Guilford Fund For Education Bee Ball Tournament makes a triumphant return

By Jennifer Labbadia-Colón press release and photos • 03/12/2022 12:17 pm EST

The Baldwin High School gym was buzzing with excitement for the Guilford Fund for Education (GFFE) Bee Ball Tournament, an annual community fundraiser that recently returned for the first time since 2020.

The 3×3 basketball tournament has been an annual event since 2015 and serves as a way to not only raise funds and awareness of the GFFE, but also bring Guilford students together for a fun competition. From beginners to traveling players, there were 51 teams with students from grades 3 to 7 participating in this one day event.

“Everyone was excited to be together again. From board members to volunteers to our student players, we almost forgot we were raising money,” said Nicole Schlagheck, GFFE Board Co-Chair. “GFFE funded several initiatives to support educators during COVID, and now we are able to return to our roots, supporting Guilford students by funding new and creative educational concepts.”

Educator awards were new to this year’s event. The boys’ and girls’ teams that won their tournaments at each grade level dedicated their victories to an educator from their school. Known for recognizing teachers biannually through the GFFE Star Awards, the organization wanted to find a way to engage students more.

Guilford educators honored were Ms. Elizabeth Hill, Mr. Henry Prescott, Ms. Jennifer Arabolos, Ms. Nadeen Habbas, Mr. Doug Hammel, Mr. Phillip Ross, Mr. Steve Zajac, Ms. Christi Higgins and Mr. Burt Vitale. .

“The kids were very excited to dedicate their win,” said Veena Kapadia, GFFE board co-chair. “Guilford is a community known for supporting each other and giving back, so it’s no surprise that kids have taken this opportunity to show their appreciation.”

The third grade boys’ tournament was won by the team of Max Borelli, who attends Hamden Hall, along with Finn Jacobson, Lucas Ports and Dane Smith, who attend Jones Elementary School. The team donated their victory to Mrs. Hill of Jones Elementary School.

Emma Boyd, Isla Dubois, Alessandra Marciniak and Mia Nunziato, who attend Cox Elementary School, won the girls’ 3rd grade tournament. They dedicated their victory to Mrs. Arabolos.

The fourth grade boys’ tournament was won by Landon Diglio, who attends Leete Elementary School; Brayden Dill, who attends Lakes Elementary School; and Myles Loban, who attends Jones Elementary School. The team dedicated their victory to Mr. Prescott from Lakes Elementary School.

The winning fourth grade girls’ team of Reagan Klein (Cox), Olivia Mahon (Cox), and Leah Michalowski (Jones) dedicated their victory to Mrs. Habbas of Cox Elementary School.

The winning fifth grade boys team of Jack Coyne, Corbin Kikosicki, Ryan Lynch from Baldwin Middle School (BMS) dedicated their victory to Mr. Vitale.

The fifth grade girls’ tournament was won by the team of Gianna Canestri, Sinead Davenport, Delaney Keefe and Soraya Zide from BMS. They dedicated their victory to Mr. Hammel, who is the principal of the school.

The winning sixth grade team of girls Maya Daniels, Petal Gallagher and Lyla Sellinger from BMS dedicated their victory to Mr. Ross, the school’s assistant principal.

The sixth grade boys tournament winning team of Noah Loban, Nolan McGowan, Ethan Russo and Owen Steffen from BMS dedicated their victory to Mr. Zajac.

The team of Lucas Khaarabadze, Pierson Schlagheck and Mason Spagone from Adams High School won the 7th grade boys tournament. The team dedicated their victory to Mrs. Higgins.

The GFFE Bee Ball Tournament raised over $3,000 thanks to entries, concessions and event sponsors Palumbo’s Automotive and Teape Training International. Jeff Hahn graciously donated pizza and trophies and also organized the tournament and its referees. Funds raised will be used for approved scholarships as well as invested for future students.

The next GFFE activity will be the Estrella Awards which will honor Guilford educators with special giveaways during Teacher Appreciation Week in May. Stars can be purchased online. GFFE is also actively seeking volunteers to join the organization to help review grant proposals, offer legal expertise, or provide technology support. To make a donation or volunteer, visit