On Wednesday May 18, 2022, Mount St. Mary Academy held a special awards ceremony for a select group of students who had achieved great feats both in the classroom and in the community. While many outstanding awards were given to students, there are three in particular that are considered MSM’s legacy awards.


The Blue Rose Award

In November of 2012, the Mount St. Mary community was blessed to welcome Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein to our school for two days. Mrs. Klein’s visit and the production of “The Blue Rose,” based on her book, were a highlight of our year. The play brought together more than 2000 members of our Western New York community and promoted tolerance and acceptance  — reminding us all that our differences should be celebrated like a Blue Rose. To honor Mrs. Klein, Mount St. Mary Academy created The Blue Rose award.

This award holds extra special meaning this year as Gerda Weissmann Klein passed away on April 3, 2022 at 97 years of age. Her commitment to being an activist, spreading knowledge, kindness and a message of tolerance and acceptance now must be carried on by a new generation. We are grateful that MSM recognizes one among us who continues to embody the spirit of Gerda Weissmann Klein.

This award is given each year to a sophomore who embodies the qualities of tolerance and acceptance. The sophomore class and the MSM employees voted on this award, and I’m pleased to congratulate the 2022 Blue Rose winner, Maeve Garvey ‘24

The Joanne Champion Granger Award

Mrs. Champion Granger was a beloved and longtime Chemistry teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy. She inspired countless Mounties to pursue studies and careers in the field of science, a path many young women at the time did not consider taking. When Mrs. Champion Granger passed away, her family set up this award in her honor.

The Joanne Champion Granger Award is given each year to a student who is in the top 10% of her class and has an average of 90% or above in science courses.  The student should be one who is considering a career in the field of science and who is a contributing member in her school and community.

This year’s winner is Davoren Walsh ‘22, who is also MSM’s Class of 2022 Valedictorian. 


Kelsey Rebecca Kittleson Award:

This next award is in memory and honor of  Kelsey Rebecca Kittleson.  Kelsey was the daughter of Rachael Romano Kittleson, class of 1989​, and niece of Rebecca Romano Besch, class of 1993. Rachael also served as a teacher and later as Assistant Principal at Mount.

Kelsey lost her hard-fought battle with brain cancer at the age of 15.  She was a soccer player, a gifted vocalist, a loving sister and daughter, and most importantly, a young woman with a purpose.  Her care and concern for others came above all else.  For example, when she turned 13, Kelsey turned her birthday party into a donation drive for the local animal shelter. Then there was the tutoring program at her school she designed and implemented herself. When she was in the middle of her battle, she even designed bracelets for Melodies at Albany Medical Center in order to help other patients in their fight against cancer and to help inspire them and lift their spirits.

Her own spirit, selflessness, compassion for others, and willingness to make a difference in helping others without being asked, were characteristics she embodied.  This memorial award is given in the true spirit of Kelsey, to a current Mountie who shows a similar zest for life, compassion for others, intrinsic motivation to help others, and ability to go above and beyond in truly exemplifying exceptional character. When we asked Kelsey’s mother for input on this recognition she wanted it to be awarded to a Mountie who is service driven because it’s in her soul to do so. This award should go to a student who doesn’t just do what’s asked but branches out on her own to find a need, act on it  and make a difference, just like Kelsey did. Kelsey’s family presented the award at the ceremony to Faith MacKinnon ‘22.


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