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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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Brianna Johnson '25, Reporter • February 16, 2024
Playmakers Podcast: Scott Viveros (Episode 5)
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R.J. Barksdale '25, Ben Roden '24, and Brian Mohl '24 February 16, 2024
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Carter Casbarro ’25, Reporter • February 16, 2024
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Students Find Success with Online Reading Site Sora (VIDEO)
Mallory Sciaraffa '24, Reporter • February 16, 2024
T.J. Butkus loads his wood furnace to try to keep warm during the winter. (contributed)
Blue Collars Brave the Cold
T.J. Butkus '24 and Noah Zupan '26 February 16, 2024
The junior class cheers after the announcement that they were the winners of Nonnewaug’s winter pep rally Feb. 2.
More Scenes from Juniors' Red-Out Pep Rally Win (PHOTOS)
Brynn Clampett '26, Reporter • February 16, 2024
Nonnewaug staff members each have their own stories about why their rooms are decorated in unique ways.
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Gianna Lodice '24 and Layla Coppola '24 February 15, 2024

NHS Alum Duda Brings European Agricultural Techniques to New England

Zachary Duda, a 2016 Nonnewaug graduate, speaks at the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis. Duda’s experiences in agriculture have taken him around the world as he learns of new-age techniques that modernize global food chains. (Courtesy of Zachary Duda)

WOODBURY —  Zach Duda is known to put a smile on everyone’s face. Whether you remember him as a Nonnewaug student, see him teaching ag mechanics at Wamogo High School, or just catch him around Woodbury, many know that meeting with Duda will be enjoyable.  

Former Nonnewaug agriscience department chairman Bill Davenport noted the powerful affinity Duda had for agriculture when he was a student, a passion that’s followed him into his career as instructor.

“Zach was always positive and friendly to everyone,” Davenport said. “[He] was a pleasure to have in class and loved being involved with FFA activities.”

As a student at Nonnewaug, Duda became the Woodbury FFA chapter president in 2016. When he was president, Duda ran all the FFA meetings and helped to organize the most important events. It was here that he showed his ability to lead and work with others as part of a team. 

It got me out of my comfort zone,” said Duda. “It helped me with my speaking capabilities. The most important thing is it helped me learn how to be a teammate.”

“He was a great example for others to follow, and [he] represented the ag program and the FFA so well,” said Davenport. “As chapter president, he served his constituents and the school well in this role, and I think he helped make NHS and the ag program become less divided and more like it should be, one school that happens to have a nationally acclaimed ag program and FFA chapter within it.”

Duda had lofty goals as president.

I remember when he was elected to be our chapter president, it was one of his goals to get to know everybody’s name,” said Eric Birkenberger, Nonnewaug’s floriculture instructor. “He wanted to build that personal relationship with people.” 

Dave Green, one of Nonnewaug’s wellness instructors, notes Duda’s work ethic that was honed here on campus.

Probably just the fact that he was always on, meaning not only was he polite, but he worked hard,” said Green. “So you know he is the kind of student that most teachers just like and are thankful for because they’re always trying to work at their highest level.”

Following Duda’s memorable four years in Woodbury, he graduated from NHS in 2016 with distinction. 

From NHS, Duda graduated from UConn in 2020 with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development. On campus at Storrs, Duda focused on climate change and how it affects agriculture in general and organic agriculture specifically. Duda also learned a lot about how agriculture works around the world. After graduation from UConn, Duda spent a year in Ireland applying the skills he learned in college. 

“Most of the world is still rural,” Duda said. “That’s where I learned the value of traveling and fell in love with the ag industry. In teaching and development you look at capacity building and capabilities of the people you work with. That is one thing I try to use as a teacher that is used in rural development. I learned more about the world than I ever thought possible all because of the wonderful people I met from across the planet. They really put a perspective on things, an appreciation for all we have here and a desire to give back to as many people as possible.”

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About the Contributor
Dylan Duda '24, Reporter
Dylan Duda is a senior at Nonnewaug and a first-year journalist for the Chief Advocate. He is part of the Harbor Program and does all sorts of sports, including track and cross country, a team of which he's captain this year. Dylan likes to go four-wheeling and likes to go on trips.
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