The topic in Denise King’s English class on Thursday, November 21st was Hamlet, and except for discussions about madness, betrayal, and revenge, it was an ordinary day… until a production crew from WHDH TV entered the room and changed the subject.
Two Channel 7 News anchors, dressed to the nines, cameraman in tow, whooshed into the classroom to begin filming a new episode of Class Act, the news segment that highlights extraordinary students. The student in the spotlight this time was Neil Conway ’14, who happened to be sitting in the front row of Ms. King’s D-Period class. The news team was there to report on Neil’s dedication to coaching hockey players with disabilities. He has been volunteering with the Boston Bear Cubs (a.k.a. the Massachusetts Special Hockey Association) since he was twelve years old.
Neil Conway is definitely a class act. When you meet him, you figure that out right away, because in spite of his undeniable charisma, Neil is humble and sincere. He has a genuine desire to help others, and for this, he gives all the credit to his parents, who have consistently encouraged him to give back. Neil’s connection to the Boston Bear Cubs began when his father noticed a tiny news article mentioning the team’s need for volunteers. “We wanted Neil to do something that would benefit others and also give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was doing something important and necessary,” said his mother Colleen Conway. “We wanted him to do something he could commit to. So Neil’s interest in hockey and the team’s need for volunteers made a good fit.”
Neil was nominated for the Class Act spotlight by Peggy Farren, school psychologist at North Quincy High. Peggy Farren's brother John Quill is coach and founder of the Boston Bear Cubs, and she has been a loyal Bear Cubs fan from the beginning, because she enjoys watching her nephew Sean (John Quill’s son) play hockey. She has observed her nephew's progress as a hockey player since the team was founded in 2005. In the same way, she has watched Neil Conway grow as a coach, since he was in elementary school.
Neil is now a senior at Thayer’s Upper School, and as Ms. Farren points out on the Class Act Nomination Form: “It’s remarkable that Neil has stuck with this team for so long. By joining the Boston Bear Cubs team, disabled children and young adults get the opportunity to learn a sport and increase their socialization. This could not happen without the assistance of typically-functioning peers who devote hours to teaching the kids to skate, shoot, and work together as a team. Neil has been there over six years, foregoing precious Saturday morning sleep! He makes the players feel valued.”
|For this story, executive producer Kelly Henry interviewed key people in Neil Conway's life, including...
Neil's close friend & teammate
Steven Henriquez '14
Boston Bear Cubs Coach John Quill
Thayer's varsity hockey coach
(Shown here with
Class Act producer Kelly Henry)
The Class Act episode featuring Neil Conway is scheduled to air on Friday, December 6 at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., noon, 4 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. Also on Saturday, December 7 at 9 a.m. This story about Neil will also be posted at www1.whdh.com/class-acts.