Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a joyous time to remember those who have passed away. In Mexico, ancient Aztec traditions were combined with Christianity during the Spanish conquest. As a result, each year families construct colorful altars or ofrendas in their homes that essentially welcome the spirit of their loved ones on November 1st and 2nd.
During Sewickley Academy’s annual opening of school assembly, Chair of the Board of Trustees Kate Pigman ’82, accompanied by Vice Chair Brad Busatto ’88, and Trustees, past and present, honored Head of School Kolia O’Connor for 15 years of service at Sewickley Academy.
“The Board of Trustees and Emeritus Trustees would like to take a moment to recognize someone who has dedicated countless hours of energy, talent, and excellence every day in support of students, families, and colleagues over the past 15 years. Happy 15th Anniversary, Mr. Kolia O’Connor,” Kate proclaimed.
In July 2003, Kolia moved to Sewickley from New York City with his wife, Susan, and their two kindergarten-age sons, Gus ’16 and Alex ’16, and took on the role as Head of School. To put that in perspective, the oldest students currently enrolled at the Academy were three years old when Mr. O’Connor came to Sewickley.
“Kolia’s loyalty and dynamic leadership must be applauded. He has a ferocious dedication and vision for what our school is, can, and should be,” Kate said. “While education begins and ends with the student and teacher, Kolia’s focus on the future and the success of our students, not just today but tomorrow, is evident. As Kolia routinely says ‘we cannot rest on our laurels’ and Kolia never has.”
Kolia’s accomplishments have been many during his tenure, and the school is much stronger today because of his leadership. His work has led to a clear Mission Statement that guides the school every day, in every way. A few of his lasting imprints on the Academy include creating and sustaining robust programs, two vital capital campaigns, a doubling of the endowment, supporting a community of lifelong learners, and renovating and expanding campus facilities into the 21st century.
“Kolia routinely is the first person on campus and the last one to leave, staying for meetings or attending performances or cheering on our athletic teams. His enthusiasm and steadfastness for support and excellence was and is palpable,” Kate stated. “First and foremost, Kolia O’Connor has always put the best interests of students at the forefront of his decisions – as he would often say, ‘We’re here because of the students.’ Our Mission has always been his guiding principle and his leadership has been adamant and clear.”
Kate announced, “On behalf of our Board and community, we applaud and sincerely thank Kolia O’Connor for his leadership, commitment, and for all that he has given to SA so far!”
Congratulations on this remarkable 15-year anniversary, Mr. O’Connor!