Spotlight: Breaking Barriers and All-American Honors

Breaking Barriers and All-American Honors
Posted on 06/02/2014
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On May 20, the Norwalk Board of Education recognized two student for their achievements in national competitions.  


Mahuir Rahman, Prize Winner in National Breaking Barriers Essay Contest


Mahuir Rahman, a Fifth Grader at Tracey Elementary School, was selected as a Second Prize Winner in the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest, sponsored by Scholastic and Major League Baseball.


Created in 1997, the Breaking Barriers program is based on the memory of Jackie Robinson, whose bravery in breaking the color line in baseball will never be forgotten.  Winners of the Breaking Barriers essay contest are chosen for their eloquence in describing how they faced and overcame obstacles or barriers in their lives.  In 2014, nearly 19,000 students from across the U.S and Canada participated.


Mahuir’s essay titled “Help! I Can’t Speak English,” described his experience as a new student to the United States.  Mahuir’s prize included a laptop computer, copies of books for the class written by Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon, and Breaking Barriers t-shirts for the entire grade. Mahuir’s writing teacher is Mrs. Dianne Guhl.


The Board of Education congratulates Mahuir Rahman for his prize winning essay on Breaking Barriers.



Jeff Cocchia, National Youth All-American Wrestling Champion

Jeff Cocchia, a Sixth Grader from Roton Middle School, has earned an impressive list of wrestling awards. 

For 2014, Jeff is a Connecticut State Champion, a New England Champion, and an Eastern Regional Champion.  Most recently, he placed 3rd in national competition and has been named a 2014 National Youth All-American wrestler.

Throughout the season, Jeff has competed against some of the top wrestlers in the region and the country.  More than 11,000 youth wrestlers competed in the qualifying events leading up to the National Championships, with just 1,400 making it to the Nationals, which were held on May 3 & 4 in Maryland.    Jeff was just 1 of 6 wrestlers who made it from Connecticut. 

At Nationals, Jeff pinned the Maryland champion in the opening round, followed by the Pennsylvania champion, putting Jeff in the semi-finals. After losing to the West Virginia champion, Jeff wrestled back in the consolation rounds to finish 3rd in the nation, and to earn All-American status.

Jeff is a four year member of Norwalk MadBull Youth Wrestling, a program which emphasizes a balance of schoolwork, teamwork and community service, in addition to wrestling skills. 

For his hard work and accomplishments, the Norwalk Board of Education congratulates Jeff Cocchia.