunity to recognize an extremely hardworking classmate of ours. A star cross country runner, member of the musical, choir, and countless other extracurriculars, Tommy O’Brien truly is an exemplary student.
This year, Tommy was nominated for, and ended up winning, the KDKA Extra Effort award, created by Bob Pompeani. This award is given to students who demonstrate excellence in both academics and athletics. “I wanted to start it because I had friends of mine […] and they were all tremendous people, not just star athletes” explained Pompeani upon being asked where he had the idea to create an award like this one. He went on to state,“this is an opportunity to look at people who are really good glue members of your teams, but also represent other things which I think all student athletes should try to achieve.”
The event began with performances from the high school marching band and drumline while the students entered the gym. Members of the KDKA crew were extremely impressed by the talent of our Upper St. Clair students, especially when drum captain, Annabel McQuillan, flipped upside down and played a drum solo on the tenors. Once everyone was seated the ceremony began, starting with a brief explanation of the award and recognizing Tommy for being a role model student. Pompeani read statements from Tommy’s coaches and teachers who nominated him. “Coach Chermak and I are blessed to have him as a part of the cross country team; he is a dynamic leader and outstanding young man,” one teacher said, “His positivity and work ethic are contagious.” Then, Tommy, surrounded by his family and friends, was presented with the award and a check.
The recognition of those who do put in the extra effort to excel in multiple fields inspires other students to do the same. With the competitive job market of today it is more important than ever to be well rounded. As a student, having the insight to get ahead academically, socially, culturally, and physically is very difficult and rewarding those who take initiative to better themselves is not only inspiring other students to do the same, but also changing the modern education system for the better.
After the ceremony I asked Bob Pompeani about the process of picking the winner of the award. He explained that they look for, “the best student athlete we can find, emphasis on student. Yes, you have to be in athletics, but you have to be a well rounded person, like Tommy.” Family pictures with school administrators followed and then a quick interview with Tommy, in which he humbly said, “I’m hoping I can inspire other people to work hard. There’s a lot of students here who are very deserving, so hopefully we can continue getting people recognized this way.” His dedication and passion for the activities he participates in are noted by his friends and family, who support him always.