Norwich Tech's Lakowsky prepared for success

Norwich Tech senior Casey Lawkowsky is seen in the school's kitchen Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Norwich Tech senior Casey Lawkowsky is seen in the school's kitchen Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Casey Mae Lakowsky, who graduates June 16 from the culinary program at Norwich Technical High School, says she always has been prepared.

When a classmate needed an apron one day in mid-May, Lakowsky, 17, of Montville opened her locker and said, "Here, I have four." 

During an interview in mid-May at the Thames Valley Council for Community Action's kitchen facility in Bozrah, where she helps prepare Meals on Wheels as part of the school's work-based learning program, Lakowsky, who is 5 foot, 1 inch tall with brown eyes and lustrous brown hair, wore a chef's uniform and flashed a smile in a matching hue of white.

She said she won't be caught without an umbrella, or anything else she thinks she might need.

"I was literally born with a plan A, B and C," Lakowsky said. "My mom told me I would sleep in my crib with three pacifiers; one in my mouth and one in each hand."

She said she chose the school's culinary program because "people always have to eat, and it's something I can fall back on for the rest of my life." But she loves math and, during her four years at Norwich Tech, discovered an interest in finance.

"We had to do this project where we had to figure out things like how much an ounce of salt would cost if you buy it in bulk," she said. "I liked figuring that stuff out."

In the fall, she'll be studying business the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute in Utica, which she visited after several surveys indicated it might be a good fit. She fell in love with the campus and the passion of the professors. She took a second trip to central New York with her mother this month to make sure it was as perfect as she thought.

Lakowsky will be the first member of her family to go away to college.

"I'm pretty excited," she said. "I've lived in the same house, same town and gone down the same roads my entire life. I'm ready for a change in people and scenery."

Lakowsky was born in October 1999, the third child of Peggy and Donald Lakowsky. 

"I'm literally the last of the last of the 90s," she said.

She has a large extended family in the region.  

She attended St. Mary's Star of the Sea school in New London until fifth grade, then went to Tyl Middle School in Montville before attending Norwich Tech. She said switching back and forth between academics and shop has helped her learn time management. Juggling school work and two jobs also has been "a balancing act," Lakowsky said.

In addition to working for TVCCA's Meals on Wheels program, she works as a server at the Thames Club about two days a week. She has her own car and has been saving for college since freshman year. She said she hasn't missed a homework assignment since freshman year, and made straight As throughout her senior year, even while tackling advanced-level math and science and an honors-level economic course.

"I'm very upbeat," she said. "I'm very focused. I have a really good work ethic. Why would I not put 110 percent into something? What's the point of doing something if I'm not doing it well?"

Krystin Konow, counselor for Norwich Tech seniors, wrote in a letter of recommendation that Lakowsky is "an incredibly generous of spirit young woman" who is respected by both her peers and faculty.

John Karp, one of her supervisors at the Meals on Wheels job, said it's unfortunate for the culinary world that Lakowsky is not going into the field. He said she has been a big help in the kitchen, where the staff prepare and pack up to 1,800 meals a day for delivery to senior citizens.

"She does a great job for us," Karp said. "Casey's always willing to give us a hand and do what we want her to do."

Her mother, Peggy Lakowsky, confirmed the pacifier story.

"She's always been very focused, very organized like that," Peggy said. "She's always been the kid that, as soon as a project was assigned, she would do it right away. She would never leave it until the night before. She's always the one where things go in their place, and why would you put them anywhere else?"

k.florin@theday.com

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