North Harford High School senior Brooke Ciampaglio had to rush from playing in a girls lacrosse regional game in Queen Anne’s County back to Harford County to make it in time for the Al Cesky Scholarship Awards banquet Wednesday evening.
Ciampaglio — who was still wearing her green uniform as she and the 23 other scholarship recipients from Harford’s public and private high schools were introduced — and her fellow Hawks lost the game. But it was worth it for her and her family to rush back to the Richlin Catering & Event Center in Edgewood, as she was named the top female winner of a $5,000 Cesky scholarship.
Her North Harford classmate, Samuel Macatee, was named the male $5,000 scholarship winner at the 34th annual awards banquet.
The scholarships are awarded by the Al Cesky Scholarship Fund Inc., named for the late Bel Air High School teacher and coach. Albert “Al” Cesky, who died in 1985, also served as a school administrator and Harford County Public Schools physical education director.
The Cesky fund has awarded $5,000 scholarships to one male and one female Harford County high school senior student-athlete each year since 1986. The other 22 scholarship recipients, half male and half female, each received $2,000 scholarships.
“I’m glad that they can honor student athletes in this way, as it is a great measure of the quality of the student,” said Macatee, 18, of Street.
Macatee, who has played baseball, basketball and football for North Harford, plans to study finance at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Ciampaglio, 18, of Pylesville, played basketball, field hockey and lacrosse, and she plans to study biochemistry in the honors college at the University of Delaware. She said she is “amazed” that both $5,000 scholarship recipients are from North Harford High this year, noting many students at the Pylesville school look up to Cesky scholarship recipients and aspire to be like them.
“I think it’s just something amazing that we can bring back to our school,” Ciampaglio said.
She brought up 2018 North Harford graduate Brooke Rickey, who was a Cesky scholarship recipient last year and “just taught me a lot of things athletically and academically and inspired me — she’s definitely a role model.”
Members of Ciampaglio’s family, including her parents Karen and Joe Ciampaglio and older sister Holly, screamed with delight when her name was called.
“We’re ecstatic, we’re excited … she’s a hard-working girl,” Karen Ciampaglio said after the banquet.
Holly Ciampaglio, 21, graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in sports and entertainment management May 11. The 2015 North Harford graduate said she was “crying like a baby” when her younger sister was named a top scholarship winner.
“All of her hard work is just really paying off,” Holly said. “It was just great to see her accomplishments be rewarded.”
Brooke’s field hockey coach, Carla Harward, was prepared to accept on her behalf should Brooke not make it back in time from her game.
“Brooke is so deserving of this honor,” Harward said. “She’s such a passionate, hard-working player who was a dream to coach for four years. I know that she will go on to do great things at my alma mater, the University of Delaware.”
Macatee’s family also expressed excitement following his top scholarship win.
“I think it’s a wonderful award,” his grandfather, Dick Letsch of Bel Air, said. “He’s a great kid — I’ve watched him grow up and develop into a fine young man.”
Macatee’s grandmother, Kitty Letsch, praised his work ethic, something his mother, Kathy Macatee, also lauded.
“I’m proud of him for all he’s accomplished,” Macatee said of her son. “He’s worked hard for everything he’s earned.”
Harward, the varsity field hockey coach, discussed having both winners from North Harford High.
“I think it was a great honor to showcase both of our student athletes,” she said. “[They are] great students of the game and of the classroom, so it’s a great honor for our school.”
The event included remarks from keynote speaker Jeremy Conn, co-host of The Scott Garceau Show on 105.7 The Fan radio. Garceau served as master of ceremonies for the banquet.
Conn, who has spent 19 years in local sports broadcasting, is a 1997 graduate of Harford Technical High School in Bel Air, where he played basketball and football.
He talked about how his failures, as well as his successes, have defined his life and led him to his current position.
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“There are going to be a lot of doors that shut in your face, and things don’t work out the way you planned,” Conn said. “It doesn’t mean that’s the end, or you can’t keep plugging along.”