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Cardinal O’Hara awards Banyan Service Award


TONAWANDA — Cardinal O’Hara High School’s Home School meeting, usually a calm time set aside to plan activities and events for the coming year, erupted into cheers as O’Hara’s principal Joleen Dimitroff surprised Michelle Brown Kolacz with the presentation of the 2023 Banyan Service Award on June 5.

Principal Joleen Dimitroff (left) presents Michelle Brown Kolacz with a bouquet of flowers along with the Banyan Service Award. The annual award is presented to an O’Hara volunteer who has devoted his or her time volunteering and as an advocate for the school. (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

The annual award is given to a person who has devoted his or her time volunteering and as an advocate for the school.

“My selection was an easy one,” Dimitroff said.

“The banyan tree is considered God’s Shelter. Michelle’s altruistic, child-centered nature embodies the ethos of our Franciscan faith. Simply stated, she is selfless and dedicated to creating genuinely nurturing experiences for our children. No matter the event, she jumps into action and finds a way to make it memorable,” she added.

Kolacz has been involved in the school since her two daughters enrolled as students, Kayla in 2013 and Alyssa in 2014. She currently serves as HSA president and is HSA Bingo director.

In addition to her volunteerism at O’Hara, Kolacz has impacted hundreds of the most at-risk youth as a special education teacher in Buffalo, a position she has held for more than 30 years. She is also a roller skating coach at Rainbow Rink in North Tonawanda and her pupils, including her daughters, have gone on in to win regional and national awards.

“We are so fortunate to have her at O’Hara,” Dimitroff concluded.