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WHS senior recognized at special Memorial Day ceremony

Major Tom Allen, far left, presents Winchester High School senior Bo Spignesi with a four year scholarship to Wake Forest University during Monday's Memorial Day Ceremonies while his family looks on proudly. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS 

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In his Memorial Day speech, VFW Post 3719 Commander Festus McDonough told those gathered that in honor of the sons and daughters who answered the call and gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, “we must choose a life worth living, worthy of their sacrifice.”

Robert Bo Spignesi III has done just that.

The Winchester High School senior, known as Bo, was recognized Monday during the Memorial Day celebration at Edward F. O’Connell Memorial Plaza in front of a crowd over well over 100 people. He was awarded a ceremonial oversized check for $288,277, an ROTC scholarship the equivalent of four years at Wake Forest University, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

“This is an amazing event,” said Major Tom Allen, professor of military science at MIT and several other colleges and universities. “Thank you for putting this on for one of Winchester’s finest … I cannot be more excited to be here with you today.”

Allen said there are three things that military leaders really enjoy doing: promotions, re-enlistments and giving out awards recognizing excellence.

“And we are here today, obviously, to do that,” he said, referring to the latter.

Bo Spignesi, center with the large check, and his football buddies at Monday's Memorial Day Ceremony where Spignesi was recognized with a four year National ROTC scholarship to Wake Forest University. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS STEVENS 

Allen said he wanted to give a little context on just how prestigious Spignesi’s accomplishment is.

“There were over 12,000 applicants to the national scholarship board and only 3,000 get selected and of those 3,000, only, maybe, half get a four year national scholarship,” he said.

To win a scholarship, Allen said they look at academics, athleticism, and leadership.

“What I want to do real quick is kind of go through some of these data points so you guys understand what this individual did,” Allen said, before launching into a litany of Bo’s achievements over the last four years.

They included a 3.8 grade point average and an SAT score of 1400, while participating in javelin, football, National Honor Society, over 1,100 hours of community service and working since he was in the eighth grade.

Allen said it’s about looking at the total soldier, the total person and how they manage their time, “and balance it when everybody else is going home and playing video games.”

Allen was also quick to give a shout out to Bo’s parents and community.

“One big recognition is understanding that Bo wouldn't be here without the support of his family without the support of his town,” he said.

“This feels great.”

That was Spignesi’s response when asked how he felt about the pomp and circumstance surrounding his award.

The public recognition was particularly sweet for the Spignesi family because Bo wasn’t recognized during the high school’s Senior Night event. It was said his achievement was passed over because it was not considered a community award.

“I was a little disappointed,” Spignesi admitted. “But doing it today is really more of an honor.”

Memorial Day is really about remembering people who fought for their country, which makes it all the more special that they included him, he said.

His mother agreed.

Adrienne Spignesi said she also was saddened by the fact that Bo would be overlooked during senior celebrations and graduation but she said she understood.

There is just no platform for it, so I get it,” she said. “But I wish they could find a place to honor that.”

Adrienne Spignesi said she was overwhelmed by the crowd that came out to celebrate Memorial Day and to support her son.

“The fact they managed to squeeze Bo in is very meaningful,” she said.

Barbara O’Connell, who oversees the program, said it was the first time they had a recognition of this sort in the ceremony.

“It’s a wonderful honor,” she said. “And I’m glad we knew about it and could do it.”

The future

In the fall, Bo will head off to North Carolina to study finance for four years “and obviously ROTC” before moving into at least four years active military.

“Then maybe reserves,” he added.

Joining the military was not a hard decision for Bo and one his mother accepts fairly easily.

“I come from a long line of people who have served,” he said.

Along with cousins and uncles, Bo said his grandfather (Adrienne’s father) was a Navy fighter pilot in Vietnam and his father flew helicopters in the Army.

“It’s the family business as they say,” he said smiling.

Spignesi also said he toyed with the idea of going to West Point, but in the end decided he wanted a more traditional college experience that still came with “the privilege to serve.”

And he is very excited about all of it, he said.

“I think it’s going to be great for me,” he said.

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