From a pool of nearly 34,000 nominees across the country, Irene Kalbian of Cheshire High School and Joseph Rigby of Suffield High School have been named finalists for the 2008 Wendy's High School Heisman Award.
Both students were told of the honor at assemblies at their high schools.
"I was totally caught by surprise," said Kalbian. "I was kind of shocked."
The award honors students with outstanding achievements in athletics, academics, and community service. There are six female and six male finalists.
"[Irene] represents Cheshire High School to the highest esteem," said Cheshire High School athletic director Steve Trifone. "She is truly a person deserving of this."
Kalbian is the seventh ranked student in her class at Cheshire and competes in cross country and track and field. She hopes to continue her academic and athletic pursuits at Columbia University.
Rigby also runs cross country and track and field and wants to continue running at Northeastern University. He is ranked fourth in his class at Suffield and enjoys the benefits of volunteering.
"It's one of those things when you're going to the place you're going to be serving, you feel like you don't want to go, but once you're down there it's a very satisfying experience," said Rigby. "It's also a way to get to know some of the people in your town."
Both Kalbian and Rigby will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in December to participate in the Heisman weekend festivities, a $100 Wendy's gift card, and a $2,000 donation to their high school.