Class of 2023 Top 5

The 2022-2023 school year is coming to a close, and a new class of incredible excelsior women have ended their academic careers at the Academy. From ambitious athletes to our drama guild, the Sacred Heart Seniors all brought a unique “sparkle” to SHA. The Class of 2023 has thrived in their rather irregular high school experience, having entered Sacred Heart in the age of the Coronavirus. We are so proud of what these women have grown into here, and know that they will continue to be their excelsior selves as they continue their academic careers in college.

The Top Five of the 2023 Class are a group that not only meets the expectations of a SHA girl but exceeds them. They represent the very best of their class, and they are: Valedictorian Maeve McConnel, Salutatorian Kristina Ponzio, 3rd ranking senior Yaritza Zecua-Herrera, 4th ranking senior Emma Kirck, and 5th ranking senior Alyssa Norton.

Valedictorian Maeve McConnell will be remembered at Sacred Heart as an incredible student with an undying love for learning. Maeve says, “Sacred Heart Academy has been my home away from home for a while now. The people here are what make it home.” During her time at Sacred Heart Academy, Maeve was an active part of both the STEM and theater communities. She served as the President of the Sacred Heart Academy Chapter of the Technology Student Association, having attended the competition, and won many awards at both the state and national level. Maeve also participated in the M3 Math Modeling Challenge as a captain and served as the Secretary of Mu Alpha Theta. She is a member of the Math League, Science National Honor Society, National Honor Society, and the National Spanish Honor Society.

Maeve is on her way to Northampton, Massachusetts and will be spending the next four years as a Pioneer at Smith College. She plans to major in Chemistry and Biochemistry, with a minor in Spanish!

Maeve is a highly decorated member of the senior class, as the recipient of the Rensselaer College Book Award, 2 silver medals on the National Spanish exam, and the Lenore LeBonia Award. Maeve was also named the most outstanding student in both science and theology, as well as musical comedy. She was celebrated by the Southern Connecticut Conference as a Scholar Leader, and her service to NHS was recognized with the Outstanding NHS Service Award. Good luck at Smith, Maeve! Go Pioneers!

Kristina Ponzio, the Class of 2023 Salutatorian, was an outstanding member of the SHA community both in the classroom, on the court, and on the track. She served as a captain of the Sacred Heart Cross Country team, the SHA basketball team, and the SHA indoor track team. During her time at the Academy, she won 3 state championships. She was a member of the 2021 championship cross country team, the 2022 championship basketball team, and the 2023 championship indoor track team. Kristina was also an outstanding student, as a member of the National Honor Society.

Kristina will be spending the next four years in North Andover, Massachusetts at Merrimack College. She is double committed for both cross country and track and field. Kristina is planning to major in nursing!

She had many special accomplishments during her time at Sacred Heart, including being the recipient of the Harvard Book Award her junior year. Kristina was also named an SCC scholar athlete for the spring season. She received the Lenore LaBonia scholarship her senior year as well! Kristina was a Kairos leader her senior year and helped her classmates grow closer to God and each other through their retreat. We can’t wait to hear about the great things you do at Merrimack, Kristina! Roll Warriors!


The third ranking senior in the class of 2023 is Yaritza Zecua-Herrera. Yaritza was an incredible member of the class of 2023, and worked hard in the classroom. She was named the vice president of Mu Alpha Theta her junior year and lead the club as the President her senior year. Yaritza is also the president of Math League and participated in the M3 Math Modeling Challenge, the SCSU MaPP puzzle competition, and the Yale MMATHS competition. Yaritza is a member of 2 other honor societies, including the National Honor Society. She was a member of the Campus Ministry Community for all four years at the Academy, and was on the leadership team during her junior and senior years. Due to her dedication to Campus Ministry, Yaritza had the opportunity to lead her class through their Kairos retreat this year.

Yaritza will be in New York City for the next four years, at New York University. She is majoring in business with a concentration in sustainable business and accounting.

She was a decorated member of the student body and received the Villanova College Book Award her junior year. She was named the outstanding senior in mathematics at Honors Convocation. The SCC also recognized Yaritza for her great accomplishments as an SCC Scholar Leader. Yaritza was a nominated by her peers, this past year, to be the Crown Bearer for the Enthronement of Jesus and the Crowner for the 2023 May Crowning Ceremony. She works in her community outside of the Sacred Heart campus, as a volunteer Math Teacher Assistant for a 2023 summer program at Hopkins School. We are so proud of you Yaritza, good luck in New York City! Go Violets!

Emma Kirck is the 4th ranked senior of the 2023 class, and she led the SHA community through her enthusiasm and passion for the student body. She served as the 2022-2023 STUCO Executive Board President and left a mark on the Shark Tank. Emma is known for her love of the student body, and her positivity. Her leadership will be missed! She spent her four years at the Academy as an active member of the student body, as a member of the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and the National Spanish Honor Society. Emma was a tri-sport varsity athlete, as a competitor on the SHA Cross Country team, the SHA Basketball team, and the SHA Lacrosse team. She also is involved in Peer-Connection, Excelsior Club, the Local Outreach Branch of Campus Ministry, and is a 2 year Co-Editor of the Yearbook.

Emma will be making Middlebury, Vermont her new home, as a Middlebury College Panther. She is going in undecided about her major. Emma will be a member of the Middlebury basketball team!

Emma accomplished a lot during her time at Sacred Heart, as the recipient of the Yale Book Award her junior year. She was also named captain of the Cross Country, Basketball, and Lacrosse teams her senior year. Emma is a state champion in Cross Country and Basketball. She was recognized as an SCC Scholar Athlete and an Excelsior Athlete. Congratulations, Emma, on all of your incredible achievements and best of luck in Vermont!

Alyssa Norton, the 5th ranked senior of the Class of 2023, brought her own “sparkle” to Sacred Heart. She was an avid member of the SHA STEM community, as a member of the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, the math league, medical researchers club, and Mu Alpha Theta. Alyssa also participated in the Columbia presentation that the Honors Biotechnology Research class worked on this year. She was a captain of the M3 math challenge this year, and her team was recognized nationally. Alyssa, during her freshman year, won the SHA science fair with her research on biodegradable softballs and went on to receive 3rd honors at the CT Science and Engineering Fair.

Alyssa will be in Ithaca, New York at Cornell University this fall. She plans to major in Biomedical Engineering on the Pre-Med track.

Alyssa achieved a lot during her four years at the Academy. She was awarded the WPI Book Award her junior year, as well as the Sister Mary Jean Paolella Research Award her senior year. On the softball field, Alyssa pitched and played first base for the Sharks. As a senior captain, she earned All-SCC First Team honors and was named a spring SCC Scholar Athlete. We can not wait to see what Alyssa accomplishes at Cornell, Go Big Red!