Poniatowski honored as this year’s Chicopee Colleen ahead of St. Patrick's Parade

| Miasha Lee

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Chicopee Colleen Kailyn Poniatowski (center) at the Coronation Ball and her court members (left to right) Martha Odonnell, Nydia Morales, Hailey Prive and Ava Lapa.
Photo credit: Edward Cohen

CHICOPEE — Seventeen-year-old Kailyn Poniatowski was crowned this year’s Chicopee Colleen. She and her Court members Martha Odonnell, Nydia Morales, Hailey Prive and Ava Lapa will be representing the city at the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade on March 19.

“I’m so happy,” stated Poniatowski. “Every time I wear my uniform, my sash and crown I’m so proud to be representing the city of Chicopee and it’s such a joyful moment every time we go somewhere.”

She continued, “I’ve grown up going to the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Holyoke and seeing the Chicopee Court and Colleen on the float every year. It’s been a dream of mine and learning about all of the events and the experiences that the girls get to go through throughout the year is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The Chicopee Colleen Contest and Coronation Ball is one of the largest and most anticipated events of the year. The word colleen is an Irish term for a girl or young woman. Young ladies from Chicopee compete for a chance to represent the city as the Colleen or a member of her Court for the upcoming year.

Chicopee Parade Committee Contest Coordinator Kristen Hubert said, “Each contestant went through a two-step process for the contest. Beginning with an interview with our panel of judges. This interview is worth 50 percent of their final score. The remaining 50 percent of their score is obtained on ball night where they are judged on their stage presence, poise and answer to the final question.”

Hubert went on to say, “I think that Kailyn will be an inspiring role model for young women not only within the Community but also throughout Western Massachusetts.”

Poniatowski is a senior at Chicopee Comprehensive High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a member of the girls varsity lacrosse team and a member of the Recycling Helper Group. Poniatowski is a teacher’s aid in the Early Education Child Development program at Chicopee Comprehensive High School and is currently employed as a child caretaker in which she tutors for a local family. After high school, Poniatowski will attend Salem State University to major in psychology. Her plan is to attain her Bachelor of Science and further her education with a master’s degree and doctorate.

Poniatowski is a third-generation Irish-American and wants to keep her Irish heritage alive for her great-grandparents who have passed away. Her grandfather teaches her everything he grew up with such as the music, dancing and food. Her dream is to go to Ireland and visit the two towns her family originated from County Cork and County Kerry. During her time as Colleen, the special cause Poniatowski truly wants to touch upon is mental health. She has a lot of family members who struggle with mental health issues and believes it is something that should be more talked about instead of kept hidden. Poniatowski hopes to be a positive role model for younger girls and the community of Chicopee. She strives to be somebody that other people in the community can look up to and be there if they need anything.

“Being a Colleen is an experience of giving back and being there for the city of Chicopee,” said Poniatowski. “I’m so excited to see all of my family at the parade and support of me. I’m excited to be there with the other girls in the Court and I think it’s going to be an amazing experience for all of us. It’s a big honor to represent the city you’re from and I’m truly glad that I was chosen.”