Results from the Superintendent’s College & Career Readiness Forum

Photo: Linda Conner Lambeck / Linda Conner Lambeck

Photo: Linda Conner Lambeck / Linda Conner Lambeck

Dr. Gary Cialfi hosted the 4th annual Superintendent’s College & Career Readiness Forum at on Wednesday, January 4. The event that drew more than 350 students, parents, and other community members to the Trumbull High School auditorium was co-sponsored by the Trumbull Business-Education Initiative (BEI) and Trumbull Academic Challenge for Excellence (ACE) foundation.

College and business representatives on the 12-member guest panel expressed their expectations of high school and college graduates and offered recommendations to guide their educational experiences.

That foundation was illuminated by four current THS students and four recent THS graduates currently in college as they shared their personal experiences and insights to help current 8th grade and high school students.

The following is a reprint of Linda Lambeck’s article that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Connecticut Post.

TRUMBULL — Being “branched” at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus is not the end of the world.

Not knowing what you want to do with your life in high school — or even college — is not only OK, but common.
Finding one’s passion is as important as good grades. And branching out by switching majors, for instance, might be for the best.

This and other words of wisdom were showered on a good number of the town’s eighth grade population at a special forum held at Trumbull High School this week.

While some of the students in attendance became distracted by friends and cell phones during the 90-minute presentation, most had parents with them to take notes.

“This was amazing,” Michelle Genuario, mom to 13-year-old Bella, said. “I went to college. I have three degrees, but I am so far removed from it, this was good to hear.”

Schools Superintendent Gary Cialfi pointed out that the 2017 Superintendent’s College & Career Readiness for Success Forum wasn’t a college planning night or even an introduction to high school.

Rather, it was a chance to hear firsthand accounts from current and former high school students on how to take advantage of what high school has to offer — for a better future.


How to make the most of College 101

During Trumbull’s Success Forum, sponsored jointly by the school board, Trumbull Business-Education Initiative and Trumbull ACE Foundation, Mark Ligas, an associate dean at Fairfield University, and Jennifer Parzych, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University, offered these essentials for making it at college:


  • Enter college with an open mind. Your major could change. It’s OK.
  • Take risks in the classroom. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
  • Communicate. Ask questions when unsure.
  • Get and accept feedback.
  • Get your money’s worth in class. Be there the entire time.
  • Take advantage of office hours.
  • Form study groups
  • Manage time proactively. Freedom can be a slippery slope.
  • Extracurricular activities matter. It is how you find “your people.”
  • Persist through the tough stuff.
  • Also on hand were a couple of employers and college officials to tell students how to make their college and job applications stand out.

Kate Hampford Donahue, president of Hampford Research, a specialty chemical manufacturer in Stratford, told students the number one thing she looks for is people who love what they do.

“We make some pretty cool stuff,” Donahue said.

Thomas Tesoro, vice president of human resources at Standard Motor Products, told students he sees 1,500 applications for entry level jobs.

“Experiences. Get experiences. Take internships, even if it helps you learn what you don’t want to do. It demonstrates ability to be part of a team,” Tesoro said. “Don’t give me reasons to disqualify you.”

Erin Wingo, a 2015 Trumbull grad and now a student at Clemson University, can relate. She told of taking a summer internship she hated. But she stuck it out, made connections and expanded her LinkedIn network.

Anna Bivona, who graduated from Trumbull High in 2014, said it’s important to have direction, but not necessarily a plan.

“You do not have to have it all figured out,” said Bivona, who switched from business to economics while spending her first two years of college at UConn’s Stamford branch.

“When I got a letter from UConn that I was branched, I felt it was the worst thing that could happen,” Bivona said. But she made the most of it, applying for internships in company-rich Stamford as a freshman and being placed in a digital media agency.

“It was hands down the best decision I made,” Bivona, now a junior and at the Storrs campus, said. “Things aren’t always going to go as planned. Be resilient.”




Awards for THS Model Congress Team

Ms. Katie Boland (Social Studies Department, Trumbull High School) reports a new success of the THS Model Congress Team:

Thank you so much for our recent donation for our THS Model Congress trip to Washington DC this past weekend to compete at the Princeton Model Congress competition.  Nineteen Trumbull High students were able to explore the sights of our nation’s capital, speak with Senator Christopher Murphy on the Hill, and debate legislation with a thousand students from all over the country.
Ethan Bachand ’18 (co-President of THS Model Congress) spoke about his experience meeting Senator Christopher Murphy in his office, “When I was waiting in the meeting room for the senator, I thought we would get to see him for maybe 5 minutes if we were lucky seeing how busy a senator would usually be. But in reality we got a chance to talk to Senator Murphy for a good half hour or so about his job while getting to know him better. It was an awesome experience to meet someone who represents our whole state and get to know him for more than just a face on a campaign billboard. We got the chance to hear about his background in politics and how he reached the point he is at today. He talked about some of the major acts he has accomplished while working on the hill, and Senator Murphy even gave us his stance on congressional terms, which was an awesome thing for us to hear about coming from an actual senator. It was the perfect way to cap off a great day at the capitol building, and truly an experience I will never forget.”
We also came away with a few awards throughout the weekend.  Each committee of 15-20 students had a top performer known as the “Best Delegate” and two other students recognized as “Honorable Mentions.” They also had the same awards for the Full House and the Full Senate sessions (over 150 students each).
I’m proud to announce our five awards:
  • Best Delegate –  Nicholas Marchenko – House Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee
  • Honorable Mention – Derek Marble – Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Honorable Mention – Cristina Catana – House Armed Services
  • Honorable Mention – Ethan Bachand – House Energy & Commerce

And special congrats to Cristina who was also an Honorable Mention in the full House session, a first for Trumbull High!

Thank you again for always supporting our team… we truly do appreciate it!


Kick-Off for Connecticut VOICE

Trumbull Business and Education Initiative (BEI) is a proud supporter of the Connecticut Voice. Along with the Trumbull ACE Foundation and the superintendent’s office, BEI is providing seed money for Connecticut Voice, a state-wide initiative founded by Isha Dalal, a Trumbull High School senoir student.

From and the ACE Facebook page:

Congratulations to Isha Dalal, a senior at Trumbull High School, that started the program VOICE that has their kick-off event this week in Hartford. Voice is a legislative initiative for students across the State of Connecticut. For the 2016-2017 year, Voice is focusing on increasing literacy rates in the state. Education is an incredibly important part of ensuring equal opportunity for all. Students working towards the betterment of other students around them showcases the importance of equal access to education.

After contacting the Commissioner of Education, Isha worked with Stephen Armstrong, the Social Studies Consultant for the State Department, to build a program from the ground up and turn her idea into a reality. She met with many of her community leaders such as her Superintendent, members of the State of Board of Education, theTrumbull ACE Foundation, and the Secretary of State’s Office to create a program for students, by students. This program would allow students to organize events throughout the entire state to promote their cause, all with the goal of passing a law in the next legislative session. To learn more about the program, head to

Here is an article that appeared in the news this week:…/lyme-old-lyme-hss-bocian-joins-state…/

Connecticut Voice's Executive Board gathers for a photo, From left to right (back row), Kelley Gifford, Haoyi Wang, Hannah Lamb, Priya Mistri, KaltenReese Hasankolli, Izzy King, Hailey Jimenez, Gary Bocian from Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Alexandra Chitwood, Evani Dalal; (front row), Isha Dalal (founder) and Stephen Armstrong (advisor).


“Emotions Matter:” A Presentation by Dr. Marc Brackett Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

RSVP by sending an e-mail as soon as possible to

Trumbull Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gary Cialfi, is encouraging parents and their middle and high school students, as well as members of the general public, to attend a presentation by Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and one of the world’s leading experts on the subject.  The presentation will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, in the Trumbull High School Auditorium.

“Dr. Brackett made a profound impression on the entire Trumbull Public Schools staff as the convocation keynote speaker in August and we’re very fortunate to have secured his time to share his insights with our parents, students, and the general public,” Cialfi said. “Clearly, we knew immediately that Trumbull students and parents would be well served with his presentation if he could be available for an evening session.”


Marc A. Brackett

The focus of Brackett’s presentation will be on why emotions matter significantly in school and everyday life. In this presentation, he will share the results of a large-scale survey that provides insights to the emotional lives of our nation’s teens. Key components include: (1) the role of emotions in learning, decision making, relationships, mental health, and academic performance; (2) means to measure to emotional intelligence; and (3) the development of emotional intelligence among adolescents and teens. In addition to being an exceptionally-engaging speaker, Dr. Brackett has published over 100 scholarly articles and received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning. He is the co-creator of RULER, an evidence-based approach to teaching social and emotional learning that has been adopted by more than 1,000 public and private schools reaching nearly one million students, including their educators and families.