MEDFIELD -- Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden is pleased to share that high school senior Marianna Apazidis is the recipient of this year's Sam Berns Courage in Leadership Award from the Norfolk District Attorney's Office.

Apazidis was recognized by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Rowe and was presented with the award by Sam Berns' parents at the Peer Leadership Conference on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the Cross Insurance Pavilion at Gillette Stadium. 

The award is named for Sam Berns, a boy from Foxborough who lived with Progeria, a rare genetic disorder. As shown in the HBO documentary, "Life According to Sam," and his TEDx Talk, "My philosophy for a happy life," Berns lived with courage and positivity in the face of challenging circumstances. Each year, the Courage in Leadership Award recognizes a local high school student who also shows courage and positivity amidst challenges in his or her life.

Apazidis was recommended for the award by Medfield High School English teacher Bonnie Wren-Burgess. Wren-Burgess wrote of Apazidis' outstanding work ethic, perseverance and leadership qualities, and her naturally warm and welcoming personality. In school, Apazidis is a cello section leader in the orchestra and a member of the National Honor Society. Outside of school, Apazidis is a dancer, acting as a mentor by assisting in welcoming and tutoring new students at the studio. 

Wren-Burgess noted that what is truly spectacular about Apazidis' success is that she has succeeded in the face of a difficult childhood. At a young age, Apazidis stepped in as the primary caretaker for her family, helping her younger brothers deal with these challenges as well. 

"Marianna exemplifies the best of what we are trying to hone here at Medfield High School," Wren-Burgess said. "She is the kind of hard-working, well-rounded and high-achieving student who is courageous enough to succeed despite years of challenges. Despite everything she has been through, she competently, intelligently and kindly leads her family and her peers."

"This award is a testament to Marianna's perseverance and courage in the face of challenging times, which embodies the admirable example set by Sam Berns," Superintendent Marsden said. "Congratulations to Marianna on this wonderful achievement."