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Six Community Members Honored with Light the Spark Award

From left: Matt Thomsen, Tiffany Duguay, Liz Antonuccio, Donna Danielewski, Sara Underhill, Meagan Wilde and Jessica Earle. (Photo courtesy Medway Public Schools)

Six Community Members Honored with Light the Spark Award

MEDWAY — Superintendent Armand Pires and Director of Student Services Kathleen Bernklow are pleased to announce that six members of the Medway community were recently honored with the Light the Spark Award.

The award acknowledges those community members who are not professional educators or school staff who see and celebrate the spark in children and families and help it to shine more brightly, benefiting the child, their family, their peers and the Medway community. The nominators are families with students with exceptional needs, on an IEP or 504, to recognize those individuals (non-educators) who have made a difference.

The award is in honor of Kathleen B. Thomsen, the late grandmother of three Medway students who never failed to recognize and celebrate the spark in those around her and who -- with what seemed the smallest of gestures -- helped it shine more brightly for all to see.

It was first given out in 2019 and is sponsored by the Danielewski-Thomsen family whose children have been well supported at the Medway Public Schools. In particular, one of their sons had several challenges and staff, working with the family, made the student’s middle school years manageable. 

Jessica Earle, Tiffany Duguay, Meagan Wilde, Liz Antonuccio, Sara Underhill and Anne Marie Holohan were presented with the Light the Spark Award at the Thursday, Nov. 4 Medway School Committee meeting.

“The Light the Spark Award recognizes community members who help to celebrate our students of all ages,” Superintendent Pires said. “Helping to make our kids feel safe and valued and putting a smile on their faces was especially significant during the last year, when so much about their everyday lives was different. We are grateful to these community members for their kindness and selflessness, and we are pleased to recognize them with this award.”

About the Recipients:

Earle, Duguay, Wilde, Antonuccio and Underhill are five Medway moms who organized the Medway Birthday Parade Group. They created Birthday Parade routes to celebrate Medway’s quarantined children during the first months of the pandemic. Through their efforts, they created a Facebook group with 750 members as well as coordinated three months of weekly parade routes featuring fire trucks, police cars, ambulances and decorated cars. 

According to their nominators, they dedicated a lot of time to making kids feel special and celebrated during quarantine birthdays, and that “beeping and slow traffic around 4 p.m. became acceptable because it was a sign that a special birthday child was smiling.”

Holohan is an elementary school bus driver who was nominated by a Medway parent. She is described as a calm, positive and kind presence every morning. Holohan greets the parent’s student, welcomes him when she picks him up for the bus, and makes sure that he’s safe and settled in his seat before driving away. The nominator also recognized Holohan for getting to know students’ parents. The nominator said, “I feel like my son is in safe and comfortable hands each morning, which has been wonderful during such a difficult year.”