MERIDEN — One of the first calls Maloney senior Annelise Montuori made when she found out she was the 2020 valedictorian was to Derek Destefano.
The school’s cross country coach and track assistant has seen the growth in Montuori over her four years both in and out of the classroom and when he heard the news, he got emotional.
“She called and told me she got it and I was in tears,” Destefano said. “She achieved the ultimate challenge. She’s one I watched grow as a student and as an athlete and it was great to go full circle with her. That’s why I love coaching.”
“I called him right after I found out,” Montuori said. “He’s been with me the entire way.”
Montuori served as a captain in her junior and senior years in indoor track and outdoor track as well as a harrier. The All-City runner was a consistent performer.. As a sophomore, she was a leg of the 4x800 relay team that broke the school record.
The next stop for Montuori is UConn. At the Storrs campus, she will major in Finance and Actuarial Science. She’s minoring in Economics.
The mark the National Honor Society member has left academically at Maloney is impressive. She’s made distinguished honors in each quarter at Maloney and finished with a 4.74 GPA.
“I wanted to take courses that would challenge me and I always thought to start high and if it was too much, to take a step back,” Montuori said. “For the most part, it worked out just fine. The AP classes gave me a run for my money at times, but it was just about knowing what I needed to do and reach out for help when I needed it. I would get help from my classmates and we all got it together.”
Classmate unity is one of the main themes of her graduation speech, which she is recording this week at Maloney for a graduation video to be broadcast online.
“I’m slightly nervous,” Montuori said. “In the past, I joked if I’m not first in my class, at least I won’t have to give a speech. But it’s been great. I’ve had friends look it over for me. My speech is going to be about the accomplishments as a class and to recognize what other people are proud of. It’s not about me. With everything going on, we still made a lot of happy memories as a class and look how strong we are as a result.”
She's a member of the Math Team and serves as Class Treasurer. Montouri is also a Student Ambassador and a member of the Italian Honor Society and DECA.
She was the recipient of the 2019-2020 CAS/CIAC Scholar Athlete Award and was a member of the Central Connecticut Conference All-Academic Team each sport season. The R-J honored her as a Scholar Athlete last fall.
Montuori, 17, also earned the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Award as well as the Harvard Club of Southern Connecticut Book Award for Outstanding Leadership and was the winner of the Constitution Bowl.
Maloney School Counselor Yesenia Diaz has worked with Monuori for the last four years.
“Annelise and this senior class will always have a special place in my heart,” Diaz said. “I’m very happy for Annelise. She worked very hard her entire high school career. She was conscientious about her studies since she was a freshman. She was very driven but also gave back to the Maloney community. She was one of my tutors and I could always rely on her. If I need something, she gets it done. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Annelise and her peers.”
Montuori said she takes pride in giving back. The senior logged 120 community services hours. Much of that time she was a math tutor for elementary and fellow high school students.
“She’s a leader and always wants to push for more,” Destefano said. “You don’t know if you don’t try and she embraced that mentality since she’s been here. She was always looking for ways to improve and how to educate herself. She’s done it perfectly. She’s valedictorian. She’s No. 1.”