Ciemniewski to be inducted into the MHS/MUHS Hall of Fame

MIDDLEBURY — It is with great pride that the MHS/MUHS Alumni Association will induct Carl Ciemniewski posthumously into its Hall of Fame. Breaking with tradition, the association decided that Carl would be the only person honored this year because he epitomized all that is best about Middlebury athletics and academics: excellence, determination and integrity.

Carl was born in New Britain, Conn., in 1959 but moved to Vermont with his family as a child, living for several years on a dairy farm. He developed his love of sports early on when cow patties were used for bases (don’t slide) and he played both football (center) and baseball (catcher) at Middlebury Union High School, graduating in 1977. He attended the University of Vermont, where he received his degree in education. He returned to MUHS as a teacher in 1984, and he remained an outstanding science and math teacher until his sudden death at a lacrosse game this past May 3.

Carl, better known as Z to his friends or Mr. C to his students, excelled at all he did, and he made learning fun. Dedicated to instilling a love of science in his students, he was well known for his creative final exams. January exams included creative problem solving, and small groups of students had to create such things as a Beanie Baby catapult with several moving parts or an appliance to automate breakfast, again with a large number of moving parts. June exams were conducted at The Great Escape, where students calculated the physics behind the rides in the morning and then enjoyed the fun of the amusement park in the afternoon. There was often a waiting list of parents and fellow teachers who wanted to help chaperone this popular exam event.

His popularity as a teacher extended well beyond the classroom and athletic fields. He loved to chaperone school dances, especially the Winter Ball and Junior Prom; he attended all the plays, taking photographs that were displayed in the Learning Center the next day; he was an active participant in Senior Week, judging and awarding prizes at the Annual Raft Race and then dealing blackjack at the Project Graduation Casino.

But he was perhaps best known for his work on the athletic fields, where he combined his love and knowledge of sports with his love and understanding of young people and his talents in organization and inspiration. He first worked under Hubie Wagner coaching the JV football team with Vinnie Fucile. In 1980 he started working with Pete Brakeley coaching the freshman football team. The next year they moved to JV and continued there until 1993 when they moved to varsity. They worked together until 2001 when health issues forced Carl to cut back. But he was still a key man behind the scenes, scouting and helping wherever he could.

He was instrumental in founding the Friends of Middlebury Football as well as the Vermont Interscholastic Football League Sportsmanship Award and the Realignment Formula. The three varsity football coaches who won the Vermont Division I State Championship all played for Z. So did several coaches at the JV and freshman level. So did more than 10 flag football coaches and 10 flag football referees. He coached and inspired hundreds of players.

Whether on the fields or in the classroom, with his family or his friends, Carl Ciemniewski was a beloved and remarkable man. Organizers of the MHS/MUHS Hall of Fame are honored to add his name to those in the hall.

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