BRISTOL – For Benjamin Czuprinski, the next phase after high school is Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Czuprinski is salutatorian of the Class of 2017 at St. Paul Catholic High School. A Plainville resident, his parents are Gina and stepfather Frederick West, and father Todd Czuprinski, all of Plainville.
He has not settled on a major yet. "Where to go? That was my first big decision. The Marist campus was definitely a big draw. It’s really beautiful, right along the Hudson River. I’m keeping my options open. Once I get there I can narrow it down," he said.
His favorite subject in high school was Psychology. "I took it last year, and it was really interesting getting to know about the mind and what drives different behaviors. English has always been a strong suit for me too."
The Advanced Placement courses he took include AP Psychology, AP English Language and Composition, and AP United States History as a junior, and AP Literature and Composition, AP Government and Politics and AP Spanish Language and Culture as a senior. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society.
He singled out Meaghan Pattani, who left St. Paul at the end of last year, as his favorite teacher. She had been his teacher for Anatomy and Physiology and for Biology, as well as his cross-country coach.
Pattani was also the advisor for ArtScience, an international competition for young people developing innovative art and design ideas with a scientific theme.
In 2015, the theme was Biodiversity. Czuprinski and other students from St. Paul and Bristol Eastern High School teamed up to work on an idea to deal with jellyfish overpopulation in marine ecosystems by using the jellyfish to make eco-friendly alternatives to plastic grocery bags. The team won in the Bristol competition and got to go to the international conference in Cambridge, Mass.
"Mrs. Pattani was the one that pushed me into joining ArtScience that year," Czuprinski said. "I was on the fence but she played a big part guiding me along the way. She definitely had a big impact on my life."
"I played soccer my freshman year, which was not a huge success, but after that I did cross-country the following three years and that was a great experience. I had never done anything like that before so I wasn’t the best at it, but it was a great opportunity to meet people and get involved. The same for indoor track, I did that a couple of years as well," he said.
Czuprinski also participated in the Mission Club, which volunteers at area soup kitchens; and the Blue Key Club, which gives tours and answers questions for prospective St. Paul students.
"One of the big ones for me was the United Way Youth Board," he said. "That’s kids from here, the two Bristol high schools, Lewis Mills, Plainville and Terryville. We planned different community events. We recently had a Senior Citizen Prom at the Bristol Senior Center. We were waiters and we danced, it was pretty cool."
Having gone to a small, private middle school - Mooreland Hill School in Kensington - Czuprinski said he chose St. Paul because he wanted a small community atmosphere for high school and he found it.
"I’m definitely going to miss the community we’ve built up here over the last four years," he said. "It has become a big part of my life, especially cross-country. We spent so much time here to the point that it’s like our second home. That’s going to be tough to leave behind."
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.