PHS presents 2019 ‘students rock’ awards

Plainville High School officials recognized Michael Torres and JoAnna Salmon for their contribution to student life. From left, Torres, superintendent of schools Steve LePage, and Salmon. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)



What happens when a student becomes known for their contributions between classes? How do schools recognize those students that energize the school community and bring the best out of their classmates? Do they get recognized?

Last week, Plainville High School presented the students rock award to seniors JoAnna Salmon and Michael Torres. Maria Colangelo, a PHS teacher, and the founder of the students rock award program, explained that the award has been presented twice each school year since 2010. It is presented to those students that “show up and do the right thing.”

Since entering the school as a freshman, Salmon has been on the softball team, been a member of the art and Spanish clubs, and took part in the K.I.K. mentoring program, where juniors are paired with incoming freshmen in order to make their transition into high school a comfortable process.

She said that this award was special to receive because it meant that four years of hard work had been noticed by teachers throughout the school, even the teachers that she didn’t think were paying attention to what she was doing.

“When you do these things it’s not like you do it for the recognition, you do it because it’s just what you do,” said Torres. “We just go in and out of school, doing what’s good to do, and it’s nice to have the recognition, but it’s not like we were out doing it for the recognition, it’s just something that we do.”

Like his classmate, Torres has been a contributor to the Blue Devils athletic teams, playing varsity soccer for fall seasons, and has added tennis to his varsity resume since his junior year. As a senior, Torres was named as the captain of both the soccer and tennis teams. It didn’t stop there. He was also involved in both art and Spanish clubs.

Torres said the best way to receive an award such as students rock, is to not go looking for the award. “Just do stuff that you think you should be doing, and teachers pick up on it,” he said. “They notice. You might not get the recognition for it all the time, and it’s just, when you do get the recognition it’s a great feeling that you’ve been noticed.”

After graduating from Plainville, he will begin studying business management at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

Colangelo said that these sorts of recognitions are important. On April 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) named five teens who they believe changed the world for the better, including the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, along with Emma Gonzalez, a 19-year-old survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida that has become an advocate for gun control in the United States.

The students rock awards are an opportunity to recognize local students that have made an influence at the local level. “I have no doubt that the names of JoAnna Salmon and Michael Torres could easily be on that list one day,” said Colangelo, “because they have already changed the little world of Plainville High School for the better.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher email her at